Pile of question marks depicting questions to ask during your med school interview

Stellar Questions to Ask during your Medical School Interview

June 2, 2021
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. Types of Medical School Interview FormatsPart 3. Why You Should Ask Questions During Your Medical School InterviewPart 4. Types of Interview Questions to Avoid Asking‍Part 5. Suitable Types of Questions to Ask During your Medical School InterviewPart 6. List of Stellar Questions to Ask During your Medical School InterviewPart 7. FAQsPart 8. Conclusion

Introduction

Securing an interview is an exciting part of the application process. Many applicants focus on the potential questions they will receive or what they should say about their preparation to stand out from other candidates. What about the questions they should ask? The questions you ask during your medical school interview can make you stand out in a significant way. It may feel strange to question the interviewer, but it is necessary to show genuine interest. If you know which questions to ask during your medical school interview, you will be able to make a considerable impression. 

Types of Medical School Interview Formats

Medical school interview formats include traditional, group, and multiple-mini interviews (MMI). It is an excellent idea to research the interview structure your school or schools of interest use, once your file is complete. You do not want to scramble to prepare yourself for the MMI in particular. It is unnecessary to psych yourself out over an MMI, but it does take a different form of preparation. Your school of choice may not use this format. Knowing the interview format you are preparing for will help you decide which questions are best to ask during your interview.

Traditional

You will be interviewed by one or more faculty members individually. These interviews can be open or closed file. In an open-file medical school interview, your interviewer will likely probe different areas of your application. In a closed-file interview, also called a blind interview, your interviewer will not review your application during your session. The goal of this style is to get to know more about you and your interpersonal skills. The interviewer will also be gathering information regarding your perspective on making an ideal matriculant for the school and, eventually, future physician. This style of medical school interview provides the most opportunity to ask meaningful interview questions.

Group

Throughout your interview day, you will be in a group at some point. Some schools will also interview you all as a single group. Group interviews serve as a method to understand how you may work and communicate with others. Are you domineering, or are you collaborative? Interviews are a competitive time, but schools will want to see if you can make your point without being verbally combative or overly timid. 

MMI

You may have never heard of an MMI format for medical school interviews. This structure is growing in popularity. Do not let unfamiliarity cause panic. You might find MMIs helpful in taking the pressure off you if you prepare correctly. These interviews will provide you a series of prompts. The number of prompts varies from school to school. Prompts will include questions about your thought process concerning a specific scenario, thoughts on current events, and ethical questions. In addition to queries, MMIs may also have prompts that call for activities and roleplaying, requiring you to work with a fellow interviewee or your interviewer.

Why You Should Ask Questions During Your Medical School Interview

You may think to yourself, “I am the interviewee, who am I to ask a question?” However, you are precisely the person from whom the school wishes to hear from. Once you have made it to the interview, your job is to show who you are beyond your application. The goal is to prove you are sincere about going to the school, that you have a true interest in medicine, and that you will be an excellent addition to the student body.

Asking questions will be a prime part of building a relationship with your interviewer, who will have to convince the admissions committee why you should be accepted.

Through your questions, you can imply the ways you will be of benefit to the school. If you ask about research opportunities, you are indicating interest in aiding their research efforts. If you ask about residencies offered, you are showing an intention of longevity. The school will use its assets to prepare you to become a physician. A student who desires to use what they have learned in one of the school’s post-graduate programs allows those resources to continue benefiting the school. 

Another point to remember is the school essentially puts their reputation on the line with every student they accept. Asking questions regarding how the school supports students’ preparation for boards will show you are looking for ways to be resourceful and proactive in getting optimal board exam outcomes. Strong performing students uplift the credibility of medical institutions.

In some instances, you may be interviewing after already receiving a much coveted acceptance. It is imperative to ask questions in this situation to help you determine which school will suit you and your needs best. You are still to prove that you are an ideal candidate, but it will be in your best interest to determine which school has the better research opportunities and extracurricular programs.

After all, you will be spending four years filled with long hours at the school you attend. Additionally, the opportunity to take advantage of these resources can help you build a competitive application for your next step, residency. Do not make your decision on a whim of excitement. Students have been known to believe they wanted to attend one school and fell in love with another after an interview. Open your heart, ask the questions, unless it is Harvard. Go to Harvard.

Types of Interview Questions to Avoid Asking

In general, when in a formal setting, it is good to avoid certain types of questions or subjects. Topics to avoid include political, religious, and controversial questions. When it comes to matters you are aware have two opposing sides, it is best to leave them out of your interview. Even if your interviewer does not mind a duel of ideas, you will have taken the focus off of you and why you should receive an acceptance.

Political

Political affairs are often emotionally charged. You may not know the stance your interviewer has on particular issues or parties. The last thing you want is to make your interviewer feel judged based on their opinions or, worse, to judge yours harshly.

Religious

Religion is deeply personal for most people. It is not a good idea to pry about religion. Even if you believe you are of the same faith, be careful not to offend. The only time it is appropriate to say something religious is if in parting they say something similar to, "God bless." Then it is reasonable to say it back if you would like. Try not to say it first to avoid being offensive. Not everyone subscribes to a religion.

Controversial

Do not ask questions to probe their stance on issues such as pro-life versus pro-choice or the ethics surrounding stem cell research. Controversial topics tend to lead to polarized discussions.

