350 Common Medical School Interview Questions to Help You Prepare for Your Interview
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
We know how anxiety-provoking and challenging it can be to prepare for the medical school interview. Studies have shown that the interview is the most important factor in admissions decisions, and the stakes are high. You have one shot at your dream school when you're interviewing, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible.
The following list of questions will help you get started.
Why It's So Important to Prepare Extensively For Your Medical School Interview
We've spoken and written extensively about the medical school interview, because it's such an incredibly important part of the application process. Applicants spend years working to achieve a high GPA. They spend months preparing to take the MCAT. And then, unfortunately, they may just spend a few days or weeks preparing for the interview.
That's a huge mistake.
It's incredibly important to prepare in advance for your interviews, and to give your interview prep the effort and attention it needs. If you'd like to learn more about exactly how important the medical school interview is when it comes to med school admissions, please see our podcast episode that goes into depth on this topic.
The Medical School Interview: When It Comes to Admissions, It May Be Even More Important Than Your MCAT score or Your GPA
Surveys indicate that when it comes to admissions decisions, the medical school interview may actually be more important than either your GPA or your MCAT score. In fact, a less than stellar interview performance is felt to be one major reason why so many high-achieving medical school applicants are ultimately rejected. Data from the AAMC indicates that about 1 in 5 high-achieving medical school applicants are rejected from medical school. These are applicants with a 3.8 or higher GPA and an MCAT score of 514 or higher! We know what it takes to achieve scores like that, and that's why it's important to give the interview the attention and effort it deserves.
Learn About the Variations of the Common Medical School Interview Questions
Let's start with some of the common med school interview questions. Why do you want to be a doctor? Why did you choose to apply to our medical school?
Most applicants to medical school are familiar with these types of common interview questions. Many interviewers will ask slight variations of these basic, standard questions.
However, there are many more potential questions. After interviewing hundreds of applicants, we've found that most applicants come prepared for the very common questions. However, they struggle with two types of other questions.
The variations of the common questions
The less common (but still potentially asked) questions
We created this list of over 350 medical school interview questions to help you as you prepare for your interviews.
The Most Common Interview Questions Fall Into About 30 Different Categories or "Parent" Questions
Note one important point: although we've listed over 350 questions, many of these questions fall into different groups. In fact, most of these questions are variations or subsets of about 30 main "parent" questions or categories of questions. (Doesn’t that sound much less intimidating?)
Learn How to Prepare Unique, Unforgettable Responses to Common Questions
Knowing what questions you might be asked is, of course, just a starting point. Your overarching goal is to craft powerful, unforgettable responses to each of the common interview questions.
If you’d like to receive more of our resources on crafting unforgettable interview responses, sign up here for our free 14-day email course Prepare For the Medical School Interview.
Every day you'll receive an additional resource via email to help you as you aim for your dream medical school.
You can also learn more here about our online course Conquer the Medical School Interview, where we teach applicants how to take their responses from good to great to unforgettable.
350 Common Medical School Interview Questions, Grouped Into "Parent" Questions or Categories
How are you today? (Icebreaker Questions)
1. Did you have any trouble getting here?
2. How do you like the weather?
3. It’s quite a cold/hot/snowy/rainy/windy day, isn’t it?
4. Did you have any trouble finding a place to park?
5. How do you like [our city]? Have you ever visited before?
6. Did you get a chance to explore [our city]?
7. Was there a lot of traffic on your way here from the airport (or hotel)?
8. How do you like living in ____?
9. I see that you go to [school/university]. How do you like it?
10. What do you prefer to be called?
11. How has your visit with us been so far?
12. Do you think you would enjoy living in ____?
Tell me about yourself.
1. What brings you here today?
2. Tell me how you got to this point in life.
3. Tell me something about you that has nothing to do with academics.
4. Tell me your story.
5. Tell me about your life.
6. If you could sum yourself and application up in a short pitch what would you say?
7. Give me a one-sentence summary of yourself.
8. What should I know about you?
9. Tell me something I can’t find anywhere on your application.
10. Teach me something.
Why do you want to be a doctor?
