Medical School Interviews
The majority of medical schools interview applicants before offering them a place. To give yourself the best possible chance of getting an offer, it is very important to prepare in advance. The structure of the interview may vary considerably from one medical school to another. There are two main interview styles; Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) and panel interviews. Some more detials below:
What is an MMI?
Multiple Mini Interviews - These are several small interviews with different people/stations. Universities have moved towards this style of interview over the past few years as they are more objective and they give students 10 chances to do well rather than one single interview. They will normally have 10-15 'stations' where there is a different question or task at each station, there will also likely be a 'break station' where you will have a short break.
Each station will last between 5-10 minutes and the whole interview will normally last between 1-2 hours. As with any interview, preparation is essential. Here are a list of typical MMI questions.
What is a panel interview?
A panel interview is normally a single interview where its you and several university interviewers. These can be doctors, teachers, medical students, a nurse or other health professional or even someone without any medical knowledge or training. Initially these can be more intimidating as its just you in the room
What are they looking for at a medical school interview?
Who you are and what you are doing now (don't assume they have your UCAS form in front of them, sometimes they don't - assume they know nothing but your name);
Why you want to be a doctor/how you came to your decision to be a doctor;
What you have done to find out if medicine is the right career for you;
What you learned during your work experience (YOU MUST HAVE MEDICAL WORK EXPERIENCE);
What aspects of their course particularly appeal to you;
Do you have a realistic understanding of what a career in medicine involves;
What are your other interests/are you an active participant in school/university life?
Do you have good communications/interpersonal skills and enjoy working with people?
Can you demonstrate an active interest in health and medical news stories and talk about what you have read/heard/seen recently?
Think through your answers to possible interview questions (see our list below).
This doesn't mean you should prepare answers and learn them off by heart. However, you should have a clear idea of what you want to say in answer to the classic interview questions so that you are confident, ready and prepared when they are inevitably asked.
There will probably be some questions that you did not anticipate or prepare for (see question 17 below). There is no point in worrying about these. When they come, think carefully about your answer and take your time. Be honest and genuine and ask them to clarify the question if you're not sure what they are getting at.
Read up on current health-related news stories a few weeks before your interview.
They will probably want you to outline a health news story of your choice, discuss some of the issues relating to it and explain why it interests you/why you picked that particular story. Examples of useful sources include: British Medical Journal (BMJ), Student BMJ, New Scientist, The Guardian.
You may also want to take a look at our Health & Medical News which will help you to keep up to date with the latest health and medical news.
Think about your personal appearance.
You must be smartly dressed and well-presented. Doctors are in constant contact with members of the public and appearance is important.
Be aware of your body language.
Walk confidently into the interview room, say hello, smile and make eye contact with each interviewer. They should invite you to sit down and introduce themselves. If they offer, shake hands with them. Make sure you sit upright in the chair and avoid adopting a defensive posture (don't fold your arms or push your feet back right under your chair). At the same time, don't look too casual (don't put one foot up on the other knee). It's a good idea to cross your hands and hold them in your lap when you're not using hand gestures. This helps to avoid nervous fidgeting, picking at nails etc.
Prepare a few questions to ask them at the end, as they may ask you if you would like to ask them anything.
Good questions include those that are specifically related to their course. This shows that you have a genuine interest in their particular medical school.
Thank them, smile and say goodbye before leaving the room.
This is important as it is polite and leaves a positive lasting impression - usually they will have a discussion about your interview performance after you have left the room. Also, there will almost certainly be points for good communication/interpersonal skills.