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Medical School AdmissionsInterview Questions

Admissions Overview

Medical school admissions begin after a student completes a pre-med program at a four-year university. To qualify, the applicant must have the proper grades, coursework, and an adequate score on the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) for the school of their choosing. 

Applicants should begin preparing to apply to medical school in the semester prior to graduating from a pre-med program. Depending on the application and where it’s sent, medical school admissions will determine not only what school an applicant goes to, but also what specialty they study in preparation for their medical residency.

 

Requirements 

Medical schools require the completion of a pre-med program with the appropriate coursework in subjects such as anatomy, biology, and chemistry. Medical schools also expect letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and in some cases, an interview process. 

Before applying, applicants must complete the MCAT in order to qualify for medical school.

How to Prepare for Medical School Admissions

Applicants should begin preparing for the admissions process by researching the schools they’re interested in and making a list of schools they want to apply to. Research should include current and past faculty members as well as the programs offered. 

Next, applicants should get in touch with faculty members and admissions staff to express interest in their program. This can be through a phone call, an email, or in person. Regardless of the form of communication, it’s important for applicants to have their relevant personal information on hand.

Afterward, applicants should schedule and take the MCAT. Once a satisfactory score has been obtained, the score can be sent along with transcripts to the schools of the applicant’s choice. Upon the submission of an application, applicants can reach out to schedule an interview with relevant faculty members.

 

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Medical School Admissions Interview Questions

Question: Can you describe why you believe you will be a good doctor?

Explanation: This is a general question that the interviewer is likely to ask to begin the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect information they can use throughout the interview.  It also provides you the opportunity to qualify yourself and lead the interviewer in a direction in which you are comfortable responding to their questions.

Example: “I believe I’ll make a good physician for several reasons.  First is my compassion for people and my desire to help them lead healthy and productive lives.  Second is my fascination with the human body and how to optimize the many activities it conducts daily.  Finally, I enjoy working in an environment that is fast-paced, challenging, and collaborative. I believe the healthcare industry offers all of these opportunities.”


Question: Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why?

Explanation: The admissions officer will ask this a question to understand what types of people you admire, the qualities they have, and how you picture yourself in the future.  People we identify as role models or have been influential in our lives have the characteristics we would like to have and strive to emulate.

Example: “Without a doubt, the most influential person in my life has been my father. While he was not a doctor,  he has always strived to be the best he could be in his chosen profession.  He would go out of his way to help people and was admired by his colleagues, family and friends.  I hope that someday I can be half the man that my father is and as successful in life as he has been.”


Question: Can you describe any clinical experience you have had to date?.

Explanation: While previous clinical experience is not a requirement for entry into medical school, most candidates who are serious about the medical profession have made a point to get some experience to bolster their qualifications for acceptance.  If you have done this, you can briefly describe the experience and the benefits you obtained from it.  If you don’t have clinical experience, you can describe the experience you have had that relates to healthcare that has helped develop transferable skills you can use as a doctor.

Example: “While I don’t have any direct clinical experience, I do have a great deal of experience dealing with stressful situations.  During high school and college, I volunteered with the local fire department and responded to many emergencies.  I helped to fight the fires, control crowds and was able to observe the medical teams as they treated the victims.  This experience has helped me to understand how to deal with an emergency, manage people when they are not at their best, and triage and treat people who have been injured.”


Question: What is your opinion about stem cell research?

Explanation: The purpose of this question is not to understand your opinion on this issue but rather to see how you communicate about issues that are controversial in the healthcare industry.  Whether you support stem cell research or not is not important.  What is important is that you can clearly state your position and then provide some rationale to support it.

Example: “I am in favor of funding and conducting stem cell research.  I believe this is important in advancing healthcare practices and procedures and developing new cures for diseases that severely impact people’s lives.  While I understand there are arguments against stem cell research, I believe it can be conducted ethically, using donations of tissue obtained during normal medical procedures, and which do not threaten a patient’s health.”


Question: What do you believe is the most pressing healthcare issue our society is facing?

Explanation: This is another question seeking your opinion.  There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Your answer will demonstrate your knowledge of current issues within the healthcare industry.  When you identify an issue, you may want to also suggest a reasonable way to address or resolve it.

Example: “I believe one of the biggest issues facing healthcare professionals is capitation.  Allowing insurance companies to define what procedures should be done to address a patient’s issues and limiting the care a doctor can provide to a patient is wrong.  I believe that as long as healthcare providers can demonstrate positive patient outcomes with generally accepted care plans, they should be allowed to do their work without consideration of insurance reimbursement.”


