How To Answer Tell Me About Yourself In A Job Interview
Tell me about yourself. Its one of the most common job interview questions. Even so, many job seekers dont take the question seriously, thinking its just an icebreaker meant to put them at ease.
But they should carefully consider their response, because tell me about yourself is more than a throwaway opener for most interviewers. When hiring managers pose this open-ended question, theyre hoping candidates will offer insight about their goals and priorities, which will give them a better sense of who each job candidate really is.
And thats not all: Interviewers also ask this question to evaluate how confident interviewees are, which in turn gives them a view of how new hires might present themselves to customers, clients and colleagues if they get the job.
As a job seeker, knowing how to answer, tell me about yourself, gives you a great opportunity to spotlight the job skills and experience that make you the ideal candidate for the job. And because its a question that many hiring managers lead with, it’s also your way to start off on the right foot. Here are a few more job interview tips to help you nail your response:
Describe A Recent Challenge And How You Overcame It
Select a personal experience you had in which you were forced to deal with a difficult team member, an overbearing manager, or manage an otherwise challenging personal struggle. How did you find a reasonable compromise and diffuse the conflict? What strengths and values did you demonstrate in doing so?
Whats most important is choosing a genuine experience from your life you can speak about comfortably and authentically that reveals your own personal and professional strengths.
As with all of these questions, prepare for it beforehand. You must have one or more stories ready that address overcoming a challenge or conflict.
Whats The Last Book You Read/enjoyed
This is quite similar to the previous question, as its another opportunity to demonstrate there is more to your life than the strict pursuit of medicine. The interviewer could ask you about a book, movie, or television show you enjoyed recently.
If you didnt enjoy the last book you read or program you watched, it could also be a good opportunity to flex your critical reasoning and analysis skills and discuss the specific reasons why you didnt enjoy it. Were the writers arguments weak? Did you not enjoy their writing style? Did you find the actors or plot unbelievable?
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What Do You Think About
Stay on top of current affairs during your application cycleespecially if they pertain to healthcare. You dont need to have a strong opinion about the issue in fact, its better to appear informed and diplomatic than overly opinionated.
For example, a few years back, the Affordable Care Act came up in interview questions. More recently, you might get questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
Practicing With Medical School Interview Questions
If you think about how you are going to answer each of these five questions, prepare some stories that illustrate what you want to convey, and then practice doing some mock interviews, this will be a solid start to your medical school interview preparation.
If youd like more help from me in preparing for your medical school interviews, check out the following resources:
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What Do You Believe Is The Most Important Issue Healthcare Professionals Are Handling Today
Your interviewer may ask you in-depth questions about the current state of the medical field. These questions will determine how informed you are on relevant medical issues and allow you to share your opinion. There is not just one correct answer to this particular question, but you will need to prepare in advance to make sure your answer is insightful and thorough.
Example:”I believe the most pressing issue in modern healthcare is the lack of trained doctors and nurses in rural and impoverished areas. I think the need for quality healthcare in these communities continues to grow as deaths from treatable diseases are becoming more common. I believe that medical professionals need to prioritize providing care to less accessible areas.”
Common Question #: Where Do You See Yourself In 10 Years
Paint a clear vision of what you want to do. Yes, its important to keep an open mind. But, Ive seen the best interviewees be able to articulate a clear vision of what he or she wants to do. If you want to stand out, walk your interviewer through what you think your journey will be throughout medical school and residency. How will that specific medical school or residency program help you achieve that goal?
Lack of specificity is the most common mistake I hear in this response. Frequently, I hear pre-meds say, I want to be a primary care physician who works with the underserved. Thats great. But, a better and more nuanced answer will be more specific. How do you want to help the underserved? Do you want to work with homeless shelters? Are you going to do research regarding access to care? Are you going to work with the Countys Public Health department and improve accessibility to healthy foods? Are you going to improve access to medications among underserved populations?
Tips for Medical School Applicants:
What you want to be involved with in medical school needs to match what you want to do 10 years from now. For example, if youre interested in drug discovery, you can talk about labs you want to potentially research with during medical school. And speaking of specificity, are there any specific type of drug or mechanism of action youre interested in?
Tips for Residency Applicants:
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Immediately After The Interview
If you are given an assignment, such as reading a paper or connecting with someone, do it quickly. Send a thank-you note to your student host.
