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Behavioral Interviews

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

In both one-on-one interviews and in MMIs, you are likely to experience a behavioral interview question. These questions derive from business interview settings, and operate on the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior. The questions are designed to force you to provide an example of your behavior, thought process or decision making so that the interviewer can document and evaluate how you reason through a situation. The question or situation will be designed to measure a specific attribute, competency or skillset in you, such as decision making, critical thinking, or conflict resolution.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions include:

  • Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult person. What did you do and how was the situation resolved?

  • Describe a situation when you did not get something that you felt you deserved. What did you do?

  • When have you been in a moment when you had to provide courtesy to someone in a tense moment or conflict?

There are thousands of ways a behavioral interview question can be asked. There is no point in trying to memorize and practice hundreds of answers. There is a basic skill set that can be learned and developed to help you thrive in all behavioral interview situations.

You simply need to practice telling stories. Pick out 5-10 stories, and practice telling them in about 3 minutes. Work out the irrelevant details. At the end of every story, force yourself to say how that situation relates to your future.

First, hear the question and think "What are they trying to measure in me?"

Second, sift through the stories in your mind that you have practiced and select one that demonstrates your competency in that area.

Third, tell the story in 3 minutes or less. Make sure your story is highlighting the competency or attribute being measured.

Fourth, and most important, end your story by tying the answer back to medicine/dentistry. It's not enough to just tell a story. You must tell them why that evidence was relevant.


Describe an effort you undertook to identify your own weakness.

When I worked as a scribe at the Bellevue hospital, I found myself in a very fast-paced, intense environment in the ED. Many nights, I rushed from one patient encounter to another, desperately trying to keep up with the notes and other tasks assigned to me by the doctors and PAs. I recognized after a couple of days on the job that I was not meeting the expectations of my colleagues. I hated that feeling of being inadequate at my job, so I sat down and thought hard about what part of the job was causing me the most problem. Where was my work bottlenecking? I also asked two of my superiors for feedback on my work. This was really helpful because they pointed out a couple of areas of improvement that I had not identified myself. I took the next two days that I had off to focus on learning more of the medical terminology that was most prevalent in that community, and I researched and read on some of the areas that were suggested to me. When I returned to work the next shift, I felt much more empowered with the right knowledge and developed skills. I still had a lot of room to grow, but by self-assessing and asking for feedback, I moved forward so much faster. I know that this might happen a lot in medical school and in my graduate medical education years. I may not be very good at a procedure or weak in a certain area. I never want to jeopardize the safety of my patients due to my own weakness, so I will constantly need to self-assess and ask for feedback and help to ensure that I am more than competent at my job. Working in an ED showed me what inter professional teamwork looks like, and I now feel much more comfortable approaching PAs, nurses and anyone else on the team to ask questions if needed.

Behavioral interview questions are great for interviewees because once you learn the pattern of answering, you can do that over and over. Again, you don't need to memorize hundreds of questions and answers. For practice, select 5 behavioral interview questions, and force yourself to answer each question using the SAME story. This exercise will show you that you can literally tailor most stories to any question. And with an MMI, the stations don't talk to each other, so you can technically use the same story over and over if it's a good one!

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