​Medical School Applicant Interview Preparation Guide

​Medical School Applicant Interview Preparation Guide

The goal of the medical school application process is to identify applicants who are ready to learn in medical school and whose values and goals align with a medical school’s mission and goals. In general, interviews take place after admissions staff have reviewed applications and selected a subset of applicants from whom they want to collect more information. Being invited to interview is an indication that a medical school is interested in understanding more about you, the person behind the application. After interviews, admissions decisions are made. 

Use this guide to learn what to do throughout the interview process.


Before the Interview

Before the Interview

The Before section of the Medical School Applicant Interview Preparation Guide serves to help you navigate the crucial phase before your medical school interview(s). Here, we will explore the role of the interview in the application process and the different types of interviews you may encounter. Whether you are preparing for a virtual or in-person interview, we will provide you with valuable insights and specific strategies to ensure you are well-prepared. Additionally, we will discuss the considerations and tools available for MD-PhD program applicants. By thoroughly understanding the interview process and adequately preparing for it, you can confidently showcase your strengths and increase your chances of success. Let's dive in and prepare you for a successful interview experience.


The Role of the Interview

The Role of the Interview

Interviewers often seek to assess applicants on the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students. And while the medical school is interviewing you, it's every bit as important you interview the medical school(s) too, as interviews are your opportunity to see how compatible each medical school is with your academic and personal goals, values, and expectations. After all, at the end of this process, you’ll be choosing a school and location where you'll spend the next several years. The AAMC’s hope for you is that you walk away from the interview trail confident in your knowledge of how happy and successful you’d be at any given medical school, so you can make an informed decision about which medical school is best for you.


The Interview Timeline

The Interview Timeline

Medical school interview invitations are typically sent out beginning in late summer or early fall but can continue through winter or even into the following spring. Whereas interviews are most commonly offered from August to February, each medical school has their own specific timeline and processes. View the AAMC Medical School Admission Requirements™ (MSAR®) resource as well as the AMCAS® Choose Your Medical School Tool for more information on key steps and timelines involved in the medical school admissions process. 


Types of Interviews

Types of Interviews

Medical schools may differ in how they conduct interviews, but all tend to offer one or more of the following formats: 

  • Live in-person. 

  • Live virtual. 

  • Hybrid (applicant choice of in-person or virtual). 

  • Asynchronous (or recorded) virtual interviews. 

Further, within each interview format, medical schools may use different interview structures, including: 

  • One-on-one interviews 

  • Group interviews 

  • MMI interviews 

Each format and structure type are described below.  

Interview Format: Level of Technology

Live In-Person Interviews

Live In-Person Interviews are conducted at the medical school and typically last between 30 and 60 minutes. You may be interviewed by faculty, staff, and/or students. In-person interviews often, but do not always, occur on a site visit day.

Live Virtual Interviews

Live Virtual Interviews use video conference technology to connect you with an interviewer, or interviewers, in real time. Just like with in-person interviews, they often last between 30 and 60 minutes each, and you will be asked to sit face-to-face with the interviewer(s) and answer their questions.

Hybrid Interviews

Hybrid Interviews give you the opportunity to select either in-person or virtual interviews.   

Asynchronous Virtual Interviews

Asynchronous (or recorded or on-demand) Virtual Interviews will not have an interviewer present. You will be asked to respond to questions presented via text or prerecorded video. Your responses will be recorded using your device’s webcam and shared with reviewers at a later time.  Note that this is the least common interview format used by medical schools.  

Interview Format: Structure of Interview

Within each of these interview types, medical schools may use different interview formats. At some medical schools, interviews are one-on-one; at others, group interviews are the norm. Some medical schools follow a structured design, asking questions from a predetermined list and assigning numeric scores to each answer. Others prefer a more free-flowing arrangement and provide the applicant with a greater degree of open input. See below for a description of some of the interview styles you may encounter. 

  • One-on-one Interview – Some medical schools conduct 1:1 interviews in which an interviewer – who may be a member of the admissions committee, faculty member, or local clinician – meets with you individually to further explore the information presented in your application, such as your experiences, personal statement, research, education, etc. This can also be an opportunity for you to gather information about the culture of the medical school and the medical profession, if there is time provided for you to ask questions of the interviewer. 
  • Group Interview – Group interviews consist of multiple applicants participating in one interview at the same time. Group interviews may be used to assess your interpersonal competencies because many medical schools include small group learning and interprofessional health care team training in their curricula, so these competencies are important to determine possible fit in the medical school learning environment. Your interview group may be presented with a task or problem to solve and given a predetermined amount of time to find a solution. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and to become acquainted with potential future classmates. 
  • Panel Interview – Panel interviews consist of multiple interviewers interviewing a single applicant at one time. Panel interviews allow multiple individuals to get to know an applicant simultaneously and allow interviewers to ask individual follow-up questions. 
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) – Increasingly, medical schools are using the multiple mini interview, which typically consists of 6 to 10 interview stations with different interviewers who each focus on a different question or scenario. Interviewees are given approximately five minutes at each station to answer the question or solve the problem before rotating to the next station, although the amount of time may differ by school. Learn more about what to expect in an MMI.  

