Ideal Questions To Ask At A Medical School Interview

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

By asking some thoughtful, meaningful questions at the end of your medical school interview you can leave a lasting positive impression in the minds of your interviewers.

It’s almost inevitable that at the end of an interview they’ll turn to you and ask “And finally, do you have any questions for us?” 

It’s an opportunity for you, as the candidate, to flip the tables and ask your interviewers a question.

It’s also an opportunity to get that extra 1% on every other applicant who closes with “No, I don’t think so…”

The questions you ask at the end of an interview are a final chance to really show your interviewers you’re the sort of person they want to give an offer to. So use them wisely! 

Top 5 Questions To Ask At A Medical School Interview

Here are my top 5 questions to ask at a medical school interview. I’ve also included a few variations on each one.

Traditionally, you’d ask them at the end of your interview but if the opportunity arises there’s no harm in peppering them in throughout.

1. Research Opportunities 

“What do you think is some of the most exciting research going on at your university?”

Research plays a massive role in advancing modern medicine. And if your interviewers are clinical faculty members, they’re very likely to be directly involved in that research. 

This question gives your interviewers an opportunity to talk about projects they might be personally involved in- which is great because everyone loves to talk about things they’re passionate about.

Medical research to ask your interviewers about

It also subtly demonstrates you’re interested in, and would be keen to get involved with, medical research.

These are both positive qualities for a future medical student to possess!

Variations On The Theme 

  • “Do medical students have the opportunity to get involved with clinical research whilst studying here?”
  • “I was reading online about the university’s latest research about X and was wondering if you could tell me more about it?”

2. Positive Qualities 

“What would you say are some of this medical school’s strengths?”

Everyone likes to talk about their strengths, what they’re good at, and what other people think they do well (as opposed to things they’re not so great at).

Medical school interviewers are no exception. This question gives your interviewers a chance to big up their institution by telling you all the different ways it excels compared to other universities.

In doing so, the interviewers are also in a way increasing their own self-worth: because they work for such a great institution.

Which, in my opinion, can only ever work in your favour as the medicine applicant…

Variations On The Theme

  • “What do you think attracts the faculty (or you, specifically) to this school?”
  • “Are there any interesting changes your school will be making in the near future?”

3. Patient Focus

“What would you say the patient population is like here?”

I like this question because it has a clinical focus that revolves around our number one priority in healthcare: the patients.

It shows that you’ve already got a good understanding of the impact different populations can have on healthcare delivery and the demands from a local doctor.

Which is quite an advanced viewpoint considering you aren’t yet a medical professional.

Getting to grips with the local population’s demands could also help you weigh up where you want to study if you end up in the privileged position of having more than one offer. 

Variations On The Theme

  • “How does the patient population here compare to other places you’ve worked at in the past?” 
  • “What opportunities or challenges do you think the patient population here could pose to medical students?”

4. Specific Knowledge 

“I heard that the curriculum includes X. Could you tell me more about this?”

The strength of this question is that it’s demonstrating your knowledge about specific aspects of the medical school you’re applying to.

It’s proving to your interviewers that you really have done your homework and have delved deeper than the average applicant.

For this to be true though, your question really does have to be about a specific aspect of the curriculum you’ve looked into and want to know more about.

You can’t just use the framework to ask about “patient contact” or “pharmacology.”

Variations On The Theme

  • “I read about [an aspect of the course or university] online and was wondering if you knew more about it?” 
  • “A current medical student at your university told me [specific fact]. [Follow-up question]?”

5. Agent Of Change 

“If you had the chance, is there anything you would change about the curriculum?”

I think getting a member of staff’s opinion on what aspects of the curriculum could be improved can provide an invaluable insight into areas that probably aren’t taught so well at that medical school.

It can also give you an idea of whether the university is constantly trying to improve the course or whether they may be somewhat resting on their laurels.

As members of the faculty, your interviewers should be able to tell you what they think could be done better, what recent changes they’ve made to try to improve things and what their current students think about the course and how it’s delivered.

Variations On The Theme

  • “Is there anything you’d add to the curriculum or think students could benefit from more of a focus on?”
  • “Has the medical school made any recent changes to the curriculum in response to student feedback?”

Why You Should Ask Questions During Your Medical School Interview

Asking questions at your medical school interview not only shows your interviewers that you’re invested in the university and the course, but it also helps you gain an insight into the institution as a whole and its culture.

