DaVinci's Man

Interviews: Preparation

General Information   Preparation   Sample Questions   

This is the final hurdle and usually one of the most important parts of the application process, especially when competitiveness for admission to medical school is near an all-time high. You should prepare for the interview with as much care as you get ready for an important examination, and you should go into it with a game plan, i.e., with a well-thought-out plan of how you can best present yourself. At many institutions, someone who has interviewed you will be expected to act as your advocate before the full Admissions Committee so it is within your interest to provide him/her with the best ammunition.

Interview formats are incredibly diverse. In addition to the traditional mode of casual (or occasionally confrontational) conversations, many now include role playing, mock patients, or hypothetical scenarios such as the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Check out the Additional Links below to learn more about MMI's and other non-traditional interview formats. However, the universal goal of all interviews is to assess your interpersonal skills. This is your opportunity to convince the school that you are the type of person who can make a cmplete stranger feel comfortable divulging the most intimate parts of their lives to you - someone they may never have met before in their life.

I. In order to present yourself in the best way possible you need to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. Thus, you will want to be familiar with:

  • All parts of your application; your personal statement and your responses on the secondary are often the basis of the interview, whether the interview is blind or open, and you should bear this in mind when writing them. You do not want to lead the interviewer into areas where your knowledge is limited or which might prove embarrassing to you.
  • What interviewers are mostly looking for:
    1. Would anybody go to you for professional help?
    2. Do your answers support the image created in your application? Interviewers are very unlikely to question particular grades in your academic record, but it could happen.
    3. Are you honest?
    4. Are you someone they can live with for four years?
    5. Do you communicate well?
    6. Are you stable and self-confident?
    7. Are you well motivated?
    8. Are you knowledgeable about the demands of the profession and how you can meet them?
    9. Are you an interesting person?

II. The Health Careers Office can help you in several ways:

  • Micro-interview (a videotaped mock interview);
  • Reports on schools based on interview feedback from students;
  • Names and e-mail addresses of students or alums who can give you advice;
  • Advice regarding scheduling, canceling, or combining interviews;
  • Advice regarding regional versus on-site interviews.

