Veterinary medicine is a broad field which encompasses much more than just treating and preventing diseases in animals. Food and safety inspection falls within the field, so does veterinarian research (including test trials on animals), and other things.

Needless to say, a lot of ethical issues are popping up lately, with the animal rights movements, growth of veganism (including militant veganism), and the latest discoveries of unethical practices that rule the majority of mass production of meat and diary products in the developed countries, and the impacts it has on our health as final consumers.

All these things reflect also in Vet School interviews. Long gone are times when you faced just a few simple questions such as “Tell us about yourself” or “Why did you choose our school and not another one?”

Surely, you may still get these questions, but you will get also other questions, more difficult, and some Vet Schools started to interview the applicants with the MMI format. In this article we will look at some questions you may face in both traditional interviews and MMI. Let’s start!

 

Why do you want to work as a veterinarian?

Just do not say that you love animals. You can be a vegan if you really love animals, and all kids also love animals, so it doesn’t make for a strong enough reason to apply for a difficult four year long study program, that will have an impact on your entire professional career.

Try to come up with something more specific. Perhaps a specialty field of veterinary medicine that caught your eye, and you’d love to practice it one day. Or your parents happen to run a small farm, and your goal is to be the lead veterinarian on their farm one day.

Or, perhaps, you understand that we are what we eat, and you’d love to dive into veterinarian research, perhaps trying to find out the real impact meat consumption has on us, or you even want to lead some clinical trials on animals, while trying to find the cure to some disease that bothers humanity.

Remember, the more specific you’ll be in your answer, the better for the interviewers. Because vet school is not easy, and your motivation can quickly fade out if you apply just because you “love animals”, without any future goal on your mind.

Do you have any experience with practicing veterinary medicine?

It is a huge plus if you have any experience working with veterinarians or veterinary researches, especially if you have any hands-on experience with animals.

Now, if you do have experience, you should narrate in detail what exactly you did, at which place, who was your lead veterinarian, and also how this experience impacted your decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine–in an ideal case, it should enforce your desire to study at vet school, but also help you understand some tough aspects of the job (such as treating aggressive animals, being called to work at night, facing ethical dilemmas, etc).

If you have no experience, you should be able to explain why. Maybe it was a last minute decision for you to apply at a vet school, after some event that changed your point of view, or some documentaries you have seen. And since you decided just recently, you had other jobs before. But you definitely plan to gain some experience during your studies, because you know it is important.

Try to talk with enthusiasm while describing your experience in the interview. They should get an impression that you enjoy the work, that you see a meaningful purpose in it.

 

Do you have a plan B? What will you do if you do not get into vet school this year?

The key is to convince them that you are serious about your application and career plans. That means, if you do not get in this year, you will try your luck during the next application cycle. But you won’t spend the year doing nothing, or hanging around. You will try to get as much hands-on practice with animals as possible, and also prepare better for the next application cycle.

You can suggest also different plans, as long as they make sense. For example you may go and volunteer on an ecological farm abroad, learning a new language and experiencing first hand how things work in veterinary medicine in a different country and culture.

Another alternative is saying that you believe you’ve done the most to succeed, and will succeed. You do not consider failure an option, and will think about your next steps once the application cycle is over. Now, at this moment, you focus all your energy and thoughts on the interviews only. Why think about possible negative outcome anyway? You believe you’ll get to vet school, and if you don’t, you’ll cross the bridge when you come to it.

 

What is your opinion on clinical trials on animals?

More often than not, you will get at least one question that touches some ethical dilemma. It can be clinical trials, mass production of meat and diary (and the terrible conditions animals have to endure in such facilities, from birth to death), or it can even be the meat consumption.

My suggestion: Tell them what you really think, but talk in opinions. Let me explain… They are definitely looking for students with personality, for people who can think critically, who have their opinion. Hence you should have an opinion about these ethical issues.

At the same time, however, you should present it as such–an opinion, not some definite truth everyone has to follow. Let me give you an example of two answers that convey the same message, but in a very different way:

I condemn all clinical trials on animals. We must forbid them for good. People who lead these trials, or participate on them, should meet the same fate like the animals in their trials.

