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You've submitted your personal statement, aced the UCAT or BMAT and now it's time for the all-important med school interview. This can be a daunting prospect but the key to success as always is practice, in order to ensure that you can be as prepared and calm as possible on the day of your medicine interview.
In this blog post we have listed some commonly asked medical school interview questions, as well as some tips to help you prepare and some frequently asked questions about interview prep.
A few key tips to help with your medical school interview
- Make sure you have checked whether your interview will be a panel, a multiple mini interview (MMI) or an asynchronous interview:
MMI - this is a structured and timed circuit of several stations, which is a format that is starting to become increasingly popular with many schools of medicine. Students typically spend a few minutes at each MMI station before rotating to the next (the exact length of each station depends on the medical school), and each station has a different focus. MMI scenarios and stations often focus on softer qualities such as communication skills, which can be assessed in a more dynamic setting, such as role playing scenarios.
Panel interview - this is the more traditional structure, in which students should expect a number of interviewers (some of whom may be students or members of the general public) who will ask direct questions. A panel interview usually lasts between 20-60 minutes, though again this depends on the medical school. Your answers may be scored separately by each interviewer present in the panel and then added together to form a total or an average score.
Asynchronous interview - this is a new interview format that has been adopted by several schools during the 2020/21 application cycle. In the asynchronous interview, you will be given the list of questions that you will be required to answer, which you have to answer in a video recording that you then upload for the interviewers to review at a later stage.
- Think about what the medical school interviewers want to know and therefore what questions you can expect to be asked.
- Make sure your answers are structured by incorporating example- and opinion-based structure techniques (both explained in our online interview course).
- Make your answers unique by incorporating your personal experiences.
- Ensure you have thoroughly reflected on your experiences and can relate your examples to a career in medicine.
- Practice as much as possible with friends, family and teachers, and make sure to ask for their feedback after each session, which you can implement to improve your performance.
- First impressions count! Think about what your outfit says about you as a potential medical student and doctor and be mindful that your body language is open and friendly on the day.
- Make sure you have double-checked that your electronic devices used during your interview are functional and charged and that all software required for your interview has been tested prior to the date of the interview to eliminate any errors on the day.
- In present times, as you will be likely taking the interview from home, consider your surroundings, lighting, room setup and background and ensure you will not be disturbed during the course of your interview in order to maintain professionalism throughout.
- Try to stay calm during the interview - remember to take some deep breaths and don't be afraid to take a few seconds to think and formulate your answer.
Medical school interview questions (by category)
Motivation and a realistic approach to medicine as a career
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- What does being a doctor mean to you?
- What do you think are the most difficult challenges of being a doctor?
- Why not a nurse/dietician/another healthcare professional?
- What is your motivation to study medicine?
- Why do you think you will be a good doctor?
- Has anyone tried to put you off medicine?
- In your opinion what are the most important qualities of a doctor?
- How will you cope with the busy workload and out of hours work as a doctor?
- What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing medical school or learning how to be a doctor?
- What work experience/volunteering work have you done?
- What have your experiences taught you about a career in medicine?
- What did you learn about yourself by volunteering?
- How were you affected by this experience?
- How did you arrange this work experience?
- Were there any parts of your medical work experience that you didn't enjoy?
- What have you gained from your work experience/hobbies/community work?
Ability to deal with stressful situations and multitask
- How do you deal with stressful situations?
- Tell me about a time when you were under pressure/had multiple deadlines?
- How do you prioritise when you have a lot going on?
Communication skills and teamwork
Much of your communication skills are based on your answers to other questions, however, you should also consider the following questions:
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated teamwork.
- Tell me about a time that you demonstrated leadership.
- What makes you a good team member/leader?
- In your opinion what makes a good leader?
- Have you ever disagreed with another student/teacher?
- And if so how did you deal with the situation?
- Why is teamwork important in medicine?
- Can you tell me about a medically related book or article that you have read recently? (this often leads to further questions about the topic)
- What is your opinion on abortions?
