Medical School Admission Interview

Silhouettes of several business people in corridor of office buiMedical School Admissions Interviews begin in November for eastern Canada.

At Dalhousie there are 1016 applicants from which only 409 will be offered a chance to interview. Of those, just 109 spots are available – so you have to be better than 3/4’s of the other hopefuls.

It is the same story at the University of Newfoundland Medical Faculty where there are 80 spots, the University of Ottawa which accepts 164 new students and the University of Toronto where 259 students are accepted out of 3,463.

The interview process is not a question of how smart you are. They already know that – just being offered the opportunity to interview means that you are in the top 10%. What the universities are looking for at this point is your EQ or Emotional Intelligence. This is what sets you apart from a computer and makes you human. It is how you work with others, deal with moral issues and relate to people. In order to become a doctor this will count for 50% of your admission score.

In most universities this interview is conducted using the Multiple Mini Interview formula whereby 8-10 stations or rooms are created each bearing a single question that you have 2 minutes to formulate. You will then enter the room and give a 6-8 minutes answer explaining your views on the subject. Any time not used will be deducted. These questions are incredibly difficult and require a lot of practise and preparation. They are designed to understand your ideas and views on moral and ethical issues, current events that affect medicine, problem solving and communication. You must practise and you must be prepared.

How You Present Yourself:

People will make an initial impression of you in 5 seconds and a general impression within 2 minutes. It is important that you put your best you forward.

You are not dealing with your peers you are being judged by your future employers, so arrive neat and clean and represent yourself in a confident, respectful and grateful manner. Dress conservatively and cover/remove all tattoos and piercings – this is not about who you think you are, it is about getting yourself a seat at the doctor’s table.

What the Interviewers are Looking for:

  • You must be able to communicate clearly and with conviction.
  • You must show empathy and be able to relate to both peers and patients.
  • You need a general understanding of medicine and a deep desire to become a member of this elite group.

What You Need to Know:

  • Why do you want to be a doctor – it will be addressed.
  • What your strengths and weaknesses are and how you deal with them.
  • Know about the school and their programs and what that means to you.


Types of questions you will be asked

  1. The Minister of Health has just said that Canada’s health care is ‘middle of the road’. Where do you see this going in the next 5 years?
  2. Explain a time you worked as a member of a successful project and how you contributed (You can use any example – school, social, etc., just keep your answer professional as you explain the effects of your contribution)
  3. A man has been responsible for taking care of his wife who has been in a vegetative state for 6 years after a car accident. She can breathe on her own but that is the extent of her abilities. He requests that her feeding tube be removed. What should you, as her physician do? Why?
  4. Two patients need a liver transplant, but there is only one liver available at the time. Tell the interviewer how you would decide between:
    a) a 64-year old retired politician who happens to be an alcoholic, or
    b) a 26-year old mother of three who is on welfare.


Of the hundreds of applicants to every medical school, only 10% will be interviewed and of these only another 10% will be accepted.

You need to prepare not only to have the answers but to stand out in the memory of the people you interact with during this process. It will be another year until you are able to apply again – don’t make the mistake of not taking this process seriously.

For coaching through the MMI process contact Career


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