Most common medical school interview questions

Acing the Medical School Interview (Questions & Answers)

So you have applied to medical school, visited the universities for their open days and now you are anxiously waiting for your invitation to your interview. Some of you may have already been invited for the interview in which case, congratulations! You have now reached the next step on your path as an aspiring doctor.

This may be the first experience you have had with an actual interview. So, I’m sure you’ve been wondering how to tackle it. Preparation is essential to increase your chances of acceptance. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked medical school interview questions so you don’t go in without a clue!

Types of interviews

  • Panel interviews
  • MMI (multiple mini interviews)

medical-school-interview-questions

Types of questions to expect during your panel style interview and mmi interviews:

  • Background and motivation for working in medicine
  • Knowledge about the medical school
  • Depth and breadth of interest
  • Medical ethics
  • NHS hot topics
  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • Work Experience
  • Creativity and imagination

Things to consider when answering 

Before we start jumping into our question bank, there are a few things to consider when preparing for your interviews:

  • Consider the question and its keywords before jumping in
  • Structure your answer
  • Follow the  STAR technique  
  • Don’t forget an introduction and a conclusion
  • Support each answer by using examples based on your personal experiences
  • Reflect on your own experience and link it to medicine
  • Use common sense
  • There is no right or wrong answers
  • Every answer is an opportunity for you to stand out

1. Why do you want to become a doctor?

This is one, I’m sure you’ve thought of. The problem is a lot of candidates come into the interview knowing the question but not having developed a strong answer to it.

How to answer this question

  • Think of an example or experience that initially sparked your interest in a career in medicine before following it up with another example or experience you pursued to further develop this interest.
    • Example: Mention how much you enjoyed researching the human anatomy part of your biology A-level and then shadowing a doctor at a hospital to learn more about this.
  • Base your answer on personal stories as long as it is true and relevant in the context of the question.
    • Example: Witnessing your grandmother being diagnosed with dementia could have well made you realise how much doctors support family and carers and made you want to pursue this career.
  • Make sure your answers are not too generic
  • Don’t be overly descriptive with your experiences
  • Indicate why this makes you want to study medicine

why-do-you-want-to-become-a-doctor-interview-questions

2. Why do you want to come to this medical school?

This question is another that candidates have contemplated but fail to really nail in their interviews. Common mistakes candidates make is just reciting everything they’ve found on the university website. The interviewer already knows all of this. It’s important to link these reasons back to yourself and show the examiner why these aspects are suited to you. Another common mistake is making your answer extremely generic. If your answer can be applied to every university, it’s not a good answer!

How to answer this question

To tackle this question, I always use this structure: course, extra-curricular and city.

  • Talk about the course.
    • What do you know about it?
    • Is it lecture based or PBL (problem-based learning) based?
    • Why is this suited to you?
    • Do you have any experience with this learning style?
  • Talk about the extra-curricular activities the university has to offer.
    • Is there a particular society that you’ve heard about that you’re keen to join?
    • Are you passionate about a sport and want to bring this interest to the university team? Show the interviewer what you can bring to the university.
  • Talk about the city and why you want to go there.
    • Talk about diversity, local attractions, etc.
    • Remember medical school lasts 4 to 6 years and you’re going to live there for a while. But don’t spend too long on this point.

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3. What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good doctor?

Although this question may seem simple and you could list a number of qualities, this is your opportunity to impress the examiner.

How to structure your answer

Avoid listing of a bunch of qualities. It’s important that you demonstrate you’ve read the General Medical Council’s duties of a doctor. It outlines and provides the standards it expects doctors to maintain. A good candidate will select 3 to 4 qualities and explain why. Use the following structure to help you answer:

  • State a quality
    • Mention why it is important for doctors to show this by relating it to something you've seen during working experience or volunteering.
  • Compliment your answer
    • Give an example of when you have demonstrated these skills at school, work or at home.

 

4. How do you deal with stress?

To really do well here, it’s important to reflect on the words of the question. You need to define the different types of stress and structure your answer around it.

How to answer this question

  • Discuss role plays in medicine (ethical issues, many doctors leave the profession due to stress, medics have high suicide rates, etc.)
  • Discuss acute and long-term stress before describing your techniques to manage them
  • Use personal examples to back up your answer
  • Link how you handle stress back to medicine
  • Remember to acknowledge that stress plays a huge role in the life of doctors

how-do-you-deal-with-stress-medical-school-interview

5. Tell me about a time you made a mistake?

Everyone makes mistakes and it’s inevitable that as a doctor and as medical students you will too.

How to answer this question

  • Describe a mistake that had a real impact
  • Talk about the negative impact this mistake had and how to avoid it in the future
  • Reflect and show you have learned from this mistake
  • Don’t spend too much time describing when you made a mistake

Final tips to help you ace your medicine interview

So there we have it! The top 5 most commonly asked questions and tips to excel in them. Remember that it’s important to backup your answers with personal examples as this is what really makes your answer memorable and stand out to interviewers. If you already knew all of this, well done you be-lung in med school!

If you are looking for more information on how to excel in your interview email us to speak with an admissions expert today! We can help prepare you for every type of interview.

Dr. Dibah Jiva shares her advice to help you remain calm when preparing for your medical school interview 


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