8 Commonly Asked Medicine Interview Questions

Preparing for a Medicine interview at your dream university? Read our list of 8 commonly asked Medicine interview questions - with answers - to help you thrive on the day.

Katie Broadbent - 02 August 2021 · 16 min read

So, you’ve submitted your university application, aced your BMAT test and now been invited to a Medicine interview at your dream university. 

Preparing for a medicine interview can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve never really embarked on a professional interview before. But it doesn’t need to be. The key to success in any scenario like this is always practice, so you can be as prepared and as calm as possible on the day of your interview. 

University interviews are a chance for admissions officers to confirm that you are making the right university and subject choices. Throughout the process, they’ll be carefully analysing your answers to make sure that you can thrive in a career in Medicine. Think of it less so in terms of them scrutinizing your decisions, and more as a way for them to work with you and ensure you’re making the right decision. 

In any case, you should always be honest in your responses. Yes, you can practice your answers at home and ensure you remember the key elements to each question, but you need to be completely honest in what you say; any sign of inauthenticity in order to stand out against the rest will soon shine through and you could hinder your chances completely. 

Still looking for some advice on how to prepare for a Medicine interview? Below is a list of 8 commonly asked medicine interview questions and guidance on how you can prepare answers for them. Read through them, write some model answers to each of them, and ensure you’re ready to thrive during the interview process.

1. Why do you want to study Medicine?

‘Why do you want to study Medicine?’ Possibly one of the most dreaded medicine interview questions, but one you should definitely expect to answer during your interview for Medical school. 

When answering this question, there are a variety of things you can discuss with the interviewer. From sharing your passion for science and helping others from a young age, to confirming your interest with a Medicine online course or volunteer experience - there are a whole range of things you can talk about.

Looking for some guidance on shaping your response? Here’s a list of some of the reasons you can include within your answer:

  • Desire to help others: Being a doctor involves working with the public - usually helping those who are most vulnerable to get better. Sometimes, the work can be quite difficult too, so you really need to have a passion for helping others in order to make the difficult times easier to tackle. Explain to the admissions officer where this desire grew from - is it a personal experience? Something you’ve gained from work experience? Universities want to know why you’re passionate about their subjects. 

  • Work/volunteer experience: - Most often, students who apply to study medicine at university are encouraged to participate in some form of work or volunteer experience, so they can get a feel for what their daily work would be like. When answering this particular interview question, you can discuss your work experience as part of your answer, including how it has given you insight into pursuing a career as a doctor. 

  • Interest in science: Fundamentally, medicine is a science-based degree, and is therefore something that you need to be interested in if you have aspirations to study medicine at university. Talk about where your interest stems from - was it an experiment at school? Is it your academic strength in science that has led you to find a career within the field?

  • Other: Of course, there are a whole variety of reasons as to why you want to study Medicine at university. Examples may be personal medical stories or experiences, as well as other important factors such as your family or relatives who may already work in the industry. 

It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Your journey to deciding to apply for medicine is unique to you, and only you can reflect this to the interviewer. Be authentic in your answer and tell the interviewer what really set your heart on the subject - it’s the best way to demonstrate your commitment. 

2. What makes a good doctor?

Another important question to prepare yourself for a medical university interview is ‘what makes a good doctor?’ 

Now, there is no clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to this question. Instead, it demands you to think of the many soft skills that you think would contribute to being a good doctor, while also highlighting your own skills. This is so you can demonstrate your awareness of whatskills a doctor needs, while also proving to the interviewer that you’re the perfect candidate for a place on their Medicine degree.

Some of the skills you can talk about include:

  • Strong communication skills: Both towards their wider team and patients to ensure important information is communicated clearly.

  • Compassion: The ability to sympathise with patients and their family members, taking the best steps possible for patients.

  • Flexibility: Especially in your first few years as a junior/trainee doctor, you’ll be required to complete shift work and remain flexible with your rota.

  • Adept at working under pressure: Being a doctor means being able to handle pressurising work and remain calm, even in emergency situations.

  • Problem-solving skills: The ability to adapt knowledge to find solutions and treat patients. 

Just remember, whenever you list a new skill while answering this question, remember to relate it back to your own experience and explain how you already have these skills yourself. For example, what experience have you had in demonstrating your ability to work well under pressure - either at school or in your personal life?

Answering in this way will demonstrate to interviewers that you are clearly qualified in the soft skills described above and will excel in the role as a clinician.

