UK Medicine interviews: overview
Here's what you need to know
When applying for Medicine, interviews can seem like a pretty intimidating process. Making sure you are well-prepared beforehand can put you at ease. This guide will give you an overview of the three main types of Medicine interviews, along with some helpful tips on how to prepare and how to impress on the day itself.
The different types of interviews
There are three main types of interview you may come across when applying for Medicine. This includes a traditional panel interview, multiple mini interviews (MMIs), or an Oxbridge interview. Most universities release details of the format of their interviews on their website or prospectus, so make sure you research this when making your university shortlist.
Traditional panel interviews
Around half of the UK’s medical schools still use this form of interview. It involves you sitting across the table from three or four interviewers, often including a doctor, an academic, and a current student. However, this can vary depending on the university. Often, each interviewer will ask one or two questions, and the whole process will last around 30 minutes.
The questions you get asked focus on your reasons for applying to the profession and this medical school in particular, along with an ethical or topical discussion that mirrors some of the sticky situations that a doctor might face. For example, you may have to share your opinion on patient confidentiality, and whether there are any circumstances under which you might break this.
Multiple mini interviews
Multiple mini interviews are exactly what they sound like: you rotate around several “stations” (the number depends on the university) for mini interviews of around 5-7 minutes each. For some stations you need to answer a selection of focused questions on a particular topic, while for others you may have to perform short tasks, like role plays, or analysing statistics.
Oxbridge interviews are often quite unique and scientific. It’s common that your interviewers will ask you a few tricky theoretical questions. For example, you may be asked what might be a good approach to treating an illness that you haven’t come across before.These questions are designed to get you thinking - you may not know the answer right away, and that’s okay! They want to see you try and work it out. You will usually have two or three 20-minute interviews.
Before the interview: how to prepare
As daunting as the interviews can seem, it’s all about preparation! This can help you feel more settled, especially when you know what to expect. Here are some of our top tips for making sure you are prepped and ready to go.
Do your research
Although there are a few general similarities when it comes to Medicine interviews, universities approach them uniquely. Don’t forget to research the interview format of your chosen universities; this can really make a difference to what you might prepare. Lots of medical schools publish mock interviews online, and quite a few students share their experiences on platforms like Youtube and online blogs, so you can pick up tips from students who have already been through the process!
Don’t forget your Personal Statement
Interviewers typically refer back to your personal statement in some of your interviews, and acing questions on it can be an easy way to gain points and confidence at the start. Make sure you can share your thoughts on the books or resources you’ve included. It’s great to reference wider reading in your Personal Statement in order to demonstrate interest in the subject – just don’t forget to brush up on key points before the interview; it will be very clear to the panel if you haven’t actually read the book or article!
Practise, Practise, Practise
Approach a teacher or medical professional (work experience contacts can be helpful here) and ask them to give you a mock interview. Make sure they know what type of interview you are expecting, but don’t give them a question list - you must be able to think on your feet.
Try to be natural
This is easier said than done, however there is such a thing as over-preparing! Remember your interview is a conversation, and not just an opportunity to share points you have memorised beforehand. Think about a few key points you might answer to commonly asked questions, but don’t learn full sentences by heart. Memorising answers also puts you at risk of answering the question you wish they had asked, rather than the question you were actually asked!
At the interview
Don’t panic! Remember that the interviewers are trying to find future doctors, and that above all they want to find out more about you and your attributes. Don’t act like somebody else – just be yourself. With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances:
Try to dress comfortably, and consider what you may have seen doctors wearing on tv and film (outside of scrubs, that is!) Ties and high heels aren’t necessary – they’re not allowed in the hospital anyway. Smart-casual and keeping your outfit, makeup, and hair simple is a good rule-of-thumb when in doubt. That means no skinny jeans – no, not even black ones!
Time is of the essence
Give yourself plenty of time to get there and make sure you know where you’re going. You don’t want to arrive late. Apart from impacting the interview times for the university, it can make you feel stressed, and you won’t be able to represent yourself to the best of your ability.
First impressions count
First impressions can influence how the whole interview proceeds. Chances are you’ll be nervous, but don’t worry - the interviewers are aware of this and will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Remember to introduce yourself confidently and smile as you greet them.
Take your time
Allow yourself a few seconds to get your thoughts in order before you answer each question. A considered response is more impressive than a quick one. Remember to listen carefully to each question, and answer the question you are actually being asked. If something goes wrong, forget about it and move on to the next question. It’s also perfectly fine to ask the interviewer to come back to a question later.
Remember - you can only do your best. If you prepare well and keep a cool head, your best should be enough! Best of luck in your preparation and your interviews. For more support and to start preparing for Medicine interviews, check out our article Medicine interviews: Tackling common questions here.
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