1. What led you to pursue a career in medicine?
2. What stimulated your interest in medicine?
3. Name a meaningful experience you’ve had and how it’s shaped you to pursue work as a physician.
4. What major life influences led you to your decision to pursue medicine?
5. Name one specific event that confirmed your desire to go into medicine.
6. Why medicine over everything else?
7. What leads you to apply to medical school?
8. How long have you been interested in medicine?
9. What influenced you to be a doctor?
10. What was the defining moment when you decided you wanted to be a doctor?
11. What person in your life has influenced your decision to pursue medicine?
12. Tell me about your path to medicine.
13. How do you know you want to be a physician?
14. What got you interested in the field of medicine and why are you pursuing it?
15. What is your motivation to pursue medicine?
16. Why did you choose to be a doctor?
17. What is the number one reason you want to be a doctor?
1. What does integrity mean to you?
2. Define professionalism.
3. Is there a time where you witnessed a physician interacting with a patient in a manner you believed to be unprofessional?
Why our school?
1. What qualities are you looking for in a school?
2. Describe your ideal medical school.
3. What interests you most about our school?
4. Tell me what you know about our school.
5. Why do you want to be a student here?
6. What two or three things are important to you in a medical school?
7. Why did you choose to apply to our medical school?
8. What factors will affect your choice of medical school?
9. Why would you come to our medical school?
10. Why is our medical school a good fit for you?
11. Is there anything you have heard that makes you think less of our medical school?
12. Is there anything you don’t like about our medical school?
13. Would you come to our medical school when you live so far away?
14. How do your goals relate to your interest in our medical school?
15. What are you looking for in deciding which school to attend?
16. How much do you want to go to this school?
17. If you were accepted to all schools you applied to what would be the deciding factor onw here you chose to go?
What are your weaknesses?
1. What is your weakness that concerns you the most?
2. What about yourself would you change if you could?
3. What are your shortcomings?
4. What are your two worst qualities?
5. What is your greatest weakness?
6. What is one thing or trait your friends would change about you?
7. Name one bad thing your friends would say about you.
Do you have any questions for me?
1. What questions do you have about our school?
2. What would you like to ask me about our medical school?
What are your strengths?
1. What are your positive qualities?
2. Do you like to work with other people?
3. If your best friends were asked to describe you, what would they say?
4. Describe your personality.
5. How would you describe yourself?
6. What would your best friend say about you in convincing me I should admit you to our medical school?
7. Describe yourself in three words.
8. What do you think are the most important qualities a person should have to be a good doctor? How do you rate yourself in these areas?
9. What are your three best qualities?
10. Why should we pick you over the other candidates?
11. What is your biggest strength, and how would it make you a better physician?
12. What strength would you contribute to the incoming class?
13. What three adjectives would classmates use to describe you in a classroom setting?
14. What three qualities should a doctor possess and do you have those?
15. What would your Dad say is your most impressive quality?
16. Name one good thing that your friends would say about you.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15 years?
1. What are your specific goals in medicine?
2. What type of physician would you like to be?
3. Where do you plan to practice after you graduate?
4. What specialty interests you?
5. Where do you see your career going 5/10/15 years from now?
6. How do you envision your career in 5/10/15 years?
7. Where do you see yourself in the future?
8. Where do you see your career going?
9. Is there a specific area you see yourself pursuing?
10. Have you thought about what field of medicine you might like to end up in?
11. Are you planning on staying in ___ after your graduation?
12. Where do you see yourself after medical school?
13. What are your career goals?
How have you explored medicine as a career?
1. Is medicine a rewarding career? Why?
2. What health care experience have you had?
3. If you want to help people, why not social work?
4. Do you know what a real doctor’s life is like?
5. What experiences have you had in the community that demonstrate a commitment to medicine?
6. What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what a physician does?
7. Tell me about your shadowing experiences.
8. Tell me about your patient interactions.
9. What did you learn from your experiences in the medical field?
10. What did you gather from your clinical experience?
11. What have you heard about life in medical school?
12. To what extent do you understand the life of a physician?
13. Describe any medical experiences you have had.
14. What experiences have you had that have reaffirmed your belief that medicine is for you?
15. What surprised you about medicine?
Tell me about your volunteer activities.
