Applying to Medical School

29 Most Common Medical School Interview Questions & How To Answer

Admissions committees rely on the medical school interview to determine an applicant’s communication skills, strengths, weaknesses, and long-term career goals.

By reviewing questions you’re likely to be asked, you have a better shot at standing out as an ideal candidate for the institution where you’re interviewing.

Getting an interview means that the school believes you are qualified, at least on paper, for their program. Good grades and MCAT scores aren’t the only predictors medical schools use for their applicants, though. To be a successful physician, you not only need the knowledge of medicine, but the ability to relate to patients and colleagues.

What is the best way to prepare for a medical school interview? The best way to prepare for a medical school interview is to find sample questions, write down your answers, and perform mock interviews. You’ll also want to do a lot of research on the medical school itself.

To help with your interview prep, we’ve listed the most popular questions asked by medical schools every year, along with some interview tips. The interviewee must, at the minimum, prepare an answer for each of the following questions.

Want to be the candidate schools are eager to send an acceptance letter to? Learn more about how we can help you prepare for your application and interview cycle so you stand out among the crowd.

Personality Questions

1. Tell me about yourself.

Why they ask: This is usually an icebreaker question and aims for a concise overview of your background and experiences. Interviewers want to know if you can communicate well and get an initial read on your personality. Practice this one ahead of time so you can use this opportunity to show you can answer an open-ended question.

How to answer: 

  • Keep your response brief.
  • Stay relevant to your medical education and career.
  • Highlight some of your strengths.
  • Let your personality shine — don’t let this answer become so robotic that it feels overly rehearsed.
  • Don’t repeat information from your application, such as your GPA or MCAT score.
  • Include hobbies/interests you have outside of medicine, such as scuba diving, traveling, or painting.

2. Why do you want to be a doctor?

Why they ask: Interviewers want to know what motivates you and how you’ll fit in at their institution. This is your chance to explain why medicine appeals to you specifically.

How to answer: 

  • Discuss any meaningful experiences that inspired you to become a doctor.
  • Don’t just say you want to help people — get specific about who and how you want to help.
  • Go into detail about the disciplines you want to pursue and why.
  • Get excited! Medicine is a challenging but monumentally rewarding career. Make sure an appropriate level of enthusiasm and anticipation come through.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Why they ask: This question provides valuable insight into your character. Being able to list your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses gives interviewers a handle on your strong and weak points, but also lets them know you’re self-aware and confident.

How to answer for strengths: 

  • Don’t just give blanket adjectives. Give real-life examples.
  • Explain why they’ll make you a great healthcare provider.
  • Be careful not to sound arrogant. You can be confident without being off-putting (which is something your interviewers are on the lookout for).

How to answer for weaknesses: 

  • Don’t panic. Remember that everyone has weaknesses; yours are probably not detrimental. 
  • Avoid using a “weakness” that’s just a strength in disguise, like, “I’m too committed to my work.” Be honest about a true shortcoming.
  • Discuss how you work to overcome these weaknesses.

4. Let’s talk about [point on your application].

Why they ask: If there’s any point on your application that needs clarification, this might come up in the interview. Maybe you took extra time away from school, or your grades have a weak point. This is an opportunity for the admissions team to follow up and get further information.

How to answer: 

  • Be prepared. Take a look at your medical school application in the days leading up to your interview, and look for gaps or areas that may prompt a clarifying question. Expect them to ask for background information without the character limit imposed by essays.
  • Don’t get defensive to use this as an excuse to speak poorly about another person, as this will reflect poorly on your character (which is an important element of this interview).

5. What will you do if you are not accepted to medical school this year? Do you have an alternative career plan?

Why they ask: While this question isn’t the most encouraging, don’t read into it. Interviewers want to know you take yourself and your future plans seriously and that you have a firm grasp of what you need to accomplish before applying again.

In fact, 58% of medical school applicants were rejected in 2022. That’s a daunting statistic, but if you’re serious about a career in medicine, trying again next year won’t be the end of your journey.

How to answer: 

  • Be honest about how upsetting it would be to not get accepted.
  • Outline the steps you would take to gain more clinical or research experience and enhance your application before reapplying.
  • Ask your interviewer(s) and the medical school you interviewed at if there is anything on your application or interview they would recommend working on for a reapplication.

Nervous about your medical school interviews? Our friends at MedSchoolCoach offer comprehensive interview prep services to help you put your best foot forward.

Education Questions

6. Why did you choose your undergraduate major?

Why they ask: Interviewers may want to know a little more about your story. Your GPA only reveals so much about your undergrad coursework. Maybe they want to see what your interests are, or that you chose a field of study you’re passionate about. Think of this as an offshoot of the “tell me about yourself” prompt.

How to answer: 

  • Show your excitement about your field of study.
  • Discuss how your undergrad degree might influence your work in the field of medicine.

