Questions to Ask During Your Medical School Interview

Medical school interview
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It is important to ask questions during your medical school interviews. The interview is more than just an evaluation of you as an applicant—it's also an opportunity for you to learn what sets the school apart. By asking your interviewer informed questions, you'll gather information that will help you determine whether the school is a good fit for you.

You may choose to ask relevant questions throughout the interview, which shows that you are actively engaged in the conversation. Take care, however, not to interrupt, which can be seen as overbearing or rude. Towards the end of the interview, you will likely be asked if you have questions. You should have a few standard questions prepared. In fact, a student with no questions at this point may seem disinterested.

The following questions will help you demonstrate interest and gain valuable information about the program. Before you decide which questions to ask, think of your audience. You may be interviewed by a medical student, a physician, a scientist, or another staff member. Certain interviewers may be more or less equipped to answer a particular question depending on their role. 

General

What would you say are the best and worst things about this medical school?

If you could change anything about this medical school, what would you change?

What makes this medical school unique? What are the most unique programs or opportunities here?

Why is this a good year to start at this school? What would I have to look forward to?

Curriculum

How are the student lectures delivered (video, audience participation, etc.)? Are the lectures recorded or broadcast for later viewing?

How much clinical exposure do students get in the first two years?

Will I have opportunities to do research? Are those opportunities available in the pre-clinical years, or only during the clinical years?

Will I be able to take electives in the pre-clinical or clinical years?

Do students have the opportunity to do “away” rotations at other institutions? Are there opportunities for international experiences?

Are standardized tests used (such as the NBME shelf exams)?

How do students get academic help if needed?

What exposure do students get to your specialty? (Note: This question is best for a subspecialist who does not practice one of the core specialties.)

Has this school or any of its programs been on academic probation or had its accreditation revoked?

What type of support is provided during the residency application process? With which programs are students most frequently matched?

Faculty-Student Interactions

How long have you been a faculty member here?

What do you think attracts the faculty (or you, specifically) to this school? What keeps you here?

Is there a mentor system? Are students advised by faculty members, fellow students, or both?

Does the faculty try to direct students into certain specialties? (Note: This question is best for a current medical student.)

Assessment and Evaluation

How are students evaluated?

Will I have a chance to evaluate my professors, attending physicians, or residents?

How do the students here do on the board exams?

Is there an honor code? How are violations handled?

Resources and Facilities

What clinical settings are students exposed to (i.e. county hospital, university hospital, community hospital, or VA)?

Do students have electronic access to journals? Textbooks? UpToDate?

Are there resources or staff available to help students with budgeting and financial planning?

Does the school provide guidance on debt management?

Student Involvement

Are students involved in community service? What are some of the most popular service opportunities? 

Is there a student council? How active is it?

What medical school committees have medical students on them?

Can students contribute to curriculum planning?

How diverse is the student body? Are there organizations for ethnic minorities, LGBT students, or women?

Quality of Life

What is daily life like in this city? What do students do for fun?

Where do most of the students live? Is there a strong sense of community among medical students?

Do any of the students have outside jobs?

What kind of health and wellness resources are available to students?

Are there support groups available for spouses or significant others? Are there resources available for the children of medical students?

What Not to Ask

Knowing what not to ask requires common sense. If you are hesitant to ask a question, ask yourself why and whether the reasons for your reluctance are legitimate.

Be respectful. A question or statement that is disrespectful of any patient group is unacceptable. The same goes for questions which diminish the work of certain doctors or health care professionals. Statements made in jest can easily be misinterpreted, and it is best to steer clear of potentially insulting questions. If you are being interviewed by a medical student or other non-faculty staff, don’t let down your guard and say something ill-advised. These interviewers likely have as much influence on your admission as faculty members.

Avoid questions that call into question your commitment to medicine, as well as questions that suggest you are there for the wrong reasons (i.e. questions about salary). Don’t phrase questions in such a way that suggests you want to avoid work or responsibility. “Do I have to take overnight call?” is better asked as, “How much time on call is typical in the clinical rotations?”

Try not to ask questions that can easily be answered by the school’s website or other materials. Instead, do your research before the interview, then ask specific questions that build on the available information. For example, instead of asking, “Do students have an opportunity to learn through simulation?”, ask, “I read a little about the simulation center on your website. How much time do students spend there in their pre-clinical years?”