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Interview Preparation

The interview is a critical element of the admissions process for many health professional programs, providing the program and applicant with the ability to determine if they are a "good fit" for each other. Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare in advance by attending workshops, practicing with friends/family/mentors, and scheduling a personalized mock interview with the Pre-Health Professions Program. Current students and alumni can request a mock interview appointment here: Request a Pre-Health Mock Interview

Interview Formats

You may meet with a single interviewer for 30-60 minutes, then with the next interviewer.

You may face a group of two to four interviewers.  The panel could consist of Admission’s Committee members, faculty, health professionals, alumni, and/or current students in the program.

This format typically consists of a series of seven to ten stations. At each station, students are given a limited amount of time (e.g. two minutes) to read a prompt, and then a limited amount of time (e.g. six to seven minutes) to respond.  The prompts are commonly scenario-based and are generally not complex/not requiring medical knowledge. 

Some schools interview a small cohort of applicants simultaneously. During a group session, interviewers may present the applicants with a hypothetical problem and require them to work together towards a solution.

Interviewers in an open-file interview have reviewed your file including grades, entrance exam scores, application essays, letters of recommendation, etc.

In closed-file interviews, the interviewer has either seen nothing in your file or just your 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 your initial and secondary application essays.

Common Interview Questions

  • What makes health care so expensive?
  • How should society deal with the problem of child abuse?
  • What do you feel are the social responsibilities of a healthcare provider?
  • How do you feel prepared to meet the diverse needs of a multiethnic, multicultural patient population? 
  • To what extent do you owe a debt to those less fortunate than yourself? Please explain.
  • You are taking a test and notice the person sitting next to you is copying answers off of your paper.What do you do? Why?
  • A patient brings you a very expensive present.What would you do?Why?
  • 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? 
  • Do frozen embryos have rights?
  • There is a new treatment that could greatly benefit many of your patients.However, it is extremely expensive to provide and you can only offer it to one person.How do you decide which of your patients gets the treatment?What logic did you use to arrive at your decision?

  • 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.
  • If you had all the money in the world to put towards resolving an issue with the healthcare system, what problem would you solve? How?
  • If you could bring one person back from the dead and have them over for dinner…who would it be, and what would you serve them?

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • 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?
  • How do you resolve conflict at work/home/ school?
  • What exposure to other cultures have you had?
  • What qualities do you look for in a healthcare provider? Can you provide an example of a (doctor/dentist/pharmacist, etc.) who embodies these ideals? How do they do this? 
  • Tell me about your grades/MCAT/DAT/PCAT/GRE scores. Your scores dropped by ___ points the second time you took the test. Is there a reason? 
  • What does it mean to be a professional?
  • What excites you about medicine/healthcare in general? 
  • Do you have any blemishes in your academic record? If so, what are they and why did they occur?

  • You are in a meeting. In front of your peers and managers from other departments, your manager blames you for not doing well on a task. You believe that your manager is being unfair in his critique, and that he might have come to this conclusion hastily without knowing all the information. You feel you are being treated unfairly in front of your colleagues, and are concerned that your reputation may be affected by this critique. What would you do in this situation?
  • How would you attempt to make changes in the process if you felt a policy at your organization/educational institution was hurting its employees/students?
  • You disagree with the way your supervisor says to handle a problem. What would you do?Why do you choose to handle the situation in that manner?
  • In a team leadership role, you discover that a team member has gone "over your head" to propose an idea or complain about an issue without talking to you first. How do you handle the situation?

  • Tell us about a time that you made a mistake.
  • Tell us about a time that you broke a rule.
  • Tell us about a time that you had to deliver bad news to someone.

Interview Preparation

  • Before the interview, review your application and any essays that you transmitted to that program.
    • Be prepared to discuss any problems with your application such as a low entrance exam scores, a poor grade in a class, or inconsistent test scores and grades.
    • Know what mistakes you have made and what you have learned from them.
  • Tour the campus ahead of time and know exactly where your interview will take place.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of appropriate interview attire.
  • Practice, practice, practice...and not just in your head.  It is also important to practice saying your answers out loud.
    • Many students find it helpful to use flash cards with the question on one side of the card and key points you want to make outlined on the other.
  • Schedule a mock interview with the Pre-Health Professions Program

  • Expect to be nervous. If you are taking the interview seriously, you will be somewhat nervous and anxious – that’s OKAY.
  • Keep in mind that everyone else is nervous and that the interviewers take that into consideration.
  • If you are asked a question to which you do not know the answer, admit it. Do not try to bluff your way through it.
  • The interviewer does not expect you to know everything about everything.They are primarily trying to gauge your thought process and how you respond under pressure/when faced with an unfamiliar circumstance.
  • If you start to "derail" during an answer, stop, acknowledge that you have gotten off course, and then get yourself back on track. This shows self-awareness, and is much better than continuing to power through and hoping that the interviewer(s) did not notice (they did, so you might as well acknowledge it and move on)
  • Make eye contact, face your interviewers, and do not fidget.
  • It is a good idea to bring a notepad/portfolio, but generally not a good idea to jot down extensive notes.

General Strategies

  • The interviewer may not have taken the time to go through your file (or may not have had access to 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. 
  • There is a set of questions to which you will want to have an organized, well thought out, logical answer:
    • Why do you want to pursue a career as a (physician/dentist/physical therapist)? 
    • Why are you applying to this particular 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 us / questions about our program? note: make sure your questions are genuine and not easily answered by a quick web search
    • What will you do if not admitted this cycle? 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? 

  • Reflect on what you were able to learn about the program and whether you still think it could be a good fit for you.
  • If the school has indicated it is appropriate to do so, you may wish to send hand-written thank you notes. 
  • If the school has indicated that it is appropriate to do so, send updates (academic, experience, etc.) relevant to your application so they can note it in your file.

Pre-Health Professions Program

Physical Address:

Vandal Success Center
Idaho Commons, 3rd floor

Mailing Address:

875 Perimeter Drive MS 2436
Moscow, ID 83844-2436

Phone: 208-885-5809

Email: pre-health@uidaho.edu