Sample Interview Questions

Issues in Bioethics:  A great site for current ethical issues and dilemmas in health and medicine

Actual Questions from Cal Students Interviewed for Medical School - University of California, Berkeley

  1. What do you hope to gain during your medical education?
  2. Describe a typical day from your elementary school days.
  3. What questions do you have for me about our school?
  4. What is your weakness that concerns you most?
  5. Name some strategies to address the problem of smoking among teens; talk about some that haven't been tried before.
  6. What would your best friend say about you in convincing me I should admit you to our medical school?
  7. If you could be any character in history, who would it be, and why?
  8. How did you decide to apply to our medical school?
  9. Why did you choose our specific program?
  10. How are you a match for our medical school?
  11. What do you do in your spare time?
  12. What other medical schools are you applying to?
  13. How do you view abortion?
  14. Would you perform abortions as a doctor? Under what conditions?
  15. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
  16. How would you describe the relationship between science and medicine?
  17. Think back on your undergraduate experience at Cal; what would you change about it?
  18. If you were in charge of UC Berkeley what would you change that would impact the undergraduate experience?
  19. Name something you are most proud of…
  20. Which family member has influenced your life so far and why?
  21. What do you think about the health care system and which way should it go?
  22. What do you think is wrong with the current health care system in the US?
  23. Name a meaningful experience you've had and how it shaped you to pursue work as a physician.
  24. Is there a good deal of drug use at your school?  Possible follow up: Have you taken drugs?
  25. Which languages do you speak? Why?
  26. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
  27. If you couldn't ever be trained to be a physician, what would you be?
  28. In your present living situation, how do you settle disputes with your roommates?
  29. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  30. What interests you outside of medicine and getting into medical school?

Department of Biomedical Sciences
Southwest Missouri State University

Open-Ended and General Questions:
Basically, open-ended questions are designed to assess the interviewee's (1) knowledge and information, (2) mental organization, (3) ability to express and defend opinions and positions, and (4) personality.

  1. Tell me about yourself. (Don't give a complete life history. Summarize the key points in a chronological manner and sprinkle with few details in your more recent history.)
  2. Why do you want to be a doctor? (Give several key points in summary form). Replace very general responses like "I want to help people" with more specific intentions.
  3. Why should we choose you?
  4. I note that you did not perform well on the (section of the MCAT). Explain why you are weak in this area.
  5. Why did you apply to this medical school?
  6. What are your positive and negative qualities? (Pick one or two of your strengths and at least one of your weaknesses, but be sure you pick a weakness that you have recognized earlier, have improved upon, and indicate how you have done so.)
  7. If you were to do anything differently in your preparation for medical school, what would that be?
  8. What do you see yourself doing in ten or fifteen years from now? (Include personal goals and professional goals. You may specify a general area of interest but qualify your specific interests in medical specialties by acknowledging you have yet to experience the range of opportunities in medicine. Do indicate your interests in the general environment where you intend to practice, such as small town, large city, and region of the country. This question encompasses the next two more specific questions.)
  9. Where do you plan to practice?
  10. What field of medicine are you interested in? What branch of medicine most interests you?
  11. What other health care professions have you considered and why did you select medicine?
  12. What most recent advances in medicine have occurred that you believe will have the greatest impact on how you will practice medicine?
  13. Who are your heroes and why?
  14. I see you got a "C" in (an undergraduate course). Why was that course so difficult? Explain.
  15. What is your concept of the doctor/patient relationship?
  16. Why do you want to come here? (Be sure to have reasons that involve the unique qualities of the school. Mention also some personal reasons if these are applicable.)
  17. What makes you a better applicant than others?
  18. Is this school your first choice?
  19. What role have your parents played in your decision to become a physician?
  20. What is going on in your life?
  21. Tell me what you know it is to be a physician?
  22. What makes you happy?
  23. I see that you have had a research experience in college. What have you leaned about that process?
  24. Let us say that you are rejected for admission into all medical schools to which you have applied. What would be your second career option?
  25. Who are your role models?
  26. What are your goals in medicine?
  27. What causes your greatest frustrations in life?
  28. What kinds of experiences have you had in the medical field?
  29. List several qualities that you feel are the most important in being a good physician.
  30. List several qualities that you feel are the most important in being a good medical school student.
  31. What other medical schools have you applied to and why? (Be honest)
  32. Which primary care area of medicine would be the greatest interest to you?
  33. What do you believe in?
  34. What do you care about? How does that caring express itself?
  35. What concerns you about medicine?
  36. What is your concept of the biopsychosocial model of medicine?
  37. Tell me what you know it is to be a physician.
  38. Who was your greatest source of inspiration in deciding to pursue medicine?
  39. What aspects of medicine draw you to this profession?
  40. What haven't we talked about?
  41. Do you have any questions to ask me? (You must have questions at this point, but engage the interviewer as much as possible by having questions about his attitude or opinion of the school.)

