20 Harvard Medical School Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at Harvard Medical School.

Harvard Medical School is one of the most prestigious medical schools in the world. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School is affiliated with several hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The interview process for Harvard Medical School is very competitive. If you’re lucky enough to score an interview, you can expect to be asked a range of questions about your experience, qualifications, and motivation for pursuing a career in medicine.

In this guide, we’ve provided a list of sample Harvard Medical School interview questions and answers to help you prepare for your interview.

Harvard Medical School Interview Process

The interview process at Harvard Medical School is very standard. It starts with a job talk, followed by one-on-one interviews with lab members and neighboring professors. Overall, it is a very positive experience.

The Interactive Developer interview process starts with an initial phone screen, followed by a thirty minute interview with the hiring manager, and two take home tests. The expectations around these tests are pretty unclear, but candidates are expected to put in a good amount of effort.

The Research Specialist interview starts with a screener set up with a senior HR member. This is followed by an initial first round interview with the direct supervisor.

The Data Analyst interview process is very simple. After filling out the necessary forms and information to the recruiter, the candidate will have a quick phone call asking about technical skills pertaining to their research. The conversation will then move on to future plans and how many hours the candidate can commit.

The Research Assistant interview process starts with a short phone interview with the lab manager before the formal interview. During the formal interview, the candidate will talk with several postdocs about their projects and why they are interested in the research being conducted.

The Public Services Librarian interview starts with an invitation to interview for a newly

1. What is your experience working in a research lab?

This question can help the interviewer get a better sense of your experience and skills in a research setting. You may have worked in a lab as part of an internship or volunteer opportunity, so you can share what you learned from that experience. If you haven’t had any direct experience working in a lab, you can talk about how you would approach this type of work if you were accepted into Harvard Medical School.

Example: “I’ve always been interested in science, but I didn’t know there was a career path for it until my senior year of high school when I took AP biology. My teacher inspired me to pursue medicine because she talked about her experiences working in a hospital. I started volunteering at a local hospital during my freshman year of college, where I got to shadow doctors and nurses while also helping out in the research lab.”

2. How would you describe yourself as a researcher?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer your research skills and how you can apply them in a medical setting. Describe your process for conducting research, including any methods or techniques that have helped you find information more quickly or efficiently.

Example: “I am passionate about finding new ways to solve problems and improve patient care. I enjoy researching topics that are relevant to my field of study and using what I learn to develop solutions. In my last role as a researcher, I was tasked with developing a solution to help patients who were experiencing pain after surgery. After reviewing several studies on post-surgery pain management, I developed a plan to implement music therapy into the hospital’s recovery room.”

3. Why do you want to work at Harvard Medical School?

This question is an opportunity to show your passion for the medical field and why you want to work at Harvard. You can talk about what drew you to medicine, how you became interested in working at a school like Harvard or what makes this institution special.

Example: “I have always been passionate about helping others, so I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. When I was looking into schools, I saw that Harvard Medical School had some of the best research facilities and doctors in the country. I would love to be part of such a prestigious program where I could learn from the best minds in the industry.”

4. Tell us about a time where you had to be creative in the workplace, how did it go?

Harvard Medical School is looking for students who can think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. This question helps them determine how you approach challenges in your field of study. When answering this question, it can be helpful to provide an example that shows your creativity while also highlighting other skills like communication or leadership.

Example: “When I was working as a nurse at a local hospital, we had a patient who came in with a rare condition that made it difficult for him to communicate. He could only speak in grunts and gestures, so my team and I worked together to find ways he could tell us what he needed. We found that if we brought in some toys, he would use sign language to show us what he wanted. It took some creative problem-solving, but we were able to figure out a way to help him.”

5. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is a common one in interviews, and it’s important to answer honestly. Interviewers ask this question because they want to know what your strengths are so that they can help you improve on any weaknesses. When answering this question, be sure to focus more on your strengths than your weaknesses.

Example: “I think my biggest strength is my ability to work well with others. I am always willing to collaborate with others and share ideas. My weakness would probably be my lack of experience working in the hospital setting. While I have shadowed many doctors throughout my college career, I don’t have much real-world experience. However, I plan to gain as much experience as possible during my medical internship.”

6. What kind of results have you delivered in previous jobs?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your professional experience. It’s important to highlight how you’ve helped improve processes or outcomes in previous roles.

Example: “In my last role as a nurse, I noticed that many patients were having trouble understanding their medication instructions. This was causing them to miss doses and not take care of themselves properly. So, I developed an online system where patients could access their information 24/7. They could also ask questions if they needed help with anything. The result was a significant decrease in patient hospitalizations.”

7. Do you think that there should be more funding for medical research?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your passion for medicine and how you feel about current issues in healthcare. Your answer should show that you are passionate about medical research, but also that you understand the challenges of funding it.

Example: “I think there should be more funding for medical research because I believe that we can make huge strides in treating diseases if we have the resources to do so. However, I also know that this is a difficult task due to the high costs involved with conducting research. In my opinion, the best way to fund medical research would be through private donations from individuals who want to see advancements made.”

8. We need someone who can work well with others and independently, which one do you prefer?

This question is designed to test your ability to work in a team and independently. It also helps the interviewer determine if you have any preferences between working alone or with others. Your answer should show that you are comfortable working both independently and as part of a team.

Example: “I prefer working on my own because I find it more productive for me. However, I understand that sometimes teamwork is necessary. In those cases, I am always willing to help out my colleagues. I think it’s important to be able to work well with others so we can all get our jobs done.”

9. Describe your experience with handling data.

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your analytical skills. They want to know how you use data to make decisions and solve problems. Use examples from your experience to show that you can analyze information, interpret results and apply the findings to real-world situations.

