If you’ve been invited to an interview at Yale, then reading Yale medical school interview questions should be part of your medical school interview prep. Interviews are an important part of the application process, so you need to be prepared to discuss your motivations for pursuing medicine, why you applied to this specific school, and any relevant activities on your resume. While your stats and activities are two important factors influencing your chances of getting into medical school, the interview is your last chance to make a good impression on the admissions committee. In this article, we explain Yale’s interview format and show you common interview questions at Yale medical school with sample answers.
Disclaimer: Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.
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Yale Medical School Interview Format
Both MD and MD-PhD interviews will be held virtually in all admissions cycles. However, the interview process can be slightly different for each type of applicant. All applicants are invited to an interview based on a holistic review of their application, including pertinent documents such as your medical school secondary essays or medical school personal statements. Yale medical school interviews are open file, so you will need to be prepared to talk about specific items on your application.
Due to some of the variations in interview schedules for Yale, you might be wondering how to schedule medical school interviews. The morning interview is often preferable for some applicants who tend to get nervous, but the choice is entirely up to the individual. Afternoon sessions will give you more time to rehearse and relax before the interview. Before scheduling, review each item on the interview day itinerary to know what to expect.
Yale Interview Questions and Sample Answers
What qualities about you make you good for the Yale system?
How to answer: This is a common interview question for two reasons: 1) Yale wants the students they admit to contribute to their community and culture, and 2) the admissions committee wants to see that your interests match with theirs. Thus, your answer to this question should involve a combination of a direct reference to Yale medical school student activities and the characteristics that you possess that will make you a valuable member of the community. You can refer to your AMCAS most meaningful experiences when you're rehearsing your answer.
There are three parts to this question:
Student freedom is fundamental to the Yale system. What distinguishes the Yale system from other medical schools is its emphasis on educating students for their future by instilling a scientific way of thinking. And while critical thinking is an important skill to develop in medical school students, championing an ethic of inclusion enriches what excites me about the prospect of becoming a member of Yale’s community.
I’ve always been a very curious person. In second grade, I started teaching myself how to play the piano by trying to replicate the sounds I heard in songs on the radio. During my pre-med studies, I became deeply interested in learning about the physics of the universe; I read countless books on the nature of the cosmos and quantum theory, which rivalled my passion for learning medical research; my mother is a doctor and has a large bookshelf full of textbooks from when she was in medical school, so I’m lucky to have a lot of interesting material at my disposal.
My mother was the one who recommended I apply to become an intern at a summer research program, where I had the opportunity to work on a project investigating the therapeutic relevance of neuroimmune communication. I was so impressed by how bioelectronic devices could alleviate the inflammatory reflexes of various bodily disorders that I immediately went to the school library to read more about neuroimmunology.
My curious impulse is what drives my motivation to pursue medicine. Because Yale is one of the few medical schools that requires a dissertation based on original research, I am excited about the opportunity to explore other interests and discover new learning endeavors. Having the freedom to explore different interests through sub-internships, electives, and research is something I value highly.
What problem in the medical field would you want to fix/make an impact on?
How to answer: This question is asking you to identify an area in the medical field that you want to contribute to. This is an opportunity to discuss research goals, but you can also mention specialties that interest you or what you plan to do once you graduate.
A strong answer will require research. You will need to establish how Yale medical school will prepare you to address the problem, and then you must discuss the problem itself. While there isn’t really a wrong answer to what you think is a problem, you must be able to discuss what makes it an issue of concern. Here are some examples:
A major issue facing the medical field is the slow adaptation of new technology. I believe that new innovations, such as mRNA technology or the automation of administrative functions, will be important developments for making health care more accessible. The crux of the issue, in my view, is that medicine needs to be more personalized. This is evidenced by the fact that more personalized prescription regimens can accommodate individual differences in drug response, which can prevent addictions and accidental overdoses.
One of the founding principles maintained at Yale School of Medicine is the emphasis on innovation to drive scientific advances. I think that the best way to address the issue of slow adaptation to technology is to educate new physicians in a way that allows them to contribute to new progress in strategies and technology.
As such, the best way I can contribute to a solution to slow adaptation is by becoming an educator in the field. To be a strong educator, I think it’s important to understand the needs of the patient population, which is why programs like the clinical longitudinal elective at Yale will be a great place to start learning about the process of inpatient and outpatient clinical cases. Exploring patient needs through the wide variety of sub-internships and electives, particularly in diagnostic imaging requiring pre and post-procedural evaluation, will give me the first-hand experience I need to address patient concerns.