Ethical Questions:
There is a host of specific issues that may be brought up in this category: determinations of death, the right to die, care of the elderly, patient privacy, children's and parent's rights, care of the mentally handicapped, rights of the handicapped, rights of the physically handicapped, rights of the terminally ill, rights of defective newborns, abortion rights, religious rights to reject certain medical procedures, experimental treatments, etc. You should plan what considerations or what positions you have on these issues.

  1. What do you think of affirmative action?
  2. What are your thoughts on euthanasia?
  3. A pregnant 15-year-old unmarried teenager comes into your office asking for an abortion. What would you do? Would you inform her parents?
  4. You observe a fellow medical student cheating on an examination. What would you do?
  5. How would you tell a patient just diagnosed with cancer that he has only a few weeks to live?
  6. A 14-year-old gay and promiscuous male comes to you to be treated for a STD. During the conversation he mentions that he has been tested for HIV several times and would like to be tested again to see if he is still uninfected. How would you handle this situation?
  7. What is the difference between an HMO and a PPO? Which system do you prefer and why?
  8. How would you express your concern for a child who needs an amputation?
  9. During a routine physical examination of a 10-year-old girl you discover unmistakable evidence that she has been physically and sexually abused over a period of time. Both her parents are in the waiting room. How would you respond to this situation?
  10. You have two patients who have been admitted after a serious accident. Both require immediate attention in order to survive. One patient is 20 years old; the other is 60 years old. Which life would you save?

Social Questions:

  1. Do you think that doctors are being paid too much or too little? Why?
  2. How do you feel about the new HIPPA regulations?
  3. How would you go about improving access to health care in this country?
  4. What are your views on the latest changes to the Medicare program?
  5. Do physicians have the right to deny care to patients on Medicaid?
  6. What are your views on alternative medicine?
  7. What have you recently read in the press about health care?
  8. List three issues that confront medicine today. Of the three, which is the most important and why?
  9. What do you think should be done to control health care costs in this country?
  10. What are your thoughts on capitation?
  11. I see that you have had considerable volunteer experiences. What have you learned from those experiences?

Interests, Maturity, and Performance:

  1. What is the last book you read?
  2. Describe an experience you had helping others.
  3. Who are your senators, congressmen, and governor?
  4. What would you do next year if you don't get accepted into medical school?
  5. What is the difference between sympathy and empathy?
  6. Who was the best teacher you have had and why?
  7. What qualities would you look for in a doctor?
  8. Describe an experience you have had in which you were misjudged. What were your responses?
  9. How did you go about investigating a career in medicine?
  10. What person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
  11. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome?
  12. If I offered you a spot in our next class before you left this interview, would you accept?
  13. How would the person who knows you the best describe you?
  14. Which science (or non-science) class did you enjoy the most and why?
  15. Describe the most unusual event in your life.
  16. Have you ever written or sent a letter to a political representative in which you have expressed your views on a subject?
  17. If you could be any type of cell in the human body, which type of cell would you choose and why?
  18. What do you do in your spare time?
  19. How well do you feel you function under pressure?
  20. How do you relax?
  21. What are your hobbies? Do you plan to continue your hobbies while in medical school?
  22. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think about it?
  23. You are granted any three wishes by a genie. What would your wishes be?
  24. You are stranded on a desert island. What one book would you want to have with you?
  25. Who do you admire most in your life and why?