View the current Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) Report for more information about each program’s interview plans for the current application cycle.


Accepting Interview Invitations

Accepting Interview Invitations

As you begin to receive invitations to interview, it's important to think about how to best schedule your interviews based on what is feasible for you, and to know that there are some interviews you might not want to accept. 

Scheduling Interviews

Below are some considerations and benefits for employing a smart scheduling strategy:  

  • Consider financial cost. Interviewing costs add up quickly, and financial constraints can restrict your interview options and impact your overall financial health.  

  • Get advice and support from advisors. They are equipped to help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and burnout and to help you talk through options. 

  • Learn as much as possible about your chosen medical schools while keeping an open mind. It costs time, energy, and money to maximize your interview process (especially if it includes a visit to a medical school). That said, you may not feel ready to dismiss a medical school until after interviewing there. Remaining open and flexible when deciding where to interview can help you make interview decisions that are best for you and your situation. 

Canceling or Rescheduling Interviews

Life happens, and the need to cancel or reschedule may arise. Medical schools expect some canceling and rescheduling, and it is good to know effective ways for changing interview plans. Canceling or rescheduling unprofessionally can impact both your reputation and future opportunities with that school. Under no circumstances should you be a no-show – that is, fail to attend a scheduled interview without prior notice. 

Etiquette for canceling or rescheduling interviews. To cancel or reschedule in a professional manner, consult the medical school’s interview policies and instructions. If a program provides no instruction, follow these general guidelines: 

  • Amount of notice. Contact the medical school as soon as you know you need to change plans, preferably at least two weeks in advance. Canceling or rescheduling with less than a week’s notice should be limited to cases of true emergencies, such as a sudden illness or death in the family. 

  • Communication method. Regardless of how far in advance your cancellation or reschedule request occurs, contact the medical school by email or phone. If you call, you might consider sending an email to confirm the cancellation or reschedule. 

  • Explanation. If you’re canceling or rescheduling at least two weeks in advance, an explanation is unnecessary. If you’re canceling or rescheduling because of an emergency, if possible, provide an explanation that indicates the nature of the emergency (e.g., a death in your family, you’re sick) but without too much detail (e.g., “I’m vomiting every hour.”). Review the school's instructions for rescheduling or cancelling an interview to see if they require any other documentation. If you remain interested in the medical school, affirm your continued interest when asking if it’s possible to reschedule. If you need further guidance, consult your student affairs or career services office.  


The Hybrid Interview Format

The Hybrid Interview Format

Some medical schools offer a hybrid interview format, meaning an applicant can select either in-person or virtual interviews. Medical schools that chose to offer a hybrid format did so after considering many factors. They want you to interview in the format that works best for you.  

Consider the following factors and questions to guide your decision on the best interview format for you: 

Consideration Question(s) you may consider asking yourself:
  • How does opting for a virtual interview impact the overall cost? Can it help reduce expenses on travel, accommodation, and meals compared to in-person interviews? 
  • By choosing a virtual interview, how can I effectively manage my budget and potentially save money? 
  • In what ways do virtual interviews offer greater convenience? Can I take advantage of the flexibility they provide in scheduling, especially with reduced travel time? 
  • How can virtual interviews accommodate my busy schedule while maintaining efficiency? 
Comfort Level
  • How does participating in interviews from familiar environments like my home or school contribute to a more comfortable experience? Can it alleviate interview-related anxiety? 
  • Can virtual interviews create a more relaxed atmosphere that allows me to showcase my best self? Or would I perform better in person? 
  • What strategies is the school using to ensure fairness and reduce bias? 
Ability to Assess Fit
  • How do medical schools facilitate the assessment of fit during virtual interviews and events? Are there specific sessions or opportunities for interaction that will help me gauge my compatibility with the medical school? 
  • What resources and platforms are available for me to connect with the medical school and gain insights into its values and culture? 
Ability to See Physical Spaces 
  • Given the virtual interview format, how can I gain an understanding of the medical school's physical spaces, such as living quarters and medical facilities? 
  • Do they offer virtual tours or alternative means to familiarize myself with the environment? 
  • How can I virtually explore the campus and facilities to gain a comprehensive perspective on the medical school's infrastructure and resources? 
  • Is there an optional in-person visit day? 

Most  schools provide information on the ways in which they are working to maintain fairness and equity for hybrid interviews up-front (e.g., not sharing whether an applicant interviewed in-person or virtually with decision committees). If a medical school does not provide this information up-front, it is appropriate to ask them to provide it so that you have it when making the decision about whether to interview in-person or virtually.  

If you feel that it would be beneficial to see a program in person but cannot feasibly attend all interviews in person, consider scheduling an in-person medical school visit to a select list of your top medical schools if the medical schools offer this option. 

Peer-Reviewed Articles Published in Medical Journals About Hybrid Interviewing:

Brian, R., Wang, J. J., Park, K. M., Karimzada, M., Sequeira, N., O’Sullivan, P., & Alseidi, A. (2022). Virtual interviews: assessing how expectations meet reality. Journal of Surgical Education, 80(2), 200–207. https://doi-org.proxy.library.nyu.edu/10.1016/j.jsurg.2022.09.019

Rohrberg, T., Walling, A., Gillam, M., St Peter, M., & Nilsen, K. (2022). Interviewing for family medicine residency: in-person, virtual, or hybrid? Family medicine, 54(10), 820–827. https://doi.org/10.22454/FamMed.2022.951860


Preparing for Your Interview(s)

Preparing for Your Interview(s)

Interviews can be an enjoyable part of the process and are important for both the medical school and you to learn about one another. To optimize the experience and to put your best foot forward, it is highly recommended that some preparation occur before you begin interviews. 

In this section:

Gather Information About the Interview 

If possible, get as much information about the interview from the medical school (e.g., your contact person). Aspects of the interview that would be helpful to know about in advance include: 

  • Virtual, hybrid, or in-person. 
  • Live or asynchronous (virtual only). 
  • Video interview platform (virtual only). 
  • Number of interviewers. 
  • Interview length. 
  • Types of interview questions. 
  • List of competencies or skills assessed during the interview. 
  • Interview protocol or instructions to follow during the interview. 

The AAMC MSAR resource may also be a good go-to for finding this information. 

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Making the Best First Impression Possible

  • Be well-prepared and log in early. Being ready ahead of time demonstrates your preparedness and professionalism. Nothing is more stressful than scrambling at the last minute to set up your virtual interview or dealing with technical difficulties. Test your equipment, internet connection, and familiarize yourself with the platform in advance. If it's an in-person interview, plan your route, check transportation options, and aim to arrive a few minutes early to show your punctuality.  

  • Project confidence and professionalism during your interaction with the interviewer(s). It's natural to feel nervous, but remember to maintain eye contact, greet them by name, and exhibit a positive demeanor. For virtual interviews, maintain good eye contact by looking directly at the camera and offer a friendly smile. In an in-person interview, additionally, offer a firm handshake while greeting the interviewers.  

  • Maintain professionalism when interacting with current students. Remember that everything you say before, during, and after the interview can have an impact. Even in informal conversations with students, be mindful of your words. There may be opportunities to socialize with students, such as virtual meetups or attending receptions. If alcohol is offered at any of these events, remember to consume it responsibly or abstain, keeping in mind the professional setting and the impression you want to make. 

After each interview, capture your impressions immediately by taking notes or writing a summary of things that stood out to you the most (both good and bad). As you travel the interview trail, the medical schools start to look alike, and your notes will help you recall your experiences and distinguish between different schools. 

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Understand the Typical Question Formats 

Although there are many types of interview questions, most fall into one of three categories:  

  • General questions will ask you to describe yourself broadly. For example, “Tell me why you are interested in this program.” 

  • Behavioral questions will ask you to describe previous experiences to demonstrate your level of knowledge and skills and the extent of your experiences. For example, “Please describe a time when you observed a member of the medical team you were working with behave in a manner that was inconsistent with an established protocol. Explain what the situation was, what actions you took, and the outcome.” 

  • Situational questions will ask you to demonstrate your level of knowledge and skill by describing what you should or would do in different hypothetical situations. For example, “Imagine you are on your morning rounds. The chief resident describes a difficult case you and a colleague worked on earlier in the week and compliments your handling of the situation. She gives you sole credit and fails to mention that your colleague played a major role. What would you do?” 

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Identify Sample Experiences 

  • If the medical school has provided a list of competencies or skills to be assessed during the interview, reflect on your experiences related to them. 

  • Review your resume or CV and reflect on your experiences and learning before you conduct the interview. Try to identify some situations you think best exemplify your skills or competencies.  

  • Discuss your experiences with your advisor(s) and/or mentor(s). Which are the best examples of your competencies and skills? Your examples should demonstrate your highest level of proficiency.  

  • Consider creating a brief list of experiences that demonstrate your skills and could be used in response to different questions. It may be helpful to have these experiences readily available as you prepare your response to each interview question. 

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Practice Describing Your Experiences 

Conduct mock interviews with your peers, advisors, or faculty to practice developing responses using specific examples from your life and experiences. These mock interviews can be done in person or over a web-based application. Practice using the format that you will encounter on interview day. Many colleges and universities offer mock interview programs through their career services office. Seek these opportunities to hone your answers to commonly asked questions and pinpoint any areas for improvement. 

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Consider How You May Format Your Response for Behavior-Based Questions 

The STAR Method is an approach to responding to behavior-based interview questions wherein you tell a story of the situation by providing the following information: 

  • Situation – What were the circumstances surrounding your example? How long ago was it? Where did it occur (school, work, etc.)? 
  • Task – What was the task that was involved (a school assignment, a project at work, etc.)? What was the goal? 
  • Action – What steps did you (and others, if applicable) take in the situation? 
  • Result – What was the outcome of the situation? Was it positive or negative? Was it what you expected? What did you learn from the experience or outcome? 

Be sure to address all four of the above components in your response. It is best to focus on one situation in each response instead of speaking about multiple situations in general. Additionally, it is acceptable to use teamwork examples in your response but be sure to focus your response on your individual actions and contributions. 

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Tips on Professionalism and How to Be the “Best You” on Interview Day  

Professionalism is an important quality on which applicants are evaluated throughout the entire interview process. Always remain courteous, patient, mindful, and gracious throughout your interactions with medical schools. In addition to displaying professionalism throughout your application journey, it is key to convey confidence and preparedness. Sunny Nakae, assistant dean for admissions at Loyola University Chicago Stritch Medical school of Medicine, discusses four tips to help you interview with confidence. Read more of her advice.

  • Be the expert on you. Know what experiences you included in your application and your supplemental application responses, so you are prepared to further discuss your application. If the interviewer asks about a specific experience, do not repeat what you already wrote in your application. Add depth to your written application and reflect on the experience during the interview with greater detail and insight. 
  • Convey your motivation for medicine and your interest in the medical school. Your motivation and passion must leave an impression. Convey your interest in the medical school by stating why you feel it is a good fit for you and ask questions to further explore fit.  
  • Prepare, don’t rehearse. The compulsion to memorize and practice answers sometimes leads to too much pivoting in the interview where an applicant doesn’t answer the question asked but gives the answer they prepared instead. The best interviews are conversational and allow the interviewer to explore your experiences, motivations, and reflections, but also your personality. There have been great interviews where the conversation evolved to all sorts of topics not listed in the application that enabled the interviewer to see an applicant’s critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and personality. 
  • Be a storyteller. Stories are powerful and memorable ways to convey your ideas. Consider your areas of growth, your accomplishments, your past failures, and your motivation for medicine. Think about instances of teamwork, failure, disappointment, goal-setting, or resilience. Reflect on growth and meaning as much as possible. How did you change? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? 

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Preparing for a Virtual Interview

Preparing for a Virtual Interview

In addition to the general tips provided in the “How to prepare for your interviews – Virtual or In-person” section, there are several considerations for preparing for a virtual interview, including: 

Identifying Suitable Technology 

To complete virtual interviews, you will need the following: 

  • A strong and stable internet connection. You can check your internet speed at SpeedTest.net. Sometimes switching from Wi-Fi to a wired ethernet connection improves your internet speed. If your home’s internet connection is too slow, consider going to a local library or finding space at your school where you can do the interview in a private room with stable Wi-Fi. 
  • A computer or tablet with a good webcam and microphone. Although a mobile phone may be used, we recommend using a computer or tablet to improve stability.  
  • Silence calls, alarms, or notifications. We recommend using a device that will not accept phone calls during interviews because a phone call will interfere with your ability to complete your response.  

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Practicing With Technology 

  • Practice responding with the device you’ll be using during the interview. 

    • For a live video interview, practice with peers or advisors. 

    • For an asynchronous interview, practice on your own so you can get used to responding without an interviewer present.  

  • If possible, record yourself so you can get a sense of your positioning on screen, eye contact, sound quality, and whether you’re fidgeting, swiveling in your chair, or making distracting gestures, such as covering parts of your face.  

  • Make a note of how the camera and microphone are positioned so you can recreate a setup that works when you log in to the system to complete your actual interview. 