Send a hand-written note to interviewers or to everyone on a panel as soon as possible, unless the school asks that you not do this. Travel with notecards and stamps. It is a great activity to do while waiting for trains, planes, buses, etc.
In the note, thank them for their time. Be enthusiastic about the school. Be sure to proofread. Do not try to sneak in a personal statement. This is a thank you letter. The letter may be read by your interviewer before presenting you to their committee and can strengthen their recollection of you. It may or may not become part of your file.
There Are 1000 Candidates Applying Who Are Equally Qualified Why Should We Offer You A Spot At Our Medical School
As in the previous question, its important to avoid criticizing other candidates when you answer this question.
Focus on some of your good qualities and how they are related to medical school and a career in medicine.
- For instance, you might describe your dedication to both personal and professional growth. Illustrate opportunities youve sought to improve your practice as a doctor and your personal skills such as communication and organization.
- Perhaps youve taken multiple personal development workshops annually, or youve taken advantage of any chance to gain exposure to other cultures and backgrounds.
You may also want to mention especially compelling volunteer work or clinical experiences, unique skills like speaking multiple languages, any additional certifications or degrees you bring to the table, or a story that showcases an exceptional level of compassion, empathy, or another key personal quality.
Brainstorming potential responses to this question now will keep you from panicking and drawing a blank during the interview.
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Why Medical Schools Interview You
Many premed students with whom we discuss interviews want to jump straight into the nitty-gritty of how to answer certain questions or to whom they should send a follow-up thank you letter .
Before we get into those details, however, we take a step back and ask our students, Why do you think med schools want to interview you in the first place? After all, medical schools can learn so much about you from your application materials, including your:
Demonstrated longstanding commitment to medicine
Likelihood to gel with a particular schools culture and offerings
The answer is straightforward. Medical schools want to learn the following three pieces of information through your interview:
That youre sociable and easy to get along with. Youll be interacting with peoplepatients, nurses, colleagues, etc.every day as a physician, so you have to be likable and personable.
That you dont have significant interpersonal difficulties, such as arrogance or major social awkwardness. Few people want to be around someone who is incredibly full of themselves or unable to hold an engaging conversation.
That you seem as polished and fit for medicine in person as you come across on your application. With unlimited opportunities to write, rewrite, and edit your essays, its possible to submit error-free application materials. On the other hand, its much more difficult to cover up obvious flaws during a live in-person interview.
Questions About Your Education
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During Your Virtual Interview
Make sure your device is fully charged or plugged in. Its a good idea to have a backup device handy, like your phone, just in case things arent working well.
Silence all notifications on your phone and computer or tablet so you arent distracted during the interview. Similarly, close your windows and make sure your TV, stereo, and timers are off to eliminate as much external noise as possible.
Focus on maintaining good eye contact and polite body language throughout the interview. Because you might find yourself looking away from the camera or slumped in your chair without even realizing it, its crucial to remember to sit up straight, keep your attention fixed on your interviewer, and to generally stay aware of how your gestures and body language come across on camera. Keep in mind that the effect of eye contact is best achieved by looking directly at your webcams lens, which might be at the top or bottom of your screen.
Resist the urge to look at notes or an outline. Itll be obvious that youre following a script rather than speaking naturally, plus youll have trouble maintaining eye contact.
Appendix B: Common Medical School Interview Questions
Below are 52 more frequently asked interview questions that you should be ready to answer. Weve grouped them into categories and provided guidance on how you might approach each category. For some questions, weve also listed an alternativea seemingly different question thats effectively asking the same thing.
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Question : Why This School
When asked why they want to go to this medical school, a lot of students talk about how they have friends that go to that school and they love it. But this is not the way to answer this question.
Find out specific details of the school and specific programs youre interested in, be it related to diversity, research, or community outreach. Whatever that may be, find out the specifics about the school. Look up their mission and vision statements, and find out if anything resonates with you. Look for the minute details in each of these areas to be able to explain why youre applying to each of the schools. In fact, you should already know this considering you applied for this school to begin with.
Dont just talk about the ability to help the underserved, as most urban academic medical centers are going to help an underserved population, and this is not unique. Try not to cite anything generic that you could say about any other school. So be very specific such as the curriculum, class size, location, and your support structure in that area.
