Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews

Sample questions to ask both faculty and medical students

Questions to Ask During Medical School Interviews
Best questions to ask at your medical school interview

Part 1: Introduction

I am sure at this point you have made it through the thick of your interview preparation. You have dissected the common medical school interview questions and practiced through mock interviews. Now, you are likely at the point where you are finishing up your preparation and contemplating what questions to ask during medical school interviews.

What is important about this process is not to just ask questions for the sake of asking them or because that is something “you should do” during interviews. It is essential to ask questions to demonstrate your interest in the school as well as acquire information that may be necessary for you to make a decision later about which medical school you would like to attend, should you get multiple acceptances.

Furthermore, questions you ask during your interviews can also allow interviewers an opportunity to make a decision about your candidacy for medical school admission. Below are some of the biggest pieces of advice I give to pre-medical students during the preparation process. 

Part 2: Common Pitfall

Do not ask questions of which can be easily found on the school’s website. 

This is a common pitfall for students and often is the product of simply asking questions because they think this is required of them during the interview process. To that end, if you have a question about something like the curriculum, organizations available to students, and experiences in the way of early clinical exposure – check the website first! This is often something schools make readily available to applicants. However, if you have a question based on  something you read from their site that is not available, then certainly ask! For instance:

  • “I read a significant amount about neuroscience research offered by your institution. Are there specifically opportunities available in the realm of epilepsy? I would be humbled to continue my research in this topic.”

As you can see, this question is meticulously structured to introduce the student’s experience in research while inquiring more about research opportunities. Therefore thoughtful, well-constructed questions can ultimately reflect positively on the applicant so we certainly want to be mindful of which questions are asked on interview day.

Part 3: Preparing Interview Questions

Prepare questions for both medical students and admissions committee members. 

Often, schools will have both medical student interviewers and/or opportunities to speak with medical students and ask questions in the way of scheduled “meet and greets.” For each of these circumstances you will want to have questions prepared.

Think hard – what questions would you want answers from medical students specifically? This is often a good time to ask about the culture of the school as well as the approachability of faculty/staff. As you can tell, these are questions that are best left for medical students as opposed to admissions committee members as you may get more candid answers from medical students. 

On the other hand, questions asking about upcoming changes at the school or why an interviewer chose the school might be best to ask admissions committee members. Asking questions like these will allow you to understand the complete picture of what a school is about and determine if you might be a good fit there.  

Do NOT ask the following questions: 

  • “What aspects of my application or candidacy are a concern for you?”

    • Remember, you want to ask questions which are purposeful. A question like this might serve to point out your flaws despite a student’s intention to appear eager to improve. 
  • “Why did the school have a low pass rate for Step 1/Level 1 in year X?” 

    • Now is not the time to put the school on the hot seat. While this is information you may be interested in knowing, perhaps the interview is not the time to inquire about this information. Alternatively, you may ask What does your school do in order to prepare students for Step 1/Level 1?” As you can tell, this question has a similar purpose and allows you to make an informed decision about the school’s strategies for preparing students for board exams.

The overarching lesson for this section is that it is often not what you say, but how you say it. Be confident though always meticulous to leave a positive impression on your interviewer. 

A few questions to consider asking your interviewer:

  • “Why did you choose to be affiliated with this school?”

  • “How did the curriculum change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?”

  • “What qualities do you think are important for a medical student to thrive at this school?”

  • “What advice do you have for an aspiring medical student going into their first year?”

  • “Are there research opportunities in the realm of X?”

    • For virtual interviews: “What aspects of the school or environment am I missing by being unable to interview in-person?”
  • “I read that the school offers a curriculum based upon x (ex. team-based, problem-based hands-on clinical experience, etc.). Can you speak on this?”

  • “What do you perceive as the greatest strength of this school that delineates it from others?”

  • “What is your favorite part about the city?”

  • “To what extent does the school emphasize student wellness and work-life balance?”

These are just a few questions to get you thinking. Remember, you will want to use these as a basis to build off of in order to create your own unique questions to show your interest as well as delineate you from other applicants. Think hard about what you value in your future education and ask about these aspects if you are unclear whether the school offers them or not. 

Overall, asking questions of interviewers and medical students during the interview process can seem simple, though you will certainly want to brainstorm and jot these questions down in advance.

Your goal through asking questions is to appear as a well-informed, thoughtful applicant. It is critical to remember that you are in control of the interview dialogue and where the conversation goes. Similarly, the questions you ask allow the interviewer to form additional impressions about you so be sure to make these equally as prepared as your responses for common interview questions

Written by Emma Fenske, view all of her posts here

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