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Interview Preparation

Many health professional programs invite applicants to interview for acceptance to a program. The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process.

When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.

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Interviewing for the Health Professions [PDF Version]

The interview process for health professions programs varies widely between professions and individual schools. In all cases, the interview allows the admission committee to learn more about your experiences, assess your problem solving and critical thinking skills, and evaluate your interpersonal skills and your motivation for the profession. Below you will find information on the different interview questions, types, and styles you may encounter.

Interview Questions

  • General: General questions include typical interview questions about your strengths and weaknesses, for example. “Tell me about yourself” is the most common question to begin an interview. Here is a sample list of questions.

  • Behavioral Based:  These interview questions aim to identify how you would behave or what decisions you would make in a given situation. It is important to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) method anytime you are providing an example to help answer behavioral based questions. Using diverse and honest examples from all of your experiences helps them know and understand you are in tune with your experiences.They may catch you off guard, but if you answer honestly and thoughtfully, you will show them that you make informed, rational decisions based on strong ethics and decision-making.

Interview Types

  • Individual Interviews: During this type of interview, you will meet one-on-one with your interviewer. The interviewer may be a faculty member, admission office staff, professional in the field, a current student, or a member of the community. The full interview process may consist of only one individual interview or you may have several individual interviews throughout the day.

  • Panel Interviews: Panel Interviews typically involve several interviewers meeting with you at once. These may be in a "question and answer" type format where each panel member asks their own question, or "scenario" format where you will discuss situations with the entire panel.

  • Small Group Interviews: In Small Group Interviews, multiple applicants are interviewed at once by one or more interviewers. Again, these may be in "question and answer" format, where you may be asked questions individually, or "scenario" format where you will discuss situations with the group as a whole.

  • Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI): An MMI is an interview format designed to gauge an applicant's potentially to successfully interact with patients and colleagues by measuring verbal and non-verbal skills that cannot be easily assessed using standardized tests or transcripts. MMIs typically consist of six to ten timed stations through which applicants rotate, meeting with a new interviewer each time. At each station, the applicant is presented with a new question, scenario or task to assess one or more specific skills and qualities. An applicant should focus on developing his or her ability to formulate a logical, thorough response within a strict timeframe.

Interview Styles

  • Open: the interviewer has seen the file
  • Semi-Open: the interviewer has seen a portion (usually the personal statement)
  • Closed: the interviewer has never seen your file (expect lots of open-ended questions)

The interview will provide you with opportunities to discuss your personal experiences and motivation for a career in healthcare. Interviews are also an opportunity for you to draw attention to any aspects of your application that merit emphasis or explanation. Make certain you present yourself in the best possible light by preparing thoroughly for your meeting. Think about how you conduct yourself among current students and staff during informal meetings, too. These interactions still create an impression of who you are and how you present yourself may come up during a post-interview discussion.

Preparing for a medical school interview consists of two key things: 1) interview practice and 2) doing your research.


Since most admission committee members are experienced interviewers who want to learn about the “real” person, you should be forthright and open in your meeting and not try to “game” the interviewer. The interviewer will be attempting to have you respond without using your memorized answers. Rehearsed or canned answers are usually easy to spot.  That said, it is important that you have given thought to the possible questions you may be asked during an interview and have practiced delivering your responses with clarity and precision. Further, how you speak and your body-language during the interview is often times more important than the content of your answers. Practicing good eye-contact and posture will go a long way to make sure your interview is a success.

On campus, University Career Services assists students with interview techniques and mock interviews. Mock interviews are integral to realizing your interview strengths and weaknesses before the real thing. Also, keep in mind that the Fall semester is a very busy time for the Career Center and that you may not always be able to schedule a mock interview before your actual interview date. Therefore, consider beginning interview practice in the Spring before you apply and scheduling another mock interview in August or early September. You may also have close friends or other people that you trust help you conduct a mock interview.


Do Your Research

In addition to honing your interview skills during a mock-interview, it is also incredibly important that you do your research before even stepping foot on campus for your interview.

Know the school!

Before your interview, investigate the school thoroughly by reviewing the program web site and any information sent to you.  Ask yourself: Why do I want to attend this school? What specific opportunities does this school offer me (e.g., community outreach, new facilities, research, innovative curriculum)? What could I contribute to the incoming class?

Try to talk with current students to get an accurate sense of what the school is like from a student perspective. You will want to impress your interviewer with not only your potential for success but also your interest in his or her specific institution. You can demonstrate these qualities not only through your answers to the interviewer’s questions but by the questions you ask as well.

Know yourself!

It is also important that you know yourself well. This means knowing exactly what you put on your application. Too often applicants forget the specific experiences or activities they may have included in their primary or secondary applications, or even their personal statement. You do not want to be caught off guard by an interviewer asking you about something that you listed.

Begin preparing by reviewing your record, as you may be asked questions regarding your GPA, test scores, grades on specific courses, or who your letter-writers were. Have a good explanation for any grade mis-steps or withdrawals. Next, consider your overall strengths and weaknesses. Be introspective. Many interviewers will ask what you consider your greatest weakness or strength. Or similarly, what is a time that you failed or were disappointed? They may ask you how you believe your friends would describe you. Try not to be coy ("my great weakness is that I am a perfectionist") but instead, give real answers and some anecdotes that support your answer.  Finally, consider your motivations for wanting to enter the healthcare field and be able to explain them in a clear manner. Try to answer the following questions: What are you hoping to accomplish? What are your goals and why is this the path for you? What else would you do if you did not get into medical school?

Know the profession!

Every interviewer will be attempting to measure your motivation and knowledge in some way. They want to enroll students who understand what is ahead of them, both academically and professionally. It is important that you have read and had some experience within your chosen profession and the wider healthcare arena. Questions about the Affordable Care Act, stem cell research, AIDS, the high cost of healthcare, etc. can easily be a topic in your interview. Ask yourself what you consider to be the biggest crisis in healthcare right now? It is not so important what your stand on an issues it, as long as you can discuss it intelligently and articulately. We encourage you to begin reading newspapers, journal articles, and online articles to start building your knowledge about the healthcare industry and its accompanying issues.

The best preparation for an interview is participation in a mock interview! Mock interviews provide the opportunity to practice your responses, work on body-language and effectively communicating your ideas, and receive feedback on your interview performance.

Scheduling a Mock Interview

You can schedule a mock interview with University Career Services.

To schedule:

  1. Log into Cougar Pathway and select "Mock Interview"  
  2. In the notes, include:
    • The type of program you are applying to (e.g., medical school, PA school)
    • The date of your upcoming interview
    • The name of the specific program with whom you are interviewing (e.g., UH College of Medicine)
    • The type of interview you wish to practice (traditional one-on-one or MMI)

Students who have graduated more than 6 months ago can email Asha Wilson ( to have their Cougar Pathway account reactivated for an interview. Please include your name, email and UH ID number in your email.