It’s in no way a complete disaster if you don’t ask any. I didn’t ask any questions at a couple of my medical school interviews as I just hadn’t prepared as well as I could have.

However, I believe there are 3 very good reasons why you should ask questions during your medical school interview:

1. Understanding The Interview Process

The interview process is a two-way street. While the interview panel is evaluating you as a candidate, you can also actually be evaluating the university to determine if you think it’s the right fit for you.

By asking a couple of choice questions, you can gain a better understanding of the university’s values, culture and curriculum.

This, in turn, can help determine if the university is a good match for your personal and professional goals.

Although you can find a lot of information online, from prospectuses, and by speaking to students, there will likely be a couple of questions that you just can’t find an answer to but that you want to know.

2. Demonstrating Your Interest

Asking some relevant questions is also an opportunity to really demonstrate your interest in the university.

By coming prepared with a couple of thoughtful questions, you’ll show your interviewers that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the course.

A student being interview for medical school
A student being interviewed for medical school

This will immediately set you apart from lots of other candidates who won’t have taken the time to prepare for this moment.

3. Gaining Insight Into The School

Lastly, asking a few questions at the end of your interview can help you gain a more detailed understanding of the university and how your course will work- one that you wouldn’t be able to get from publicly available sources.

By asking about the curriculum, research opportunities, and student life, you can get a better sense of what it would be like to attend the university.

This can, in turn, help you make an informed decision about whether or not to accept an offer from them further down the line.

Types Of Questions To Ask During A Medical School Interview

If you weren’t a massive fan of any of my top 5 questions to ask, and are struggling to come up with some of your own, I’m going to lay out a few different categories of questions that I think can all lend themselves nicely to closing an interview with.

Questions To Ask At A Medical School Interview Pixel Infographic

I’ll also give you a few examples from each category to hopefully get your creative juices flowing.

Questions About The Curriculum

  • How much flexibility do students have in selecting modules over the course of their degree?
  • What influenced the university’s decision in deciding how much clinical exposure to include in the course during the pre-clinical years?
  • What would you say are the main elements that set this medical school’s curriculum apart from other universities?
  • How would you say this course balances preparing students for exams and preparing students to actually start work as a doctor?
  • Does the medical school offer any special programs or tracks for students who are interested in a particular area of medicine, such as primary care, global health, or research?

Questions About Research

  • What kinds of research opportunities are available to medical students at this university?
  • Does the university have any particular areas of focus or strength in its research programs?
  • Are there any specific research-related courses or seminars that are available as part of the medical school’s curriculum?
  • Is there any support for medical students interested in research during their time studying here?
  • Can you share any success stories or examples of medical students who have participated in research while studying here?

Questions About Your Interviewers

Questions About Student Experience

  • How would you describe the culture and community of this medical school?
  • What opportunities are available for medical students to get involved in extracurricular activities or student organisations?
  • At the university, are there resources available for academic advising, mental health counselling, or other types of support if required by students?
  • How have you integrated technology into the medical school curriculum and student experience?
  • How would you say the medical school best prepares students for their future careers as doctors?

Questions About The Future

  • How is the medical school adapting to changes in healthcare, such as new technologies or evolving healthcare policies?
  • Does the medical school have any plans for expanding or improving its facilities and resources in the coming years?
  • Are there any new programs or initiatives that the medical school is planning to launch in the near future?
  • What kind of research or clinical trials is the medical school currently working on, and how are these efforts expected to evolve in the future?
  • How is the medical school responding to the changing needs and expectations of patients, particularly with regard to patient-centred care and personalised medicine?

Types Of Interview Questions To Avoid Asking‍

Although you’ve undoubtedly come across the phrase “there’s no such thing as a silly question” there are a few question types that I would advise against asking at your interview.

It’s not that you can’t ask any of these as a blanket rule, but I just would be careful to think about what sort of impression you’re going to leave if this question is your interviewer’s final snapshot of you as a candidate.

Easily Accessible Information

The first type of question that you want to avoid asking is that which enquires about easily accessible information.

For example, “Which are the main hospitals that the university uses?”, “Is there an option to intercalate on the course?” Or “What are the main topics the curriculum covers?”

