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Harvard Medicine Interview Questions

Past Interview Questions & Tips

Harvard Medicine Interview Format (Historically)

Harvard is now conducting interviews online – ‘all interview sessions will be conducted virtually.’ Additional information is provided to those students who receive an invitation to interview. You should expect a one-on-one format, with a traditional style. 

 

Key Dates

Interviews generally take place between October and January.

Historical Interview Information

Candidates typically have had two separate, one-on-one interviews with two different members of the Admissions Committee.  

Harvard Medicine Key Application & Interview Statistics

Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)
Overall Success Rate (Total Applicants : Total Spaces)
Percentage of Candidates Interviewed
Percentage Of Candidates Interviewed
Interviewee Success Rate
Interviewee Success Rate

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Harvard Medicine Past MMI Stations & Interview Questions

General/Personal Statement – With interviewers having access to the candidate’s application, a great deal of emphasis is placed on their background and work experience. Many interviewers begin with the open-ended question “tell me about yourself”.  Applicants should expect to be asked to elaborate on any and every aspect of their personal statement and provide examples to support their answers. 

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What’s your proudest accomplishment?
  • What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What are your faults?
  • What three adjectives would classmates use to describe you in a classroom setting?
  • What would you identify as a weakness in your application?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • Have you experienced failure, no matter how hard you tried? How did you deal with it?
  • Why do you care about other people? Where does your empathy come from?
  • What are three things you do well?
  • What would you like to improve about yourself?
  • What do you want the epitaph on your gravestone to say?
  • What did you do at [undergrad institution]?
  • Walk me through your four years at college? If there was something you could change, what would it be?
  • What was the most valuable experience you had in college?
  • Can you tell me about your MCAT?
  • Can you explain the trend in your undergraduate grades? 
  • What did you do outside the classroom during your freshman year? 
  • What was your favourite non-premed college course?
  • Describe your research experience — give me your hypothesis, methodology and findings.
  • Tell me more about your research.
  • What is the overarching theme of your activities?
  • How did you get involved in community service?
  • I see you’ve done a lot of activities related to X, tell me about what you’ve learned from those experiences. How do you think you’ll apply those lessons to your career as a doctor?
  • What were some of the challenges you encountered in your job as a ____?
  • What clinical experience have you had?
  • Tell me about your involvement in this organization/sport/lab.
  • Why did you get involved in volunteering?
  • Talk about your experience working with groups
  • If you had the chance to make your case to the admission committee, what would you say to them to convince them that they should accept you?
  • What would you like me to tell the committee that (1) you didn’t tell the other interviewer, and (2) you didn’t mention in your application?
  • How do you think people on the West and East coast are different?

 
Harvard and its Medicine Program

  • What are you looking for in a medical school?
  • What would you contribute to the small group discussions at Harvard?
  • Why Harvard? Followed by how does that make us different from other schools?
  • How would you feel moving away from your family to come here?
  • What do you think you could contribute to the student body?
  • What’s your learning style? How do you think that would work within the New Pathway system? Why didn’t you apply to the HST Program?
  • What will be the most difficult thing to overcome in the next four years?
  • What are some trends in medical education that you’ve seen at other schools? 
  • Harvard doctors are automatically in a place of respect and leadership. Harvard looks for students that can excel with the responsibility given to them. Consider the significant leadership roles you have held prior to applying to medical school. For example, School President, running your own non-profit organization, leading a medical mission trip or running a program for inner city kids.  


Motivation and Insight into Medicine – Harvard Medical School looks to recruit individuals who show a true passion for medicine.  This is reflected not only in your motivation to study medicine but also your genuine interest in the current state of the health system and recent developments in the field.  This may include questions such as:

  • Why medicine?
  • Tell me about some experiences that made you want to practice medicine.
  • Who are your role models in medicine?
  • What makes a good doctor?
  • What is hospital care like from a patient’s perspective?
  • A patient comes in and complains of trouble breathing. You tell the patient that there is a problem with her heart and you would like to admit her to the hospital. Name some characteristics that she, as a patient, would be looking for in you, her doctor.”
  • Do you have any specific field you are interested in?
  • How have your interactions with physicians influenced your view of medicine?
  • How do you want to impact medicine?
  • Describe some of the problems in health care that are most troubling to you.
  • Where is medicine going?
  • How would you reach out to people in poorer communities around the hospitals who aren’t coming to use its services?
  • What do you think of socialized medicine?
  • What direction do you think adolescent medicine is heading in?
  • What is the role of women in medicine and how has it changed?”
  • Should IVF be covered by Medicaid?
  • Why is there so much inequality in health care delivery, even in Boston?
  • Do you think that HIV education in Africa really makes a difference without tackling the underlying cultural difference? Without sustained presence, does a short-term program do any good?
  • How do you think you will have impacted the practice of medicine 20 years from now?
  • What type of patient population do you see yourself involved with in the future? What things are crucial to good health care interactions?
  • What are the pros and cons of the bill in front of Congress that, if passed, will limit residency work hours?
  • What are some pros and cons of medicine?
  • What is going to be the biggest challenge for future physicians?
  • What kinds of problems do you think you will encounter as a physician?
  • From the recent experiences you’ve had shadowing doctors, what problems have you observed in our health care system and what do you think we can do about them?