Example: “In my current role as a pediatrician, I regularly collect patient data to monitor their progress. For example, I have patients who are on medication for ADHD. I track their behavior before they start taking the medication and then after they’ve been taking it for several weeks. This allows me to see if there’s an improvement in their symptoms. If there is no change or if there’s a negative change, I adjust their treatment plan accordingly.”

10. Have you ever worked on a team project before?

Harvard Medical School is a highly collaborative environment, so it’s important that you have experience working with others. Your answer should include an example of how you worked on a team project and what your role was in the process.

Example: “In my senior year of college, I had to complete a group project for my biology class. My partner and I were assigned to research the effects of caffeine on the human body. We both researched different aspects of the topic and then presented our findings to the class. It was a great learning experience because I got to work with someone else and learn from their perspective.”

11. What is your favorite scientific discovery and why?

This question is an opportunity to show your passion for science and medicine. It also allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of scientific discoveries, which can be a valuable skill in medical school. When answering this question, it can be helpful to choose a discovery that relates to the field of medicine or one that has had a significant impact on your life.

Example: “My favorite scientific discovery is the human genome project. I find it fascinating how scientists were able to map out all of our DNA and understand what makes us unique as individuals. This research has led to many breakthroughs in the treatment of genetic diseases and disorders. As someone who wants to become a pediatrician, I think this discovery will help me care for children with rare conditions.”

12. What is something that you found interesting recently in biomedical literature?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your passion for medicine and how you stay up-to-date on current research. It also shows that you are willing to learn from others, which is an important skill in medical school. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention something that relates to the field of medicine or healthcare.

Example: “I recently read about a new treatment method for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that by using stem cells, they were able to regenerate brain tissue and improve cognitive function in mice. I think this could be a promising treatment option for humans in the future.”

13. Can you tell me about a time when you were faced with an ethical dilemma?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your decision-making process and how you resolve conflicts. When answering, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation and the steps you took to make an ethical choice.

Example: “When I was working as a nurse practitioner in a small town, I had a patient who came into my office with concerns about her child’s development. She told me that she had been giving her child supplements for several months but hadn’t seen any improvement. After examining the child, I determined that the supplements were not helping the child’s development and could even be harmful. I explained this to the mother and recommended that she stop using the supplements. She became upset and insisted that the supplements were helping her child. I referred her to another physician so that she could get a second opinion.”

14. What is your approach to troubleshooting problems in the lab?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have a methodical approach to problem-solving. You can answer this question by describing your process for identifying and solving problems in the lab.

Example: “When I first started working as a research assistant, my mentor taught me how to troubleshoot problems in the lab. He explained that there are three main steps to troubleshooting any issue. First, I need to identify what the problem is. Second, I need to determine if it’s something I can fix or if I need help from someone else. Finally, I need to find a solution to the problem.”

15. What type of research are you most interested in?

This question helps the interviewer determine your passion for medicine and how you can contribute to the medical school. Your answer should include a specific type of research, why it interests you and what skills or experiences you have that make you qualified for this type of work.

Example: “I am most interested in researching new ways to treat cancer. I’ve always been passionate about helping others, so when I was an undergraduate student, I volunteered at a local hospital where I learned more about different types of cancer and the treatments available. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, and I would love to use my knowledge and skills to help develop new methods of treatment.”

16. Are you comfortable working in a fast-paced environment?

The interviewer may ask this question to gauge your ability to work in a high-pressure environment. Medical school is often challenging, and you may need to learn how to manage stress effectively. In your answer, try to explain that you are able to handle pressure well and can adapt to new situations quickly.

Example: “I am comfortable working in a fast-paced environment because I have experience with it already. During my undergraduate studies, I had several classes where we were expected to complete assignments within a short period of time. This prepared me for the rigors of medical school, so I know I can handle the challenges ahead.”

17. Give an example of a time when you made a mistake, what happened?

This question is a great way to learn more about how you respond to challenges. Interviewers want to see that you can take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them.

Example: “When I was in medical school, I had an emergency call during my shift at the hospital. I rushed to get there as fast as possible but didn’t have time to change into scrubs before seeing the patient. The attending physician saw me in street clothes and asked why I wasn’t ready for the patient yet. I explained that I had been called away from my shift early and apologized for not being prepared. He told me it was okay and that he understood the situation. However, he also said that if it happened again, I would be written up.”

18. People often say that researchers are detail oriented, do you agree?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you understand what it means to be detail oriented and how this quality can benefit your work as a researcher. Detail orientation is important for researchers because they need to ensure their experiments are conducted correctly, which helps them gather accurate data. When answering this question, consider describing a time when you were detail oriented in your previous job or academic experience.

Example: “I definitely agree with people who say researchers are detail oriented. I think being detail oriented is essential for any researcher because it allows us to make sure our experiments are performed accurately. In my last position, I was working on a project where we needed to test different types of medications on mice. To do this, I had to follow specific procedures to ensure the experiment was done properly. This attention to detail helped me complete the project successfully.”

19. What is your availability?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your availability and commitment. They want to know if you have any other obligations that would prevent you from attending class, working in the hospital or completing clinical rotations. Your answer should include information about when you are available and how often you can travel.

Example: “I am available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I also have the flexibility to work weekends and holidays as needed. My only conflict will be my daughter’s soccer games on Saturday mornings. However, I can make arrangements with my partner to attend those events.”

20. What is your biggest weakness?

This question is a common one in interviews, and it’s likely that you’ll be asked about your weaknesses during the application process. Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your self-awareness and honesty. When answering this question, try to choose a weakness that isn’t too important or relevant to your medical career.

Example: “My biggest weakness is my perfectionism. I strive for excellence in everything I do, which can sometimes lead me to working longer hours than necessary. In medical school, I learned how to balance my work with time spent relaxing and enjoying life.”


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