1. What specific volunteer experience was most meaningful?
2. What have you learned from all your volunteer experiences?
3. How has X experience influenced your career goals?
4. Out of all your experiences, which one was most important to you?
5. What were some of the challenges you encountered in ___?
6. Why did you get involved in ____?
7. How will your experience volunteering make you a better physician?
8. What experience have you found most rewarding?
9. Tell me more specifically what you do in [activity].
10. What are some satisfactions you have received from volunteering your time?
11. Can you tell me about some of your volunteering experiences and how they relate to medicine?
12. Tell me about an interesting patient you saw during your volunteer experience.
13. What has been your favorite volunteer experience and why?
14. How has your ___ experience influenced the way you approach medicine?
15. Explain how ____ experience helped you grow as a person.
Tell me about your extracurricular activities.
1. What extracurricular activities have you been involved in?
2. Describe extracurriculars.
3. How has X experience influenced your career goals?
4. Out of all your experiences, which one was most important to you?
5. What was your most meaningful experience?
6. What were some of the challenges you encountered in ___?
7. Why did you get involved in ____?
8. What is the overarching theme to your activities?
9. What experience have you found most rewarding?
10. Tell me more specifically what you do in [activity].
11. How has your ___ experience influenced the way you approach medicine?
12. Explain how ____ experience helped you grow as a person.
Tell me about your shadowing experience.
1. Explain your most impactful shadowing experience.
2. What did you like about your shadowing experience?
3. What did you dislike about your shadowing experience?
4. What were some of the challenges you encountered in ___?
5. How will your experience shadowing make you a better physician?
6. Tell me more specifically what you do in [activity].
7. Tell me about an interesting patient you saw during your shadowing experience.
8. What did you learn from your shadowing experience?
9. What is one good thing you saw while shadowing?
10. What is one bad thing you saw while shadowing?
11. Describe a good physician-patient interaction that you witnessed and one that could have been better.
Tell me about your work experience.
Tell me about your experience abroad.
1. How did it shape your views?
Tell me about your research experience.
1. Explain your research as if you were trying to educate a patient without a science background about it.
2. Why don’t you just devote yourself to research?
3. Tell me about your current research.
4. Can you tell me about your research experience and how it plays in your future?
5. What are some of the things that you learned or liked from performing research?
6. Describe ____ research experience and the implication of your results.
7. How would you explain your research to a 12-year-old?
8. Summarize your contributions to one of the research projects you listed.
9. Why do you want to do medicine instead of research?
Tell me about your gap year.
1. Can you tell me more about what you have doing in your gap year?
2. Why did you work in ___ during your gap year?
3. Why did you decide to take a year off?
Tell me about your leadership experience.
1. How have you shown leadership during your undergraduate years?
2. Provide me with an example of your leadership ability.
3. Tell me about a leadership position you held in college.
4. How are you a leader?
5. What leadership positions have you held?
6. What have you done that shows initiative?
7. What are you most proud of about yourself?
8. What do you think are the qualities of a good leader?
9. What leadership roles have you had and how have they impacted you?
10. What do you think leadership is and how have you demonstrated it?
Why should we choose you?
1. There are so many qualified applicants. Why should we pick you?
2. What do you have to offer our school?
3. What contributions can you make to our school?
4. What do you have to offer that others don’t?
5. What will you contribute to the profession?
6. What do you want me to tell the admissions committee on your behalf?
7. What makes you unique?
8. What would you bring to our school?
9. Is there anything you would like to update the admissions committee with?
10. If you had the chance to make your case to the admissions committee, what would you say to them that they should accept you?
11. What do you bring to the entering class that makes you a better choice than many of the other candidates we have this year?
12. What sets you apart?
13. What’s one thing that I should know about you?
14. I’m your biggest advocate to the admissions committee. What should I tell them about you to prove that you are an excellent choice for our medical school?
15. Is there anything else you would like me to know about you that we haven’t talked about?
What are some of the challenges facing medicine today?