 
Ethical Scenarios – These may be medical situations or of an everyday or non-medical nature. Ethical-based questions often have no clear right or wrong answer and are designed to examine your ability to make a decision and justify it after considering the multiple viewpoints/issues at play. In order to succeed in these scenarios, ensure that you are aware of the ‘2 Sorts; 2 Sides’ approach to MMI Ethical Scenarios. Questions with an ethical basis may include:

  • Would you tell a terminally ill patient the stark reality of their condition or be optimistic?
  • Would you ever perform euthanasia or an abortion?
  • Do you think that asking people to donate their tissue to a lab is coercive? 
  • Additional MMI Ethical Scenarios with Model Answers can be found in the MMI Question Bank.

Harvard Medicine Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to study Medicine at Harvard Medical School?

I am drawn to Harvard Medical School because of its commitment to preparing students as physician-scientist-humanist-leaders who will transform 21st-century medicine. The MD program offers two curricular tracks, Pathways and Health Sciences & Technology (HST), both fostering active learning, critical thinking, and early clinical experience. The Pathways curriculum, with its emphasis on advanced clinical and basic/population science experiences, aligns with my goal to become a compassionate and skilled physician. Additionally, the opportunity to engage in a scholarly project tailored to my interests is particularly appealing. Harvard’s renowned educational environment, combined with its focus on developing a diverse body of students prepared for lifelong learning and service in medicine, makes it an ideal choice for my medical education.

What do you know about the Medicine course structure at Harvard Medical School?

Harvard Medical School offers a unique and innovative MD curriculum with two tracks: Pathways and Health Sciences & Technology (HST). The Pathways curriculum is designed around active learning and critical thinking, with earlier clinical experiences and advanced science courses. It begins with foundational studies in anatomy, biochemistry, and social/population sciences, followed by the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) phase, a 12-month integrated program of clinical clerkships. The post-PCE phase allows students to engage in advanced courses, clinical electives, and scholarly research. HST, offered jointly with MIT, emphasizes a quantitative understanding of biomedical sciences, targeting students interested in biomedical research. This track also follows a three-phase structure but with a longer preclinical phase, integrating rigorous scientific training with clinical education.

Can you discuss the research opportunities available at Harvard Medical School?

Harvard Medical School provides a rich environment for research, with both the Pathways and HST tracks emphasising scholarly work. In the Pathways track, students engage in individual, faculty-mentored scholarly projects, exploring a wide range of scientific disciplines. This allows students to contribute to medical research and develop a deeper understanding of their chosen field. The HST track, in partnership with MIT, is particularly oriented towards students with a strong interest in biomedical research, offering opportunities to engage in advanced scientific studies and research projects. These opportunities are integral to Harvard’s mission of educating physician-scientists who will lead and innovate in the field of medicine.

How does Harvard Medical School prepare students for diverse medical careers?

Harvard Medical School prepares students for diverse medical careers by offering a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, patient care, and scientific inquiry. The two tracks, Pathways and HST, provide students with different approaches to medical education. Pathways offers a broad education in clinical and population sciences, preparing students for various clinical roles. HST, with its focus on quantitative and molecular sciences, is ideal for those interested in research-intensive careers. Both tracks include clinical experiences and scholarly projects, allowing students to explore and prepare for their specific medical interests. Harvard’s approach to medical education, combining rigorous academic training with practical experience, ensures graduates are well-equipped for various roles in the medical field.

What makes Harvard Medical School unique in its approach to medical education?

Harvard Medical School stands out for its innovative curriculum, which includes the Pathways and HST tracks, offering a customized approach to medical education. The Pathways curriculum integrates core biomedical content with clinical patient care from the onset, while HST, offered jointly with MIT, emphasizes a fundamental approach to modern biology and biotechnology. The school’s three-phase curriculum – preclerkship, Principal Clinical Experience, and post-PCE phases – ensures comprehensive training in medical knowledge, patient care, and critical inquiry. Harvard’s commitment to fostering an environment of humanism, professionalism, and lifelong learning, combined with its unique curriculum structure, prepares students to become leaders in patient care, medical research, and health-care policy, setting standards for medicine globally.

 

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