Young man reacts to the approval of his application at a med school. Happy and in disbelief, he places both of his hands on the top of his head.Thousands of students apply each year for a place at one of the prestigious medical schools.

Thousands do apply, but just hundreds will succeed. Or even only dozens. Will you belong to the elite group?

A face to face interview, which typically doesn’t last longer than thirty minutes, helps the admission committee to decide about your application. Let’s learn how to succeed in this meeting.

 

No uncle in the committee

If your uncle sits in the admission committee, or if your father made a hefty donation to the educational institution of your choice, you will pass the interview with flying colors. And you do not even have to prepare for it.

In any other case, however, you will have to come up with great answers to the questions of the interviewers, and you will also have to show the right attitude to studies and to life, and demonstrate your willingness to sacrifice something for your dreams.

Let’s have a look at the questions.

 

Most common questions for med school interviews

Question 1: Why did you choose our school?

You should prepare for this question in advance. Try to learn as much as you can about the study program, the subjects, the reputation of the school, their values and goals, the after-school activities they offer, the dormitories, and other things.

Make a list of things that resonate with you, things that help their school to stand out. Then you should refer to these things in an interview. The key is to show them that they are special.

Remember that everyone likes recognition and praise. Praising them for something genuinely will immediately improve your chances of succeeding in this interview.

An illustration of a scene from an interview. Three interviewers and one job candidate.

 

Question 2: Why do you want to become a doctor?

Most people will speak about the desire to help the others, their sympathy for people who suffer, or perhaps about a family tradition (medical practice of their father, etc).

These answers are not bad, and they will present you in a good light.

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.

 

Question 3: Why should we give you a place in our study program? Why you, and not someone else?

You should try to demonstrate the value you want to bring to the school as a student.

You can speak 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 etc.

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.

 

Question 4: Medical studies are very hard. Do you think you can handle them, and successfully graduate at the end?

This is no time to play a super-hero. Medical studies are indeed tough, and you should be aware of the challenges that await you on your journey. Feel free to speak about them.

Nevertheless, you should tell them that you are determined to succeed, that you plan to devote most of your time to studies, and that you are not afraid of the challenge. Show them that you are willing to sacrifice your free time activities for your success.

 

Questions targeting your personal traits

People in the admission committee may ask you some questions that target various strengths and weaknesses, or your interests, and attitude to life. For example:

  • If one of your future colleagues or patients criticized you for your work, how would you cope with that? Show them that you embrace and even seek feedback from your colleagues and patients, and that you always try to become better in what you do. Show them that you can admit making a mistake, and consider everything a learning process.
  • 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? If you have such an experience, speak about it with enthusiasm. Perhaps this situation served as a catalyst for your decision to study medicine? If it did, say it in an interview.
  • How would your best friend describe you? Stay confident, and say good things about yourself. The chances that they’d call your best friend are very little. You can say everything you want to improve your chances of succeeding. Responsible, patient, diligent, mentally strong, emotionally stable–are just some of the keywords you can use in your answer.
  • What qualities do other people admire on you?
  • Where do you see the future of medicine? You have a few options at this point. You can check the latest trends, or even think about the future, and narrate what it may bring to healthcare. You can talk about robotics, artificial intelligence, or medicine of new generation. But you can also talk about a different approach, consisting mostly in prevention, right diet, and doctors that will approach their job holistically. One way or  another, you should show the interviewers that you have some ideas, and want to play an active part in the future of healthcare.
  • 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?

 

Conclusion and next steps

handshake of two businessmen illustrates the agreement at the end of a job interviewThe interviews at medical schools are difficult.

You will compete with many other applicants–all of you sharing similar background and experience. What is more, you will have just thirty minutes (or even less) to make an impression on the people sitting in the committee.

Nevertheless, success in this interview is not a question of luck (at least not completely). The better you prepare for the meeting and for the questions, the better your chances of succeeding will be…

Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com – Your best interview coach since 2011.