MEDICAL SCHOOL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

What are the most common medical school interview questions asked? 

Medical School Interview questions are renowned for being challenging. They are always asked in a logical manner, however, you’re unlikely to get asked multiple uncomfortable questions in one interview.

Ultimately, the best way to prepare is to practice with real people that you’ve never met before as this simulates what your actual interviews will be like.

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10 Most Common Medical Interview Questions

Medical school interview questions are as wide-ranging as what you can get asked at a normal interview. However, like in job interviews, there are categories and keywords you can expect to come up whichever medical school conducts your interview.

 

BACKGROUND

  1. Why do you want to go to Medical School?

This seems like one of the most obvious medical school interview questions, but when you really think about it, can you articulate why you want to go into medicine? To best answer it, make sure you have done some research about what being a medical student, and ultimately a doctor, entails – the good and the bad. Be passionate and also practical. You can use your personal statement as a starting point to expand on – use examples of experiences you’ve had in a work environment, or even in your personal life if you don’t mind sharing. Another important point to get across is why you want to study medicine rather than, say, nursing – it could be that the combination of science and helping people is what attracts you.

 

RESEARCH

  1. Tell us about an interesting article that you have read recently that relates to your interests in medicine

This is a question to check whether your passion for medicine has carried over into your free time, and it isn’t just confined to science lessons at school. Ultimately, medicine is a profession, a life choice, not a 9 to 5 job that you can forget about at the end of the day. Read publications such as Student BMJ (or the professional version), or New Scientist – both contain articles about what’s going on in the healthcare world currently, and you should manage to find something about an area you are particularly interested in, such as mental health. Try and have a couple of articles/topics in your arsenal for interview day – and remember, re-read it before the interview so you don’t forget what the article was about. Finally, in the interview, explain why you found the article interesting or exciting.

 

NHS TOPIC MEDICAL SCHOOL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. What do you think is the biggest problem facing the NHS right now?

This is a relatively free question, as it allows you to mention anything you feel you know most about. However, variants can include being asked about specific problems, such as privatisation of the NHS. Make sure you have read up on various issues the health service is facing at the moment, and also think about why they are problematic. For example, you may be asked about over-use of antibiotics and the resistance to these that is developing – you should mention why this is a problem (because we can’t treat people without antibiotics) and what can be done to prevent it (encourage doctors not to prescribe them unless absolutely necessary).

 

SCHOOL-SPECIFIC

  1. Why did you choose this medical school?

This question requires you to have really thought about why you would be happy to study at this medical school. It’s important that you think about it, even if you picked it because it had low entry requirements, or focussed on an area of the ukcat that you did really well in. If you get asked this interview question, think about what makes this medical school stand out from the others – perhaps they offer ways to customise what you study, or maybe it’s the use of PBL over traditional. The course structure is also a good thing to mention, and make sure to convey your enthusiasm to study at the medical school – not just in that city.

OXBRIDGE

  1. How much does a mountain weigh?

Medical school interview questions like these generally don’t have a correct answer and are all about trying to see how you think. So it’s very important you talk through your answer in a clear, step-by-step way. You should try to apply reasoning and science to medical school interview questions such as these. It’s okay to ask for a moment if you need to think, but don’t take too long. Any questions you ask should be logical, such as asking how tall the mountain is, or about its radius which you could then use in a known mathematical formula.

Sometimes the interviewer may not give you any more information, in which case it’s important for you just to mention what other information you might need and how you might get that information e.g. from a map.

ETHICS

6. Talk to me about the ethical issues surrounding abortion. Do you agree with it?

When talking through ethical questions, you need to apply the 4 pillars of ethics. These are:

  •  Autonomy — For example, does it show respect for the patient? Does it show their right to make decisions?
  • Non-maleficence — Does it harm the patient?
  • Justice — Are there consequences that could affect the wider community?
  • Beneficence — Does it benefit the patient?

When giving your own opinion, you must weigh up both sides of the argument before coming to a decision. For instance, acknowledge the views of pro-life campaigners and the rights of the mother.

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GETTING PERSONAL

7. What is your biggest weakness?

This is a very common question in all kinds of interviews, not just medical school ones. For this question, make sure you consider what your weaknesses are. It must not be something that is so debilitating that it will make being a doctor impossible (e.g. you’re particularly squeamish), and it should also be something you can demonstrate that you’re working on. It is also very important that you don’t say something that isn’t actually a weakness, such as “I’m a perfectionist”.

THERE’S NO I IN TEAM…

8. Give an example of a time you worked in a team and how this approach contributed to the outcome

Doctors will almost never be working alone, but rather in a multi-disciplinary team where everyone has a different background and different experiences. You need to show you are not only prepared for this, but are excited about it, and that you can see what benefits it brings to a task. When giving your example, set it out with a formula such as STARR (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection) so that you can get all the information across in a clear way. Make sure you talk about your role in the team, as this is what the interviewer is looking for. Remember not to take too long with describing the situation – this makes you waffle and your answer will lack focus.

