The “Why Should We Choose You?” Medical School Interview Question

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The “Why should we choose you?” medical school interview question is a tricky one because it asks you to step into the shoes of admissions committee members. If you were them, why would you choose you over other qualified candidates? What makes you the best choice for their school?

In this post, we’ll break down how to prepare the best possible answer to the common “Why should we choose you?” interview question.

 

The Medical School Interview Process

If you are at the interview phase of the medical school application process, you’ve already come a long way. You’ve taken the MCAT, submitted your primary application, including your personal statement, letters of recommendation, Work and Activities, etc., and submitted your secondary applications.

Depending on when you completed those steps of your application(s), you may receive an interview invite as early as August, though most schools don’t send invitations until September. Invitations can continue to arrive throughout the fall and winter, concluding in April or May of the following year.

In order to receive interview invites as soon as possible, it is vital that you apply and submit all materials as soon as you are able to. Applying early is one of the most critical medical school admission strategies.

Medical School Application Timeline

For more information about ideal scheduling, read our Medical School Application Timeline Guide.

In the fall of your application year, you will (hopefully!) receive several emails inviting you to interview with a selection of dates to choose from. It is vital to respond to your interview invitations as soon as possible because these dates will fill up fast thanks to the other eager candidates you’re up against. Rolling admissions means schools only offer spots while they’re available, so you are actively lowering your chances of acceptance the longer you delay your interviews.

Don’t procrastinate, but at the same time, be strategic in scheduling your interviews. Avoid scheduling your top choice schools first so that you have a few practice interviews under your belt before you reach your most important interviews. But don’t wait until just before your first interview to begin practicing.

Plenty of practice, including honing your interview skills in front of a mirror or camera and participating in as many mock interviews as you can, will prepare you for this important last stretch of the medical school application process.

Read our comprehensive Medical School Interview Guide for a complete overview of common interview questions, preparation advice, and mistakes to avoid.

 

The Purpose of the Medical School Interview “Why Should We Choose You?” Question

Medical schools ask the “Why should we choose you?” question to gauge an applicant’s true interest in their program as well as how authentically and easily they will fit within it. How you answer the question will provide admissions committees with a great deal of insight into how you see yourself and your fit for their particular school.

Admissions committees only want to accept the students who will make effective, important contributions to the school and enrich the student body. If you can’t give an effective and succinct answer to this question, it will show the interviewer that you either lack confidence, haven’t taken the time to deeply research the program, have only considered what you can take from the program, or are only keeping their school as a backup. You don’t want to leave your interviewer with even one of these impressions, which is why preparation is key.

Imagine you’re at your partner’s house and are being evaluated for marriage by their parents. Why do you and your partner belong together? How will you help each other grow? Why do you want the same things? What can you give your partner that no one else can?

This question forces you to think beyond your desire to go to a particular school and start thinking about why the school also needs you and your particular set of strengths and skills. Are you actually a good fit? Do you have what it takes? How do you know? How well do you know the program and all it has to offer?

If you believe they should pick you above other candidates—why? How do your plans and dreams for your future career complement those of the program? Why do you share the school’s values and mission, and how have you lived those values in your personal life?

The “Why Should We Choose You?” question not only evaluates your knowledge of the program’s offerings and values but how you see yourself in relation to them. How have you exemplified the school’s values in the past? How do you plan on continuing to live up to those values throughout your medical career?

 

How to Answer the “Why Should We Choose You?” Question

Two people interviewing Questions to Ask Interviewer

1 | Be Confident But Realistic

Confidence is a must throughout your interviews, but don’t overdo it. You need to come across as genuine—the real deal. When you answer the “Why should we choose you?” question, don’t exaggerate or embellish your accomplishments and what you can offer the school.

Be confident but realistic with your answer. If you don’t have experience in an area of research that school prioritizes, don’t make something up to show that you do. Admissions committees will see through a lie, and there’s no point in saying you can do something that you can’t. The truth will certainly be revealed later, which will end or severely impede your career before it even begins.

Instead, focus on what you can offer the school. What can you genuinely contribute to the student body? Which of your accomplishments might be of interest to that specific school? Which extracurriculars do you know you can excel in based on your past accomplishments and passion?

2 | Align Your Answer to the Specific School

This question isn’t opening the doors for you to brag about your high marks, number of publications, or research experience. You may have found success in all of those areas, but how do those accomplishments apply to that specific school?

There are plenty of other candidates with stellar marks, a long list of publications, and intriguing research experience. To find success in answering this question, you must clearly describe your values and how they relate to the school’s values. Which of your academic achievements, research, or clinical experiences can you relate to the school’s offerings?

Your answer can’t be generic or one-size-fits-all since you need to align yourself to the specific school you want to get into. No two medical schools are exactly alike—and even if you think they are, their respective admissions committees certainly don’t, and they’re the ones you need to impress to find success.

Tailor your answer to the values and priorities of each of the schools you’re interviewing with. Go beyond their mission statement and the first few pages of their website to learn as much as you can about the school before your interview. What do they take pride in? What can you offer the school that it may be missing? Who do you believe you could work well with? Why will your skill and experience be of particular benefit to that school?

3 | Provide Specific Reasons

What specifically separates you from other applicants? Schools want you to articulate your points clearly with specific examples that illustrate why they should choose you. Saying you’re a “go-getter and self-starter” is great and all, but why does the program need another self-starter? What do you have that other candidates don’t?

You need to go beyond generic responses like your high MCAT scores. Many, many other applicants have a spectacular MCAT score. Many candidates have years of research experience. Many candidates have a passion for science and a desire to help others. What do you have to offer beyond that?

Point to reasons that show why you are an ideal candidate for that school specifically, not just a well-rounded candidate. Why that school? Why will you make a good fit for each other?

4 | Show, Don’t Just Tell

As with many aspects of your medical school application, you need to demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate rather than simply listing off your traits, skills, and accomplishments.

You can say you are dedicated and hardworking, but what proof do you have to back it up? Use real examples and experiences from your life that illustrate the points you are trying to get across.

Utilize detailed storytelling to help admissions committee members develop a clear picture of who you are, where you come from, and who you hope to become.

 

Practice With Mock Interviews

Mock interviews put your interview skills to the test in an environment that simulates a real interview day. No matter how confident you feel practicing at home, this is the most effective way to ascertain how you will measure up once the pressure is on.

Med School Insiders provides mock interviews with former interviewers who share direct, insightful feedback on your live performance. You’ll receive invaluable practical and actionable advice that you can use to continue practicing and honing your skills at home.

If you think your interview skills and confidence could use a boost, check out our How to Ace the Medical School Interview course that covers the entire interview process. We’ve painstakingly covered everything you need to know, from what to pack to improving your body language to example answers, and much more.

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