- What current medical ethical issues have you come across recently?
- Should cannabis be legalised?
- Were the junior doctors right to strike?
- What is your opinion on the recent Charlie Gard case?
- What has been the most important development in the healthcare system recently?
- Should the NHS be privatised?
- What do you consider are the two biggest problems the NHS will face in the next 20 years?
Empathy and insight
- What does empathy mean to you?
- What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?
- How would you deal with an angry patient or relative?
- What would you do if you'd realised you'd made a mistake?
- Can you tell me about a time when you've had to support a family member or a friend?
- Tell me about a time that you failed.
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Likely contribution to university life
- What extracurricular activities do you take part in?
- And how do these help you to be a better doctor?
- How will you contribute to life at this university?
- What are your hobbies and interests outside of school?
General university questions
- What is your impression of this university from our open days?
- Why do you feel you would fit in well at this university?
- Why did you choose this university?
- Tell me about a significant achievement in your life
- Can you give me an example of a time when you took on extra responsibility?
- What motivates and drives you?
- How will you cope with the heavy workload at medical school?
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
We appreciate this may be a lot of information for many of you that might have left you overwhelmed, so below we have compiled some frequent MMI questions and answers that might help clarify any uncertainties you still have.
What should my answers to medical school interview questions contain?
The answers you provide will have to closely follow the question you’re being asked, but there are always certain topics you should aim to include in your answers. Whether your interviewer has asked you to provide an example of a time you showed teamwork or a time you witnessed empathy, always remember what the main point of that interview is - to ensure that you are a good fit for a medical career. As such, every answer needs to relate back to medicine. Of course you should answer the question asked of you and provide an example of a time you showed teamwork or an example of a time you witnessed empathy, but you should ask yourself - “What does this have to do with medicine?” and realise that these are important qualities medical schools like to see in their students that are considered crucial for a successful career. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure you link your answers back to medicine and explain why you think these qualities are important for a good doctor or why you feel these experiences would make you a good fit for medicine.
How do I structure my medical school interview answers?
We have already established that in order to ensure the best delivery during your interview and consequently the best chance of success, your answers will need to be well structured and easy to follow. The structure you will need to use during your interview will largely depend on the type of question you will be asked. They fall in several broad categories and each requires a different structure that better tackles the information you will be delivering. We cover the topic of how to structure your medical school interview answers on our YouTube channel and in our Online Interview Resource, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the frameworks suggested and learn to implement them in your answers.
What are the implications on medical school interview content for 2021 entry?
This will obviously vary from medical school to medical school but the bottom line for all interview setups this year is that they will all be carried out virtually. What this may mean for your schools of choice is that in order to facilitate the interview process, they might have switched their interview format from an MMI setup to a panel interview or to an asynchronous one. This may potentially mean that some of the content will have to be amended in order to accommodate the change in setup, but the core values that interviews are designed to test will still be their priority and you can still expect to encounter similar content during your interview.
When will interview offers be sent out?
Once again, the window of interviewing is pretty wide and will vary substantially across different medical schools, usually starting in November and spanning all the way to the end of March. Depending on what period within that timeframe your school picks to conduct their interviews, the time at which announcements for interview and offer emails come through might also vary substantially. This also means that you might receive an offer to attend an interview for one medical school in November but not receive another all the way until after the new year. Especially considering the fact that this year all interviews are being conducted online, offers may not be sent with as much notice as they had been before, considering that travel and accommodation arrangements do not have to be made. As such, you might receive as little as a week’s notice to attend your interview. This is why the best strategy you could adopt is not to await an interview offer to start your preparation but instead start as early as possible to ensure you have gotten plenty of practice in.
We hope this question bank of medical interview questions is helpful in preparing for your interview. However, if you would like more help or the opportunity to practice your medical school interview answers with a qualified doctor or interview expert then make sure to check out our live online medical school interview course and 1-1 coaching, or learn from home and take our medical school online interview course. If you have any other questions or worries, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
More advice to help you prepare for your medical school interviews: