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How to Answer the Random Medical School Interview Questions

Renee Marinelli MD

Renee Flick is a former admissions committee member at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine and a MedSchoolCoach advisor. She shares some tips on how to answer the random medical school interview question.

“If you were to write a book about yourself, what would it be titled?” Huh? Let me think about that one for a minute…

Most medical students have one or more stories of an odd question asked of them during their medical school interview. Although, a majority of questions are fairly standard and are expected (Why medicine? What’s your greatest strength?), some will catch the interviewee off guard. So what do you do if one minute you’re talking about your research and the next minute you’re asked what song best describes your life?

Here are three things to always remember:

First, stay calm, remember that you could get an odd question, so this wasn’t completely unexpected.

Second, take 10 seconds to think about a response before you blurt out an answer. It’s ok to say “that’s an interesting question” or “let me think for a moment” while you formulate your answer. The object of these questions (other than to make you nervous) is to not respond with an incredibly profound or poetic answer, but to see how you “think on your feet”. In medicine, in life, there is often the unexpected and part of what defines us is how we respond to whatever situation is thrown our way. So whether it be a drastic change in life plans or a random interview question, the best response is to stay cool and improvise. Try to respond with an answer that is somewhat interesting and applies to your life situation. Whatever your answer is, deliver it composed and natural, and do your best not to sound anxious. The interviewer is going to be more concentrated on your manner and poise, and not so much the answer itself.