MIT Sample Medical School Interview Questions:

  1. Why do you want to be a doctor?
  2. What do you do in your spare time?
  3. What are your specific goals in medicine?
  4. What stimulated your interest in medicine?
  5. What do you think about HMO's and the changes taking place in medicine?
  6. What schools have you applied to?
  7. What do you intend to gain from a medical education?
  8. What do you think about euthanasia?
  9. Why do you think so many people want to be doctors?
  10. Do you think a physician should tell a patient he/she has eight months to live?
  11. There are 1,000 applicants as qualified as you. Why should we pick you?
  12. What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what a physician does?
  13. How would your plans differ if you knew that all physicians would be working in HMO's in the future?
  14. What do you think is the most pressing issue in medicine today?
  15. What will you do if you don't get into medical school?
  16. What are your positive qualities and what are your shortcomings?
  17. What is your relationship with your family?
  18. How do you think your role as a physician fits in with your role as a member of the community?
  19. Describe your personality.
  20. What do you have to offer our school?
  21. What are the best and worst things that have ever happened to you?
  22. What do you see yourself doing in medicine 10-15 years from now?
  23. Is medicine a rewarding experience? Why?
  24. Would you practice in the inner city? What do you think happens to people who practice medicine there (attitude changes, etc.)?
  25. If there was an accident on the highway, would you stop and help the victims, knowing that doing so might lead to a malpractice claim against you?
  26. What aspects of your life's experiences do you think make you a good candidate for medical school?
  27. If your best friends were asked to describe you, what would they say?
  28. How do you plan to finance your medical education?
  29. What do you think about (…some current event)?
  30. Discuss a book that you have recently read for pleasure. Why does this book interest you?  

Former Stanford Student's Sampler of Interview Questions:

  1. Why do you want to go to medical school - standard question, though not necessarily easy.
  2. Why do you really want to go to medical school? - the hostile interviewer
  3. One student was asked to do half of her interview in Spanish.
  4. Tell me about your research.
  5. Tell me about your volunteer work.
  6. Tell me about your family.
  7. Tell me about your childhood.
  8. Is health care a right or a privilege?
  9. What do you think of Jack Kevorkian?
  10. What do you think of euthanasia?
  11. What do you think of abortion?
  12. What was your favorite class?
  13. I don't believe that AIDS education is very effective - What do you think?
  14. You are given the following scenario: Attending says don't bother him unless it is an absolute necessity. At 3 am, Nurse calls you and says patient is showing signs of infection and needs antibiotics. She has written up the order and asks if you would please authorize it. The patient is allergic and rapidly dies of anaphylaxis. What are you going to tell the parents?
  15. Why do you think MD/Ph.D. will work for you?
  16. Describe yourself in the third person. What didn't you like about that question?
  17. Do you think this whole process is bullshit?
  18. If you could be anything else what would you be?
  19. Tell me something about your home life.
  20. What is something bad about you?
  21. What book outside of medicine have you read lately?
  22. What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
  23. What clinical experience have you had?

Some Questions You Might Want to Ask:

  • What is the nature of the grading system?
  • What sorts of early clinical experiences are available?
  • Is there anything unusual about the sequence of preclinical classes?
  • Are there any teaching or research opportunities?
  • How many students are admitted each year?
  • Describe the hospitals in which students do their clinical rotations?
  • What is the typical student make-up of the classes?
  • What are the particular clinical emphases of this school?
  • What are the particular strengths and weaknesses of this school?
  • What is the summer schedule?
  • Is there any opportunity for fourth year clerkships abroad?