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.