Question: What was your favorite class during your undergraduate studies, and why did you enjoy it?

Explanation: This is another general question that is meant to elicit information about your background to help admissions counselors determine if you are a good fit for their program.  In addition to your grades, experience, and other qualifications, admission officers want to understand who you are as a whole person and how well you will integrate into their program.  By identifying your favorite class, you’re telling the interviewer things you like and prefer and where your passion may be.

Example: “By far, my favorite class during my undergraduate program was biology.  I enjoyed learning about how living things function, the various systems in sentient creatures, and what impacts the environment and other issues have on living organisms.  I especially enjoyed human biology since I have a deep passion for healing and helping people live healthy lives.”


Question: Can you provide me information about your volunteer work experience?

Explanation: It is very likely that when you answered questions similar to the previous ones in this guide, you talked about your passion for helping people live better lives.  Hopefully, you have demonstrated this by volunteering for various causes throughout your life.  The interviewer is likely to ask you about this since it was probably documented in your resume or medical school application, so you should be able to discuss it in great detail.

Example: “My passion for helping people has motivated me to volunteer for various causes since I was young.  It started when I was a child, and my parents took me to food pantries, beach cleanups, and other events where we were able to contribute to a better world.  I continued this activity has I grew older by participating in the Big Brothers program, helping feed the homeless at a local soup kitchen, tutoring children in low-income neighborhoods, and volunteering as an aide at a local hospital.  All of these activities have enriched my life at least as much as I believe they have impacted the lives of the people I’ve helped.”


Question: What leadership roles did you have while in college?

Explanation: Doctors are leaders, responsible for managing their healthcare teams and acting as role models for other healthcare providers and their patients.  Medical school admissions officers look for candidates who have strong leadership qualities and direct experience in leadership roles.  Suppose you don’t have formal experience leading organizations, teams, or groups of individuals. In that case, you can discuss when you provided leadership to your peers, as part of a student team working on a project, or in some other informal situation.

Example: “I have the opportunity to assume several leadership roles while in college.  I was vice president of my fraternity, managed our intramural softball team, and led several student teams while collaborating on projects for our courses.  I enjoy leadership roles and thrive while directing teams of talented people focused on achieving a challenging goal.  This is one of the aspects of being a doctor I am most looking forward to.”


Question: What would you do if, for some reason, you weren’t able to pursue a career in medicine?

Explanation: This question has two purposes.  The first is to determine what else you’re interested in and would be willing to pursue if, for some reason, you discovered that you were not qualified for or did not enjoy a career in medicine.  The second is to determine if you have thought about alternative plans for your career.  As a physician, one of your key responsibilities is to accurately diagnose a patient’s illness.  Part of this process is developing alternatives or contingencies in case your initial diagnosis is not accurate.  This question will reveal your ability to create alternative strategies.

Example: Although I am extremely passionate about becoming a doctor. I can’t think of another career I would enjoy more. However, I recognize that for some unforeseen reason, this may not work out for me.  I have thought about this a lot, and if I were required to pursue a different career, it would be working as a social worker.  Specifically, I would want to work for child protective services helping children who were experiencing challenging situations to get their lives back on course.  I can’t think of anything more rewarding than changing somebody’s life for the better.  If I can’t do this while working in the field of medicine, there are other alternative careers I can pursue.”


Question: What are your plans if you are not accepted into medical school this semester?

Explanation: This question is similar to the previous one.  However, your answer to this question doesn’t have to be so life-changing.  Again, the interviewer is seeking to better understand your ability to consider alternatives and create contingency plans.  This is an important trait every doctor should have. The admissions counselor is working hard to confirm that you can do this.

Example: “If I am not accepted into medical school this semester, the first thing I would do would be to conduct follow-up interviews with the admission officers to understand why I was not accepted.  I would then take steps to mitigate any issues which prevented me from entering medical school.  This may require additional undergraduate studies, either volunteering or finding an internship in a healthcare role or retaking the MCAT or other exams required for entry.  I would then reapply for the next semester and would very likely be admitted.”


Additional Medical School Admissions Interview Questions

  • What made you want to study medicine?

  • Is there any particular specialty you would like to study in the medical field?

  • Why did you choose to apply here?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

  • How do you handle high-stress situations?

  • What professional experience do you have in medicine as a non-physician?

  • What medical journals and publications do you read in your spare time?

  • What research would you like to do in your time here?

  • Is this your first choice for medical school?

  • What was your favorite course in your undergrad?

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