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3. What have you gained from your work experience/volunteering work that you think will be relevant to your training as a doctor?

During your medical university interview, admissions officers will be looking to see that you’ve proved yourself not just academically, but also undertaken the necessary work experience or extracurricular activities that relate to Medicine to prove your commitment to the subject. 

Therefore, don’t be surprised if, during your interview, you’ll be asked about what you’ve gained from this volunteer experience and how it relates to your future aspirations. 

As with the rest of the questions we’ve looked at so far, there isn’t a ‘perfect’ way to answer this question. Instead, it’s down to you to be honest about what you have gained/how you have grown because of these experiences.

Some things you can reflect on during your answer can include:

  • Insight into your career: How has the experience inspired and shaped your career prospects? What have you learnt about what to expect in your daily job?

  • Skills development: What specific skills have you developed from the experience that will help you succeed in your future career in Medicine?

  • Passion: Has your voluntary experience made you feel more passionate about moving towards a career in Medicine? If so, why?

You can of course talk about anything else you have gained from your experience - as long as it helps to explain how you have progressed towards your career in Medicine - either in a personal or professional way.

4. What do you think will be your greatest challenge whilst training to become a doctor?

Studying for Medicine is a long and rather arduous process. And the reason so many universities choose to interview their students is so they can be sure that you’re ready to embark on that journey. 

In particular, admissions officers want to know that you’ve really thought about your future career and have prepared yourself for the stresses and challenges that can come with training to become a doctor. 

This question demands you to be honest about your worries about the upcoming training process, and how you will navigate through that. The admissions officer is there to ensure you are making the right decision about your future - so it’s important you tell them exactly what you are apprehensive about so they can help make that decision with you. 

With that being said, you should also use it as an opportunity to turn any challenges into a positive affirmation about yourself. For example, if one of your perceived challenges will be being able to manage your workload while under strict deadlines, could your already demonstrated time-management skills help you to navigate through this?

If you’re able to demonstrate to the admissions team that you are consciously thinking about potential challenges during your training, as well as thinking about what skills you can put to use to help you overcome these challenges, then you’ll be demonstrating your understanding of the demands of the role, and how you may overcome them - something that will surely help you shine. 

Now, what you perceive to be your greatest challenge will be dependent on your personal characteristics and the things that you find most difficult to handle as an individual. However, you could mention any of the following whilst answering this question:

  • Independent studying: Moving from A-Levels to university teaching can be a big jump for students. The amount of independent study you’ll need to complete will increase significantly, and you may be apprehensive about having to manage your studies on your own. 

  • Workload: Medicine degrees can be notoriously time-consuming, especially in the months when you have to work in clinical environments, revise for exams, and complete the necessary prep work for class. Managing a heavy workload can be daunting. 

  • Dealing with loss: Sadly, training to become a doctor does often come with a few difficult experiences, such as witnessing death. It’s not uncommon for medical students to feel apprehensive about dealing with the loss of a patient, especially if it’s something you’ve not experienced before. But it’s something you’ll get plenty of training and support with during your training, and something you should discuss if a genuine fear.

  • Independent living: For many students, university is the first time when they leave home and live independently. This comes with its own pressures, such as managing your own finances, finding accommodation, adjusting to being away from family, and more. You may wish to discuss how this change in your personal life may be a particular challenge to face.

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5. How do you manage stressful situations?

There’s no denying that during your training to become a doctor, you will experience some stressful situations. Whether it’s in a clinical environment where you’re dealing with an emergency, or navigating through the murky waters of exam season - you need to be prepared to deal with some challenges during your training and career. 

As such, admissions teams will want to be sure that anyone gaining admission to their Medical School is equipped with the personal qualities needed to help them navigate through the stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

So, when it comes to answering this question, try to frame your answer in a positive light, using your past experiences to help you reflect on your own personal qualities, and how these can help you thrive in future stress environments.

For example, you could start your answer by explaining the stresses of sitting your GCSE exams, and what techniques you implemented to help you get through them and unwind at the end of each day. 

Alternatively, you could talk the admissions team through a stressful situation that happened in your personal life, and explain what techniques you implemented to help you remain positive during that particular challenge.

There really is no right or wrong answer to this question - as long as you have an effective coping strategy to help you get through stressful situations, admissions teams will be happy with your answer. 

