A Medicine interview can be tough due to how competetive the field is so preparation is key. It is a brilliant field in which you can endeavour to do many things, including becomng a doctor.
Once you have a degree in medicine it all boils down to the interview to really kickstart your career. If you are considering doing a medicine degree, ensure that you have read our article on ‘Should I Study Medicine’ to gain more insight into the different aspects of medicine.
A very common interview misconception is to be yourself. This method requires little hard work to follow and its tempting to believe. However, you simply need to look at the number of applications to places ratio to realise there is a lot of competition, which is why it can’t be that simple.
In this article I will outline some things which will put you at a competitive advantage in your upcoming interviews.
You may find yourself ill-prepared for your interview if you have not got at least 20 comprehensive answers that you have practised and written down beforehand. It is my recommendation that you do some extensive planning.
Although you might not get the exact questions you prepared for, it will help to take parts from your different answers.
Preparing answers will also get rid of the “errs” and “uhhs”. It will help your answers be more structured and thorough. Most importantly, it will give you a lot of confidence. You are likely to develop a clearer understanding of what is being asked and how to go about putting an answer forward to a prospective employer.
The 20+ questions should be well rehearsed. You can get anyone to ask them to you, to allow you to practice the fluency and delivery of your answers. Make sure you continue to understand what is being asked so the answers retain meaning, don’t get used to just regurgitating words!
If you have been asked a question that you are unable to give a response to, it is important that you don’t concede, rather this situation can be redeemed or at least neutralised.
Try do the following:
• Take a one second pause before you start your answer. This will allow your brain to understand the question and collect a response. If you do require a few seconds, then give off the impression that you are thinking about the question via some facial gestures. This will keep the pause from being an awkward silence.
• Mention “This is indeed a very good question”. This can potentially make the interviewer happy and also buy you a few more moments to articulate a response.
• In a situation where you have been asked a question which has a specific answer, and you have no idea, you can try to lighten the moment by chuckling, even make a joke, e.g. “I’m having a mental block must be because I didn’t get my morning coffee”.
If you’re in a total stand still then you can say “I might need to think about that one”.
• The aim in a situation that you have not got a response is to make it as least awkward as possible.
• Shaking hands. It is advisable to give a firm but not too firm handshake. This should be simultaneous with a smile and a greeting e.g. “Hello, very nice to meet you”.
Also make sure you make eye contact when you greet and shake hands.
• SMILE A LOT, your aim is to look like someone patients will be comfortable with. Smiling gives a positive, friendly and honest persona. It’s also very hard to reject someone who is smiling.
• Sit upright on your chair. Avoid slouching or coming awkwardly close. Maintain a good posture throughout and adjust yourself if necessary.
• Use your hands to help orchestrate your speech. However, if you are using hand gestures, avoid pointing and doing very large movements with your hands.
• Good head movement alongside frequent smiling is a sign of friendly behaviour, and can help build that relationship with the interviewer.
• You must dress smart, as it shows you have made an effort and speaks abundance of you.
The majority of your fellow interviewees will be smart so you’ll look simply out of place if you are not.
• Wear a colourful tie or shirt. This sends a message about your character. It can show that you are energetic, confident and generally a charismatic person.
• A smart haircut is recommended. That might sound like strange advice, however you’re risking being stereo-typed by the interviewers if you have a radical haircut.
Things to avoid
• Never put a certain profession or field down.
E.g. if you are asked, “Why didn’t you choose to become a nurse?”
In this question, you shouldn’t say anything to put a nursing profession down. The best way to approach your answer would be to explain how important nurses are and then go on to why you want to become a doctor. Perhaps, mention why you have a passion or burning desire to make a change in the industry and the opportunity is there as a doctor.
• Be very cautious in answering ethical questions.
In any ethical question / scenario that the interviewer has put you in, you need to consider the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics.
Make sure to familiarise yourself with them.
- Autonomy – The patient has the right to make their own decisions about their life and treatment, even if this goes against medical advice.
- Beneficence – Maximising the benefits of medical care for a patient.
- Non-maleficence – To ‘do no harm’. Doctors should minimise the harm that the treatment might do to a patient.
- Justice – Considering the impact on society (will there be a fair distribution of benefits, costs, and risks).
• Don’t be monotonous.
If you’ve prepared too much or even if you’re just a bit nervous, your voice can become monotonous.
Sometimes you may be asked if you have any questions at the end of a interview. You don’t want to sound like you are reading from a script, even if you are.
Monotone means that you have one tone (mono) in your voice. This is dangerous as you do not want to be perceived as a boring person.
Make sure to use dynamic vocabulary and talk with energy. Don’t overdo it though, it can seem too forced if you are overenthusiastic.
If you’re one of those people are naturally monotone and find it difficult to “force” a lot of expression in your voice, then you can use methods of non-verbal communication to help portray your point in a more interesting way to balance things out.
Approach your interview in a confident energetic manner.
Try to be bubbly and give off a friendly personality. You aim is to create a relationship between you and the interviewer. It is also very important to keep a professional manner in all areas of the university where you will be having your interview. Do A LOT of repetitive practise interviews with teachers, friends and family until you see those nerves disappear.
Do ensure you have a good question ready when they ask you if you have any.
It should not be a question which is easily researched or obvious. If you can choose a question which shows you have researched the university well it will leave a good impression.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI)
The following universities require you to do MMIs:
England: Birmingham, Brighton & Sussex, Bristol, Exeter, Hull, York, Keele, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, St Andrews, St Georges, UEA (Norwich), Warwick.
Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee.
Northern Ireland: Queens Belfast.
An MMI medical school interview is made up of 8 to 12 short MMI stations where each station is typically under 10 minutes. When you complete a station, you move on to the next station. Each individual Medicine MMI station is usually assessed separately meaning that your score at one station does not impact your score at the next station.
Treat every station like a new interview
Each station has completely different assessors and actors. Use this to your advantage by treating each station as a fresh start.
After you have completed a station, erase it from your memory and go to the next station as if you didn’t just do one. You can’t dwell on the fact that you might’ve answered a question better, or you didn’t say hello properly.
Just stay calm, keep moving and maintain your bubbly mood for the next one.
Read your notes outside each station
Bring your pre-planned questions and answers with you to the interviews so when you’re waiting between stations you can have that extra time of going over the key points you’re going to mention. This will increase your confidence.
When in role-play situations, you need to make sure that you cover all angles that the interviewers are assessing. This means being:
And most importantly, empathetic. Empathy is when you understand and can share the feelings of other people .This is the hardest skill/attribute to display in spontaneous situations.
I would strongly advise a rehearsal of your interview to be done repeatedly until all weaknesses are strengthened – and you’re simply focusing on the finer details to impress your interviewer.
There’s only so much we can talk about on an article like this, below is a book which a lot of medics have used in the past to successfully help their entry into medicine.
We highly recommend going through this book before your interviews: Medical School Interviews (2nd Edition). It has over 150 questions analysed which you can study and prepare for.
People may say “just be yourself” or “you’re over-preparing!”, however people have made books and courses about the Medicine application process for a reason. Its really hard. Don’t be phased by them and carry on preparing.
If you have only MMI interviews and no panel interviews, “Secure your place at UK Medical School” may be more useful to you. Its an Essential Guide to Multiple Mini Interviews and has over 300 questions analysed and also answered how an interviewer would expect an answer. It is the most up-to-date MMI book and is specific to UK Medical Schools.
If you’re studying A-Levels, use our A-Level resources to make sure you ace your grades!