III. The key to all interviews is to be professional in appearance and behavior while still being yourself.

  • Appearance: Dress, haircut, make-up, cleanliness; if in doubt, be conservative and dress professionally. Remember that you do not want to make a statement with your dress, jewelry, hairstyle, perfume or deodorant.
  • Early arrival: Don't put extra pressure on yourself by cutting your arrival too closely. Also, assume you are "on camera" as soon as you arrive at the campus or hospital.
  • Good behavior: Secretaries, student-hosts, student-interviewers should all be treated as having input.
  • Knowledge: You want to be informed about:
    1. The institution you are visiting. Make use of institutional websites and Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR).
    2. Current issues in the profession (malpractice insurance, public health, HMO's, managed care, patient's bill of rights, universal health care, maldistribution of physicians, educational costs, AIDS, hospital mergers, assisted suicide, genetic and stem cell research, conflicts of interest). You will certainly want to be aware of developments that warrant front-page newspaper coverage, and you should get into the habit of checking stories about medicine that hit the front page. You may also wish to look at the Health and Science sections in the Boston Globe and the Science Times and Health sections in the New York Times. Other interesting items can be found in the health and/or science sections of news magazines (The Daily Beast, Time, U.S. News & World Report) and monthly magazines such as Discover, Science, and Scientific American. All of these highlight important articles that appear in Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, etc. Many of these are available in the Carlson Science Library. Remember, physicians frequently have narrow interests, and they may feel more comfortable talking about medical issues.
  • How you feel about yourself is important; if you go in thinking your whole life depends on your interview, you'll blow it.
  • Nervousness: It may well happen, especially in your first interview, and need not be a problem if you get over it fairly rapidly.
  • Eye contact: It is important that you make eye contact because, if you do not, this will often be construed as lack of self-confidence. You do not want to stare constantly at the interviewer, but most interviewers will be concerned if you have to turn away while framing answers.
  • Think before you answer. Although it may seem like a lot of "dead air time," it usually is not, and it is both appropriate and wise to take a few seconds before answering questions that require thought.
  • If asked an inappropriate question, try to avoid confrontation. But if you are unable to do so and do not want to answer it, politely ask the interviewer if there is some need for him/her to know the answer.
  • Do not bring up topics that might prove embarrassing to you.
  • Introduce yourself properly, shake hands, get the name of the person who is interviewing you, and use formal address. Remember this is a first meeting.
  • Somewhat analogous to a first date, remember that unless you seem sincerely interested in the institution, the interviewer will not be interested in you, but don't exaggerate your level of interest.
  • It is not a good idea to try to control or manipulate the interview, but you should make use of opportunities to present information about yourself that is favorable to you and relevant.
  • The best way to judge appropriate length of an answer is by maintaining eye contact and being sensitive to the interviewer. You do not want to go on so long as to bore your audience nor do you want to give monosyllabic answers so that the interviewer runs out of questions and takes you out onto thin ice.
  • Be understanding if questions seem strange; some interviewers are new or just not very good at it. If you don't understand a question, ask. Some common questions are:
    1. When did you first get interested in medicine?
    2. What specific field interests you? (Need not be answered definitively.)
    3. Where do you see yourself in ten years? (This means professionally.)
    4. Tell me about your family.
    5. Why did you choose this medical school?
    6. Why did you go to Clark?
    7. Which courses did you like (dislike) most and why?
    8. What will you do if you do not get accepted?
    9. How do you plan on financing your education?
    10. What would you most like to change about the profession? (Be careful not to insult gratuitously.)
    11. What do you most fear about medical school? (Don't indicate your own insecurities or suggest you're afraid of the work load. They won't like it.)
    12. Ethical questions: Remember your responsibilities to the patient, to the law, and to the profession. These often involve a conflict of values so it might be wise to indicate that you really do not know the answer, but indicate your best judgment.
  • Avoid trying to snow an interviewer, especially about research; you may be talking to an expert in the field or someone who thinks he/she is.
  • It is a good idea to ask questions about the institution since this shows both interest and self-confidence. But don't ask questions whose answers you should already know from their literature or website or from items presented in a general session or a tour, and don't ask anything that questions the value of the school, such as where their graduates get internships. It is generally not a good idea to ask when you will hear the results, as this may be interpreted as nervousness. You may ask about:
    1. Clinical clerkships away from the institution;
    2. Research opportunities;
    3. Joint programs and/or courses outside of the medical school itself;
    4. Cultural, social, and athletic opportunities;
    5. Their particular strengths: i.e., programs, curricular approach (traditional, organ systems based, problem based), specialties;
    6. Courses that you might still try to fit into your curriculum.
  • Don't try to give an answer which you think the interviewer wants to hear. A proper answer is one that you can logically defend, and you may be very wrong about where an interviewer stands on a particular issue.
  • It is not smart to duck questions by being indecisive. Sometimes that is appropriate, but remember that physicians need to make decisions.
  • If you feel your interview is a disaster (e.g., there is open hostility), it is generally a good idea to report it immediately and request another interview. This happens very, very rarely.
  • Report your interview to the Health Careers Office. We can often judge better whether you have handled yourself well or not and can provide constructive advice on how to take subsequent interviews.
  • You want to be self-confident but not arrogant, and you also want to avoid being defensive.
  • Interviews are less stressful if you know what to expect.

Additional Links:

Ace a Medical School Interview
Acing Your Medical School Interview (webinar recording)
Admission Interview Guidelines for Pre-OT, PT and PA Students
Be Authentic, Thoughtful for Medical School Interview Success
Canadian Medical School Interviews
Cases in Medical Ethics
CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) Preparation
Common Interview Questions
Common Medical School Interview Questions
Dental School Interview Advice
Dental School Interview Preparation
Dental School Interview Questions (click on "Dental School Interview Questions")
Dental School Interview Tips
Ethics Questions Advice
Ethics Questions Navigation The Medical School Interview
Getting Admitted - The Medical School Interview
Grad School Interview Advice
Grad School Interview Expectations
Grad School Interview Questions
Graduate and Professional School Interview Questions
Graduate School Interview Questions
Healthcare Job-Seekers Interview Questions
Health Professional School Interview Questions
How Should I Prepare for the Interview? (click on "How Should I Prepare for the Interview?")
How, When to Write a Medical School Interview Thank-You Note
Interview Day Tips from Current Medical Students
Interview Feedback
Interview Information
Interview Preparation and Sample Questions
Interview Purpose
Interview Tips
Interviewing Information
Interviewing 101 Guide
Interviewing 101: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Interviewing Resources
Maintaining Professionalism Throughout Your Interview
Master the Multiple Mini Interview
Medical Ethics Cases
Medical School Admissions Interviewee Reports Content Analysis
Medical School Interview Advice
Medical School Interview Dos and Don'ts
Medical School Interview First Aid
Medical School Interview Follow-up Tasks
Medical School Interview: Important Tips
Medical School Interview Practice Questions
Medical School Interview Preparation
Medical School Interview Question Preparation
Medical School Interview Questions (click on "Medical School Interview Questions")
Medical School Interview Sample Questions
Medical School Interview Steps
Medical School Interview Tips
Medical School Interview Tips for Interview Attire
Medical School Interview Types
Medical School Interviewing
Medical School Interviewing Tips from an Admissions Officer
Medical School Interviews
Medical School Interviews and Interview Questions - How to Prepare and Do Well
Medical School Interviews: Common Mistakes
Medical School Interviews Information
Medical School Interviews Preparation
Medical School Multiple Mini-Interview
Medical Schools That Interview the Most Minority Applicants
MMI: A New Hope (blog entry by OHSU medical student)
MMI Practice Questions
MMI Resources
MMI Sample Questions
Multiple Mini-Interview (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) (click on "How to Apply," scroll down to #3 "The Interview Process")
Multiple Mini-Interview (U. of Kentucky College of Pharmacy) (click on "Frequently Asked Questions About the Multiple Mini-Interviews")
Multiple Mini-Interview Article (On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview!) (Stanford U. School of Medicine)
Multiple Mini Interview Expectations (NYU School of Medicine)
Multiple Mini-Interview Fact Sheet (U. of Saskatchewan College of Medicine)
Multiple Mini-Interview FAQ (Duke U. School of Medicine)
Multiple Mini-Interview FAQ (Michigan State U. College of Human Medicine)
Multiple Mini-Interview Format
Multiple Mini-Interview for Medical School
Multiple Mini-Interview for Medical School Admissions
Multiple Mini-Interview General Information (U. of Calgary MD Program)
Multiple Mini Interview Participation
Multiple Mini-Interview Practice Questions (U. of Saskatchewan College of Medicine)
Multiple Mini-Interview Sample Questions
Multiple Mini-Interviews (U. of Arizona College of Medicine)
Multiple Mini Medical School Interview Preparation
Multiple Mini Medical School Interview Preparation Advice
Occupational Therapy Program Interview Questions
Optometry School Admissions Interview
Optometry School Interview Questions
People Skills Test (NY Times article about MMI)
Pharmacy School Interview
Pharmacy School Interview Questions
Physician Assistant Applicant Interview Questions
Physician Assistant School Interview Questions
Physician Assistant School Interview Tips
Physician Assistant School Top 100 Interview Questions
Premed/Predental Interview Process
Professional School Admissions Interview
Questions I Wished I Had Asked
Vet School Interview Preparation Advice
Vet School Interview Questions
Vet School Interviews

Medical School Interview Information:

Albany Medical College (Click on "Interview Questions")
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Baylor College of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
Boston University School of Medicine
Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
California University of Science and Medicine School of Medicine (See "Step 5: In-Person Interview")
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Central Michigan University School of Medicine
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (Scroll down to “Visiting Campus and Interviewing”)
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University (Scroll down to "The Interview Process")
Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (Scroll down to "Interviewing")
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Creighton University School of Medicine (Scroll down and click on "Interviews")
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
Drexel University College of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine
East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interview”)
Eastern Virginia Medical School; Interview Day FAQ
Emory University School of Medicine (Scroll down to “After Applying to Emory” section)
Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine (Under "Process" click on "Interview")
Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Florida State University College of Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth (Scroll down to “Interview Notification”); Interview FAQ
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Georgetown University School of Medicine (Select “Review of Applications, then see “Interviews”)
Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University (Scroll down to "Interview")
Harvard Medical School
Howard University College of Medicine
Indiana University School of Medicine
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo (See “Interviews”)
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview Day")
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (Scroll down and click on “Interviews”)
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Loma Linda University School of Medicine (Under “Application Process,”click on “Review Process”)
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans (See “Interviews Begin” under “Application Period”)
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (Scroll down to section iv "Interviews" under #2 "Procedure")
Mayo Medical School
McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Scroll down to "Invitation to Interview")
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University (Scroll down to interview faq located at beginning of “Admissions” section)
Medical College of Wisconsin (Select "When You Apply," then scroll down to "Interviewing Information")
Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine (Scroll down to "Applicant Interviews)
Meharry Medical College School of Medicine (See "Invitation to Interview")
Mercer University School of Medicine
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (See “Step Three: Interview with CHM”)
Morehouse School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
New York Medical College
New York University School of Medicine
Northeast Ohio Medical University (See "Step 3" under "How to Apply")
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview Day")
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Ohio State University College of Medicine (Select “What’s the interview process like?”); Interview Tips
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Three years ago the school started a new process for interviewing applicants.”)
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine (Click on "Interview Process")
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interview Process”)
Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (Scroll down to “The Interview Process”)
Saint Louis University School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Personal Interview”)
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Personal Interview”)
Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota (Scroll down to “Interview Invitation”)
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University (Scroll down and click on "Interviews" under "After Submitting Your AMCAS Application")
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Step 3: Interviews”)
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine (See “Interviews and the Interview Day”)
State University of New York Upstate Medical University
Stony Brook University School of Medicine
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine (Click on "Personal Interview")
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (Scroll down to "When Is the Interviewing Season?" and “What will I be asked in my interviews?”)
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine (Click on "Admissions Interviews")
Tufts University School of Medicine (See first and second paragraphs under “Our Process” for interview information)
Tulane University School of Medicine
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine (Select “Will I be interviewed as part of the admissions process?”)
University of Alabama School of Medicine
University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine (See “Faculty Interviews”)
University of California, Davis School of Medicine (See “Step 3: Interview Day”)
University of California, Irvine School of Medicine (See “Interviews”)
University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
University of California, Riverside School of Medicine (See paragraph 4 under “Application Procedure”)
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine (Select “Step 4”)
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
University of Central Florida College of Medicine
University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview and Decision Process"); Planning Your Interview Day
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (Click on "Admissions Process," see “Invitations to Interview”); Interview Day; MMI Process
University of Colorado School of Medicine; Interview Day Information
University of Connecticut School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
University of Florida College of Medicine (See #4 under “Application Process”)
University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interview Process”)
University of Illinois College of Medicine
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
University of Kansas School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Personal Interviews”)
University of Kentucky College of Medicine (Scroll down to“Screening and invitation to interview” and “Interview and selection”)
University of Louisville School of Medicine
University of Maryland School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview Process")
University of Massachusetts Medical School
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
University of Michigan Medical School
University of Minnesota Medical School
University of Mississippi School of Medicine
University of Missouri School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview Day")
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interviews”)
University of Nebraska College of Medicine (Scroll down to “Interview”)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interview Day Information")
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interviews")
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine (Scroll down and click on“Interview”)
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (Scroll down to third bullet point under “Non-academic factors...”)
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of South Alabama College of Medicine
University of South Carolina School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Interviews")
University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville
University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine (See “Invitation to Interview”); Interview Day
University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine
University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School (Click on "Interview")
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
University of Texas Long School of Medicine at San Antonio (Scroll down to "Long School of Medicine Interview Day")
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School (Scroll down to “In-Person Interview”)
University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences (Scroll down to "Overview of Interview Day")
University of Utah School of Medicine; Assessment Process (Scroll down to "Assessment Process")
University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine
University of Virginia School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (Click on "Step Four: Interview")
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (Scroll down to "Interview Process")
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College (Scroll down to "Interviews")
West Virginia University School of Medicine
Western Michigan University School of Medicine (Scroll down to Steps 4 and 5)
Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Yale School of Medicine (See “Interviews”)

