Why do you want to be a doctor? How to answer Common Med School Applications Questions.
Common General Medical School Interview Questions Include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- Why did you choose to pursue medicine?
If you want a list of dozens of frequently asked common interview questions that we have compiled from previous applicants for the last 5 years as well as other medical school interview tips, purchase and download our Cracking Med School Admissions book.
How Do You Answer “Why do you want to be a doctor?” And Other Common Medical School Application Questions?
1. Re-enforce the themes in your application
Remember those themes you conveyed in your AMCAS and secondary applications? It’s time to bring them out again!
Let’s say your main undergraduate activities have been (a) clinically working with children with cancer (b) bench research in an oncology lab.
Then to answer a question such as “Why do you want to be a doctor,” you can narrow your answer to your oncology interests.
2. Give an example of your experience and activities
When you are asked these general medical school interview questions, you want to give a brief summary of the activities and how you made an impact. Let’s continue with the example of an applicant interested in oncology.
Interviewer: “Why do you want to be a doctor?”
You: “Throughout my undergraduate years, I’ve been very interested in oncology. I’ve found it to be very rewarding to comfort patients when they receive a very scary diagnosis, and I enjoy helping describe various treatment options. At the Children’s Hospital, I volunteered at the Pediatrics Oncology Department. I helped develop a program where we spoke with parents’ families describing what to expect with chemotherapy. Additionally, I want to translate my patient experiences to the lab when I can develop new targeted cancer therapies.”
3. Remember these elements to include in your answer:
- Your themes (in this case oncology)
- Activities / Examples that exemplify your themes
- What motivated you to go into this field
- The impact you’ve had (if relevant)
If you need help figuring out the themes of your application or practicing interview responses, email our Cracking Med School Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Interview Skills to Constantly Practice
Interview Skill #1:
Connect with your interview peers the morning of the interview
Why: It can be intimidating to start the morning off with complete strangers in a room, especially if these strangers are also vying for a spot in the med school that you are applying. Writing from our personal experiences, this can be especially difficult for introversive applicants. However, social skills can be. Think of it as a social warmup, an exercise to engage and connect with others, right before your actual interview. A little bit of enthusiasm goes a long way, and, while you may not be officially evaluated outside of your interview, the admissions directors and staff Do take note of how you interact in a dynamic environment. A couple bits of advice:
- DON’T compare yourself to your peers. It’s easy to get caught up in the interview numbers game (e.g. “How many interviews have you gone to so far?”) Don’t fret! It’s not about the number of interviews you’ve gone to; it’s about the interview you’re in Now.
- DO take the time to get to know your peers. The simplest way to human connection is Asking Questions. Use the FORD mnemonic: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams.
So flash a smile, shake a hand, and open up to your peers! Besides, you’ll never know; they may end up becoming your future classmates.
How to prepare: Extend your daily interactions with your co-workers to connect with them a little bit more. The next time you order at your Starbucks, ask the barista how they’re doing. Connect with them on the why.
Interview Skill #2:
Give a pause and breath before each answer
Why: We get it. Silence is never comfortable, especially during an interview. It might be tempting to just throw yourself into a response to avoid any semblance of an awkward silence. However, letting the question marinate is advantageous for three reasons:
- Even if you have the perfect answer for the question asked, taking a couple of seconds to think will allow you to slow down and navigate your response.
- If you DO have the perfect response the question, giving a pause will ensure that you’re not giving a canned response.
- If you do this for each question, you will have established a pattern. That way, if you get stumped over a question that you really don’t know, then you’ve built for yourself a safety net to regroup your thoughts. You may be nervous internally, but no one can tell externally!
How to prepare: Take time in your daily conversations to observe how long you take before responding. Lengthen those responses for a couple of seconds until it becomes natural. Then, try and lengthen the silence for 5 seconds, then 10. Do this until you’re comfortable.
Interview Skill #3:
Practice your body language
Eye contact: How much is too much? Shift your gaze between four elements: the person’s eyes (one after the other), nose, forehead, and chin, occasionally shoulder if you want to break contact.
Try to make enough eye contact that you can remember their eye color.
How to prepare: Be cognizant of whether you are making good eye contact with everyone you talk to throughout the day – whether you’re chatting with somebody at a party or working with a groupmate for a class project.
Make sure you get others to critique you on these interview skills. Interviewing is a skill, and practice makes perfect.
If you have an upcoming medical school or residency interview, check out our mock interview packages and schedule a mock interview with us today!
Other important Interview Blog Posts
Medical school applicants find these blog posts on medical school interviews extremely helpful: