Interviewing for Medical, Dental, Podiatric, Optometric and Veterinary School Applicants

The interview is a key step in your acceptance to a health professional school. It allows schools to learn about you in a way that they cannot just by reading your application and enables them to determine how well you fit their programs.


Know Yourself

The interview  allows schools to learn about you in a way that they cannot just by reading your application and enables them to determine how well you fit their program.

  • Go over everything in your application and be able to answer questions about it, BUT don’t assume that the interviewer will have access to your application.
  • Medical school students should think back to your Committee Letter Interview and be sure you can answer all of those questions well.
  • Interviewers will be assessing applicants’ core competencies. Core competencies are defined by the AAMC as a group of skills and characteristics that facilitate effective practice. Consider concrete ways that you are able to illustrate your skills in these competencies. Although core competencies are used only by medical schools, similar criteria are utilized in evaluating candidates in other fields of health care, so they are helpful for you to review as well.
  • Interviewers will also try to evaluate candidates in the following areas:
    • Clinical Experience: Schools seek students who have been exposed to the reality of medicine. Be prepared to discuss your experience and how it has shaped your understanding of medicine.
    • Knowledge of the Field: Interviewers will expect you to be able to discuss current issues in health care, including managed care, malpractice concerns, ethical issues and challenges in the field.
    • Motivation: Schools want applicants that understand the demands of the medical profession and are able to articulate why they want to be healthcare professionals and what they hope to contribute to the field.
  • Practice answering questions aloud before the interview. You can videotape yourself answering questions by creating an account on Big Interview
  • To find customized questions, select “Conduct an Interview,” then “Custom,” then choose the appropriate option under “Medicine.”
  • Additionally, you can receive feedback from the Employer Engagement and Career Design staff by making an appointment through myNortheastern or by calling 617-373-2430. Phone/Skype appointments are also available.

Use these commonly asked questions to start practicing:

  • Why this school?
  • Why medicine/dentistry/optometry etc.?
  • Tell me about your hobbies and what you do for fun.
  • What’s your favorite book?
  • What’s the most meaningful thing you learned from ___ (something from candidates’ application)?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
  • When was a time you failed?
  • If you don’t get into school, what will you do?
  • What was your favorite course in college? Why?
  • What are you looking for in a program?
  • Why did you choose Northeastern?

Know the School

  • Research each school before the interview: go over the entire website and take notes. Learn school’s mission/strengths.
  • Be able to give 4-5 reasons why you want to go to THIS school.
  • Contact PreHealth Office before your interviews to see if there is an NU Alum who attends your school of interest who will mentor you.
  • Think about your match to a school by considering how your clinical experiences, research interests and ongoing activities/projects match with the school’s opportunities, projects and mission.
  • Review specifics of the school’s education including: entering class size/demographics, pass/match rates and assistance for those who don’t pass/match, research opportunities and requirements, clinical opportunities in the first two years, and patient populations.

Logistical Preparation

  • Respond quickly and politely to invitations.
  • Dress professionally and conservatively. Wear a suit, minimal jewelry/make-up. A purse is fine for women. Wear or bring comfortable shoes for a walking tour.
  • Book all travel arrangements, so that you can arrive for your interview in a timely manner. Don’t cut it close: flights can be delayed or cancelled, traffic can be bad, etc. Give yourself enough time to arrive without being rushed.

Types of Interviews

One-on-One Interview

  • In this traditional interview format, one interviewer will ask you a variety of questions.

Multiple Interviewers/One Candidate

  • In these interviews, a panel of interviewers ask questions and evaluate one candidate.

Multi-Mini Interviews (MMIs)

  • In MMIs, candidates rotate through 6 to 10 timed stations. At each station, applicants are presented with a question or task.
  • Timing: 2 min to read & think, 6-8 min interview:
    • Usually the question/task is on the door
    • Room may have an observer & actor/interviewer, or just an interviewer. Some stations may have an actor playing a patient/co-worker, etc.
    • Read up on healthcare. Practice explaining both sides of an issue; clearly state and substantiate your view.
    • There typically isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer.

Group Interviews

  • In this format, there can be multiple interviewers and multiple candidates. Questions are either answered one by one and/or as a group problem-solving exercise
  • Schools are assessing:
    • How well you “play in the sandbox.”
    • If you are a good fit with their interactive, problem-based learning.

After the Interview

  • Send a personalized thank you note to each individual who interviewed or spent time with you.
  • Restate specific reasons for your interest in the school.
  • If the school is your first choice, say so, but be honest.