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Selecting and Setting Up Your Environment 

  • Identify a private, quiet, well-lit space where you can complete the interview by yourself, free of potential distractions, and where you can speak freely. Make sure you have control over the background noise. Consider completing the interview at someone’s home (your own, a family member’s, or a friend’s), space offered by your school (study room, specific interview rooms, lab space, etc.), or personal office space. A professor or faculty member may be able to help you find space on campus, and your career services office may have rooms available to use for interviews.  

  • Avoid having sources of bright light such as sunlight and lamps directly behind you because they will cast a shadow on you. Instead, make sure a light source is in front of you so the interviewer can see you clearly. If you’re doing the interview at night, make sure there’s a lamp available that can light up your face. Consider the backdrop you will use during your interview and try to keep it clean and neat and free of distractions. Think about setting up virtual backgrounds across each of the most common interview platforms (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams). This can include choosing the “blur my background” feature, choosing a pre-set virtual background in the platform, or uploading your own virtual background.  

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Considering your Presentation 

  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person interview.  

  • Try to be rested and focused. As with any formal interview, you want to be able to focus on understanding the questions, crafting coherent responses, and presenting your best self. 

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Setting Up for the Interview 

  • Double-check your microphone and camera to make sure they’re working well.  

  • Position the camera at eye level so it looks like you are looking directly at the interviewer. Be sure to look at your camera when speaking instead of looking at other participants.  

  • Shut down all programs on your device so that no alerts, notifications, or other electronic interruptions distract you. 

  • Make sure your device is fully charged. Carry a charger with you and make sure you can plug into an outlet in case there is a problem with your battery. When possible, plug into an outlet in advance of any battery issues.

  • Have a backup plan in case the technology fails ― this may be as simple as providing your phone number to the interviewer in advance. 

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Virtual Interview Etiquette and Zoom Fatigue

There are several steps you can take to ensure your virtual interview go smoothly and prevent zoom fatigue. Zoom fatigue, or video conferencing fatigue, arises when individuals spend too much time looking at computer/phone screens, and can manifest as emotional, psychological, and physical exhaustion.  Below are some recommendations for combating Zoom fatigue:

  • Become comfortable with the software using the tips in the “practice with technology” section above.

  • Log in early to avoid potential stress caused by last-minute log in.

  • Stand up and stretch in between sessions, if possible.

  • Make “hide self-video” as a default setting or automatically hide it after a few seconds once you know you are framed properly to avoid stress and fatigue resulting from increased self-awareness.

In group settings, it can be useful to mute the microphone when not speaking so that you spend less time worrying about maintaining a quiet environment during the virtual meeting. Additionally, try to focus on the interviewer instead of browsing other participants’ videos as it may induce fatigue when trying to process what is happing in multiple video windows.

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Peer-Reviewed Articles Published in Medical Journals About Virtual Interviewing

Bailenson, JN. Nonverbal overload: a theoretical argument for the causes of zoom fatigue. Technology, Mind, and Behavior. 2021;2(1). 

Bishop, T., Heinrich, L., Greenberg, J. B., Wenner, R., Furst, W., & Wong, J. (2022). The impact of virtual interviews on the resident applicant: a before-and-after comparison. Family medicine, 54(10), 833–835. https://doi.org/10.22454/FamMed.2022.510274 

Bullock, A.N., Colvin A.D., Jackson M.S. “All Zoomed out”: strategies for addressing zoom fatigue in the age of COVID-19. Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH. 2022.  

Daram, S.R., Wu R., Tang S.J. Interview from anywhere: feasibility and utility of web-based videoconference interviews in the gastroenterology fellowship selection process. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(2):155-159.  

Domingo, A., Rdesinski, R. E., Cheng, A., Hatfield, J., Aylor, M., Walker, S., Cois, A., Singer, J., Sullenbarger, J., Hervey, S., & Stenson, A. (2022). Effectiveness of virtual residency interviews: interviewer perspectives. Family medicine, 54(10), 828–832. https://doi.org/10.22454/FamMed.2022.177754 

Edje, L., Miller C., Kiefer J., Oram D. Using Skype as an alternative for residency selection interviews. J Grad Med Educ. 2013;5(3):503-505.  