In my opinion, it is not the best solution, to do clinical trials on animals. We should try to find better ways of testing new drugs and treatments of various diseases, to minimize the suffering of animals in the world.

As you can probably guess, answer no. 2 is a much better choice…

How do you plan to spend your time on college while not studying?

You have two options for a good answer to this one. First one is saying that you want to commit almost all your time to studies. Books, books, and ever more books, that’s your plan. You aspire to be one of the very best students in the class, and, together with some hands-on experience, you can’t imagine doing much more than studying and volunteering at some clinic or farm.

Of course, you won’t be a total outsider, never joining your schoolmates for a round of beers (or glasses of orange juice). But your studies and perhaps a part time or volunteering opportunity, which you may get with some clinic, are your first priority, and you’ll treat everything else as secondary.

Another option is referring to activities for the campus community. Perhaps you want to become a resident assistant, or represent your fellow students in a student council, or volunteer in a library, or organize some events at school, or do something else to give back to the community.

At the end of the day, selfless students who try to give something back to their alma mater, or their fellow students, are always highly regarded by the teachers and other admission committee members.

 

Few other questions you may face in a traditional interview format at vet school

  • It is not easy to study at vet school. How do you plan to handle the workload, and what do you plan to sacrifice for your studies?
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of a job of a veterinarian?
  • Why did you decide for our school, and not for some other institution? What makes us special in your eyes?
  • Does your academic record accurately reflect your capabilities?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
  • Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
  • If you could pick any veterinary school in the world for your studies, which one would it be?

 

MMI interviews at vet school – questions you may get

In my opinion, the biggest difference between traditional and MMI interviews is that you cannot make a connection with the interviewer during the MMI.

I mean, typical panel interviews always allow some room for small talk, and also give you an opportunity to correct your mistake–several times.

For example, if you struggle with a question and remain silent, or maybe do not answer it in a most appropriate way, you get a change to remedy your mistake, with your next answers. What’s more, interviewers are only people. If you make a good connection with them, they may forgive you more than one bad answer…

Nothing of this is possible in MMI. There’s no time for small talk and making connection, no room for remedying your error. You have just one chance, one question, and that’s it!

So definitely this is tougher, but perhaps also more fair to people who do not have a charisma, or aren’t that strong in selling their skills in the interview. And that’s the goal after all, to make an unbiased decision, to choose the best applicants (and not the one we like the most).

Let’s have a look at some questions you may face.

 

MMI at vet school, sample questions

  • A client comes to your practice with a severely obese dog. You warned them before about the nutrition of their pet, but apparently they didn’t listen and now the dog is even more obese than the last time. What will you do? What will you say to the client?
  • Your best friend, Stephanie, calls you to tell you that she has been rejected for the second time from all vet schools that she had applied to during the previous application cycle. She invites you over to her house to have a chat about her future plans. Walk into the room and talk with Stephanie.
  • Do you think it is good that we have zoos? Try to explain pros and cons of zoos, from your point of view.
  • Scientists come with an idea of yet another possibility of innovative treatment for cancer. But they need to conduct clinical trials on 50,000 rats, and other animals, many of them will die in the process, before proceeding to the trials with existing cancer patients–if the trials on animals show satisfactory results. What is your take on this idea? Should they proceed with the trials?
  • If the President were to ask your advice on one change that could be applied to the healthcare system that would improve it enormously and have the greatest positive effect, how would you answer?
  • Imagine that you are on holiday, in an exotic country, doing some sightseeing in the city. By accident, you walk into a small square and see that locals are about to unleash two big dogs for a fight. How will you react in this situation?

 

Conclusion, next steps

All around the world, the acceptance rate to vet school is just about 15%. Or even lower. You may not get many chances to interview for a place at a vet school. When you get such a chance, you should do all you can to succeed.

Research a lot about the school. Check the entire curricula and pick some courses that you really like. Prepare a short answer to each question from our list, and check also other sources online and offline. If you can, practice your answers with a friend or with an interview coach.

It’s not easy to get into the vet school, but someone (typically 10%-15% of applicants) will always make the cut. Why couldn’t it be you? Prepare for your interview, and try to stand our with logical and specific answers. I wish you good luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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