Superficial

Avoid easily searched details. For example, tuition pricing and acceptance rates. You should ask questions that you need answered if you have factors you wish to avoid, but refrain from asking questions regarding superficial factors like the grading style, student ranking, and recorded lectures. These are not prime questions and can be answered by those you interact with on interview day. You can save these questions for people like the school guide or those on information panels during interview day. Your time with your interviewer will be limited. Use it well.

Suitable Types of Questions to Ask During your Medical School Interview 

School-Specific

These questions will make you stand out as someone who has a genuine interest in the school. Schools want to accept students who wish to attend. Medical institutions have identified specifics of determining the number of people to interview, how many to accept, and how many will attend. Question something you saw that intrigued you during a tour. Ask what they like about the area. Bring up an exciting school event or program and ask them questions about it. Show them you want to attend their school, and they are not just another school on your list.

Research

Some schools have an extensive research component. It is a good idea to know about this before your interview. Additionally, having students hungry to discover medical innovation is undoubtedly a boon for any medical school. Breakthroughs in research can elevate a school's medical authority and earn them generous grants to fund more advancement.

Personal Experience

You can ask general questions about the interviewer's time at the school, what they like about the school, and even their path to medicine. You may find common ground in their experiences. Finding common ground could present the opportunity for a deeper connection, even if only slightly more resonant. An interviewer on your side is the goal of this line of questioning. Show interest in your interviewer. They are a person, just like you. Treat them as such, and you may earn a place in their good graces.

Medical Field

The medical field is ever-changing. Ask their thoughts on the current state of the profession. Inquire about what direction they see it taking and what new opportunities could arise. The point of these questions will be to show interest and understanding of the medical field. The medical field is vastly different from how it was decades ago, and you will be a doctor in nearly a decade from the time of your interview. It is necessary to show that you have considered medicine's varying aspects and that you do not expect a cookie-cutter experience. Institutions want to train lifelong physicians. Show them you are serious in your contemplation of the future.

List of Stellar Questions to Ask During your Medical School Interview

School Specific

Research

Personal Experience

Medical Field

FAQs

1. Will they ask me for my questions at the end of my interview?

No, they will not always ask you if you have any questions for them. You will have to time insertion of your questions correctly, but do not be aggressive about it. 

2. What if they do not ask me if I have questions?

If they do not ask you if you have questions and you do not find time to insert them, it does not mean the interview went poorly. The interviewer could be particularly interested in the conversation, causing them to use up the time allotted for questions. Try to show interest in the school with your answers to their questions. Answering their questions while demonstrating interest will help you avoid feeling like you did not make an impression. The ability to do this is where interview prep becomes essential.

3. How many questions should I ask?

You do not need to ask a plethora of questions. Three to four questions are sufficient. Have several more prepared in the event that your questions are answered during the conversation. At a minimum, have one question specific to the reasoning for your interest in the school, one specific to your interviewer, and one specific to a program at the school. 

4. How do I avoid asking a senseless question? 

Be sure to research your school. You should always do your research before any interview, especially your medical school interview. Their website will have all of the information you need to be aware of including which questions they have already answered and which questions you should ask in an interview. 

5. How do I come up with questions specific to my interviewer?

Some schools provide the name of your interviewer in advance. The timing will vary, but you will have a few minutes, at least, to do a quick search on your interviewer before seeing them. Use this time as an opportunity to learn about them and show initiative and interest in them as a person. They have already read all about you. It is your time to return the favor. In your research, you may find accolades to ask about, impressive research they have participated in, or programs they have started. These are all prime question topics for your interview and will make them feel acknowledged.

6. Is it appropriate to ask about grading and ranking during my interview?

While it is not necessarily, inappropriate, do not forget your job during the interview is to convince the interviewer you want to attend his or her school. It would not be ideal to lose your composure or excitement due to an answer you do not like, especially during a high-stakes interaction. These are also not questions that make good use of your limited time with the interviewer. You should have an opportunity to ask about rank and grading throughout your interview day. Be sure to listen closely during the tour, as they may freely disclose this information. These are factors that are important to many students. 

7. Should I ask questions to people other than my interviewer?

Yes! Anyone you interact with on interview day could be someone involved in the interview process. Be polite and professional with everyone, even the students. Use the less intense settings of your interview day to ask probing questions about the school and get a better feel of whether you would like to attend. Information gathered during the tour and information panels can be discussed for you and your interviewer.

8. How can I ask questions during MMIs or group interviews?

During MMIs and group interviews, you will need to demonstrate your collaborative abilities. Ask questions based on your interactions and observations of others. Try not to be hostile towards your fellow applicants. Also, for some MMIs, you will be doing activities or answering prompts alone. You can formulate questions based on your thoughts regarding these prompts and exercises. Keep in mind MMIs are short and strictly timed. You may not have the opportunity to ask questions in this interview structure.

Conclusion

It will be helpful to attempt to connect with your interviewer during your medical school interview by asking thoughtful interview questions. Show excitement and enthusiasm for the school. Demonstrate interest in your interviewer beyond the solitary goal of acceptance. Help them warm up to you by incorporating questions specific to them and their own experiences. Do not forget to capitalize on common ground where you can. Ask questions at your interview to display what you have to offer the school and your sincere desire to attend.

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