6. Tell me about a medical advance or issue that you’ve heard about recently. 

In medicine university interviews, it’s not uncommon for admissions officers to ask questions which require you to draw on your knowledge of the wider medical field. After all, Medicine is an incredibly fast-paced industry and one which is continually making advances in technology, treatments, and other forms of research - and doctors need to be up-to-speed with the latest treatments and technology that can help their patients.

Before you think it: no, you are not expected to be reading high-end medical journals. In this question, the admissions officer is not looking for you to dazzle them with a ground-breaking and incredibly niche medical study. 

Instead, this part of the interview is all about making sure that you have an interest in the subject and take the time to keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments. So, whether it’s something you’ve heard on the news, learnt during your online course, or even read in a journal - share as much detail with the interviewer as you can remember to demonstrate your interest in the field.

With that being said, if you aren’t someone who is already reading about your subject outside of school, some great places to start learning more include; the Student British Medical Journal, the Royal College of Surgeons Bulletin, and the Bright Journals, as well as other general health news outlets. Start browsing these during your free time, and you’ll soon be clued into the most recent medical developments. 

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7. What do you think makes a good team?

When working in a hospital, you’ll be amongst a team of others in your department, all working together to provide the best possible care for your patients. Therefore, it’s critical that you’re able to work in teams effectively, and ensure you can deliver the best results possible.

Admissions teams that ask this question during your interview want to make sure you have an understanding of what skills are required from individuals to make teams work effectively. Skills they’ll be looking for can include:

  • Clear communication: To ensure patient information, treatments and procedures are passed along correctly to the right team members.

  • Good delegation: Dividing work amongst team members fairly and in the most efficient way possible to give students the best possible care.

  • Being a ‘team player:’ Offering to help with tasks that others need help with or don’t have time to complete, ensuring team members are never too overwhelmed. 

  • Empathy: Sympathising with others who may be having a difficult time at work or in their personal life and offering additional support where necessary.

  • Decision-making: Especially during stressful situations, teams need to have a nominated individual who makes clear and quick decisions to help those in critical need.

Relate your answer to successful teams you’ve been a member of in the past; whether it be in sport, work, school, or other extracurricular projects. What aspects made them far better than other unsuccessful teams you’ve been a part of before? 

Where possible, also try to relate your example skill to one you think you are particularly strong in - if you can demonstrate that you have the skills needed to excel in a team, you’ll be helping the admissions team and their decision so much easier.

8. What are your views on assisted death?

Finally, it’s not uncommon for university admissions teams to ask some rather thought-provoking questions during your interview for Medical school.

From asking you about complex clinical cases to questions around the current healthcare system, admissions officers want to see your way of thinking; how you justify decisions, and what your awareness of current guidelines, policies and campaigns are. So, don’t be surprised if you’re asked a difficult question like this during your time in the interview.

When asked questions like these, it’s vital that you demonstrate your awareness of both sides of the argument on topical debates like these. Whether you’re for or against the policy, as a doctor, your personal beliefs and views have to be removed in order to follow the eyes of the law, or even patient. 

In any type of ethical debate or question, be sure to present a balanced argument and give reason for your justification. Avoid using terms such as “I think” and move towards terms like “The current law says that…” and “from a patient’s perspective.” Your role as a doctor is to provide the best possible care for your patient while also abiding by the rules of medical law in your country - so make sure you include examples of each in your answer.

This also means that if you’re not already familiar with the legalities around complex ethical dilemmas, you’ll more than likely need to do a little bit of research around the current legal policies in healthcare. Now, this doesn't mean learning the entire history of Medical Law in the UK, but being clued up on the current charters in place around some of the most thought-provoking issues, such as: abortion, assisted death, DNRs, etc.

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Summary

After reading this article, you should hopefully have a better understanding of the types of questions you could get asked during a Medicine university interview. From asking about your personal qualities, to encouraging you to think outside the box and in the headspace as an actual clinician, prepare to be asked a varying number of questions that help admissions officers to understand exactly how you think, and whether you’ll excel with a career in Medicine. 

Use this guide to start modelling some example answers and get into the headspace of answering medicine interview questions. A good tip is to practice saying your answers out loud and recording yourself on your phone - so you can go back and review what you’ve said. 

Remember, for all the answers on this list there’s no one clear way to answer them. Each question is designed to make you think internally and discuss them in a way that is reflective of your personal beliefs and qualities. Be yourself, be honest in everything you say, and you’ll help the admissions team to really get a feel for whether a career in Medicine is right for you. 

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