Questions to Ask at Medical School Interviews
November 20, 2019
Questions to Ask at Medical School Interviews
Once you've submitted your AMCAS, written your secondaries, and after what might have been a very impatient waiting period, if you’ve received one or more medical school interview invitations, congrats! You’re almost at the finish line, and your chances of gaining admission in this cutthroat process has increased substantially. While you should obviously practice the most common interview questions, there’s another component you must prepare to face. More likely than not, you will be asked if you have any questions for the student or faculty member at the end of your interview. A student with no questions may seem disinterested. So, before you think you’re ready to face the committee, make sure you’ve thought about questions to ask at medical school interviews.
If you’re trying to brainstorm points of inquiry that you think will impress the admissions committee - you’re not taking the entirely correct approach. You should genuinely want to learn more and at the same time demonstrate your enthusiasm for the medical program. To guide you through some ideas, I’ve included a list of questions to ask at medical school interviews geared towards faculty members and current students, along with factors to consider when thinking about how to strategize the final component of this make-or-break phase.
List of Questions to Ask at Medical School Interviews
Be aware of the role of your interviewer before you ask them literally any question. Your interview might be conducted by a faculty member (who could also be a practicing clinician), or a current student. A traditional interview is one-on-one and lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes, so depending on how much time you have, you need to think about a handful of questions to ask at medical school interviews and keep the conversation going. You don’t want this crucial third stage to end abruptly or too early!
As you plan the questions to ask at medical school interviews, think carefully about what it is that you actually want to know about the school. Your questions could range from clarification about the curriculum to curiosity about how students spend their weekends. Take a look at the questions we’ve included to get an idea of the way you should phrase them.
Questions to Ask a Current Student
- Why did you choose this medical school? Which components stood out to you the most when you were applying?
- If you could change anything about this medical school, what would you change?
- What is this town like?
- If there was something you could add to the program, what would it be?
- How do your peers like X curriculum?
- What are the opportunities for research?
- Are there any upcoming events or projects at your school that you’re looking forward to?
- What’s something you wish you knew before starting medical school at this program?
- What is the social life like for students? Do you spend time with your peers outside the classroom?
- Do any of the students have outside jobs?
- What’s your current favorite class?
- Who is your favorite professor?
- What kind of extracurricular facilities are available at the school?
- Does the school offer career counseling services?
- Do students have electronic access to journals or textbooks?
- Are there services/staff available to assist students with budgeting and financial planning?
- Is there a particular spot where you enjoy studying? Do students have designated study spaces?
- What’s a typical day like for you?
- What opportunities are available for students to volunteer in the community? Are you involved with community service?
- Do students generally live close to campus? Do you need a car to get around?
Questions to Ask a Faculty Member
- Why did you choose to teach/practice at this medical school?
- How long have you been a faculty member here?
- What do you look for in a medical student?
- What are some of your favorite things about this city?
- What is a typical day like for you?
- How many hospitals do students rotate through?
- How do you balance teaching and seeing patients?
- What have been some traits of your most successful students?
- What are some of your favorite aspects of working at this school?
- What makes this medical school unique? What are the most unique programs or opportunities here?
- How much clinical exposure do students get in the first two years?
- Will I be able to take electives in the pre-clinical or clinical years?
- Do students have opportunities to design, conduct, and publish their own research?
- What are the policies on taking time off for research opportunities?
- How are students evaluated academically? How are clinical evaluations performed?
- How does the admissions committee value diversity when it comes to the student body?
Further Tips for Planning Questions to Ask at Medical School Interviews
- Convey that You’ve Conducted Research - In today’s competitive environment, most prospective physicians simply want to get into any medical school. But the admissions committee needs to know why you’re interested specifically in their program. Make sure you’ve brushed up on your research before you prepare your questions to ask at medical school interviews. Cite information that stood out to you on the website. For example, you can ask them questions such as, “One of the reasons I applied to the school was the X clinical rotation - can you tell me more about students’ experiences in that field?” or “I read online about X aspect of your school. Can you tell me more about this facility?” An important point to remember here is to make sure you actually have read the website and don’t ask questions which can be easily answered with one click.
- Use Your Interview Day as Inspiration - While you shouldn’t show up unprepared for questions to ask at medical school interviews, asking questions that refer to notable things you learned on interview day is also an effective way to demonstrate genuine curiosity for the program. You could ask a clarifying question regarding something you picked up from the dean’s address or inquire more about a resource that grabbed your attention during a campus tour. You could also mention a point that came up in your interview itself. This will create a greater sense of an organic conversation, as well as show that you’re an observant listener.
- Avoid Phrases That Could Question Your Commitment - When thinking about questions to ask at medical school interviews, remember that your dedication towards a future career in medicine is being evaluated at every step. So, it should come as no surprise that the topics you bring up should be broached with careful consideration. Choose questions which portray your curiosity towards the school, enthusiasm about learning more, and passion for the field. Don’t ask questions such as “how much salary does the average student earn after graduation” or “do I have to be on-call overnight?” Convince the admissions committee member that you’re in it for the right reasons - which should be the case in the first place anyway!
As you prepare for this grueling third stage, take a deep breath and ask yourself what you’re genuinely curious about when it comes to aspects of your medical school options. What are you looking for from your MD experience? Use your intrigue to focus your questions and help the interviewer learn more about you while assessing your commitment towards medicine and their program.