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233 : 5 Common Med School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

By Ryan Gray, MD of Meded Media

Session 233 First off, the preorder for the paperback version of my book, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview is now available. It releases on June 06, 2017. To celebrate that launch, If you preorder it from Barnes and Noble, I'm giving away $100-worth of free gifts including: Brand new mock interview platform:  Only available right now to those who pre-order the book, this tool will allow you to practice your interview skills anytime you want as well as share these videos and recordings of you interviews with mentors, advisors, friends and family. The regular price for this is $47 a month but you get a free month for pre-ordering the book. Video series: These are 13 video courses on the medical school interview which are normally sold at $47. To get access to these free gifts, preorder the book on Barnes and Noble before June 6, 2017. To find out more, text PREORDER to 44222. Tying this all back into our episode today, I'm sharing with you 5 common medical school interview questions and how you can answer them to help you prepare for the entire interview process. [03:58] The Interview is So Important I will soon be interviewing a student who went through the medical school interview process last year and had 5-7 interviews. She is a great students obviously as she got several interviews. She got a great story but she didn't tell her story properly during the interviews. As a result, she didn't get in anywhere. Then she worked with me and we did four mock interviews together. She reapplied and didn't really change anything else in her application and then she got 5-6 acceptances to great MD schools. She really turned it around because she prepared for the interview. Being prepared for these five questions today will help you get started in the right direction in terms of preparing for the interview. 5 Common Medical School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them [05:25] Number 1: Tell Me About Yourself 99.9% of the time, I start my interviews with tell me about yourself. When I'm interviewing a student, I almost always start with that. It's actually more of a statement than a question but why is it such an important answer for you to give? This is basically your opportunity to take charge of the conversation. The whole goal of this interview process is to not have it be an interview. You want it to be a conversation between you and that interviewer. Pretend like you're sitting down in a coffee shop with your future or current colleague and just have a conversation. The most common mistake students make is they recite their resume and give information the interviewer doesn't really care about or that can be read on your application. This is your time to take the reins and direct the conversation wherever you want to go. This is essentially your opportunity to discuss some interesting things about you. If you're think you're not interesting then you're wrong. You are unique because you are telling all your experiences through the lens of your own life. You are unique and you just have to talk about yourself. Answer this statement by diving into fun things about you such as where you grew up, about your family, brothers and sisters and growing up with them and the fun adventures you've been on with them. Dive in a little bit deeper. The goal here is to give enough details and as you're having this conversation, you are being a human. And those are the kinds of people they're going to want for the medical school class - somebody who's going to be able to communicate and be interesting. Instead of talking about where you graduated, what you majored in, and you want to help people that's why you want to be a doctor, which they've already heard a thousand times, talk about things like your spaghetti recipe or milking cows at four o'clock in the morning. That's fun, interesting, and different. One of the students I worked with got accepted into ten medical schools. She was a former actress and we prepared her story all around being an actress and the feedback she gave me after 11 interviews (she got ten acceptances) was that all they wanted to do was talk about her acting. Of course because it's different! Don't underestimate your difference no matter what it is, even if you're a traditional student and you've gone to high school and college, and you've always wanted to be premed. There's something in there, a fun story, a hobby, something you can talk about and take hold of. [11:54] Number 2: Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor? This is where a lot of students fall flat on the face. Wanting science and wanting to help people are not good reasons to discuss during the interview as to why you want to be a doctor. Instead, discuss your initial motivations such as family illnesses, personal illness, child prodigy, etc. Whatever it is, be able to talk about experiences you've had that motivates you to become a doctor. These experiences are typically best shown through direct patient interactions. For example, talk about working with Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones and being there by their side as they're going through a procedure. Those stories you can tell along with the connections, emotions, and the impact that you can discuss that you had or they had on you or you had on them, those are the stories that the interviewer wants to hear. Wanting to help people is not limited to being a doctor. I once took an Uber and asked the driver how he was doing and he said he's having a great time helping people. This is the perfect example of somebody that is loving their job helping people. So don't tell me that you want to be a physician because you want to help people because there are a billion and one things out there, including being an Uber driver, where you can help people. Obviously, you need to have a combination of helping people and loving science to want to be a doctor because you have to survive prereqs with your science courses and do clinical experiences and be around patients. But it all comes down to those interactions that you've had with patients and the impacts you have seen physicians make on patients to really drive home the point about wanting to be a physician. Usually, this is also the way to write your personal statement too. The most one being what your initial motivations are for entering medicine followed by some experiences. [15:50] Number 3: What is Your Greatest Strength? This is one question that a lot of students trip over. My top tip is to answer the question the interviewer gives you. When they ask for the one thing, give them one thing and not three or five or ten things. Trying to squeeze stuff in because you think it's going to make you look better may only do otherwise. So how do you answer this? Well, you have to be able to honestly answer that. It can be as simple as being highly organized or leadership skills, listening skills, good time management. Whatever it is, be able to tell a story that supports your claim. Unfortunately, a lot of students say what they think the interviewer wants to hear but they don't actually believe in what they're saying. So make sure you're able to back it up with a story. Tell them what that looks like and the impact your strength has. The same goes for weakness. Talk about what your weakness looks like. The more you can answer questions with stories from your life, the better your interview is going to go. Stories are more memorable. They're conversational and they're impactful. [19:38] Number 4: Why Should We Accept You? Hard one, isn't it? So you tell them that you're motivated and determined so you're going to make a doctor and that you really love medicine. Of course, this is what you want to do. Hopefully, 99.9% of the applicants know that this is what they want to do. Knowing that you want to be a doctor is not a reason to accept you. And being self-motivated or determined or passionate in itself is not going to be a good reason either. Hence, this is your opportunity to sell yourself and sell your skills. Be able to hit home that you're a leader because of xyz. You're passionate as illustrated by xyz. You have great time-management skills based on xyz. You are a a great team player because of your experiences with this organization. Again, use stories to associate them with your skills and traits that you have that you think are going to make you a great classmate. How are you going to take you skills and traits and experiences and bring them to the class? As much as you can say that you want to bring this skill to the class and help you classmates in this way and be a great team player, then the interviewer would be picturing you as part of the class. Therefore, translate your skills and tell a story. How do you add to the class because they're building a community of students. [23:03] Number 5: Why This School? A lot of students talk about they have friends that go to that school and they love it. But this is not the way to answer this. Find out specific details of the school like specific programs you're interested in be it related to diversity or outreach. Whatever that may be, find out the specifics about the school. Look up their mission and vision statements and find out if anything resonates with you. Look for the minute details in each of these things in trying to figure out why you're applying to each of these schools. In fact, you should already know this considering you applied for this school to begin with. Don't talk about the great ability to help the underserved as most urban academic medical centers are going to help the underserved population and this is not unique. Try not to have anything generic that you can pull out of your statement and put it into any other school. So be very specific such as the curriculum, class size, location and support structure in that area. [25:35] Final Thoughts This is just one part of the medical school interview process. To know more, we have a lot more podcast episodes tackling that or better yet, pre-order The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Text PREORDER to 44222 and get instructions on what to do next so you can get access to my mock interview platform and video course all on the medical school school interview. Links: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview MedEd Media Network OldPreMeds Podcast The MCAT Podcast Specialty Stories Podcast

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