1. What do you think about the changes that are taking place in medicine?
2. What do you think is the most pressing issue in medicine today?
3. What is the most prominent healthcare issue facing your community today and how would you help fix it?
4. What are three current health care issues and propose how to solve one?
5. What do you think about our healthcare system and the way it should go?
6. What do you think is wrong with the current healthcare system?
7. What problems do you see in healthcare now and in the next ten years?
8. What would you do to remedy healthcare in the United States?
9. Why do you think some physicians are unhappy practicing medicine?
10. What do you see as the pros and cons of a medical career?
11. What are your thoughts on healthcare?
12. How does politics influence healthcare?
13. What needs to change in healthcare over the next ten years?
14. What is an issue you find particularly intriguing in healthcare?
15. Tell me three positive aspects of the ACA and three things you would change.
16. What challenges do you think await you and the other members of your medical school class when you enter the workforce as a physician?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
1. What is your greatest achievement?
2. What are you most proud of?
What would you do if you were not accepted to medical school?
1. Why medicine as opposed to teaching or other service profession?
2. If you couldn’t go into medicine, what field would you go into?
Why are you leaving your career to go into medicine?
1. You’ve been out of school for some time. Do you think you are ready to take on a full course load?
2. Why do you want to change from your current career field to medicine?
3. What does your previous career position and the role of physician have in common?
What does diversity mean to you?
1. How will you be culturally competent?
2. How could you reconcile different views with another person?
How do you work in teams?
1. How do you work in groups?
2. What do you believe makes a strong team?
3. What was an example of a time when you were on a team and it didn't work out?
1. Say you're a resident, and after one of your shifts, you tell a friend on Facebook (i.e., write on their wall) a patient's name and the specifics of their condition. The hospital you work for finds out and calls you in to speak with your attending. What law have you violated? What would you tell your attending?
2. A patient tests positive for HIV. He asks you as the doctor to not tell his pregnant wife since he contracted the disease most likely from a prostitute. What do you do?
3. If you have one year and an unlimited amount of money, what would you do?
4. If you had a lot of money and couldn’t be a doctor, what would you do?
5. How would you treat an end-of-life patient?
6. How would you treat an addicted patient?
7. What would you do if you saw another student cheating?
8. If a patient was brain dead and on life support, how would you make the decision on whether or not to discontinue life support?
9. If you were given 15 million dollars to promote healthcare in your community, how would you go about constructing a plan to use that money, and what would you do?
10. If you won the lottery what would you use the money for?
11. You take your first anatomy exam in medical school and fail. What do you do?
12. What would you do if you harmed someone as a physician?
13. If you could meet any three people living or dead, who would it be and what would you ask them?
14. Person X is dying and in a lot of pain. You give him morphine but too much will kill him. What do you do? You've exhausted all your options. The patient is still in pain and wants you to end his life. What do you do?
Tell me about your family
1. Tell me about your childhood.
2. Tell me about your upbringing.
3. Tell me about your early life.
4. Tell me about your background.
5. Tell me about your parents.
6. Tell me about your father.
7. Tell me about your mother.
8. Tell me about your siblings.
9. What role do you have in your family?
10. What do your parents do?
11. How did you become interested in medicine since your parents are not doctors?
12. Your father was a M.D.?
13. Your mother was a M.D.?
14. It seems like your family is very close. Would you be willing to go so far away from your family to come here? Why? And how would they feel about it?
15. How would your mother describe you?
I don’t know much about [undergraduate university]. Can you tell me more about the school and why you chose to go there?
1. How did you like [undergraduate university]?
2. Describe the process by which you choose your undergraduate institution.
3. If you could change one thing about [undergraduate university], what would it be?
4. How did you choose your major?
5. How do you think your major will help you as a physician?
6. How will your minor help you in medicine?
7. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
8. What was your favorite course in college?
9. What was your least favorite course in college?
10. Who was your favorite professor?
11. Who was your least favorite professor?
12. What was your most difficult subject in college?
13. Tell me about X course that you took.
14. What courses are you taking this semester?
15. What experience defined you at your undergraduate institution?
16. Can you describe a non-science class that you have taken that you feel stood out from the rest of the classes that you have taken?
17. What was the best thing about your undergraduate institution?
18. What was the worst thing about your undergraduate institution?
19. How do you feel about your undergraduate education?
What was the last book you read?