Travel Websites:

Some travel websites that may be useful when planning an interview trip:
Airfare Watch Dog
BootsnAll Travel Network
Greyhound Lines Bus Service
Last Minute Travel
Peter Pan Bus Lines

Suggested Health Professions Reading Lists:

Best Books for Premedical Students
Johns Hopkins University Health Professions Recommended Reading List
Medical Reads Recommended by Union College Leadership in Medicine Book Review Club
Oregon State University College of Science List of Books About Medicine
University at Buffalo Prehealth Advising Recommended Reading List (Selected "Recommended Prehealth Reading")
University of Minnesota Medical School Suggested Pre-Med Reading List
Xavier University Pre-Professional Health Advising Suggested Reading List

Links to keep up-to-date with developments in medicine and health:

ABC News Health News
Academic Medicine
AMA Journal of Ethics
AMA Wire
AP Health News
BBC Health News
Biomedical Beat
Boston Globe Health & Wellness
Brown Medicine Magazine
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
CBS News Health News
Chicago Sun-Times Health News
CNN Health News
Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
Dental Tribune
Detroit News Health News
Digital Library, Morehouse School of Medicine
Discover Magazine Health & Medicine
eLife Journal Articles
Emergency Medicine News
Environmental Health News
EurekAlert! Medicine and Health News
Free Medical Journals
Frontline Medical News
Gizmodo Medical News
Global Health Observatory Data
Global Health Policy Health News Links
Health Affairs: The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere
Health and Medicine Websites
HealthCanal Health News
HealthDay Health News Health News
Health News
Health Topics (World Health Organization)
Houston Chronicle Health News
Internal Medicine News
Internet Public Library Health and Medical Sciences Links; Science and Technology Links
Johns Hopkins Medical News
Johns Hopkins Public Health News
Journal of the American Medical Association
Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association
Journal Watch: Medical Journals and Research Articles
Kaiser Health News
Lecturio Online Medical Library
LiveScience Health News
Los Angeles Times Science News
MDExpress Medical News
Medical Education Online: An Electronic Journal
Medical/Health Sciences Libraries on the Web
Medical News Today
Medical Technology News
Medical Xpress Health and Medical News
Medline Plus Magazine
MedPage Today
Miami Herald Health News
Modern Healthcare Online
Nanotechnology Bio & Medicine News
National Academy for State Health Policy
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Matters
National Library of Medicine
Nature Medicine
NBC Medical News
New England Journal of Medicine
Newsweek Science
New York Times Health News
New York Times Science News
NPR Health News
NPR Science News
Paperity Open Access Journals and Papers
Penn Medicine Magazine Health & Science News
Physician's Briefing
Physician's Weekly
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Public Library of Science Medicine
Public Radio International Health and Medicine
Questia Online Library Science and Technology
Reuters Health News
Review of Optometry Online
SciCentral Health Sciences News
Science; Health News
Science Daily Health and Medicine News
Science News
Scientific American Health News; Medicine News
Scitable Science Library
SciTechDaily Health News
Seattle Times Health News
South Florida Sun Sentinel Health News
The Atlantic Health Articles; Science Articles
The Doctor Will See You Now Bioethics Articles
The Lancet
The New Physician Magazine
The Sacramento Bee Health & Medicine News
The Scientist
The Wall Street Journal Health News; Science News
Time Health News; Science News
UPI Health News; Science News
U.S. Health Policy Gateway
U.S. News and World Report Health News
Voice of America Science and Health News
Washington Post Health & Science News
World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Report
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine