Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - Feature
12 Dec 2017

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer

The medical profession can be challenging, but getting into medical school isn’t a walk in the park either.

Apart from having stellar grades, you’ll also need to pass an interview process that not only shows who you are to your interviewers, but tests your knowledge on the profession along with your thinking process, such as how you come to a conclusion when faced with tricky ethical scenarios, from euthanasia to abortion.

So if you’re curious about what are some of the common interview questions you might be asked during your interview, don’t worry. We’ve curated some frequently asked questions here so you don’t enter the room unprepared!

Disclaimer: The questions listed here are a guide for prospective medical students. We cannot guarantee that you will be asked these questions during the interview, so it’s best to do your homework and prepare accordingly.

#1. Questions about your background and character

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - 1 Questions about your background and character

It can be quite unnerving for anyone (yes, even adults!) to be put in the spotlight. The interviewers may ease the tension with some icebreaker topics, such as the following:

Tell us about yourself. What about your family and friends?

Such questions are used to gauge your personality and whether you’re a right fit for a Medical Degree and to weed out the psychopaths.

Additionally, these questions give you an opportunity to paint yourself in a positive light, such as your interest in volunteering for healthcare projects or in old folks’ homes. It’s also a chance for you to showcase your communication skills, which is important for doctors when speaking with patients and their families.

Your friends and family may also be a topic of interest to the interviewers, so be sure to speak positively about how they have impacted your life or influenced your decision to pursue a Degree in Medicine.

Tell us about your education background.

Your interviewers will want to hear about what you have studied, the extracurricular activities you were involved in and your achievements both in and outside of school.

You can expect follow-up questions such as:

  • How will your involvement in the Interact Club equip you for medical school?
  • What was your biggest takeaway from the hockey team that can be applied in university?
  • What are your favourite subjects in school?
  • Do you prefer organic or physical chemistry?

How do you cope with stress?

Working as a doctor can be gruelling, no thanks to the long hours and the sacrifices that doctors often have to make (e.g. working overtime, missing out on family time, sacrificing sleep, etc.) to ensure their patients’ safety. Those undergoing their housemanship also go through demanding work hours, so the interviewers will likely ask how you cope with stress and stressful situations.

You may be given scenarios on what you should do during a time-sensitive surgery or when you are asked to cover another doctor’s shift even though you’ve barely ended a 13-hour shift yourself. It’s not that they’re trying to scare you but these are some of the harsh realities you are bound to face upon becoming a doctor.

#2. Questions about your motivation and strengths

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - 2 Questions about your motivation and strengths-

Why do you want to study medicine?

You are almost guaranteed to encounter this question during your interview.

Interviewers want to know your values and motivation behind wanting to be a doctor. How passionate are you about the profession? Are you in it for the money? Are your parents behind this decision, or is it truly yours?

And if you say it’s because you want to help people, don’t be surprised if you get a follow-up question of, “So why not be a nurse?”

To be able to answer this question well, you’ll need to dig deep and figure out what led you to the decision to study medicine. After all, your answer needs to be powerful enough to sustain you through your tough years as a medical student, and later on as you progress in the profession.

Pro Tip: Separate fact from fiction and find out what are some of the common misconceptions about being a doctor here.

Why did you apply to study medicine at our university?

Apart from reading the university’s website, it helps to speak with friends, acquaintances or your seniors to understand what sets this institution apart from other medical schools, or why it suits you.

This includes checking whether they are accredited by the Malaysian Medical Council and the type of hospital placements available for students (e.g. opportunities to be placed in both public and private hospitals, along with those in rural areas for a holistic training experience).

It’s important to craft thoughtful answers to this question and to highlight positive points about the university, such as:

  • Its excellent track record and state-of-the-art facilities
  • Its commitment to student excellence
  • The quality of education
Pro Tip: Curious about what to expect upon entering medical school? Find out what medical students had to say here.

We have hundreds of students applying. Why should we choose you? What do you have to offer that sets you apart?

Given the high volume of applicants for medical schools, your interviewers need to pick the crème de la crème out of hundreds of applicants, so think long and hard about what sets you apart from the pack, and not only harp on your good grades.

Take the opportunity to mention some of your skills that you can apply in medical school, during your housemanship and later in your career. Don’t forget to highlight any experience that demonstrates your passion for studying medicine and becoming a doctor.

Pro Tip: Be confident with your responses. If you’re not convinced by your answers, practise answering mock interview questions in front of a mirror or with your parents at least a few days before the interview.

#3. Questions about the profession and industry

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - 3 Questions about the profession and industry 2

What do you think are the most important qualities a doctor should have?

Do you have a favourite doctor to whom you would always go when you’re ill? Or one who created a positive and memorable impression on you? What was he or she like? Were they empathetic, genuinely concerned about your well-being, knowledgeable and could communicate with you easily?

If you’ve experienced what it’s like to be a patient, chances are, there are attributes that you like and dislike in doctors, giving you some insight into what kind of doctor you want and don’t want to become in the future.

Just be sure not to describe Dr House!

What do you understand about the differences between healthcare in Malaysia and in the United Kingdom?

If you’re applying to a university that awards degrees from British universities (e.g. Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Perdana University, etc.), you may be asked this question so make sure to do your homework prior to your interview!

For example, you could brush up your knowledge on clinical governance between Malaysia and England, including what it is and how it affects a patient’s safety, among other topics.

#4. Questions about ethics

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - 4 Questions about ethics

Your interviewers will often pose some thought-provoking questions that will make you do a double take and question your existence! While we’d love to help you out with how to respond, there aren’t always clear-cut answers to ethical questions posed.

While the questions will differ between universities, here are a few examples of situational questions to give you a rough idea of what to expect.

  • You’re the principal of a secondary school where a student was found taking drugs. What do you do?
  • A 14-year-old rape victim is now 6 months pregnant and has come to you begging for an abortion. What do you do?
  • You are a doctor who just pronounced a car accident victim brain-dead. His family requests you to put him on life support, but you know there aren’t enough beds in the hospitals nearby. What do you do?
  • Should you treat patients with incurable illnesses, such as AIDS?

#5. Miscellaneous questions

Common Medical School Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer - 5 Miscellaneous questions

How prepared are you to study medicine?
Have you thought about your finances and what you’d do if you had to move to a different state?
Are you aware of the number of years you have to commit before getting your degree?

These are some practical questions about pursuing a Medical Degree that you need to consider prior to enrolling in medical school.

Don’t be surprised if your interviewers ask you any of these questions:

  • Studying medicine is expensive and can take up some 5 years of your life. How are you planning to finance your studies?
  • What’s your contingency plan if you fail a semester and have to retake your exam? How will you finance it?
  • If you’re assigned an outstation hospital for your housemanship or clinical training, how will you cope? What about commuting?

When it comes to preparing for your medical school interview, preparation is key! Do your homework and research the profession — don’t try to “wing it”. There are many students vying for a position in medical school so you need to bring your A-game to the interview and be a cut above the rest. Either way, just be confident with yourself, and you’re already halfway there!

Not sure if medicine is your calling? Find out what these doctors have to say about the profession!

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