Eveland, A. P., Prado, L. G., Wilhelm, S. R., Wong, S., & Barsky, S. H. (2021). The virtues of the virtual medical school interview. Medical education online, 26(1), 1992820. https://doi.org/10.1080/10872981.2021.1992820 

Finney, N., Stopenski, S., & Smith, B. R. (2022). Applicant perspectives of virtual general surgery residency interviews. The American Surgeon, 88(10), 2556–2560. https://doi-org.proxy.library.nyu.edu/10.1177/00031348221103658 

Huppert, L. A., & Babik, J. M. (2020). Best practices to successfully navigate a virtual interview: a five-step guide for hematology/oncology fellowship applicants. Journal of cancer education: the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Education, 35(5), 860–861. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01851-w 

Huppert, L. A., Hsiao, E. C., Cho, K. C., Marquez, C., Chaudhry, R. I., Frank, J., Goglin, S. E., Hsu, G., Kathpalia, P., Khanna, R., Kompala, T., Rao, M. N., Bower, B. A., Trafas, V., Santhosh, L., Schwartz, B. S., & Babik, J. M. (2020). Virtual interviews at graduate medical education training programs: determining evidence-based best practices. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 96(8), 1137–1145. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000003868 

Lamberton, T., Tung, C., Kaji, A. H., Neville, A. L., Singer, G. A., Simms, E. R., Lona, Y., & Virgilio, C. de. (2022). Faculty scoring of general surgery residency interviewees: a comparison of in-person and virtual interview formats. Journal of Surgical Education, 79(6), e69–e75. https://doi-org.proxy.library.nyu.edu/10.1016/j.jsurg.2022.09.003 

Lee, E., Terhaar, S., Shakhtour, L., Gerhard, E., Patella, M., Singh, R., & Zapanta, P. E. (2022). Virtual residency interviews during the covid-19 pandemic: the applicant's perspective. Southern medical journal, 115(9), 698–706. https://doi.org/10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001442 

Levine, J., Yerneni, K., DeBenedectis, C. M., Garg, A., Berggruen, S., Kelahan, L., Griffin, L., & Magnetta, M. (2022). Resident perspective of the virtual diagnostic radiology residency interview process: a national survey from the association of program directors in radiology. Academic Radiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acra.2022.12.024 

McCarthy, C. (2020). Develop successful interview strategies for virtual and traditional formats. Successful Registrar, 20(10), 1–7. 

Nwora, C., Allred, D. B., & Verduzco-Gutierrez, M. (2021). Mitigating bias in virtual interviews for applicants who are underrepresented in medicine. Journal of the National Medical Association, 113(1), 74–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnma.2020.07.011 

Otugo, O., Alvarez, A., Brown, I., & Landry, A. (2021). Bias in recruitment: A focus on virtual interviews and holistic review to advance diversity. AEM Education and Training, 5, S135–S139. 

Pasadhika S., Altenbernd T., Ober R.R., Harvey E.M., Miller J.M. Residency interview video conferencing. Ophthalmology. 2014;119(2):426-426.e5. 

Ponterio, J. M., Levy, L., & Lakhi, N. A. (2022). Evaluation of the virtual interviews for resident recruitment due to covid-19 travel restrictions: a nationwide survey of us senior medical students. Family medicine, 54(10), 776–783. https://doi.org/10.22454/FamMed.2022.592364 

Ponterio, J. M., Levy, L., & Lakhi, N. A. (2022). Evaluation of the virtual interview format for resident recruitment as a result of covid-19 restrictions: residency program directors' perspectives. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 97(9), 1360–1367. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000004730 

Pourmand A., Lee H., Fair M., Maloney K., Caggiula A. Feasibility and usability of tele-interview for medical residency interview. West J Emerg Med. 2018;19(1):80-86. 

Riedl R. On the stress potential of videoconferencing: definition and root causes of Zoom fatigue. Electron Mark. 2022;32(1):153-177. 

Robinson, K. A., Shin, B., & Gangadharan, S. P. (2021). A comparison between in-person and virtual fellowship interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of surgical education, 78(4), 1175–1181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsurg.2020.11.006 

Seifi, A., Mirahmadizadeh, A., & Eslami, V. (2020). Perception of medical students and residents about virtual interviews for residency applications in the United States. PloS one, 15(8), e0238239. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238239 

Shah S.K., Arora S., Skipper B., Kalishman S., Timm T.C., Smith A.Y. Randomized evaluation of a web-based interview process for urology resident selection. J Urol. 2012;187(4):1380-1384. 

