medical school, mmi questions, panel interview questions, medical school interview

Top 5 Categories of Professional School Interview Questions (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, etc)

When you are invited to a medical school (or any other professional school such as dentistry, pharmacy, etc.) interview, it essentially means that 'on paper' you are a good candidate and you have, up to this point, impressed the admissions committee. The admissions committee now wants to see who you are in person and wants to test your interpersonal skills, communication skills, ethical/moral/legal decision making capabilities, maturity, and professionalism. The medical school interview, which can either be a traditional panel interview, an MPI (new University of Toronto interview format), or an MMI, is a behavioural assessment tool used by schools to disqualify those candidates who do not possess the personal attributes that will be instrumental in future patient-doctor interactions. However, regardless of the interview style, the questions that are asked can roughly be categorized into five types:

1. The personal type questions:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What is your favourite movie?
  • What was the last book your read and what did you learn from it?
  • Who is your role model and why?
  • Who is one scientist, academic, or researcher that you admire?
  • Tell me about a time when you acted unprofessionally
  • Tell me about a time you were forced to speak out against a friend or a superior?
  • Tell me about your biggest failure?

2. The school and admissions specific questions:

  • Why have you chosen this school?
  • What will you do if you are not accepted this year?
  • What is it about this program that resonates with you?
  • Have you applied to other schools? Which ones? Why those schools?
  • What do you see being the greatest challenge you will face as a medical student at this school?
  • Do you have any plans for residency?

3. Questions relating to the Canadian healthcare system and the medical profession:

  • What is the greatest challenge facing the Canadian Medical system today?
  • What are some solutions that we can introduce immediately to help the healthcare system become more equitable, inclusive, efficient, sustainable, etc?
  • What are your views on plastic and cosmetic surgery and those doctors that pursue such fields of practice?
  • What should be done about the shortage of medical specialists and adequate resources in rural settings?

4. Ethical and moral decision making scenarios and vignettes:

  • You are the coach of a soccer team. One of your players, who is also the captain, is overheard speaking negatively to a new player on the team. You heard the captain say to the new player, "you need to get with the program! You keep messing up every time you get the ball. Maybe you need to go play with the girl's team." All the other players began to laugh. What should you do as the coach in this situation?
  • You go to lunch with a colleague. During the lunch break as the two of you are sitting down, he begins telling you he has been using the office printer to make personal posters for his weekend festival. The festival is a yearly event that raises money and awareness about the issue of child labor in China. What would you say and do in this situation?

5. Questions with a twist:

  • Teach me something that most people do not know how to do.
  • If you could be any utensil in the kitchen, what would you be and why?
  • There is a picture on the paper in front of you? I have not seen it ever before. Please describe it to me so that I can draw it on my piece of paper.
  • If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
Although, the entire process of answering interview questions is about honesty, maturity, and quick decision making, there are a variety of techniques and tactics that can be learned and refined over time in order to truly stand out on the interview day. For example, there is a six-step process that can be applied to any ethical and moral decision making scenario and vignette that will ensure you make the most appropriate decision every time and provide the most mature and well thought-out answer possible. And importantly preparation is key! You never showed up to any tests or exams without adequate preparation. Your medical school interview is the same. You MUST prepare well in advance in order to do well. 

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In essence, there is a right way and a smart way to answer any type of interview question. Lastly, evidence in the literature strongly suggests that in order to be successful on interviews it is best to practice with professionals who can provide you with constructive feedback so that you can clearly identify your weakness prior to entering your interview. If we could leave you with any final piece of advice, it would be this: on the interview day be yourself, be mature, be honest, and most importantly, be personable (That means be polite and smile :)). 

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