(Adapted from University of Syracuse, and St. Mary’s College in California Pre-health Websites)
How to Prepare for Your Medical/Dental School Interview
- Research the school
- Conduct a self-assessment. What are you strengths and weaknesses, why do you want to be a physician or dentist?
- Read professional journals and newspapers. Become familiar with current trends in the profession and changes in the health care system.
General Interview Tips
- Be prepared
- Wear appropriate interview attire
- If you do not understand a question, ask them to clarify it
- If you do not know the answer to a question, it is appropriate to say "I do not know"
- Have good eye contact
- Arrive early
- Have a healthy and confident body posture
- Be honest
- Use good manners
- Prepare questions to ask during the interview
- A Typical Interview:
The most common interview is the one-on-one serial interview, in which you go from interviewer to interviewer. Most interviewers ask why the applicant wants to be a physician or dentist, how he or she became interested in medicine or dentistry, what the applicant knows about the profession and what direct exposure he or she has had to the profession. They will also inquire about anything in the application packet that needs to be clarified. Finally, most interviewers allow time for the applicants’ questions.
- Panel Interviews:
Occasionally, you will be faced with the panel or group interview, in which several individuals interview you at the same time. These interviews will generally be conducted using either a question or a scenario format. In the question format, each panel member asks his or her own questions. In the scenario format, candidates discuss scenarios/ situations with the entire panel. In the panel interview, look at the individual who asked the question when you answer. In the case of the scenario, look at all the members while answering since it is a question from the entire group. If an individual member asks you a follow-up question, address only that person when answering. Do not try to determine the most influential people on the panel and direct most of your attention to them.
- Open and Closed-File Interviews:
Most schools supply their interviewers with information from the applicants' admission packet. This way, interview time is not wasted re-hashing information the applicant has already supplied to the school. This is an "open-file" interview.
Some schools do not supply the interviewers with anything other than the applicant's name. They believe the interviewer will have a more objective view of the applicant and will not be influenced by knowledge of the applicant's academic record. These are "closed-file" interviews. If you are faced with this situation, you will need to recite everything you put in your application to many interviewers. In this setting, some interviewers simply abandon the factual information and ask questions designed to demonstrate your personal characteristics.
After Your Interview
Send a thank you note to the interviewers within a few days of your interview. Do not send a generic letter; include information that refers to items that you talked about. You may want to summarize why you are interested in attending that school.
Frequently Asked Questions During a Medical School Interview
Interviewers may be faculty members (physicians or biomedical researchers), medical students, administrators, or sometimes alumni of the medical school.
Rather than being asked questions about yourself, you may be asked to respond to questions on bioethics with hypothetical situations described and you respond as to how to deal with them. Two examples are:
- A patient who has been in an accident needs a blood transfusion. She states that her religion does not allow them. You are the physician in charge. What will you do? Will you override her strong objection? Why/why not?
- If you have the choice of giving a transplant to a successful elderly member of the community or a 20-year old drug addict, how do you choose?
There are no correct answers to these kinds of questions, but you are expected to be able to respond clearly and thoughtfully.
Questions/Topics Often Discussed/Observed
- Where do you envision yourself in ten years? (geographical location and type of practice)
- What have I not asked about that you feel I should know about you?
- Where do you hope to practice? In what setting?
- What motivated you to study medicine?
- Tell me about your research project, if any.
- What recent books have you read? What newspapers, journals, etc., do you read on a regular basis?
- What is the most pressing health issue today?
- What experiences have you had in community involvement that demonstrate your commitment to medicine?
- What is special about you as a candidate for medical school?
- What do you think are a doctor's social responsibilities?
- What are the negative aspects of medicine from a professional standpoint?
- How did you handle blood and gore (or how do you expect to)?
- Discuss National Health Insurance and how it would affect the physician and the patient.
- What do you think about Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)?
- What is the biggest problem in the world today?
- How do you feel about euthanasia?