7. Describe your research experience.

Why they ask: While you’ve already provided this information in writing, don’t assume an interviewer will remember every detail of your application. They’ll ask this to learn about your scientific competencies and fluency. Your extracurricular activities will also point them toward your areas of interest. 

How to answer: 

  • Prepare to discuss research projects thoroughly.
  • Be upfront about your level of involvement.
  • Discuss why you chose the projects you did.

Medical School Questions

8. There are 1,000 applicants as qualified as you are. Why should you be accepted into our medical school?

Why they ask: They want to know you’ve done your homework and can articulate how you’ll contribute to their institution. Do your goals and interests align with the school more than the next applicant? Tell them!

How to answer: 

  • Research the school beforehand to understand its mission. Use this research to relate your personal goals to the overall vision of the school interviewing you.
  • List some characteristics and experiences related to medicine that make you a strong candidate, but avoid bragging.
  • When relevant, discuss how you will contribute to the school’s commitment to diversity in medicine. (We discuss this a bit more below, too.)
  • Don’t put down other applicants. Focus on why you are a great candidate, not why others aren’t.

Medical Profession Questions

Why they ask: As a prospective medical student, they don’t expect you to be an expert here, but interviewers do want to see that you take an active interest in current events in the medical field.

How to answer: 

  • Read up on what is happening in healthcare in the United States before the interview day. Consult medical journals, publications like the New York Times, and even websites like Healthline to understand trends and recent breakthroughs.
  • Have a few talking points ready. These may include a few ideas of gaps in the healthcare system that stand out to you and how you would like to address them in your career.

Bonus Tip: If you need a starting point, is a great resource for up-to-date news on various medical topics.

10. What are your goals in medicine?

Why they ask: They want to know what you’re passionate about. This is an opportunity to share what will drive you to become a good doctor. It will also let them know if their program is the best way for you to meet your career goals.

How to answer: 

  • Get as specific as you can. We all want to be successful physicians, but that looks very different from one person to the next. Articulate things like where you would like to practice, the communities you’re most passionate about working with, the specialty you’re most interested in pursuing, and the personal goals you’re hoping to achieve with a career in medicine.
  • Be upfront if your goals aren’t fully defined yet — it’s ok to be unsure of an exact trajectory.
  • Communicate that you are open to adjusting some of these goals as you learn about more of the nuances of the profession, work with patients, and grow as a person.

Diversity Questions

11. If you are a minority applicant, how do you feel your unique background prepares you to be a good physician?

Why they ask: Medical schools value diversity and want to create diverse student bodies and foster a sense of community. If you are a minority, interviewers may ask how your unique perspective will impact your career.

How to answer: 

  • Be comfortable discussing your experiences.
  • Discuss healthcare issues specific to your background.
  • Connect how your experiences and background will allow you to meet the needs of others as a physician.

12. If you are not a minority, how will you work to meet the needs of a multiethnic, multicultural patient population?

Why they ask this: Interviewers know you’ve probably had opportunities to volunteer with underserved communities and work with patients from a variety of cultural backgrounds. They want to know how you plan to move forward and promote inclusion on campus and, subsequently, as a practitioner.

How to answer:  

  • Discuss how volunteering or other life experiences have helped to improve your communication skills with diverse groups.
  • Outline how you plan to continue improving your cultural literacy.

More Questions to Expect

While we’ve covered several topics, there are more questions to expect during interviews. Spend some time reflecting on your answers to the questions above. Expect to be asked about medical ethics, moral dilemmas, and current health concerns along with basic character questions.

We’ve also developed a question bank of over 100 sample questions most likely to come up during multiple mini interviews. Review the below questions and the additional question bank (including roleplay/acting scenarios) for a robust idea of what questions you may be asked to answer during interview season.

13. Do you have a family member or role model who contributed to your decision to pursue medicine?

14. What do you do in your spare time?

15. How do you handle stressful situations?

16. How do you handle failure?

17. Tell us about a challenging experience you had in your life and how you overcame it.

18. What does teamwork mean to you in the context of practicing medicine?

19. Describe your volunteer work.

20. Describe your clinical experience.

21. Tell me about your hobbies.

22. What are you looking for in a medical school?

23. If you were restricted to clinical or academic medicine, which would you prefer? What would you miss about the other?

24. What do you believe to be some of the most pressing health issues today? Why?

25. If you are economically disadvantaged or have limited financial means, how has this adversity influenced you?

26. What do you think about ______________?

     a. Abortion

     b. Euthanasia

     c. Stem Cell Research

     d. Universal healthcare

27. What is your favorite book? Why?

28. Tell me about a leadership role you held in college.

Get comprehensive application and interview advising services from our friends at MedSchoolCoach. They’ve helped thousands of prospective doctors!

Get ready for your interview!

Now that interviews are going virtual, learn tips on how to shine when interviewing online. Watch the webinar video:

Read Next: Medical School Personal Statement Storytelling Guide

Related Articles

Back to top button