The interviews of most medical schools are one on one. That is, you interview with a single interviewer for 30-60 minutes, then with the next interviewer. Generally the medical school interview consists of one to three such one-on-one meetings. Some medical schools, for example the University of Washington, hold panel interviews where you face a group of two to four (and usually three) interviewers.
One-on-one or panel interviews may be either open-file or closed-file. Interviewers in an open-file interview have reviewed your file including grades, MCAT scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc. In closed-file interviews, the interviewer has either seen nothing in your file or just your AMCAS or AACOMAS personal statement (or an essay in your secondary application). The point of the closed-file interview is to remove any bias that might exist in your file and address how you come across to someone who does not know you. In either case, be very sure you can discuss any and all comments you made in the AMCAS/AACOMAS and secondary application essays.
- Before going into any interview, reread the essays that you transmitted to that program. Also, be prepared to discuss any problems with your application such as a low MCAT score, some low grades or inconsistent MCAT scores and grades. Know what mistakes you have made and what you have learned from them.
- If you are asked a question, the answer to which you truly do not know, admit it - do not try to bluff your way through it. The interviewer does not expect you to know everything about everything.
- Tour the campus ahead of time and know exactly where your interview will take place.
- Expect to be nervous. If you are taking the interview seriously you will be somewhat nervous and anxious – that’s ALRIGHT. Keep in mind that everyone else is nervous and that the interviewers take that into consideration.
- Make eye contact and do not fidget. It is generally not a good idea to jot down extensive notes
- Pay attention to the name of the person interviewing you. If you can, use that person’s name once or twice during the interview.
Questions about you:
- The interviewer may not have taken the time to go through your file, so do not say, "Like it says in my application…"
- If you do not understand the question, ask for a clarification. When asked a question that is totally unexpected, many students launch into an answer and quickly begin to ramble. Pause and organize your thoughts before speaking.
- It is important to be flexible so as to serve the patient. You must act in the best interests of your patient even if that requires some bending on your part; if scruples stand in the way, refer them to another physician.
- There is a set of questions to which you MUST have an organized, well thought out, logical answer:
- Why do you want to pursue a career as a physician?
- Why are you applying to this medical school?
- Considering the large number of highly qualified and impressive students applying to our program, why should we choose you?
- Do you have any questions for me? Any questions about our program?
- What is your plan B?
- What do you see yourself doing in 5, 10 or 15 years?
- Is there anything that we have not discussed that I should know about you? Is there anything that you would like me to know about you?
- If you are applying to the D.O. programs: Why are you interested in osteopathic medicine?
- Who was Andrew Taylor Still?
You as a medical school applicant:
- Tell me about yourself.
- How did you develop your personality?
- What is your biggest weakness? What is your biggest blunder in life?
- What one word would your friends use to describe you?
- What kind of leadership qualities do you have?
- Do you have any blemishes in your academic record? If so, what are they and why did they occur?
- If you were locked in a library overnight, in what section would they find you in the morning?
- How do you know you’ll enjoy spending time with sick people?
- What excites you about medicine in general?
- What travels have you taken, and what exposure to other cultures have you had?
- Tell me about a patient you have taken care of?
- What qualities do you look for in a physician? Can you provide an example of a physician who embodies any of these ideals? How do they do this?
- How will you handle death? What experiences have you had with death and dying?
- Tell me about your grades/MCAT scores. Your MCAT scores dropped by 1 point the second time you took the test. Is there a reason?
- What makes health care so expensive?
- How should society deal with the problem of child abuse?
- How do you think national health insurance might affect physicians, patients, and society?
- What do you feel are the social responsibilities of a physician?
Underrepresented group/admission related questions:
- Are you aware of any current controversies in the area of medical ethics? List and discuss some of these.
- A 75-year-old man is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and is given between 6 months and 1 year to live. He requests that you prescribe enough painkillers for him that, if taken all at once, would end his life. He does not explicitly say he will commit suicide, but you know that he will do so if you prescribe the medication. What do you do?
- Do you think that health care funds should be more focused on the expensive development of new technologies, or on providing adequate care for the masses who aren’t insured?
- If you had an 85-year-old patient with Alzheimer’s and failing kidneys, would you prescribe dialysis?
- Transplant a human brain: comments?
- Do frozen embryos have rights?
Off the wall and miscellaneous questions:
- How do you feel prepared to meet the diverse needs of a multiethnic, multicultural patient population?
- To what extent do you feel that you owe a debt to your community?
- To what extent do you owe a debt to those less fortunate than yourself? Please explain.
*revised from the Pre Medical Student Manual, University of Idaho
- You are the editor of Time magazine and it is December. Who’s going to be your person of the year and on the cover of Time magazine? Why that person?
- What is a dromedary? What is the difference between a camel and a dromedary?
- Describe with words (not using your hands) how to tie your shoes.
- One of our students had a 1-hour interview during which the ONLY thing the interviewer said was "Tell me about yourself" -- the interviewer was silent after this comment, never called for clarification or elaboration -- nothing.