Most Common Medical School Interview Questions
Weve grouped some of the most common medical school interview questions into several buckets or categories.
Some of these questions may belong in multiple categories, but this list will give you an idea of what to expect.
- Note that this list is unlikely to include every question that youll be asked at your interview.
- However, most questions will fall into these categories.
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Final Thoughts: Medical School Interview Questions
Medical school interviews can be intimidating, but effective preparation will help you feel much more confident.
Write common interview questions that you find complicated or challenging on index cards.
- Then, record a list of points youd like to mention in your response.
- Read over these questions and bullet points in the weeks leading up to the interview, and even give the cards to a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview.
Think about the medical school interview as a conversation to determine whether you and the school are a good fit for one another.
Do your best to smile and relax.
- Create the impression that youre confident, friendly, and enjoying the conversation, and youll go a long way toward making a positive and memorable impression on the interviewer.
If youre truly stumped by a question, dont panic or throw out a random answer. Practice saying, Thats a great question. I need to learn more about that.
Theres no way to prepare for every single question that will come your way during the interview.
But if youre ready to talk about the topics listed above with honesty, poise, and enthusiasm, youll greatly increase your chances of earning an acceptance letter.
Planning Your Answer To Tell Me About Yourself
To form a detailed, thoughtful response, you should answer a few questions about your career and your job. Ask yourself these questions before each interview:
What qualities make you a great fit for this position?
Why are you interested in the role?
Why are you interested in the company or the industry?
What are the positive traits or characteristics you possess that will serve you well in this role?
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Is There A Point In The Admissions Cycle At Which I Should Just Assume I’m Going To Be Rejected If I Haven’t Yet Heard Back From A School Following An Interview
As a general rule, with each month that passes post-interview, the likelihood that you will be accepted at a given medical school decreases. However, it’s impossible to know how many spots have been filled there, and there’s always a small chance that you will get in anytime through the end of spring.
Regardless, you should continue to develop your extracurricular profile and address any weaknesses in your application while you wait for admissions decisions. That way, if you have to reapply during the following admissions cycle, admissions committees won’t be able to hold any down time against you.
What Specialty Are You Interested In
Be careful answering this question, as its a lot more dangerous than it seems. Its important that you appear open to learning all fields of medicine. If you do have a particular interest in a specific specialty because of family or a personal or academic experience, its okay to mention that, but make sure that you clearly demonstrate curiosity and an interest in all fields.
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What You Should Not Say
Many job candidates make the mistake of answering this question with talk of something personal. Some even launch into their life story, starting with their hometown and continuing on through their college graduation.
Alternately, others share descriptions of the problems in their current job, explaining that they applied for this position because their boss is a micromanager or their employer wont allow them to work a flexible schedule.
And some job seekers simply summarize their resume, going point-by-point through their work experience and education history.
All three of these responses can quickly send your new-job dreams down the tubes. If you answer with either of the first two, hiring managers see a red flag an indication that youre not that serious about the position or simply trying to escape a bad situation at your current job.
And if you go with the third approach, youre throwing away an opportunity. You can assume the interviewers read your resume before inviting you for the interview, and they dont need you to walk them through it.
How To Answer The Tell Me About Yourself Question
âTell me about yourselfâ is often the first questions asked in medical school interviews. When answering, it is important to keep in mind that the interviewer is trying to get to know you as a person, including your background outside of medicine. We want to emphasize that the structure of your response as a clear, strong framework can provide a roadmap for your interviewer to follow as you lead them through the details. The framework and questions below are to help guide you brainstorm your response to this open-ended question. You do not need to answer every single question in the framework below.
A winning framework to responding to the âtell me about yourselfâ questions consists of the following:
Step #1: Describe your background
- Questions to answer: What is your family structure like and where did you grow up? What kind of upbringing did you have? Did you have siblings? How did you develop your interests and engage your curiosity early on? What values did you gain from your upbringing and your family?
- Why this is important: This provides some context on your upbringing to allow your interview to understand you better. Additionally, you will build personal connections with your interviewer.
- Tips: One common mistake that applicants make is that their responses for the background section are too long. Stick to whatâs important in your childhood and family and what is relevant for a career in medicine.
Step #4: Describe your present-day self and future goals
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