Today, I’m talking about how to answer two of the most common medical school interview questions: “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to be a doctor?”
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[00:33] Tell Me About Yourself
1. Don’t sell yourself.
You’re likely to get this question at the beginning of some of your medical school interviews. The big mistake that applicants make with “Tell me about yourself” is they recite their resume and all their accomplishments. They try to sell the interviewer on why they’re an amazing applicant.
Whether you graduated from this school, and majored in this or did research in that, or whether you’ve cured cancer or saved world hunger – selling yourself makes you come off over the top.
2. Connect with the interviewer.
What you want to do instead is try to connect with the interviewer. Start it with a conversation to allow it to continue into a conversation. Talk about things that may interest the interviewer on a personal level, and not showing off and talking about all of the amazing things you’ve done.
3. Reframe the question into who you are and what you do for fun.
Your answers to those questions can give the interviewer betters ways to connect with you. Tell them about where you’re from, your family, whether you immigrated to the country or you’re a dual citizen. Talk about how you were raised or whether you’re still living with your grandparents or parents.“Remember that the person sitting across from you is a human being that wants to have a connection and a conversation with you.”Click To Tweet
Your interviewer wants to connect with you as a human being. You’re going to connect with shared experiences, interests, hobbies, etc. Talk about your love for soccer or basketball, or your love for baking, traveling, exercise, or whatever it is you’re passionate about. Sometimes, the best interviews are a 45-minute conversation about dogs, baseball, or cooking.
4. Throw out bits of thread until you make a connection.
When answering “Tell me about yourself,” just keep talking and throwing out these little threads, until you make a connection with the interviewer. Then follow one of those threads further and really get into a conversation about it.
[05:18] Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?
You’ve already written about why you want to be a doctor in your personal statement. So your answer in the interview is going to be similar.
1. Talk about the seed and how you watered that seed.
Talk about where the seed was planted. Then cover the experiences that led you down this path that confirmed “why medicine” for you.
2. Don’t just say you like science and you want to help people.
Students love to try to come up with fancy ways to say those two things. But you have to dive deeper.
Tell stories about your path and focus on patient interactions. Dig deeper into your journey, your reasons, and your experiences to understand why you want to be a doctor and to be able to communicate that in your personal statement and interview.“If the interviewer doesn't understand why you want to be a doctor, there's a good chance you won't be accepted to medical school.”Click To Tweet
A lot of students who have great stats and great personal statements and create secondaries still don’t get the acceptance because they weren’t able to verbalize their reasons for wanting to be a doctor.
Students who don’t have strong reasons for doing this may not have the motivation to get through medical school. Medical school is really hard. And if students don’t really understand why they want to be a doctor, there’s a very good chance they don’t do well. They don’t finish medical school, don’t pass the boards the first time, and struggle all along the way.
And so, schools want to make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. Med schools want students who will stay committed to this path.
For more tips on how to answer and NOT answer “Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?,” check out Episode 215 of The Premed Years podcast.