winterwind_23

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Dec 16, 2013
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Hey fellow SDNers,

As interview season is upon us, I figured we could have a centralized thread to discuss common interview questions. I realized that as I am preparing for interviews, it would be helpful to get some opinions on my answers. Instead of creating a separate thread for each question, it's probably better to just create one thread where we can all discuss our answers to common interview questions. Let me kick of this thread with this question:
  • I see you got a "C" in (an undergraduate course). Why was that course so difficult? Explain.
I got a C in two undergraduate courses. If I was completely honest, I got these C's because I couldn't learn well from the professors' teaching styles. These classes were upper-level chemistry courses, and the professors were used to teaching graduate level courses. They would gloss over the material quickly, and I didn't learn much from lectures. I hadn't learned how to go to office hours for clarification, and I didn't like asking for help at that time in my education. I take full responsibility for my poor performance in these classes and have since learned how to email professors and go to office hours whenever I need help.

Would this be a good explanation?
 

Lannister

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May 21, 2013
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You say you take full responsibility, but then you place at least some of the blame on the professors, basically by saying they were bad teachers. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
 
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winterwind_23

5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2013
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You say you take full responsibility, but then you place at least some of the blame on the professors, basically by saying they were bad teachers. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
Yeah, I think it's coming off the wrong way. I just wasn't used to their teaching style and was afraid to ask for help, so I didn't do well. I've learned to ask for help since. I guess there would be a better way to explain this.
 
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Lannister

7+ Year Member
May 21, 2013
5,419
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Medical Student
These classes were upper-level chemistry courses, and the professors were used to teaching graduate level courses. They would gloss over the material quickly, and I didn't learn much from lectures.
I'd take out these two sentences. Just say something about how you weren't prepared for the fast pace of the course.
 

winterwind_23

5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2013
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Oops, just noticed I put this in the 2015-2016 School Specific forum. Can a mod move this to the Pre-Med Allopathic forum for me? Thanks!
 

winterwind_23

5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2013
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Another interview question that I'm thinking about:
  • Tell me about a time when you failed/what is your greatest failure?
I'm a chemistry major, and I dropped a required chemistry lab because I had no idea how to do the first experiment. The lab was p-chem lab, and the experiment involved building circuits, and I had no experience with electronics whatsoever. This experiment was a two-week lab, and by the second week, I was behind and still didn't understand what I was doing, so I dropped the class. Senior year, I had to retake the class, because it's required, and I was really nervous. So over the summer, I read up on circuits, and even bought a bread board, transistors, and resistors, and taught myself some circuit building. After I completed my first lab, my TA pulled me aside and asked if he could use my lab report as an example for the class, because it was perfectly written. I ended up with an A in that class. Would this be OK to use as a failure, and perhaps even as an answer to a "greatest failure" question?
 

carpediem22

5+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2015
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Another interview question that I'm thinking about:
  • Tell me about a time when you failed/what is your greatest failure?
I'm a chemistry major, and I dropped a required chemistry lab because I had no idea how to do the first experiment. The lab was p-chem lab, and the experiment involved building circuits, and I had no experience with electronics whatsoever. This experiment was a two-week lab, and by the second week, I was behind and still didn't understand what I was doing, so I dropped the class. Senior year, I had to retake the class, because it's required, and I was really nervous. So over the summer, I read up on circuits, and even bought a bread board, transistors, and resistors, and taught myself some circuit building. After I completed my first lab, my TA pulled me aside and asked if he could use my lab report as an example for the class, because it was perfectly written. I ended up with an A in that class. Would this be OK to use as a failure, and perhaps even as an answer to a "greatest failure" question?
Personally I would say that if this is your greatest failure, you may need to fail some more haha. You could use it as an answer to "Tell me about a time that you failed" though. Greatest failure I would probably go with something deeper. I would take out the "because it was perfectly written" bit though, that sounds a bit arrogant/boasty.
 

