Admissions Interview

Interview structure

If you have been invited to interview, congratulations! The faculty, students and staff of the University of Washington School of Medicine look forward to welcoming you to the School and introducing you to its programs.​

You will meet with three interviewers simultaneously and the interview will last approximately 30 minutes. One of the interviewers is a member of the Executive Committee on Admissions (EXCOM) and will represent you during the decision-making process. The Executive Committee member has access to your entire file, including previous applications. The other members of the interview panel may be faculty members from throughout the WWAMI region, medical students, or representatives from the lay community. These interviewers see only your current application - without your grades and MCAT scores. You will learn the names of the committee members you will be meeting on the day of your interview.

Interview panels for candidates from Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho include two committee members from their states and one committee member from another site. This format occasionally varies depending on availability of interviewers and re-applications (Re-applicants are screened and interviewed by committee members who have not seen the applicant’s earlier application(s)).

The interview is not rigidly structured, and questions are based on interviewer preference and specifics from your written application. A unifying factor of every interview will be a role play scenario, in which the interviewers pretend to be patients/colleagues/physicians, and you are asked to join in and work towards a solution/agreement. You are not expected to have or use specific medical knowledge; the goal is to see how you talk to someone who is anxious, distressed or needs help.

Members of the Admissions Committee know how much rests on this meeting, and many of them have gone through this process before you. They are not "out to get you," but want more in-depth information about who you are and how much you know about life as a physician. Specifically, the interviewers will try to determine:

  • What has motivated you to pursue a career in medicine?
  • How well do you communicate with others? This includes listening skills, body language, eye contact, as well as skills in transmitting information to others and communicating across differences.
  • Can you put yourself in the place of a patient; are you empathetic?
  • What do you know about the practice​ of medicine and issues in delivery of healthcare including social determinants of health?
  • How well do you think “on your feet” to analyze problems and present alternative solutions?

After your interview, each interviewer rates your interview independently and submits their evaluation. The three interviewers then discuss their opinions and the EXCOM member submits an overall evaluation. If one interviewer has a significantly different impression from the others, you MAY be invited for a second interview with a different group of interviewers. All of these evaluations are subsequently available to the Executive Committee during the meetings at which decisions are made. To learn more about what happens after your interview, please visit our Decision page.

All correspondence should go through our office (i.e. do not contact your interviewers directly). Updates and letters of intent are not accepted. Thank you cards are not necessary.

Interview process


The Admissions Committee is comprised of more than 200 faculty, students and community physicians. Currently, 21 committee members serve on the Executive Committee (EXCOM). Each non-Washington WAMI state (Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) has at least one representative on the Executive Committee.


All completed applications undergo an assessment by two to three Executive Committee members to determine if the applicant should be invited to interview. Two assigned reviewers make independent determinations concerning the merits of an application. If there is disagreement between the first two reviewers, the application goes to a third who breaks the tie. Applicants with two positive responses will be invited to interview. Those who receive negative responses will not be considered any further for admission. Selected applicants will receive an invitation to interview between October and March.


Washington residents may interview in Seattle or Spokane, depending on their preferred site for the Foundations Phase. Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho residents interview in their home states. Applicants from outside WWAMI interview in Seattle.

TRUST Interviews:

  • Applicants for Washington TRUST interview in Spokane.
  • Applicants for Wyoming TRUST interview in Laramie.
  • Applicants for Alaska TRUST interview in Anchorage.
  • Applicants for Montana TRUST interview in Bozeman.
  • Applicants for Idaho TRUST interview in Moscow.

All applicants, no matter where they interview, are invited to visit the University of Washington’s Seattle campus on one of the Seattle interview days, join the UW Campus tour and meet students and faculty.

Please note: all regional applicants are considered as a cohort, which means they are compared to other applicants from that particular pool (Montana applicants are compared to other Montana applicants, for example). Washington applicants who prefer to spend their Foundations Phase in Spokane will also be considered as a cohort. These applicants will interview in Spokane, and will be compared to other Spokane interviewees rather than to the entire Washington applicant pool. Interview assignments will be made based on the applicant's preference in the secondary application. Please direct questions to the Office of Admissions: (206) 543-7212.


Interview invitations will be sent to selected applicants between October and February. All sites will use the same basic interview format, but there will be some differences in the schedule of activities at each location. If you will not be interviewing in Seattle, please visit your state’s WWAMI website for more information.

Washington

Spokane
All Washington TRUST interviews are held in Spokane: January 6 and 7, 2020.

Non-TRUST Washington interviews are held in Spokane 2 separate weeks: November 18 - 21, 2019 and February 3 - 6, 2020.

Seattle
Interviews are held in Seattle October, 2019 through the last week in January, 2020.

CUSP interviews are held in Seattle, January 13 and 14, 2020.

Wyoming

Wyoming resident interviews are held in Laramie (TRUST and non-TRUST): January 27 - 30, 2020.

