Interviewing with Medical & Dental Schools
- Consider the Harvard Office of Career Services perspective on the interview process: As you prepare for the interview, it may help to think about why medical schools interview applicants. They hope to evaluate your personality, professionalism, and maturity; to hear your motivation to pursue medicine in your own spoken words; to hear how you have tested and confirmed your desire to become a clinician; to learn if you have realistic expectations of life as a physician; and to decide if you are going to be a great colleague and peer.
- Complete the free online Interviewing Workshop offered by the University of Minnesota Pre-Health Student Resource Center, as well as their short online module about the MMI.
- Stay current by reading, listening, and viewing: Health professions schools are looking for lifelong learners who are intensely curious about their field of interest. Candidates may be asked questions pertaining to current health care and newsworthy scientific research issues. Follow the science and medicine sections of local and national newspapers and national magazines (e.g., Time/Newsweek. Check out the Diagnosis series by Dr. Lisa Sanders in New York Times to get a taste of the detective work required in medicine, and view the Patient Voices series. Listen to Bioethics or healthcare-related TED talks. Go to Dana Library and find articles of interest in recent issues of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or other medical journals that catch your attention. [Journal of the American Dental Association is appropriate for dental applicants.] Visit the professional associations’ websites for current news. Browse for books at the public library or a bookstore and check out a book written by a medical student or physician that explains what it means to "walk in their shoes." Visit the Issues in Healthcare: Stay Current section of the Pre-Health website for more...
Approaching the Interview
Interviews require advance preparation:
- When you receive an interview invitation, spend sufficient time thoroughly reviewing the school’s website. Understand the school’s mission, curricular style, timing/location/style of clinical experiences; note which interview format they use. Jot down at least one question that you have that you cannot get answered by scouring the website.
- Read reviews: The Student Doctor Network posts reviews by applicants who have interviewed at schools across the country. Warning – opinions expressed on this site can be strong, if not reactive, and are not always credible. Proceed with caution, look for consistency in reporting, and seek confirmation from your advisor before following any advice posted on this site.
- Look through the sample questions and other resources below for both traditional style and MMI style interviews
- Arrive to your interview early
- Wear appropriate, professional clothing
- A follow-up thank you note is recommended
Sample Questions: Traditional Style Interview
- Tell me about yourself?
- What do you see as your particular strengths and “growing edges” as a candidate?
- What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your life?
- Who has been the most influential person in your life?
- Explain how you have gained new skills/tools by venturing out of your comfort zone?
- What is your preferred way of learning, and how do you learn best?
- What have you read lately?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- How do you deal with stress or adversity in your personal life?
Motivation / Commitment to Medicine, Dentistry, etc.
- Why do you want to become a physician/dentist?
- When did you first think seriously about going to medical or dental school?
- What have you done so far to test and affirm your career interest?
- What do you most look forward to about practicing medicine or dentistry?
- What concerns do you have about the profession you hope to enter?
- What will you do if you don’t get admitted?
Education / Experience
- Be prepared for specific questions regarding any of your application materials.
- What were your favorite non-science classes and why?
- What classes did you struggle with in college and why?
- What would you do differently, if anything, in terms of courses or major were you to do it again?
- To what extent have you challenged yourself as a student?
- Have you pursued any independent study or research? What did you learn?
- What types of volunteer work have you done?
- What experiences have you had working with people? What have you learned in the process?
Knowledge of Program (for an actual medical or dental school interview only)
- What attracts you to our program?
- Why is this school a good fit for you?
- What will you add to our community?
- Why will you be an excellent physician? What do see as the most important qualities?
- What are the biggest challenges and issues facing physicians/dentists today?
- How will you deal personally with the stress associated with your training and the profession itself?
Preparing for Multiple Mini Interviews
- Familiarize yourself with the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format. AAMC resources include: Tips for Interview Day from Current Medical Students and What's it like to participate in MMIs?
- McMaster University was a leader in developing the MMI for medical school admissions. They, and other Canadian schools, offer robust MMI-related resources, including sample questions and videos showing MMIs in action.
- Columbia University School of Bioethics has a free one hour webinar, The MMI & Beyond Panel Discussion.
- Preview the University of Michigan Career Center’s 18 minute practice MMI workshop
- There are several books that can be purchased, e.g., MMI: Winning Strategies from Admissions Faculty" by Samir Desai
- Sample questions can be searched online (including at Course Grinder, BeMo Academic Consulting, Medical School Admissions Doctor, and many others)
General Suggestions for Interview Day
- Be Yourself. The Admissions Committee wants to get a genuine sense of your personality, and character. Honesty and accuracy is important.
- Back it Up. Come prepared to give examples to support your statements. If the question is, “What do you have to offer our school?” don't just recite a list of your qualities. Rather, highlight a few that you think make you unique, and provide some evidence that demonstrates you have them and connect your examples with specifics about the school.
- Reflect on yourself and your path through life. Walk into the interview having done some major introspection. Consider what various life experiences have shaped you? How do you interact with people in a variety of circumstances? Be prepared to explain how your challenges and triumphs helped you learn and grow. What specifically attracts you to medicine or dentistry over all the other careers out there? What personal characteristics make you certain you are cut out to be a physician or dentist? What are your specific strengths as a candidate? What will make you memorable?
- Be Honest. You might be asked a question about an unfamiliar topic. That’s okay; you are not a healthcare provider yet. Don’t fake it. Show interest and learn, or if appropriate, use it to lead toward a related topic with which you are familiar.
- Be ready to think on your feet. You may be asked situation-based questions for which you would have to provide potential ideas or solutions on the spot. Or, you may be asked behavior-based questions for which you would have to recall examples of relevant past behavior.
Please note that UVM and The Career Center do not endorse any particular websites/services. The resources provided are for your information only.
Last modified January 31 2019 03:48 PM