Your application indicates you have clinical experience. Tell us about one important lesson you learned from your clinical experience.
How to answer: Because the Yale interview is open file, applicants with clinical experience should be prepared for this question. When discussing clinical experience, think about what skills you gained and how they’ve prepared you for a career in medicine. Connect your answers to relevant components of the Yale MD or MD-PhD program. Yale offers a lot of experience-driven activities in sub-internships, student research, and special programs that you can discuss in your answers. The key to answering this question effectively is to demonstrate your character through action.
I’ve had several clinical experiences that influenced the way I view health care and medicine. I was a volunteer at an HIV testing clinic for a period of six months. My function was mainly administrative; I spoke to clients over the phone explaining clinic hours or how the testing worked, and I would complete paperwork and help patients fill out the forms they needed for testing. I was also trained to work with some of the HIV counsellors, who were responsible for speaking to patients about HIV and methods of prevention.
In addition, I was a medical scribe for two years during my undergrad. My job was to transcribe patient appointments and communicate with physicians about patient records and documentation. Because I was working at a busy hospital, I was exposed to a wide variety of patient cases. What unified both clinical experiences for me was the importance of good communication and organization. As an HIV risk educator, I had the opportunity to speak with clients in person and over the phone about HIV testing and risk prevention. Maintaining patient confidentiality, along with keeping precise records and files accessible to physicians, was necessary to provide more productive patient interactions and regulate processes.
Admittedly, I didn’t appreciate the importance of a medical scribe until I became one. Their value isn’t something you can measure quite as easily as, say, saving lives or prescribing medication. They serve a supportive role in most health care environments. Without them, I think we would see a much higher rate of physician burnout. Volunteering at an HIV clinic substantiated this view; because sexual health and hygiene are still, unfortunately, taboo topics in many places, including Connecticut where diversity is the norm, we need more people who are willing to communicate about these concerns to better our communities.
What’s unique about you that makes you stand out over other applicants?
How to answer: This question is an offshoot of the “tell me about yourself” interview question. The aim of your application, in a general sense, is to always stand out among other applicants. Given that medical school acceptance rates are typically low for Yale medical school (100 students selected from among 4,709 applicants in a recent profile), you should look for ways to distinguish yourself.
Keep in mind that other applicants are bound to get this question, so your answer should be original. Moreover, the admissions committee has to sort through many talented and driven individuals with excellent MCAT scores and GPAs, so you will need to think outside the box to make a case for selecting you over someone else. Your volunteer work, extracurriculars, research, and clinical experience go beyond your stats to enter the realm of personal motivation and character, which is what this question is all about.
I think there’s more to being a good physician than having scientific and medical knowledge and skills. What I mean by that is, I don’t think any amount of studying will help anyone understand what it feels like to struggle with a certain illness. In my case, growing up, I took a lot of things for granted, including my health and family situation; we never struggled financially, and we were very fortunate to have opportunities that other people our age didn’t have.
When I was 16, I started to develop what I would eventually learn was an eating disorder. I lost a lot of weight over the course of two years; my parents, in vain, would ask why I wasn’t eating. They tried to present me with different foods, but I would always refuse and would often deny my hunger. When I did eat, I felt ashamed. It took me a while to realize that I had a problem, but eventually, I worked up the courage to talk to my doctor about what was going on. We spoke about my symptoms, and we established a plan. I’ll never forget her optimistic and compassionate tone; knowing that with her help it was entirely possible to get better motivated me.
I spent a week at an inpatient facility, which I was not originally on board with, but it was incredibly helpful. The psychiatrist I spoke with helped me develop a therapy plan, which I continued with another professional once I left the facility. During my undergraduate, because of my experience dealing with mental health issues, I started a non-profit to raise awareness for eating disorders. By the time I graduated, I had recruited over 50 members who are still active contributors to our social media platforms, and together we’ve raised over $20,000. I got to meet so many other students who had been through similar experiences; I developed a sense of gratitude for my community, and I realized that without a strong support system, far fewer people would be able to recover as I did.
Having the experience of relying on access to quality health care and the kindness and expertise of the people within the system made me want to give back. During my undergraduate, I connected with a professor who was investigating eating disorders in men. In a survey we conducted, we discovered three risk factors for the disorder: athletics, sexuality, and psychiatric co-morbidity. This perspective helped me recognize that people have vastly different experiences with different disorders and that it isn’t easy to know what they need without asking each person.
I want to continue my research at Yale. My drive to develop innovative psychiatric treatments for people who suffer from eating disorders and other mental health issues comes from a place of experience. Building my foundation in classes like the psychiatry adolescent elective will be an important steppingstone for me as I pursue psychiatric medicine targeting this specific disorder.
What are your short-term and long-term goals following completion of medical school?
How to answer: This question can be more easily structured than your responses to other questions. To answer it, start with your short-term goals. Most students following the completion of their medical degree will start an internship, otherwise known as their first year of residency in their chosen specialty. You will want to name this specialty, or if you aren’t sure yet, you might discuss what options sound appealing to you.
Your long-term goals should be more about what kind of career you want to have. Do you want to work in research? Education? You may also want to pursue a fellowship for more specialized training. You could also work at a hospital or a clinic, or you could open your own practice as a board-certified physician.
When I graduate from medical school, my immediate goal would be to apply for residency. I will need to gain more clinical experience before I choose a specialty, but right now I’m interested in either family practice or pathology. I have strong family values, so I’m certain that being trained in family practice will be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Pathology also sounds interesting to me because I have some background in laboratory work during my undergrad, and I enjoyed the heavy analysis required, which I know is an essential part of being a pathologist. I also had a third-year course in pathobiology research analysis, where I had the opportunity to pursue a full year of independent research on the topic of protein misfolding, trafficking, and proteinopathies. Incorrect protein folding is a research field that I would enjoy pursuing during medical school, and I know that part of the research mission of the Yale Department of Neuroscience is to explore computation and communication by chemical and electrical signals.
Following the completion of my residency training, I would like to enter private practice, whether I become a pathologist or a family doctor. I value a good work-life balance, especially because my partner and I would like to have children at some point in the future, and we both have parents and siblings we enjoy spending time with. A clinic, as opposed to a hospital setting, would also allow me to develop long-term relationships with my patients so I can better serve their needs. It’s been a goal of mine ever since I travelled to Tanzania to support early development in care centers to travel as a medical doctor to serve other communities across the globe. I think working with diverse populations in different health care systems will help me become a better physician for my community.
Want to know how to write a successful medical school secondary essay? Check this video:
Interview questions can be intimidating, and at a competitive school like Yale, you will need strong answers if you want to get accepted. Yale medical school interview questions can be broad, but because the interviews are open file, questions are often tailored to each applicant. You will need to research the school and program thoroughly; you should know the curriculum and student activities so you can discuss why you chose to apply to Yale specifically. In addition to your interview prep, consider the interview format, which can vary depending on whether you’re applying to the MD or PhD program. Consider looking over some sample questions to ask at your medical school interview as well.
1. What is the interview format for Yale medical school?
If you’re an MD applicant, the interviews will take place in one day and last 45 minutes each. You can choose morning or afternoon sessions. The MD-PhD interviews will take place over two days, and you will have an opportunity to speak with faculty members.
2. What do I do if I’m asked a question I didn’t study for?
Remain calm and take some time to think it through. Consider the goal of the question and refer to items in your application if applicable. When you study for the interview, your goal should be to understand the types of questions you could possibly be asked. Knowing the school and program will also help prevent any lapses during the interview.
3. Will I be asked about my letters of recommendation?
You might be asked a question like “your letter of recommendation said [insert quality] about you; why did they say that?” Review your medical school recommendation letters to prepare for this question.
4. What’s the best way to practice for an interview?
Mock medical school interviews with a qualified professional who can give you feedback on your answers is the best way to practice.
5. Should I ask questions to the admissions committee?
You should prepare a question or two in case you’re asked if you have any questions. Doing so will show that you’re interested in the school and motivated to learn more.
6. What should I wear to the interview?
You might be wondering what to wear to your medical school interview. Some students may think that because the interview is virtual, they can wear something casual. However, even though the interview is virtual, you should be wearing neutral tones. Feminine attire includes a pantsuit or skirt; masculine attire includes a suit with a button-up shirt and tie. Exploring a guide to video interviews can help you prepare.
7. I don’t know what my long-term goals are yet. How do I prepare for this question?
If you aren’t sure where you want to specialize, you can mention that you aren’t sure yet. Generally, you should have an idea of what kind of setting you want to work in. Reflect on the possibility of pursuing a fellowship, and whether you might prefer an inpatient or outpatient environment.
8. Will I be asked about any weaknesses in my grades?
Because the interview is open file, it’s possible for the admissions committee to ask you about your academic performance. If you encounter this question, don’t offer excuses. Focus on explaining the situation and what you learned from it and be specific about how you apply what you learned.
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