One of the most common questions asked of candidates is the "why should we choose you" medical school interview question. It is a key question, as it focuses on the central point of any interview, which is to determine whether there is a good fit between you and the school.
It is imperative to understand this question to be able to answer it because, among common medical school questions, it plays an essential role. With medical school admission rates being what they are, a clear answer to this question will really heighten your chances of getting into your preferred school.
In this article, we’ll look at what this question is asking and provide some example answers, strategies, and explanations.
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What This Question Is Asking
This is the ultimate question in any medical school interview because it addresses the whole point of the interview – to see whether you and your choice of school are compatible. As part of your medical school interview preparation, you’ll want to pay attention to various components that go into building a solid answer.
Want to know how to answer "tell me about yourself" in a medical school interview? Watch this video:
For example, there is some overlap with the “tell me about yourself” question, but you don’t want to just repeat yourself. Moreover, “why should we choose you?” demands a direct connection to your school. And while your answer might include some of the ideas your medical school personal statement encompasses, it should be less of a narrative and more of a short list of accomplishments and abilities that align with the institution’s mission and educational approach.
How do you make that connection? Read on!
Why Should We Choose You Answer Strategies
First and foremost, it’s essential to know the school you are applying to well. Start with their mission statement, vision, and core values to tailor your answer.
Remember that you should only take 2 or 3 minutes at the most to answer most interview questions, so you need a succinct answer.
The following are 3 elements to consider addressing in your answer to the “why should we choose you” medical school interview question.
1. How You Align with the School’s Mission and Vision
You can pick attributes in the mission and vision statements and provide examples from your own experiences that show how you are in line with the school’s values.
2. Highlight Courses and Curricula that Appeal to You
Another way to connect with the medical school is to discuss their curriculum and courses. For example, if your school is offering a combination degree, like a BS-MD program, MD-MPH program, or MD-PhD program, that suits you best, you would bring it up in your answer to this interview question. Also mention any aspects of your learning style that might sync up really well with the school’s curriculum, too.
3. Praise the School’s Research, Facilities, or Faculty
If your medical school has great labs available, high-tech facilities, or exciting research in areas you want to pursue, cite them as reasons for your interest in the school. In short, emphasize any unique offerings that will enable you to accomplish your goals and make a strong contribution to the school community.
Why Should We Choose You Example Answers
Example Statement No.1
Intended for: Columbia Medical School
I believe that I will be a good fit for Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons because of the direction that I want my career to go. I hope to not only become a doctor but to advance medical science and health care as a field. I want to see medical communities come together to work as teams and be part of new initiatives that connect us.
In biology labs during my undergrad, I learned advanced methods and ultimately felt quite at home there. I worked hard and was dedicated enough to become the leader on several group projects. With an ability to quickly recognize skills and a strong sense of organization, I was able to help my group develop into an efficient team.
Furthermore, Vagelos’ CVRI (Cardiovascular Research Initiative) interests me greatly. As a runner and marathon participant, I am keen to learn more about the cardiovascular system.
Graduates of Vagelos are leaders and role models, which is why I know your program will enable me to reach my goal of becoming an advocate in my community and on the global stage for the health care industry.
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Example Statement No.2
Intended for: NYU Long Island School of Medicine
All I’ve ever wanted to be, since realizing that medicine was the field for me, was a local, clinical doctor who could provide the best service and care for her patients. Serving a community means treating people with kindness and compassion, so I knew that I needed to pursue my education in an environment that holds and highlights these values. Your patient-focused and family-centered MD curriculum at NYU Long Island School of Medicine aligns perfectly with my goals.
My volunteer work at a local clinic has given me ample opportunity for patient interaction, even if only to help people fill in their medical forms. We see many new immigrant families, for example, and I often work with various family members as a translator to piece together what they need to know and provide as information. I’ve had many memorable interactions as a result, which has only confirmed my desire to remain rooted in my community as a medical student and ultimately as a physician.
New York is a vibrant, diverse community, and I want to see that diversity respected and celebrated. I know I can contribute greatly to this effort through long-term work in local clinics, as well as with the help of an institution that holds those values in high regard. I am therefore convinced that as school and student, we will complement each other.
Example Statement No.3
Intended for: Medical College of Georgia
The rural town where I’m from is in a corner of Georgia, and while most people call it names like “backwater,” I have only ever called it “home.” I know that it is of utmost importance for the Medical College of Georgia to support Georgian physicians, and not only am I from this wonderful state, but I am also planning to practice in this state.
In fact, I intend to practice rural medicine in exactly the kind of area where I grew up – one without adequate health care for the community. We are a small community, but we still need the care and consideration that all people require. My dream is to open a clinic of my own in a small town – but with access to the most cutting-edge resources.
MCG is devoted not only to providing care in Georgia but advancing that care. With my keen interest in medical technology, as shown on my CV detailing positions I have held in the industry to put myself through school, I am convinced that MCG offers an environment in which I will thrive.
Between adhering to the local, community values of MCG and applying my experiences with technology, I think I can eventually fill a much-needed role in a deserving small community.
Example Statement No.4
Intended for: University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM)
I’ve been known to work consecutive weekends locked in the lab, analyzing tissue samples. The cataloguing is interminable, the tests are endless, and the progress is slow. Yet, I can’t get enough of it.
Recently, our team delivered a fast turnaround on a set of results that confirmed a cancer diagnosis for a patient. So, while your program will provide me with research opportunities in biomedical research and health care, it will also allow me to contribute to what’s most important – knowledge that will promote faster treatment and prevent further health complications from serious illnesses.
At UWSOM, I want to participate in your MD-PhD program, which will let me continue the work I started in my undergrad. I want to push myself and the limits of modern, biological laboratory work to further our understanding and enhance my diagnostic skills as a physician.
My additional goal, to become a lab instructor at a teaching hospital, will allow me to continue UWSOM’s mission of biomedical education even after graduation, when I can pass along my research- and patient care-related knowledge.
The interview is one of the most important steps in applying to medical school, regardless of where you’re going. This is a chance for the school to see you on a personal level, beyond your medical school CV, medical school recommendation letters, and personal statement.
That’s why it’s so important to perfect your presentation because first impressions are the most important. Having a clear answer to the question of “why should we choose you” could be the deciding factor in getting you into your top-choice school.
1. How long should my answers be?
No more than 3 minutes, but most are around 2 minutes long. If you take more or less time, that’s okay.
2. How long are interviews?
There is no set amount of time an interview will take, and it varies from interview to interview or by format. For example, an MMI will be a different length than a one-on-one interview.
3. Will I always get asked about my school choice?
Not necessarily, but some questions are just more common than others.
4. What should I wear to my interview?
Business casual is most commonly worn because it allows for comfort and professionalism.
5. What should I do the day before my interview to prepare?
Ensure that your answer strategy and content are solid and take some time to rest and relax. You might drive your route to an in-person interview location to be able to arrive on time the next day, or test your computer to make sure it will work on the day of an online interview.
6. Is memorization part of preparation?
No, and we recommend that you avoid it. Memorize answer strategy and content, but not the actual words. This will help you avoid sounding like a robot or getting caught without the right answer for an unexpected question.
7. Can anybody conduct a mock interview?
No. You need people who are not only knowledgeable in medicine, but who know how interviews go. Furthermore, you need professional, personalized feedback or your interview isn’t going to be very effective. Get pros.
8. How long should I prepare?
Spend at least two weeks practicing questions and answers and timing yourself. Spend time on this every day.
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