If you’ve received an interview invitation from Johns Hopkins medical school, then it’s a good idea to start reading Johns Hopkins medical school interview questions to help you prepare. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is a notoriously difficult school to get into, so having strong answers to your interview questions will be essential. As a school known for its leadership in research and program diversity, the interview will touch on a variety of selection factors that predict whether candidates can contribute to the prolific success of this institution. In this article, we go over some common medical school interview questions and sample answers for John Hopkins to help you feel confident in your interview.
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You need to have some background on the interview format to perform well in the interview. The interviews are held on Thursdays and Fridays from August to February each year. As John Hopkins is a medical school that accepts international students, you can request a virtual interview if you aren’t in the country.
Each MD and MD-PhD applicant who receives an invitation will be interviewed twice; once by a faculty member, and then again by a senior medical student. Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) applicants will be interviewed by members of the faculty and senior medical students who share their research interests. The interview stage generally lasts two days. All applicants will have an opportunity to speak with members of the faculty and other students.
These interviews are open file, which means you should be prepared to discuss items you submit on your primary application, including your medical school personal statement and AMCAS work and activities.
Wondering how to answer "tell me about yourself" medical school interview question? Watch this video:
Johns Hopkins Medical School Interview Questions and Sample Answers
Describe a mistake you made.
What is being asked?
The topic of this question is work and clinical experiences. Because the interview is open file, this question may come up to address a specific activity. Extracurriculars for medical school hold a lot of weight when it comes to evaluating selection factors, so be sure to review those during your medical school interview prep.
When you’re talking about a mistake you made, there are three important components of an effective response:
A couple of years ago, I was working as a research assistant with a few of my psychology professors. Their research interests were broad, but most of the projects they were working on at the time involved how child-rearing methods predict the development of mental illness in adulthood, specifically OCD and anxiety. My job was to recruit research participants. Typically, I would use the online research platforms of the professors I was working with to advertise surveys and bring attention to the project. I would also promote our studies on student forums, to help solidify our hypothesis, which could potentially change depending on the sample size. It was also my job to proofread pre-published papers and gather relevant literature at the preliminary stage of the investigation.
There was one specific project in which we were looking at how OCD affects academic performance. We selected an age range of 10–13 because we wanted to identify potential adversities faced by pre-teens specifically. I was asked to create a series of questions for the parents of these OCD-sufferers, while the other researchers developed questions for the survey participants who had OCD. I made the mistake of assuming that the parents of each OCD-diagnosed participant would want to participate in the study; what I found was that there was a large number of parental respondents whose answers did not correspond with their child’s, or who did not return the survey adequately filled out. Because our sample size was only approximately 200, the research team decided to exclude the survey results from parents.
What I learned from making this mistake was that I needed to examine the parameters of the survey more effectively. While it would have been advantageous to have a response from parents, it simply fell outside the scope of the study. For all future research, especially surveys, when I’m considering what would constitute a fitting population, I record all my options and write a list of pros and cons. Then, I make an informed decision based on my analysis of the sample and the intent of the research question before returning to my professors to make a collective decision on what’s best for the study.
What can you contribute to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine?
What’s being asked?
It goes without saying that any medical school will want their students to be productive members of their community. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get involved at Johns Hopkins, which you should discuss in your answer to this question.
The first place you should look is the student groups webpage because you will need to know what’s available before you can discuss what interests you about a specific student activity. Also, explore student research opportunities and try to find any similarities between your research experience and that of specific faculty members.
Johns Hopkins is a prominent research school, and MD and MD-PhD students are expected to contribute to their projects. The school’s mission contains clues as to how you should answer this interview question: “The mission of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research, and clinical care.”
It’s also good to review curriculum expectations for this type of question. The Genes to Society course is one of the important features of the program that you should be familiar with. There are two goals associated with this course that are as follows: “use scientific foundations to understand the origins, manifestations, impact and treatment of disease or risk of disease; advance students’ professional identity by acquiring the language, problem-solving skills, inquisitiveness, leadership, compassion, and teamwork needed in a physician.”
As an active member of the community at X University through school programs and extracurriculars, I understand the value of contributing. At X university, which is renowned for its connection to a children’s hospital, I was a hospital volunteer. My job was to support nurses in inpatient services; I would arrive during visiting hours and spend time with patients interested in participating in recreational activities like board games. I would also help nurses during mealtime and with other tasks as needed, though most of my work involved speaking casually with the patients. I got to know a lot of patients of all different ages and backgrounds; as a very social person, I enjoyed every minute of it. It was rewarding to witness patients recover, and to make them laugh at my bad jokes. For all the joy it brought me, I’ll admit that I was sad that I would no longer get to spend time with them when they left the hospital.
