inky

2+ Year Member
Jun 17, 2015
156
140
Status
MD/PhD Student
So we are all aware that this will be a key question during pretty much every interview, and I want to be able to provide an answer that is true to me and not entirely cliched. This is not something that is easy by any means, especially since I am one of those annoying people who has "always wanted to be a doctor". What this has resulted in is a lot of self-examination and exploration into similar professions (therapist, social worker, nurse, etc, you know the types of jobs I am talking about) to ensure I am motivated towards medicine for the "right" reasons.

I have an answer to this question that I am comfortable with, but it is long. I don't think it's particularly rambly but it is certainly multiple minutes and could be far longer. I am working to cut it down without removing the meaningful elements.

The question I have is: what is a reasonable length of time for this answer? Is 5 minutes too long? What about 2?

I don't want to be one of those interviewees who just keeps talking when the interviewer is bored, but I also want to be able to show that I have thought long and hard about the question and that I have a sincere, heartfelt answer.

What do you guys think?
 

Samir Desai

Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 9, 2000
169
49
Houston, TX
www.TheSuccessfulMatch.com
Status
Attending Physician
I would say that 5 minutes is definitely too long. That's based on my own opinion as an admissions committee member as well as conversations I've had with my colleagues in the admissions world at different schools. Some schools give interviewers 30 minutes with an applicant. So if you're taking 5 minutes to answer this question, you've taken up a big chunk of that interviewer's time with you. This may prevent the interviewer from asking everything he or she wanted to based on review of your application.

You will also diminish the impact of your message the longer you go.

In addition, you'll find that many interviewers will interrupt you if you go too long, and that will leave you feeling very unsatisfied. I would keep it to about 2-2.5 minutes for this question or other important questions.

Good luck with your interview preparation!

Samir Desai, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
 

getdown

7+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2010
1,570
2,713
Status
Attending Physician
Being able to convey your ideas clearly and succinctly is an art and a very useful skill to have in medicine. It shows you're focused and know what you're talking about. Someone who's rambling just seems confused and unprepared. Overall I agree with Dr. Desai's post above.
 

mrspecialist

2+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2015
231
161
Status
Pre-Medical
Great answer, sure you have an interesting, long story why you want to do medicine, but so do all the applicants who reach the interview stage :D
 

futuremdforme

5+ Year Member
May 12, 2013
883
674
Status
Non-Student
Ask someone you know how they chose their career, and see how long you can pay attention for!
 

NickNaylor

Thank You for Smoking
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
May 22, 2008
16,939
7,871
Deep in the heart of Texas
Status
Attending Physician
Keep in mind that in most interviews, you'll have 20-25 minutes to answer questions with the interviewer. There are many things that the interviewer might want to ask you, so spending five minutes on an answer is a pretty big amount of time. When I prepared for interviews, I usually had 5 questions prepared for a 30-minute interview and even then I usually didn't have the ability to get all 5 questions asked. I agree with the above with respect to trying to be brief. Ideally you've answered the "why medicine?" question in your personal statement. Thus, simply restating what's in there is a bit of a waste of time since they can get that information from your application and will prevent them from asking about things that can't be gleamed elsewhere.

Try and keep it short, even for an "important" question like this.
 

Yojimbo_OGT

2+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2015
108
78
Status
Pre-Medical
Also, for questions like "why medicine" that everyone practices, is it an issue if I come across as though I'm going over a checklist of points? Not like being super scripted or having a flat affect, just linear and it's clear that I have points organized in my head, and prepared to answer this question.
Perfectly fine and common on both counts, Cat. I myself do the second. "Let's see, there's A, then B, then C..."
Check out "Goro's guide to interviews"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro
OP
I

inky

2+ Year Member
Jun 17, 2015
156
140
Status
MD/PhD Student
Check out "Goro's guide to interviews"
Thank you everyone for your input. I have read Goro's guide to interviews (and many other very useful guides by Goro!) and I am aware of the length thoughts for most other questions. I just was not sure whether certain very important questions like "Why medicine" and "why X school" had slightly more leeway.

Ask someone you know how they chose their career, and see how long you can pay attention for!
I can see why that's a good metric but I tend to enjoy learning about people's lives and have been in a situation where I listened to the answer to this question from a friend and it was almost 30 minutes long and I didn't realize!
I do understand your point though. Especially as these interviewers are likely going to have to hear multiple students say almost the exact same things, there is no reason to bore them even more.

Thanks for all your input.