Alaska

Alaska resident interviews are held in Anchorage (TRUST and non-TRUST): February 10 - 13, 2020.

Montana

Montana resident interviews are held in Bozeman (TRUST and non-TRUST): January 13 - 16, 2020.

Idaho

Idaho resident interviews are held in Moscow (TRUST and non-TRUST): February 3 - 7, 2020.


The interviewers are looking for your approach to solving problems. They want to know how you “think on your feet” and are as interested in your process as they are in your answer.

  • Define the problem: If you have been asked a question or been given a patient scenario, rephrase the question or situation to make sure you understood it correctly. If not, ask for clarification.
  • Tell the interviewers what you know about the problem.
  • Tell the interviewers what you need to know about the problem before you can provide a reasonable answer. Include any information you feel you are you missing.
  • You will have an opportunity to gather missing information during a brief interview. If the problem is within a doctor-patient role play, you can gather information from all those participating in the role play, the patient, the family, friends, etc.

Provide your answers or alternative solutions based on your understanding of the problem and the information you have gathered and show how these have influenced your decisions.


Interviewing for Health Professions Schools - a general resource from the National Association of Advisors for Health Professions

Visit our resources page.

Mock interviews with the Alliance for Equal Representation in Medicine (AFERM), a student group at UWSOM

Interview questions

The following are questions for you to think about while preparing for the interview. They are also designed to reinforce or make you question your decision to pursue a career as an M.D.

Motivation and exploration
  • What excites you about a career in medicine?
  • What concerns you about a career in medicine and how do you get past your concerns?
  • How did you decide that being a doctor was the right career for you?
  • How have your experiences prepared you for a career in medicine?
  • What personality characteristics do you have that will make you a good doctor?
Communication skills
  • Can you express an idea or thought concisely? (in less than 1-2 minutes)
  • Do you rephrase what someone has just told you to make sure you understood it correctly?
  • Do you look for body language signifying emotional reaction such as agreement, disagreement, annoyance, happiness, fear, anger, excitement, disappointment or despondency?
  • Do you interrupt someone when they are speaking to you?
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers or teammates.
  • What do you do if you disagree with a co-worker?
  • What are important components of a productive conversation between people who disagree?
  • Describe a time that you had to explain to someone your view when they did not agree with you. What went well and why and what could be improved?
  • Tell me about a time when you later realized you had treated someone differently because of an unconscious bias. What did you learn from this situation?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor? How?
Empathy
  • Can you imagine yourself in someone else’s position?
  • Do you consider how someone else might feel about a situation given their experience, culture and/or social context?
  • Can you replace your hopes and plans for someone with their own hopes and plans?
  • Can you understand, accept and value someone else’s opinion when it is different from yours
  • Tell us about a time when you have advocated for someone else/another group.
Knowledge of the field of medicine
  • What personal attributes do you consider most important for success in research?
  • What do you consider markers of success for a physician?
  • What personal attributes do you consider most important for success as a physician?
  • What attributes do you feel are necessary to elicit hope and trust in patients?
  • What medical error(s) have you seen and what did you learn?
  • Why do you think community service is a category on the AMCAS application?
  • If you were putting together a healthcare team, who would be on it?
  • How is the role of the physician changing?
  • What does it mean to be a professional?
  • Choose one of the issues facing healthcare today and describe how you might go about addressing it.
  • What do you think people in the U.S. are most concerned about? How might this affect their health (or not)?
  • Are you familiar with the term “health inequity”? How would you define it and what are some of the factors contributing to it?
  • What is the most important healthcare issue confronting disadvantaged communities and what would be your first steps to address this issue?
Analytical thinking/problem solving
  • If you had all the money in the world and could snap your fingers, what problem would you solve? How?
  • You are on a committee to solve a particular issue. You disagree with the direction being set by the chair of that committee, and strongly feel that it is incorrect. What would you do?
  • How do you resolve conflict at work, home, in the classroom?
  • A patient brings you a very expensive gift. What would you do?
  • A patient writes you a love letter. How do you handle this situation?
  • You are called to the ER to see a patient that has a problem supposedly in your area of expertise. When you arrive it becomes obvious that this patient has a completely different type of problem. What do you do?
  • You catch a fellow student cheating on an exam. What do you do?
  • Describe a moral or ethical dilemma that arose out of an interpersonal relationship. How did you handle it?
  • There is a new drug to cure a certain type of cancer, but it is extremely expensive. How do you decide who should get the drug?

What else can you do on your interview day?

Attend a class

Depending on where you interview and what day you visit, you may be able to attend a class. On some days classes may not be available because students are taking a test, practicing in the anatomy lab, or are learning at the bedside. You will be informed on the day of your visit whether you will be able to attend.

Meet students

Current students will meet you for lunch and will be happy to answer questions. You will also receive contact information for current students. If you are traveling to Seattle and are interested in staying with a student host, see student host program.

Tour the campus