Standard Interview Guide

Welcome to the interview guide!

This guide covers:

General Tips – common mistakes to avoid

Over 10 different standard interview questions with detailed explanations, examples and tips

Discussion of the different types of interviewing styles, what to expect and how to be prepared!


Remember that interviewers see many candidates per day so it is very important to make sure you stand out!
With the new trend towards MMI interviewing, your standard interview will be short and sweet – usually focusing on standardized questions. You must know your CV and personal statement inside and out and rehearse your answers so that you can answer in an organized and timely manner. In this guide, you will find possible interview questions and out tips on how to prepare your answers. Lower down, you will find some interview styles that you may be faced with!

General Tips – These might seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t pay attention to their own habits!

  • Be Engaged – Your body language says a lot about your personality. Sit straight and even lean a bit forward. By having a more engaging body language, the interviewers will be more motivated to listen.
  • Maintain eye contact – Nobody likes talking to someone who never looks at them. In health care, it’s all about the personal connection so make sure you connect with your interviewers with your eyes!
  • Any answer is better than no answer – A lot of people are worried that they need to have extremely unique answers for every question. If you have a unique answer, great! If you don’t, it’s fine as well! As long as your answer is well thought out and you can deliver it well, you will be ahead of the game.

First read over the interview questions. Try to come up with an answer. Then click on the question to view tips from our Medcoaches!

Interview Questions

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[EXPAND 1.Tell me about yourself?]

This can be a very difficult question for some people because they don”t know where to start their answer or when to end.

Structure your answer into two or three different things that you want the evaluator to know about you. It can be things like: what are your interests outside of school, a personality trait, why medicine, etc.

There is no wrong answer! They just want to see how well you can structure your answer without rambling on. Make sure to keep an eye on the interviewer for any clues that you are speaking for too long.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 2. Why do you want to go into medicine?/How are you sure medicine is right for you?]

This is a question I really want you to think about. Everyone has a different answer because it is a very personal question. For example, I went into medicine because I watched my grandfather pass away from a heart attack and it was my feeling of helplessness at that moment that drives me to learn medicine.

I want to address a few things about your answers first, lets talk about the common reasons people want to get into medicine. If your answer is “because I want to help people”, then try again. The interviewer will come right back at you with something like “well you can help people in nursing, so why not nursing?” and this is where people get thrown off. Most people”s answers revolve around their interest in helping people and contributing to science.

Another thing to point out here is that if you want to get into medicine for the money (I”m sure you grew up hearing how doctors make amazing salaries), then I”m sorry to say but there are much more lucrative professions and opportunities in business that can make you rich. With 4 years in medical school and 2-5 years in residency and then fellowship, medicine is definitely not a get-rich-quick profession.

Other people may be going into medicine only because their parents want them to. I want to say seriously to those people that if you are spending hours on end studying medicine and working in the hospital and it wasn”t your choice, you will not be leading a happy  life. If I’ve learned one thing from the people I have met as a medical student, its that you have to love what you do in life!

So now coming back to your answer 🙂 Your answer should have something personal such as a story about your journey to medicine. For me it was my grandfather who gave me that “spark of inspiration”. What was your spark of inspiration? Did you always know you belonged in medicine? Why? Was it something you figured out later in life? If so, tell the interviewer how you figured it out. This is the time to sit down, relax, and reflect on your life. I want you to do this right now and write out your answer for why you want to be a doctor. Not sure why medicine and not another healthcare field? Here are some things that I learned over the course of medical school that may inspire you to come up with an answer: As a medical doctor, you meet a large range of people from newborns to the elderly. Has any specific population influenced you to enter medicine? As a medical doctor, you will be constantly learning. Medicine changes every day and you need to be up to date with new information and practice guidelines. Are you someone who enjoys that challenge?

Also, not only do doctors need to stay up to date with the information, but some actually are involved in the research that changes the way we practice medicine! Does research excite you? Do you understand the importance of research in medicine?

Health care involves a large inter professional team. A doctor could not do their job without nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, social workers, occupational therapists, etc. What makes a doctor different from these other members? What does the physician contribute to the team? Do you enjoy working in teams?

Hopefully, you have had time to reflect on why medicine is the career for you and have come up with a personal story that is ready to share with the interviewer. If you need an extra push of motivation, another great place to find inspiration is Youtube where you can watch MDs in action.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 3. What is your greatest weakness?]

Another difficult question. This one takes some self-reflection. Your weakness can be as simple as “I have a messy room”.

The point of the question is to see if:

a) You can reflect on yourself.

b) To see if you are doing something to improve yourself or if you are just letting this weakness take over.

Tips: Don”t use a weakness that is detrimental to your ability to be a good medical student (example: “I never hand in assignments on time”, “I am bad with people”.) Use a weakness that is relatively neutral and make sure to show how you are taking steps to turn that weakness into a strength[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 4. What is your greatest strength?]Th

is one is easier than finding a weakness. Any answer is good. But of course, if you can relate it to medicine, it is better. Try to identify a strength focused in on one of the CanMEDs roles. The CanMEDS roles are the skills deemed by the Royal Medical College of Canada to be the building blocks of a good physician.