I want to contribute to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by honing my skills as a communicator and caregiver. The longitudinal ambulatory clerkship is an opportunity that excites me because I’ll work in a clinic, a preferred medical setting, to practice my clinical skills while meeting and learning about a diverse patient population. Something I learned from volunteering at a children’s hospital is that disease isn’t as random as one might think — social determinants of health like income and discrimination can place unfair burdens on the patient and their families. My goal is to learn about how disease and illness may be affected by external systems so that I can apply that knowledge to my interventions with future patients. Compassion, being something you must consciously apply, is an attribute I’ve taken strides to maintain in my non-academic endeavors especially.
What is being asked?
In a way, all interview questions are an attempt to get at the root of why you belong in medicine. This question can arise out of interest, or because of information that indicates a possible alternative career choice in your academic or work history. Your medical school resume can also be a point of reference for this question, so have it handy when you’re rehearsing your answer.
Your focus should be on providing substantiative evidence that you’re committed to the field of medicine. Commitment is an important trait to assess for admissions committees because medical school can be a demanding and stressful environment, so they need to know that you’re willing to endure and embrace challenges.
How do you prove that you’re committed? By tracing your steps back once again to your student activities, like community service, clubs, research, and clinical experience. You can also discuss your background via your AMCAS meaningful experiences as they relate to your goals.
The fact that I’m sitting here across from you now is somewhat of a surprise, given that I wasn’t always interested in becoming a doctor. I was, however, a voracious reader and writer when I was a kid, and that carried over into my adolescent years and even throughout my undergraduate studies. I’ve been published in prestigious literary journals, and I’m a best-selling author in the creative non-fiction category. Because I have family members who are doctors, I also grew up thinking that I could never become one, and that it would be best if I did something different.
I had a change of heart that in hindsight wasn’t as sudden as it originally felt. My dad, who is a dermatologist, asked if I wanted to shadow someone at his clinic to see what it was like. Skeptical, I agreed, because at the time I was taking a human biology elective that sparked my interest in the intricacies of the human body. It occurred to me while I was shadowing my dad’s colleague that our relationships with our bodies have everything to do with how we experience the world, and yet few people appreciate and understand its function, including myself.
This was in my first year of university. To be sure that I wanted to make the switch to a more medically relevant program, as I was an English major, I decided to pursue other clinical experiences. I shadowed a family doctor for two months, and because I was so fascinated by the clinical decision making required of the doctors I observed, I became a clinical research coordinator at the university. My primary duty was to create reports for each study and recruit and screen potential participants. What I loved about this position was that I got to read all the interesting studies, which, for the most part, were on immunogenetics and sequencing – two aspects of the human body that I was delighted to learn more about.
Like a true scientist, I needed evidence to know that medicine was really the right choice for me and not something I was pursuing impetuously. These clinical experiences were the evidence I needed to proceed with confidence that I was making the right choice. I immediately switched my field of study to biology and became a member of my school’s pre-med student club. Naturally, my dad was thrilled that I was “following in his footsteps.” So, despite my initial fear of losing my creative potential, I learned that I wasn’t abandoning it by pursuing medicine and that really, I was doing it a favor.
How do you reconcile opposing views?
What’s being asked?
As a physician, you will undoubtedly encounter patients and other doctors who do not agree with your opinion, methods, or assessment. An admissions committee wants to see how you respond to this situation using strategies that you can apply in medical school and as a physician.
Once again, it’s best to use experiences to demonstrate productive behavior in this scenario. You want to show, not tell, the faculty member whom you’re speaking with that you can handle criticism and compromise when necessary.
Here’s a list of traits that Johns Hopkins screens for during the admissions process:
I’ve struggled in the past to reconcile different opinions, especially my own. If I ever disagreed with someone, it wasn’t uncommon for me to simply write them off and continue thinking I was more correct than my opponent, even among friends. While I think there’s a certain egoism inherent in debate, I’ve learned that it’s more productive to be proven wrong, and that admitting you’re wrong takes a certain level of bravery and self-respect.
In my first year of undergraduate studies, I was a volunteer researcher for one of my biology professors. We were working on a research question investigating the antigen design for plant-based vaccines. We had different options for the vaccine types we wanted to review. I was of the opinion that we should not investigate plant-based vaccines for Hepatitis B because even though evidence has shown the production of virus-like particles in potato and lettuce, commercialization of the vaccine has been continuously halted, and therefore I naively doubted there was enough credible research to develop a testable hypothesis. Some researchers agreed, but the professor and others thought the transient production of Hepatitis B virus-like particles in tobacco was promising, and as phase 1 clinical trials did exist, we had a strong foundation to build on.