winterwind_23

5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2013
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Personally I would say that if this is your greatest failure, you may need to fail some more haha. You could use it as an answer to "Tell me about a time that you failed" though. Greatest failure I would probably go with something deeper. I would take out the "because it was perfectly written" bit though, that sounds a bit arrogant/boasty.
Ok, I will try to think of something different for greatest failure! What are some other people thinking about for a greatest failure question? Nothing comes immediately to me, so I'll have to think about this one!
 

carpediem22

5+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2015
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Ok, I will try to think of something different for greatest failure! What are some other people thinking about for a greatest failure question? Nothing comes immediately to me, so I'll have to think about this one!
Well not all secondary "failure" questions necessarily say "greatest failure." For just a general failure, I used an example of being a sports team that never won (literally not one game lol), and what I learned about how to handle failure from that experience and how it will help me as a doctor.

If I was asked in an interview about a greatest failure, I would probably go with something along the lines of not valuing my relationship with my father enough when I was younger, which I consider to be a personal failure born of immaturity. It took my father getting very, very sick for me to realize where my priorities should lie, and how important it is to have a work-life balance.
 

winterwind_23

5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2013
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What happens if an interviewer asks you a very specific question related to your experience, but you can't think of something on the spot? For example:
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve been disappointed in a teammate or fellow group member. What happened? How did you approach the situation?
Let's say for some reason you didn't think about this question, and you honestly could not think of something. Is it OK to say that you can't think of a time when this happened? I'm afraid a question like this could come up where I didn't have a chance to think about it before, and I can't come up with an answer on the spot. What's the best way to handle this type of situation?
 

starlite911

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May 14, 2014
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What happens if an interviewer asks you a very specific question related to your experience, but you can't think of something on the spot? For example:
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve been disappointed in a teammate or fellow group member. What happened? How did you approach the situation?
Let's say for some reason you didn't think about this question, and you honestly could not think of something. Is it OK to say that you can't think of a time when this happened? I'm afraid a question like this could come up where I didn't have a chance to think about it before, and I can't come up with an answer on the spot. What's the best way to handle this type of situation?
I would say, "Wow, that's a great question, may I have a moment to think about it?" or something like that to kill time, and then take no more than 30 seconds to try and think of something.
 
Jun 5, 2015
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I love the idea for this thread. I've been doing some research and found many schools are asking about Obamacare and how to fix the healthcare system. I have been looking into it a lot but was hoping to get some insight into what others believe?
 

wagonwheel23

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Mar 11, 2009
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I would say, "Wow, that's a great question, may I have a moment to think about it?" or something like that to kill time, and then take no more than 30 seconds to try and think of something.
I would actually advise against this strategy. Dead silences in interviews are not good (I speak as someone who has interviewed many candidates for academia and the private sector). It's better to vocalize your thought process. For example, you could say "Oh that's a great question. I've had a number of experiences working in teams/groups, and sometimes things don't go as well as you'd like. [then, very quickly, get to an example]"

Needless to say, don't spew meaningless BS for a long time. However, I strongly recommend avoiding deliberate silences.
 

starlite911

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May 14, 2014
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I would actually advise against this strategy. Dead silences in interviews are not good (I speak as someone who has interviewed many candidates for academia and the private sector). It's better to vocalize your thought process. For example, you could say "Oh that's a great question. I've had a number of experiences working in teams/groups, and sometimes things don't go as well as you'd like. [then, very quickly, get to an example]"

Needless to say, don't spew meaningless BS for a long time. However, I strongly recommend avoiding deliberate silences.
Learn something new every day!
 
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Nov 13, 2014
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I would say, "Wow, that's a great question, may I have a moment to think about it?" or something like that to kill time, and then take no more than 30 seconds to try and think of something.
Maybe super competitive schools would judge you for this, but I think overall this is totally fine to do. I know if I just started talking as to avoid silence, it would be rambly and not put together. At an interview last year, the interviewer actually asked if I wanted to think about it first. That all being said, don't sit there for 8 minutes staring at them. You should be able to think fast ish
 
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