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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