Although I was initially certain that it would have been better to pursue a more developed research question in this situation, we took a vote and decided to pursue the Hepatitis B plant-based vaccine. Despite my strong belief that the study wouldn’t be worthwhile, we discovered that there were limitations in the oral delivery of transgenic plant material and issues with immunogenicity. The results therefore provided valuable information to support future developments related to this particular strain of plant-based vaccines.
In situations where my analysis conflicts with the analysis of others, I now always ask everyone to share what they think is the best solution to the problem. Then, using the Socratic method, we each take turns asking each other questions to break down each individual method and determine the best course of action. This way, all opinions are held to the same standard and bias can be reduced, if not virtually eliminated.
What do you believe makes a strong team? Give an example of one.
What’s being asked?
No doubt as a medical school student, and as a prospective doctor, you will be working with other people with whom you must have a mutual understanding and respect to achieve a common goal. Leadership development is an important part of navigating the challenges of a clinical setting with complex demands. The goal of this question is to show the admissions committee that you can be a team player and that you can effectively fulfill your role in a group setting.
When answering this question, it’s best to refer to experiences within a work or volunteering setting, but you can also discuss activities like school clubs or extracurriculars. Choose based on which example can help you show leadership and teamwork skills best. Recall that one of five characteristics that John Hopkins is looking for in candidates is teamwork, so this question is your opportunity to show that you possess that skill.
Team settings are nothing new to me; I gravitate toward team sports and grew up playing competitive baseball, and I’ve always performed better in group projects at school. Having a competitive background has really shaped how I view teamwork in other settings. To me, a team is a family, and you must have that bond if you’re going to overcome adversity. I’m not unfamiliar with losing — in my first year of university as the co-captain of the baseball team, we didn’t win a single game in the postseason. It was disappointing, sure, but I think there’s a lot to learn from mistakes and failure.
I apply what I learned from sports to my professional goals as well. During my undergraduate studies, I was a volunteer at a senior center in my local community. I had the opportunity to work with a large group of other volunteers who were responsible for arranging activities for the seniors and coordinating with guest speakers and visitors. There was one instance when our guest speaker, who was a comedian, had to cancel at the last minute. Instead of telling the attendees that the event was cancelled, we decided to put on our own show. While there were a few moans and groans about our guest speaker being absent, our improvised talent show was perhaps equally as comedic as our original arrangement would have been.
Being part of a team means doing the right thing for the sake of the goal, even when that demands sacrifice. If I didn’t mention the possibility of doing a volunteer talent show, the seniors attending the event would have been upset. Win or lose, mistake or triumph, a team stands by each other and never gives up on accomplishing what they set out to do.
1. How important is interview prep? Is it really necessary?
Interview prep is everything. If you don’t prepare for the interview, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You can use a medical school interview tutor if you wish, but you should always study for an interview by practicing questions, researching the school, and reviewing your primary application.
2. What is Johns Hopkins known for?
Johns Hopkins medical school is known for being a diverse, research- and community-based institution founded on the principle of educating future physicians using a scientific, patient-centered approach.
3. What characteristics should I target in my answers to interview questions?
Johns Hopkins medical school is interested in screening for the following attributes: academic excellence; leadership; service, compassion and humanism; diversity; the ability to work in a team.
4. What kinds of questions will Johns Hopkins ask me during the interview?
An interviewer may ask about your personal background, academic background, your motivation for pursuing medicine, your specific interest in the school, what you learned from various experiences, and about specific items mentioned in your primary application, such as references or clinical experience.
5. When are interviews conducted?
Interviews take place between August and February of each year, typically on Thursdays and Fridays. The interview is a two-day affair, during which you will have two interviews and plenty of opportunities to meet with faculty and students.
6. How can I discuss a mistake I’ve made without dwelling on it?
Describe the mistake you made and the setting in which you made it. Keep your tone neutral; describe the consequences, what you learned from it, and what you’ve done to avoid making the same mistake again.
7. How long should my answers be?
Generally, you want to keep your responses between 1–3 minutes. Any shorter than that will show that you didn’t prepare adequately; any longer and your answers won’t be concise and clear.
8. What is a question I should ask the interviewer or faculty member?
A good question to ask would be about research interests. Bring up your own research interests and ask about the school’s research mission and goals. Be sure to explore some of the projects published and active on the school’s research profile.
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