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WORKIN’ 9 TO 5…

9. Can you tell me about a difficult situation you observed or had to deal with on your work experience and what you learnt from this?

Medical school interview questions like these are to show you are aware of the realities of working as a doctor. In these situations, it is the ability to use initiative and adapt that the interviewer is looking for, as a doctor has to do often.  When preparing for a medical interview question like this one, you can also use a formula like STARR. Your reflection should note that the experience has made you aware of how important a skill such as communication or flexibility is in a doctor.

 

MMI

10. Instruct me how to unwrap this box, without using your hands or helping me in any way other than verbally.

You need to make sure you are very clear with medical school interview questions like this. The examiner will do exactly what you say, so if you are vague with your instructions, the outcome will not be achieved (e.g. saying “lift the flap” – the examiner will open any flap and not necessarily the one you wanted them to.) First, you can explain the aim to the interviewer so that they know you have understood the task. Ask them if they are ready to begin. Then be specific with instructions, such as asking them to lift the right flap upwards with their right hand. Stay calm and patient, and reword instructions if necessary. It’s important to remember not to be disheartened if you don’t manage to get the box open – the point of the exercise is communication.

 

When it comes to your interview, there are a lot of things to think about and prepare for. It’s worthwhile getting all the guidance you can get even if it’s just learning about the basics of an interview for medicine. Practice every interview scenario and rehearse the types of questions that will come up and you will do fine.

Discover our Medical Interview Course

Go the extra mile in your medicine interview and application. Try out one of our mock interview courses. With our expert medical interview you will be taught the techniques and strategies to answers these common interview questions and more. From 30 minute mock interviews, MMI interview circuits and group tuition, the course has all you need to help you pass this part of the admissions process.

More Medical School Interview Questions

Below, we’ve listed some more examples of the interview questions that could come up on the day.

Remember, when you’re looking at the list of questions below, remember that they have been taken out of context – the interviewer will attempt to help you throughout and it is your job to pick up on their prompts to fully answer the question.

For expert help check out the Medical Interview Course , and Individual Tuition.

  • Why Medicine? Why not nursing?
  • What do you see yourself doing in 20 years?
  • What speciality are you interested in?
  • What famous alumni at our university do you know of?
  • What are the disadvantages of a career in medicine?
  • What differentiates the NHS from all other healthcare systems in the world?
  • Should doctors be banned from smoking?
  • Should the NHS fund IVF? What about injuries that arise from extreme sports e.g. Mountain climbing?
  • We have much better applicants than you  – why should we take you?
  • A Jehovah’s witness is brought in by an ambulance to A&E after being in a road traffic accident. They need an urgent blood transfusion but the patient is refusing it. What do you do?
  • You’ve been appointed the new health secretary to the NHS. You’re given £1 Million to spend on either an MRI machine or on 50 liver transplants for patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Which one would you choose?
  • Do you think pharmaceutical companies should be able to advertise on merchandise?
  • How would you tell a patient they’ve got 3 months to live?
  • Which 3 skills are most important for a doctor to possess?
  • What is your biggest strength/weakness?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • Do you think communication skills can be learned?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed good communication skills.
  • Tell me an instance where you made a difference in a team.
  • You are a junior doctor on colorectal surgery. Your consultant in charge turns up on Monday morning smelling strongly of alcohol. What do you do?
  • You are a junior doctor and on your way back from work after a busy night shift. At the car park, you find someone who has collapsed and requires CPR. You remember that you aren’t insured to do CPR outside the hospital – what do you do?
  • What differentiates the NHS from all other healthcare systems in the world?
  • Should doctors be banned from smoking?
  • Should the NHS fund IVF? What about injuries that arise from extreme sports e.g. Mountain climbing?
  • We have much better applicants than you  – why should we take you?
  • A Jehovah’s witness is brought in by an ambulance to A&E after being in a road traffic accident. They need an urgent blood transfusion but the patient is refusing it. What do you do?
  • You’ve been appointed the new health secretary to the NHS. You’re given £1 Million to spend on either an MRI machine or on 50 liver transplants for patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Which one would you choose?
  • Do you think pharmaceutical companies should be able to advertise on merchandise?
  • You didn’t actually do much work experience- why was this?
  • What did you learn from your work experience?
  • Compare and contrast your experiences at the GP and hospital.
  • How did your work experience change your views of medicine?
  • Tell me more about your voluntary work. Did you find it more or less useful than your work experience?

Must-Reads for Medical Applicants

We’ve listed our top reads for applicants who are looking to study medicine at University. Reading is an essential part of a medical application so why not make it enjoyable with some of these great reads. These authors will broaden your view of medicine and could make your application stand out from the crowd.

Take a look at the complete list and get your head stuck in a book!