What an exciting time!!! You finally landed yourself a medical school interview. Except now you realize that you actually haven’t ever interviewed for anything before amd you can’t go to the interview unprepared, this is the most important moment of your life up to this point! If you feel like this, let me assure you that you are not alone.
Hi, my name is Sean Kiesel. I am a Family Medicine Resident. I got into medical school on my first try, even though I had an average GPA and well, I will be honest, a horrible MCAT score.
Despite this I have been wildly successful in medical school, but that is a story for another day.
Right now, I want to discuss how you can prepare for the most common medical school interview questions.
Lets dive in and cover some questions you will likely face during your medical school interview.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to go to this school?
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- Why do you want to be an osteopathic doctor?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Tell me about a failure in your life.
- Tell me about a time you had to lead a team.
- Why should we pick you?
- What excites you about medicine?
Question #1: Tell me about yourself.
What a fun question right? The secret to this question is that the interviewer wants to see what you have thought of. They want to see how you would describe yourself to them.
This means a few simple things. Don’t make the same mistake that most interviewees make, which is start to talk about where you are from and all that garbage they can already see in your application.
They want to hear what you have to say about yourself.
So you want to tell them things that go along with these ideas:
- Your personality
- How well you work in teams
- How dedicated you are
- How persistent you are
Essentially you want to tell them things that they don’t know from your application, but that will reassure them that you will do well in medical school and as a doctor.
Question #2: Why do you want to go to this school?
Ah, the question that is testing whether or not you actually care about their school, or if it was just another name on a list of medical schools to apply to.
They are testing you to see if you have done your homework on their school.
So be prepared for this one.
You really want to spend some time in the few days before the interview looking at the schools website to figure out what makes them unique and different from all the other schools.
Once you figure out what they pride themselves on, then you need to figure out a way that you fit into that mold, this forms your answer to this question.
If they absolutely pride themselves on their unique curriculum then you need to discuss this.
If they are dedicated to serving a particular region of the country, then hopefully you want to serve that area too.
All you need to do to make this a successful question on your part is do your homework on their website and find something to discuss that they believe is unique to them. It actually doesn’t have to be unique to medical school in general, just something that THEY believe they do better or different then all other schools.
Doing this will show to them that you actually want to be there and that they are not just another stop on your tour of interviews.
Question #3: Why do you want to be a doctor?
This question is so important. You absolutely need to have a good reason as to why you want to be a physician.
The typical responses here are that you want to help people, or that you like science.
I personally believe that you should have a combination of enjoying the content of medicine with a commitment to serve people.
Try and come up with stories from your life to back up the response though. This is the real key to the question, because everyone will say they want to help people.
The important thing is that you discuss your love of serving people while telling a story of actually serving someone.
Question #4: Why do you want to be an osteopathic physician?
This one is obviously specific for those that are applying and interviewing and DO schools.
The key here is to figure out what differentiates DO school from MD school.
Largely they are the same. The curriculum is pretty much the same, the exams you take are largely the same, but the main difference is Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine or OMM.
A lot of people will say that Osteopathic medical school teaches you more “holistic” medicine. This is not true at all.
Holistic medicine comes from the person and not the education.
The only difference between MD and DO students is the addition of OMM in the osteopathic curriculum.
So to absolutely own this medical school interview question, you need to answer why you want to learn OMM.
Good reasons are:
- Another tool to treat patients.
- A way to treat patients that medicine can’t fix.
- An easy quick way to make patients feel better.
These are common types of answers to this question, so come up with one that incorporates these types of responses into your answer to this question.
Question #5: What are your strengths?
This one is pretty straightforward and the only real requirements are that you think about your answer to this question ahead of time.
There is not right or wrong answer here, and they really just want to know a little bit more about you.
With that being said, you can still do your homework and be prepared. By this I mean that you should take a look over the schools website and see what kind of qualities they are looking for in their applicants.
If you find this kind of information on their site, then great. Try to tie yourself and your experiences into those strengths.
Another way you could tackle this question is to figure out what strengths are required of physicians and show that in yourself.
Here are a few examples:
- Commitment to lifelong learing
- Easy to get along with
Truth be told, just find something that you can have a solid backing of and examples of why those specific things are your strengths.
Question #6: What are your weaknesses?
This is a very tricky question, because the interviewer is essentially asking you to talk to them about things you are not good at or things you need to work on.
You really need to think of something that isn’t too much of a bad thing for you.
So, something such as:
- I am impatient
- I have high expectations
- I have a knack of jumping into situations too quickly sometimes.
These are the types of weaknesses that then you can explain what you are doing to improve them.
So for example, if you say you are impatient. Then discuss how you are working on improving that weakness, such as:
I can be impatient from time to time, but not necessarily with other people. More so I can be impatient with myself if I don’t figure something out fast enough.
Or possible: I can be impatient when deadlines are given to me and those deadlines are not met by those that promised them. With that being said though, I am working on trying to understand that other people operate at different speeds then me.
Question #7: Tell me about a failure in your life.
Once again this is pretty similar to the weakness question. They want you to tell them about something that you may not be super proud of.
This can be difficult, but if you answer this question the right way it can actually help you.
The right way to answer this question is simply by describing a time that you failed at something, and then following that up with a description of what you did to fix it or what you learned from it.
My personal favorite response to a question like this is my low MCAT score.
This works for my residency interviews right now, but you can find a similar situation for your medical school interview questions for sure.
So, for my MCAT score I tell them that I basically bombed that test and didn’t perform well at all. Then when I started medical school I never wanted to let that happen again, so I turned it all around and got in the 97th percentile on my osteopathic boards and the 91st percentile on the MD boards.
This tells them that even though I failed, I learned from it and came out for the better.
Find something in your life where you can weave a success into the end of the failure.
Question #8: Tell me about a time you had to lead a team.
This question is really straightforward. All you need to do is think about a time that you were in charge. Either in school, church, or work or really anything.
The point of it is to discuss a task that needed to be done, and your role in guiding the team to accomplishing that task.
Paint a picture for them, and make sure they know that you led the team to successful completion of said task or objective.
Question #9: Why should we pick you?
Don’t be shy when answering this question. You have something unique to offer that medical school class.
Think about what unique qualities you have and why you would be better suited for that class then the person they are interviewing next door.
I really like to be straight and blunt with people when they ask me this question. I typically phrase my answer something like this:
“Well, you should pick me because not only will I perform well at being a medical student, which means you won’t have to worry about possible failures or behavior issues, but with me you already know everything. I am not hiding anything from you and there won’t be any surprises in my life or my history. I am not trying to fool anyone, I am being completely open and honest. Or in other words, you don’t have to worry about anything with me. I will do my part and succeed.”
I feel like a response like this really gives the interviewer a lot of confidence in the fact that they can be comfortable in picking you.
A lot of people will start to list off qualities to answer this question. The response I just gave you stands out from the others and really reassures the interviewer of your qualities.
Question #10: What excites you about medicine?
This is another one of those questions that you really have to do some thinking on what your answer is.
This question is basically another way to ask you why medicine?
Things I like to say when responding to this question are:
- The unknown.
- My ability to make a difference.
- The application of a scientific process in conjunction with the art of medicine.
- Discovery of new knowledge.
These few points are some that may give you some ideas to get going. At the end of the day though, I can’t tell you what excites you about medicine. This is something that you really need to take some time and think about.
With that being said, really all of these questions are things for you to stop and think about. Take some time before you interview to have basically bullet point responses figured out in your head as to what kind of response you will give.
Don’t memorize any lines or anything like that. If you do that it can come off as robotic and weird. Just have the general idea of what you want to respond with to all of these questions.
In the meantime, be sure to get on the waitlist for my course that will drop this coming spring.
The course will be all about making the transition from pre med to osteopathic medical student. I will guide each student through how to study, what to study, what resources you need, how to manage your money as a new med student and ultimately just how to destroy osteopathic medical school.
Get on the waitlist by clicking here, and putting in your email and name.
By doing this you will be one of the first people to get the course as well as a launch discount for the course.
Basically, by enrolling in the course you are letting someone who got a 4.0 and destroyed their board exams guide you through the process of transitioning into medical school. Let me help you.
I hope all this helps. Good luck with your interviews.