Med school interviews are super competitive. We want to have jobs that allow us to buy stuff we need, and stuff we don’t need but desire, luxury holidays, big houses, and so on. Professional recognition is another thing. When you say you are a doctor, or a surgeon, or an ophthalmologist, you immediately get some attention from your peers, and also from people who do not know you. That’s just the benefit of the profession, of the fact that you are helping people–or at least it look that way for the outsiders.

There’s a long road ahead, and a bumpy one, however, until you can enjoy all these perks a doctor typically enjoys. And the first step is really one of the hardest to make–to pass the admission interview at a med school. They will ask you some tricky questions, you may face the MMI (multiple mini interviews), and most importantly, you’ll stand against a stiff competition of other motivates youngsters who fight with you for those coveted and limited places in the study program.

Let’s have a look at the questions you may face, and what you should focus on, in order to make a great impression on the admission committee members.

 

Why did you decided to apply with our school?

You should prepare for the question in advance. Try to learn as much as you can about the study program, the courses, the reputation of the school, their values and goals, the after-school campus activities, the dorms, the leading teachers and administrators, and so on.

At the end you should come up with a list of things that resonate with you, something that makes their school special in your eyes. Everyone likes recognition and praise. You should give it to them in heaps. Tell them how great they are, how much you love this or that thing about the campus or the curriculum, and so on.

Another alternative is talking about your GPA–especially if it isn’t superb. Maybe you didn’t want to waste your time applying with some elitist schools, only thing they care about being the GPA, considering themselves gods, better than the rest of us, the mortals. Hence you decided for their school, because you knew you had a better chance of getting in, and you prefer such places anyway…

Why do you want to become a doctor?

Most people talk about their desire to help, their sympathy for people who suffer, or perhaps about a family tradition (medical practice their father runs, etc). These answers aren’t bad, and you certainly won’t bomb your med school interview while opting for them.

However, when you want to stand out with your answer, you should tell the admission committee a story. This can be a story of you helping someone (in an emergency situation), story of your childhood dreams that eventually resulted in your application for their study program, or it can be a short inspirational story of a life of someone who motivated you to pursue medical career–a story of your role model.

Another option is presenting a clear vision of your future. What you want to do in ten years from now, in what field you’d like to specialize, where you’d like to work–basically explaining your career plan in a nutshell, clearly demonstrating that you do not apply with med school just because you are following a dream of your parents, or sheepishly pursuing the career for best students, because you were the best student at the college.

 

Why should we give you a place in our study program? Why you, and not someone else?

Try to demonstrate the value you want to bring to the school as a student. You can talk about participating in various competitions, representing the school and their colors. Or you can talk about your desire to actively contribute to the campus, organizing events, volunteering during events, working as an RA, and so on.

Alternatively (if you do not feel like doing anything I mentioned), you can try the approach of modesty and honesty, saying that you believe all applicants should get the chance to study, and say that you let it for the committee to choose the best applicants. At the end of the day, you haven’t met the other guys in person, you cannot judge their qualities, and sure enough everyone has something to offer.

 

Medical studies are extremely difficult. Do you think you can handle the workload?

Medical studies are indeed challenging, and it makes no sense trying to convince the admission committee members of the opposite. You should see the journey ahead realistically, and ensure the committee members that you are willing to sacrifice something for your success. Perhaps giving up on a part time job, or relinquishing this or that hobby, focusing fully on your studies.

At the same time, you should be determined to succeed, and ensure them that you are not afraid of the challenge. Sure, you’ll have to make sacrifices, you may struggle, you may have many sleepless nights. But that’s simply a part of the journey, and something you are ready to take on.

 

A patient with Downs Syndrome became pregnant. The patient does not want an abortion. Her mother and husband want the patient to have an abortion. What would you do in this situation?

This is a type of question you may deal with especially in the MMI setting. A tricky scenario, something you can realistically face some years down the road, when you finally start working and repaying your student loan.

The key with scenario-based questions is to think out loud, to explain your reasoning, and your ability to look at the situation from different angles. Remember that there aren’t necessarily good or bad answers to questions like this one. As long as you can explain your reasoning, and show a mature personality while analyzing the situation from the position of all involved parties–the pregnant woman, her husband, her mother, etc, they will be extremely pleased with your answer. Let’s have a look at a sample here:

This is a tricky situation for everyone involved. First of all, we should remember that the mother is the only person to make a final call on her abortion. If she doesn’t want to have it, nobody else should force her.
But does she understand all consequences of her decision? And can we explain the situation to her in a way she will understand clearly?
I would definitely try to explain the consequences, including a 50% chance that her child would also suffer from Down syndrome. I would try to show her both good and bad things that go with motherhood.
If she still wanted to have a child, I would do my best to help her mother and husband to get on terms with it. I would refer them to local community of people with Down syndrome, and to stories of mothers who raised their children successfully, despite suffering from DS.
I would suggest organizations that can help them in the process, and people they could contact for support, and guidance.
To sum it up, I’d do my best to help resolve the situation, but in no way I’d send the woman for abortion unless she agreed with that.

 

Other questions you may face in your med school interview

  • If one of your future colleagues or patients criticized you for your work, how would you cope with that?
  • Can you define your strengths and weaknesses as a future doctor?
  • Do you have any experience with rescuing people, or providing any form of medical assistance?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • What qualities do other people admire on you?
  • How would an obese patient feel if you told them that their rheumatoid arthritis was caused by their obesity? Do you think it is right to tell that to the patient?
  • Medical school studies are expensive. How do you plan to finance your studies?
  • Discuss the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. How does this impact a physician’s present ability to write out prescription for ‘medical marijuana’?
  • What courses are you looking for the most, and the least?
  • Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.

 

Final thoughts

Med school interviews are far from easy. You may face a variety of tricky questions, and interview in a front of a panel of poker faces. But you should always remember that other students face exactly the same challenge as you do…

Try to learn as much as you can about the school, and the upcoming interview–with it be open book or close book interview? Will you interview in front of a panel, or do they prefer then MMI? What will happen during the interview day? Will they give you a tour of their school, or some presentation, or what will happen?

The more you know, the easier it will be to prepare for the big day, and to connect with the people from the school. Once you are done with your research, try to prepare at least a short answer to each question from our list, and do not forget to check also other online sources. I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!

Matthew

 

May also interest you:

  • How to dress for an interview – Choose the right clothes and make the right impression. Four simple tips will help you with your choice.
  • How to overcome interview nerves – You’ll need to be at your best in this interview, and that’s tough to do while battling anxiety. Learn how to calm down and show them your very best.
  • Vet school interview questions – Some of them overlap with med school interviews, and you should definitely check them out.
Matthew Chulaw
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