When you explain your strength, incorporate into your answer why you think it is an important strength for medicine.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 5. Why should we pick you?]

Another general question. The key here is knowing how to promote yourself without sounding cocky. Be honest and talk about the skills you have gained that will make you a great physician. This is your chance to summarize all of your qualities that will make you a perfect medical student.

Make sure you answer is not too long! This is one of the questions that you should prepare well beforehand. If the school has something specific they like to focus on (such as their research program, a communication program) focus on how your skills fit in line with their values.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 6. Tell me about a time when you experienced a conflict, how did you resolve it?]

Finding a conflict on the spot, under stress, can be very difficult – so make sure to prepare this beforehand!n

In your conflict, explain:

  • What happened and what was your role in the situation
  • Why was it a conflict for you
  • How you resolved the conflict
  • What you learned from the experience or what would you do differently next time[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 7. Tell me about a time when you advocated for someone?]

Here the interviewer is testing your “Health Advocate” skill (look up the CanMEDS roles!). Again, this is a question to prepare beforehand. It can be as simple as standing up for someone at school, helping someone cross a street, organizing a fundraiser for charity.

Include in you answer why it was important for you to advocate for that person/cause, how it made you feel and how you recognize the importance of advocating for patients as a physician. When you can, it is a good idea to relate back to why this will make you a good physician, or why your experience is relevant to medicine.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 8. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. What did you do and how do you feel about it?]Nobody is perfect, and physicians need to know their limits and when to ask for help. The interviewer wants to hear about your mistake so that they know you:

a) realize that you are not perfect

b) you can identify your imperfections

c) you can learn from your mistakes and improve yourself

This mistake can be going behind a friend”s back, getting mad at your family or friend, crashing the car, loosing a belonging, forgetting an assignment..etc.

Whatever it is, make sure that you talk about what you have learned from the mistake and how you have changed yourself so that it doesn’t happen again – that is the key to this question.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 9. Tell me about activity x (in your CV)]

With this question, the interviewer is trying to learn more about your interests. If they have not read your CV, they will ask a question like: “Tell me about your interests outside of school”. They want to see how well you know your activities. (IE. Did you do it just to have something good on your CV or did you actually put meaning into the activity.) They  also want to know if you can balance your personal and school life. Medicine is a work-heavy specialty. It starts in medical school and only increases from there. Therefore, it is very important to show the interviewers that you are aware of the demands of medical school AND that you are prepared to take them on with confidence that you can keep a balance in your life.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 10. What do you think of our program? / What do you like about our program? / What do you think of our new curriculum?]

This is a very personal question. It’s just here to remind you to do your research about the school you are interviewing at! Find something that they offer at their school that you relate to, and find our a little bit about the area if you are not from there![/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 11. How do you handle conflict?]

Physicians work with people, so at times they may face a conflict. This conflict could be personal, professional, ethical, etc. How do you deal with conflict? Tell them an example of a time where you faced conflict. This could be between you and your friends, between two other friends and you need to describe your method of dealing with conflict. Keep in mind that this could also be a great MMI station, because instead of just asking you how you deal with conflict, they can see it for themselves.[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 12. While watching a surgery, you notice the surgeon nick an artery by mistake. The patient looses a lot of blood, just shy of requiring a transfusion (blood replacement). After when the surgeon is recounting the surgery to the patient, he makes no mention of the incident and says the surgery went perfectly fine.]

What are the issues at hand?

What would you do?[/EXPAND]

[EXPAND 13. Describe your leadership style] [/EXPAND]

Types of Interviewing Techniques

Most of the time, the interviewer will be straight-forward and friendly. But sometimes, they may try to provoke certain emotions out of you to see how you handle the situation.

Two interviewers at once

When you enter the room, you may see more than one person in front of you. They will introduce themselves as a physician, medical student, resident, or another healthcare professional. They will ask one question at a time. Make sure that when you are answering their questions, that you maintain eye contact and alternate looking at the interviewers. People don”t like to feel left out.

The Cold Shoulder

Although much less likely, it is still possible that the interviewer will give you the cold shoulder. They will seem uninterested about anything you have to say. Some people take this the wrong way and think that the interviewer is being rude to them. Consequently, they start to become a bit more defensive and rude themselves! That is the pitfall. Don”t fall into the trap. If the interviewer is being rude to you, it is to see how you handle the situation. Stay calm and confident and just answer the questions like you practiced. If they say something like “well it doesn”t seem to me like you really care about people”, don”t get rattled! Answer calmly something along the lines of “well, I understand why it may appear to you that way, and maybe it is not reflected strongly enough in my CV, but I am someone who is dedicated to helping people, for example”….and give examples from your CV.


MedCoach disclaimer: MedCoach in no way guarantees acceptance to medical school. Our guides and coaches are committed to sharing their best opinions and advice. It is always best to get multiple opinions and have as many people as possible review your application and help you practice for interviews! We wish you the best of luck!