By asking these sorts of questions it just makes it look like you haven’t bothered to do your research and are just using the interview as an opportunity to make up for some of this knowledge you haven’t found out yet.

Questions that would easily be answered by looking at the medical school’s website, reading their prospectus or having a quick chat with a current student probably aren’t ideal to ask at the end of your interview.

Political Questions

Everyone has their own personal opinions on politics and yours may or may not be the same as your interviewers.

Equally, if you’re undergoing a panel interview, the different members of the panel may not share the same political opinions.

I’d stay away from politics in your medicine interview

It’s probably a safe bet to just steer clear of political questions to avoid external factors having a sway on how your interviewers rate you as a candidate.

You don’t want differing political allegiances to be the deciding factor as to whether or not that medical school chooses to give you an offer.

Questions That Don’t Reflect Well On You

By this, I mean questions that don’t necessarily put you in the best light as an applicant.

It’s slightly hard to describe, but here’s an example:

If all your questions were regarding the snowboarding society, as you’re a keen snowboarder, and none of your questions were to do with the medical school, its teaching, curriculum or the experience of medical students, your interviewers may start to doubt where your motivations really lie.

Now, to be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a keen snowboarder and medical student, but in your interview itself I’d make sure at least some of my questions were more professionally orientated.

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask after the snowboarding society in this example, but you wouldn’t want to make it appear like that was your only motivation for applying to the medical school.

Controversial Questions

Controversy can be great for creating talking points, but you ideally want to minimise it in a high-stakes situation such as your medicine interview.

In a similar vein to political questions, you don’t want to artificially divide yourself from your interviewers if you don’t have to.

This could be something like bringing up the latest legislation on abortion either in the UK or abroad.

Your interviewers may very well bring this up as a medical ethics topic, but if it hasn’t come up naturally then I personally wouldn’t be jumping at the opportunity to discuss my opinions on abortion and seeing whether the interviewers agree with me.

Superficial Questions

Finally, superficial questions are in much the same vein as questions that don’t reflect well on you.

For example, asking detailed questions about what sort of freebies the medical school offers students, how much certain textbooks cost, whether lunch is included on certain days…

Essentially getting too far into the weeds on points that will be largely inconsequential to your future time as a medical student and then doctor.

There’s no harm in being curious about the answers to such questions, but they may be best saved for a current student you could ask, rather than your panel of medicine interviewers.

How To Come Up With Questions Specific To Your Interview

Asking questions that are specific to the medical school you’re interviewing with will let your interviewers know that you’re not just re-performing the same show you’ve put on for all your medical school interviews.

It shows that this particular medical school does actually mean something to you.

However, what’s the best way to come up with questions like this?

Well, I’d start by identifying elements of the curriculum, facilities or faculty that set this university apart from the others.

Medical schools are normally keen to highlight these on their websites and in their prospectuses so they shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Once you’ve found a few the next (and most important) step is to think about what this feature would actually mean to you personally.

Hundreds of other candidates will likely have picked out this point if it’s prominently featured on the website, but where you can personalise your interpretation is by thinking about how it relates to you as an individual.

This is where I went wrong in a few of my interviews- I picked out a few differentiating features of the universities I was interviewing with but didn’t take that next step.

This meant I was just parroting back at the interviewers what they knew to be in the prospectus and what 10 other applicants had probably already said to them that morning.

If you can relate specific features of a university to you as an individual applicant you’ll almost certainly have a question that would be an excellent choice to ask at the end of your interview.

FAQs

How many questions should I ask?

Candidates should generally aim to ask between one and three questions at the end of their medical school interview. However, if the conversation is flowing, there’s no requirement to artificially end the dialogue. Equally, there’s not always an opportunity for questions at the end of an interview.

What if I don’t ask any questions?

Candidates who do not ask any questions at the end of their medical school interview are not putting themselves at a large disadvantage. However, the well-prepared applicant who asks a handful of choice questions can use the opportunity as a final chance to impress their interviewers.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t ask questions at the end of all my medical school interviews. Which, if I knew what I know now, I would go back and change.

However, as I personally proved, you can of course still get an offer even if you don’t ask any questions (or maybe just a silly one) at the end of the interview.

It’s just in such a competitive application process, you might as well use the opportunity to ask a question at the end of the interview as a final chance to inject some of your unique personality into the interaction.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.