Preparing for the Medical School Interview

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In the previous article, we discussed tips on how to approach undergraduate BS/MD interviews. Today, we’re going to talk about the medical school interview and how you can successfully rock that face to face meeting.

Know your research inside-out

In medical school interviews, you are going to be talking to highly qualified professionals who themselves have extensive training in research. So even if they haven’t done research in the exact field as your, they likely have enough experience to understand the technical details of what you did. And if they don’t, then they’ll know exactly which questions to ask, which means you need to be ready to answer any and every thing. Hopefully you already know the details of your own research, but if not, then do the reading necessary to brush up on anything you’re unfamiliar with. I then recommend making a small presentation to your mentor and asking them to be really critical of you; encourage them to ask tough questions so that you get some practice answering them before your interview. I personally have never had an interviewer grill me with tough research questions, but I do have friends who’ve faced that situation. In fact, one of my friends was faced with a panel of student researchers who were studying the same topic as she was, so they asked her a number of complicated and in depth questions. Though that may have just been her luck, it is always best to be prepared for the most difficult of circumstances. So my advice is to know your research project inside out and practice as if you were about to face a panel of PhD’s!

Be ready for curve ball questions

Your medical school interview is more likely to throw you curveball questions as opposed to your undergraduate interview, simply because the medical school is looking specifically to see how you respond to pressure situations. Remember that if you get a curveball question, its okay to answer it incorrectly (some questions may not even have a “correct” answer). All you have to do is maintain your calm and try to answer the question in the most logical way possible. Sometimes your interviewer will drop hints or try to steer you towards the right answer, and if that’s the case, then follow their cues. But again, you may or may not be able to end up with the right answer. Don’t panic, and you’ll be just fine!

Show knowledge of current medical news

If you can confidently say at 18-years old that you know which field of study you want to pursue as a career, hopefully you’ve done enough research to be able to back that statement up. And part of doing research is knowing current affairs related to that field. So before an interview, always be prepared to answer questions such as “What do you think is medicine’s biggest struggle right now” or “What do you think future doctors need to focus on/be aware of.” These types of questions have more than one right answer. What the true purpose of these questions is to see how up to date you are with the news and current events in medicine. This is not an unexpected question, so you should be ready to answer it in a confident and informed manner.
There may be interviews in which this question is not asked, but in that case, you have the opportunity to seem more informed than the average applicant by mentioning a current issue in the answers to one of the other questions. And what’s better? Perhaps mention some work that the medical school you are interviewing for is doing in reaction to those current affairs. Using either of these approaches will show the interviewer that you are a well-informed student who’s done their research and has the proactive attitude necessary for doctors.
Now that you know the difference between the two interviews, hopefully the purposes of the separate interviews are a bit clearer now. Most students enter these interviews without knowing exactly what to expect or how to act, so knowing this information will help you be one of the more prepared applicants. In the next post, I’ll discuss exactly what to do after the interview is done, (which is another topic that most students don’t know much about) so make sure to check it out for some more valuable information!

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