Shreffler, J., Platt, M., Thé, S., & Huecker, M. (2021). Planning virtual residency interviews as a result of COVID-19: insight from residency applicants and physicians conducting interviews. Postgraduate medical journal, 98(1158), 276–280. https://doi.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-139182 

Singh, A., Haddad, A. G., & Krupp, J. C. (2022). Reply: COVID-19, virtual interviews, and the selection quandary: How a program's digital footprint influences the plastic surgery match. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 149(6), 1263e–1264e. https://doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0000000000009109 

Steele, T. N., Prabhu, S. S., Layton, R. G., Runyan, C. M., & David, L. R. (2022). The virtual interview experience: advantages, disadvantages, and trends in applicant behavior. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 10(11), e4677. https://doi.org/10.1097/GOX.0000000000004677 

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Common Interview Topics

Common Interview Topics

Specific questions will vary among programs. However, questions will generally fall into the following categories: 

  • Questions about you – “How would your friends describe you?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” 
  • Questions about your future career goals – “What do you see yourself doing in the future?” “What are your goals?” 
  • Questions about your interest in their specific school – “Why are you interested in our school?” “What are you looking for in a medical school?” 
  • Questions about your application/record – “Can you tell me about this deficiency on your record?”  
  • Questions about your past experiences – “What was the most difficult situation you encountered prior to medical school?” “What is one event you are proudest of in your life?” 
  • Questions about how you would handle a hypothetical situation – “Describe how you can effectively deal with someone in a crisis?” “Imagine you are working on a group project with a classmate. The professor compliments your work on the project. She gives you sole credit and fails to mention that your classmate played a major role. What should you do?”  

Access an AAMC list of frequency asked interview questions.


Tools for MD-PhD Applicants

Tools for MD-PhD Applicants

MD-PhD programs offer comprehensive training in both medicine and research. Find more information about MD-PhD programs and potential career paths, along with specific resources for those preparing for the MD-PhD program interview process. In addition to reviewing these resources, reaching out to individual MD-PhD programs can provide answers to any specific questions you may have.


During the Interview

During the Interview

The During section of the Medical School Applicant Interview Preparation Guide focuses on providing you with valuable guidance and insights to excel during your medical school interview(s). We understand the significance of this stage in your application process and aim to equip you with essential tips and strategies for success. In this section, we will explore practical advice for completing your interviews, including techniques to manage nerves and effectively communicate your qualifications. We will also discuss what questions should be avoided during an interview, ensuring you maintain professionalism and adhere to appropriate guidelines. Additionally, we will delve into factors to consider when evaluating medical schools, providing you with insightful questions that can inform your decision-making process. By utilizing the resources and knowledge presented in this section, you will be well-prepared to showcase your abilities and make informed choices throughout your interview journey. Let's dive in and enhance your interview experience. 


Tips for Completing Your Interviews

Tips for Completing Your Interviews

Now that you’ve prepared for your interviews, it’s time to discuss recommendations for responding to appropriate interview questions, provide examples of inappropriate interview questions, and present recommendations for what to do if you get asked inappropriate interview questions. 

Responding to Questions

Consider the following “Dos” and “Don’ts” when responding to interview questions. 

Dos Don’ts
  • Provide detailed and specific examples and try to avoid speaking in generalities. Typically, one strong example is better than several weak or tangential examples.
  • Provide a complete response to each question. In general, when responding to:
    • Behavioral questions, share past experiences using the STAR format described in the “How to Prepare – Virtual or In-Person” section – discuss the situation or task you encountered, the actions you took, the outcome of your actions, and what you learned.
    • Situational questions, discuss the actions you should take, why you should take those actions, and what you would expect the result of your actions to be.
  • Do not provide patient information that could be used separately or in combination to identify a patient, such as names, locations, diagnoses, or other distinguishing characteristics. Refer to a patient as “the patient.”
  • If your response may portray a colleague in a negative light, do not provide information that could be used separately or in combination to identify that colleague, such as a name, title, location, or other distinguishing characteristic.

Your Interview Rights & Responsibilities

Your Interview Rights & Responsibilities

Although interviewers are instructed by admissions officers and guided by federal statutes on what are unfair or discriminatory preadmission inquiries, there may be an occasion when an interviewer asks an inappropriate question. You can find examples below.

You have the right not to answer what you sense is an inappropriate question. If such a question is asked, try to relax and provide a thoughtful and articulate response (two essential characteristics of a good physician). You may also respectfully decline to answer the question and explain that you were advised not to answer questions that you sensed were inappropriate. 

You have the responsibility to report being asked an inappropriate question to help prevent further occurrences. Medical schools may establish formal procedures that enable applicants to report such incidents in a confidential manner. 

Medical schools may inform you of these procedures prior to interviews and assure you that reporting an incident will not bias your evaluation. 

If a medical school did not inform you of its procedures and an incident occurs, use these guidelines. If possible, report the incident in confidence to an admissions officer during the interview day, including the interviewer’s name and the interview question(s) asked. Otherwise, email this information to an admissions officer within 24 hours of the interview, noting the date and time of the incident. Furthermore, you have the right to ask if another interview is deemed necessary to ensure an unbiased evaluation of your application to that medical school. 