1. What do you think about [current event]?
2. Tell me about a book that you read recently. Why does it interest you?
3. Tell me about a movie that you recently saw.
4. If you could be any character in history, who would it be and why?
5. Who is your hero and why?
6. Of all people, dead or alive, who would you most like to have dinner with and why?
7. What are you passionate about?
8. What things give you the greatest satisfaction in your life?
9. What is a book that you recommend that I read?
What causes the most stress in your life?
1. What things frustrate you the most? How do you usually cope with them?
2. Medical school is demanding and stressful. How do you usually handle and relieve stress?
3. Tell me about your study habits.
4. What scares you the most about medical school?
5. What scares you in medicine?
6. What do you think you will struggle with during medical school?
7. How will you handle the stresses of medical school?
8. What do you think will be most difficult for you in medical school?
9. What is your coping mechanism?
10. What causes burnout and how will you avoid it in your career?
11. How will you adjust to the rigorous curriculum of medical school?
Tell me about a time when you experienced a conflict with a colleague.
1. Tell me about a time when you successfully handled another person when that person didn’t personally like you.
2. What has been the highest-pressure situation you’ve been under in recent years? How did you cope with it?
3. Can you tell me about a significant challenge you had to overcome? How did you handle it?
4. What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of your undergrad experience?
5. Tell me about a time when you had to build a relationship with a person you did not like/
Can you tell me about this challenge?
(“Red flag” interview questions)
1. What do you think contributed to your low grades in college?
2. What do you think contributed to your low MCAT scores?
3. Can you tell me more about your leave of absence?
4. Can you tell me more about your issues with professionalism?
5. Can you tell me more about the institutional action?
6. Can you tell me more about this significant time gap?
7. What was a challenge you experienced and how did you deal with it?
8. Walk me through a time you experienced a challenge.
9. How will the lessons you learned from adversity help you be a good doctor?"
10. What was a mistake you made?
Behavioral Interview Questions
1. Tell me about a time when you displayed teamwork.
2. Tell me about a time when you showed initiative.
3. In your college years, how did you handle conflict? I’d like to hear about a specific example.
4. Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under a great deal of pressure.
5. Tell me about a particularly stressful situation you encountered in college and how you handled it.
6. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
7. Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your performance.
8. Tell me about a situation in which you overcame adversity.
9. Tell me about a time when you had a difficult communication problem.
10. Tell me about a problem you had with a classmate or professor. How did you handle it?
11. Tell me about a time when you handled a stressful situation poorly.
12. Tell me about a time when you became really angry over a situation in college.
13. Describe to me a situation in which you had to break someone’s confidence.
14. Tell me about a time when you witnessed unprofessional or unethical behavior on the part of a classmate. How did you handle it?
15. Tell me about a time when you had to build rapport quickly with someone under difficult conditions.
16. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
17. Tell me about the major challenges you’ve faced in your college career.
18. Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
19. Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
20. Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully work with another person, even when you didn’t like them personally.
21. Tell me about a time when others working with you disagreed with your ideas. How did you handle it?
22. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
23. Describe a situation that required a number of things to be done at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
24. Tell me about a time when you put your needs aside to help a classmate or coworker understand a task. How did you help him or her? What was the result?
25. Describe a situation in which your performance did not meet your professor’s or supervisor’s expectations. What happened? How did you handle the situation?
26. Tell me about a time when you said something or did something and then later realize it was wrong.
27. Tell me about a time when you worked in a group and it did not go smoothly.
28. Tell me about a time when you being responsible helped others.
29. Tell me about a time when you interacted with people who held different views than you did.
30. Describe a situation where you made a mistake and what happened afterwards.
31. Name a time when you helped improve a process.
32. Tell me about a time when you did everything you could and the outcome was still a failure.
33. Tell us about a time when you tried your hardest but you failed.
34. Name a time when you worked with a team and overcame an obstacle.
35. Tell me about a time when someone came to you with a problem that you empathized with.
36. Describe an encounter you had with someone that was unpleasant and how you handled it.
37. Name a time when you caught a small problem and fixed it before the problem became larger.
38. Tell me about a time when you stood up for a person in need.
39. Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered in your clinical experience and how you handled it.
40. Tell me about an ethical decision you faced and how you handled it.