Medicine Interview Tips
We’ve created a definitive list of the top ten tips for your Medicine interview. Many of these come straight from doctors, admissions tutors and successful medical school applicants – so you can be sure you’re getting expert advice!
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Medicine Interview Top 10 Tips
1. Use Personal Examples
Wherever possible always use genuine personal examples to back up your answers in your Medicine interview. This will:
- Bring your answer to life
- Demonstrate your skills and experience
- Make you memorable — in a good way!
Try to think: What are my unique selling points?
2. Use The STARR Technique
The way you structure your answers at your medicine interview is critically important. This is because it prevents you from rambling and ensures you cover key points. We recommend using the STARR acronym:
- Situation: One brief line outlining the example
- Task: What was involved?
- Action: How you approached and performed the task
- Result: What was the outcome/achievement?
- Reflection: What did you learn and how will you apply it?
Tell me about a time when you have successfully demonstrated leadership skills?
Situation: I was captain of my school 1st XI football team.
Task: To lead the team to the best of my abilities, ensuring we operated well as a team and achieved our objective: winning the cup.
Action: I ensured I remained approachable and delegated tasks effectively, such as organising travel to away matches and leading our pre-match warm ups. I adapted my communication to get the best out of people from a variety of age groups. My school teacher commended me for this.
Result: At the end of the year we went on to win the cup, and have one of the most successful set of results in our school’s recent history.
Reflection: In the football team, I developed my approach to making decisions under pressure and learned how to communicate with different personalities. Having carried out a wide range of work experience, I have seen how critical leadership and working within a team is in Medicine. I look forward to developing my skills set further in this area.
3. Use Other Peoples’ Praise
You need to showcase your qualities but don’t want to sound arrogant. In practice, this can be tricky. For example, you might get asked what your best trait is. You can answer this question but avoid sounding arrogant by citing what others have said about you in your Medicine interview.
During my last work experience placement, my supervising consultant commented on what he called my “outstanding communication skills” and very kindly reported back that some of his patients had said I made them feel comfortable on the ward. I therefore think communication skills are one of my strongest attributes.
4. Read Tomorrow’s Doctors
You only have up to four interviews to demonstrate your suitability for medicine. We urge all aspiring medics to read Tomorrow’s Doctors, published by the General Medical Council.
At the end of it you will have a clear understanding of the role of a doctor, and can start speaking a little more like one in your Medicine interview.
The role of multi-disciplinary teams in medicine is central to patient care.
Key buzzwords like this will help you stand out, as long as you can back them up. Acknowledging the growing importance of a doctor’s roles as a teacher would also demonstrate insight.
5. Always Answer The Question
It’s surprising how many people fail to answer to question asked in their Medicine interview. We have all been guilty of it. Under pressure it happens quite often, especially when you have over rehearsed a set of questions.
Listening carefully to each question is always vital, especially for the sometimes lengthy ethical questions.
A clever approach is to incorporate the question into your answer in your Medicine interview. By doing this at the start of your reply, you show that you have listened and remind yourself to address the points in question.
6. Manage Answer Lengths
What are we worried about here: too short, or too long? Well, it depends on the question type and format of the Medicine interview.
If you are asked an open-ended question such as ‘Why Medicine?’, then a short, 15-second response will not work. Equally, you need to have a structure to your answer to avoid waffling.
Try to stick generally to a rule of three. Make three clear, decisive points and conclude if necessary. Making six or seven is too much.
Think of time as money in an interview: use it wisely!
7. Dress To Impress
First impressions stick.
The first one you make is often the way you are dressed at your Medicine interview. One admissions tutor gave us this advice: ‘dress in the way you would like to see your doctor dressed’.
Don’t wear anything garish. Go for dark, neutral colours and make sure everything is clean and neat. Get a haircut and, if you are a male, shave before the interview.
8. Be Aware Of Body Language
After you enter the room, make eye contact and introduce yourself. Shake hands if the set-up allows it.
Eye contact is important throughout the Medicine interview. If you are facing a panel, always include all the assessors in your answer delivery.
Don’t be too fidgety, but equally don’t sit completely still. Be natural. Try filming yourself practicing. You will quickly notice your little quirks!
Finally, don’t be afraid to smile!
9. See Both Sides
This is particularly important for ethical scenarios.
Every scenario is designed to make you think. You should never commit yourself to a definitive answer immediately.
If the first word out of your mouth is a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’, does it really look like you’ve weighed the debate properly?
Perhaps not. It can be tempting to blurt out an instinctive response, especially if it’s something that you feel strongly about. But you need to keep your emotional response in check.
A better course of action is to first discuss arguments both for and against, before coming up with a balanced conclusion that appreciates the nuances of the scenario.
This should be done, where possible, within the framework of the four pillars of medical ethics:
- Autonomy — Does it show respect for the patient and their right to make decisions?
- Non-maleficence — Does it harm the patient?
- Justice — Are there consequences in the wider community?
- Beneficence — Does it benefit the patient?
10. Verbalise, verbalise, verbalise
We have all heard of the saying ‘location, location, location’ in relation to the property market. ‘Verbalise, verbalise, verbalise is The Medic Portal’s equivalent for the Medicine interview!
We cannot stress enough the importance of articulating your answers again and again. Practice saying your answers to friends, family, teachers — and anyone else who will listen.