Some interviewers use the interview to assess how well you function under stress and may purposely ask challenging questions to observe how you respond under pressure. 

How you communicate will be a critical part of the encounter; however, this does not give an interviewer the right to ask you inappropriate questions in their attempt to challenge you during the interview. 

Examples of inappropriate questions

  • Q: What is your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, opinion on abortion and/or euthanasia, income, value of your home, credit score, etc.?
  • Q: Do you have or are you planning on having children during medical school?
  • Q: Do you have any disabilities?
  • Q: Will you require special accommodations?
  • Q: Have you ever been arrested?
  • Q: Have you ever done drugs?
  • Q: How old are you?

Sample responses to inappropriate questions

  • Q: What are your plans for expanding your family during medical school?
    • A: Can you please clarify your question? I want to make sure that I’m providing information that is most relevant to my candidacy.
  • Q: Have you ever done drugs?
    • A: I am uncomfortable discussing my medical history and possible use of prescription medication.

Evaluating Schools and Making a Decision

Evaluating Schools and Making a Decision

Don't be shy about asking questions! The medical school interview is one of the most valuable sources of information that can help you decide where to matriculate. Medical schools, like individuals, are very different. Identifying the medical schools where you can be happy and successful can be challenging. While this list is by no means complete, it can help serve as a base for your own questions.  

Be sure to research each medical school before your interview so you can ask informed questions. 

Find sample questions about:


  • Are there any special programs for which this medical school is noted? 

  • Please tell me more about the integrated curriculum. 

  • What modalities are used for student lectures? 

  • What are the opportunities for research? What are the policies for taking time off for research opportunities? 

  • How do students get assistance if an academic need arises? 

  • Is there flexibility in the coursework (the number of electives) and the timing of the courses (accelerating, decelerating, and time off) during the pre-clinical and clinical years? 

  • Are standardized tests used such as the NBME shelf exams? 

  • Has this medical school, or any of its clinical departments, been on probation or had its accreditation revoked? 

  • How do students from this medical school perform on the National Board Examinations? How does the medical school assist students who do not pass? 

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  • How are students evaluated academically? How are clinical evaluations performed? 

  • Is there a formal mechanism in place for students to evaluate their professors and attending physicians? What changes have been made recently as a result of this feedback? 

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Counseling/Student Support

  • What kind of academic, personal, financial, and career counseling is available to students? Are these services also offered to their spouses and dependents/children? 

  • Is there a mentor/advisor system? Who are the advisors—faculty members, other students, or both? 

  • How diverse is the student body? Are there support services or organizations for ethnic/cultural minorities, LGBTQ+ students, and women? 

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  • Tell me about the library and extracurricular facilities (i.e., housing and athletic/recreational facilities). Is designated study space available? 

  • Are students required to have a laptop? 

  • What type of clinical sites—ambulatory, private preceptors, private hospitals, rural settings, international—are available or required for clerkships? Does this medical school allow for students to do rotations at other institutions or internationally? 

  • Is a car necessary for clinical rotations? Is parking a problem? 

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Financial Aid

  • What is the current tuition and fees? Is this expected to increase yearly? If so, at what rate? 

  • Are there stable levels of federal financial aid and substantial amounts of university/medical school endowment aid available to students? 

  • Are there students who have an "unmet need" factor in their budget? If so, how do these students come up with the extra funds? 

  • Are spouses and dependents/children covered in a student's budget? 

  • Are there services/staff available to assist students with budgeting and financial planning? 

  • Does this medical school provide guidance to its students and to its graduates/alumni on debt management? 

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Student Involvement

  • What medical school committees (e.g., curriculum committee) have student representation? 

  • Are students involved in (required or voluntary) community service? 

  • How active is the student council/government? Are there other active student organizations? 

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  • What is the student medical insurance coverage, and what is the cost to students? 

  • Is there an established protocol for dealing with student exposure to infectious diseases? 

  • Does this medical school provide, or does the student pay for, vaccinations against Hepatitis B or prophylactic AZT treatment in case of a needlestick or accident? 

  • Is disability insurance provided to cover exposure? 

  • Is there a medical school honor code? Is there a grievance process/procedure? Are the students involved? 

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  • May I see a list of residency programs to which this medical school's recent graduates placed/matched?

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Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Does this medical school have strengths in the type of medicine (primary versus specialized care, urban versus rural practice environment, academic medicine versus private practice) that I will want to practice? 

  • Would I be happy at this medical school for at least the next four years? 

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