Some medical schools have already started sending out interview invitations and many more will join in during the coming weeks. As you prepare for your first interview, you’re likely to think about answers to the typical med school interview questions such as “Why do you want to be a physician?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” However, there’s a category of interview questions that you may not be familiar with, but are likely to encounter on the interview trail: behavioral interviewing questions.
Behavioral interviewing questions are aimed at determining how you have handled various situations and challenges in the past. Your responses can help an interviewer determine if you how you may deal with the challenges you’ll face in medical school, residency and as a physician.
Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions:
- Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone else.
- Describe a situation in which you faced a problem with no good solution.
- Tell me about a time when you faced an ethical dilemma.
Now that you know what behavioral questions are, you’re probably wondering how to approach answering them.
Coming up with a specific example on the spot can be very difficult, so one of the keys to success in a behavioral interview is to think of multiple situations before you go to the interview. Think through your academic career, clinical experiences, and other activities and life experiences to generate four or five examples that are very different than one another. For example, one situation may highlight a time you’ve succeeded despite an obstacle, another may focus on a time when you failed and what you learned from the experience. If you have a wide enough variety of anecdotes to choose from, you’re likely to be able to pull from those to answer a behavioral question, rather than being stumped and giving a weak answer or no answer at all.
While behavioral questions are usually only a small part of the interview, they can be some of the toughest to answer, so make sure you invest some time in preparing for these as well as the old favorites such as “Why do you want to attend this school?” Every question in a med school interview is important, so make the most of each as an opportunity to convince the admissions committee to offer you a place in their class.