‘If you get a fresh egg from a farm is it alive or dead?’
These types of medical interview questions are usually associated with the medical school interviews at Oxford and Cambridge. However, with the advent of MMI type interviews, which include elements of problem solving and lateral thinking, you would do well to practise engaging both the logic and creative sides of your brain. This blog is therefore aimed at those of you who are preparing for Oxbridge style interviews, and MMI style ones.
1. How to approach these types of medical interview question
Keep calm and think logically. Lots of people find these types of medical interview questions intimidating. However, often the interviewer is usually not after a ‘right’ answer as such. From our experience, interviewers look to see:
how you think
whether you are logical
whether you can take on board new information
how you assimilate new information with your current knowledge, and come up with new, creative solutions to problems.
2. Guide the interviewer through your thought process
It’s all about using your brain. Don’t be afraid to say what comes into your head! So, basically remember to try and think logically and tell the interviewer your thoughts.
You don’t necessarily have to come up with anything weird and wonderful. Often, students worry about sounding silly and therefore stop themselves from talking. Don’t let that inhibit you! It’s more awkward, both for you and the interviewer, if you stay silent! Even if you are not on the right lines, the interviewer may try and swerve you back onto the correct path.
Top Tip: For a numerical medical interview questions, if you’ve been asked to estimate numbers, try keep them round. This will make it easier for you to do few basic calculations in your head!
3. Be prepared to be pushed on your responses
The interviewers are likely to push you to make you expand on your answers. They want you to try and give them more layers of complexity to fewer questions, than lots of answers to many questions. This is to assess whether you can be guided through questions and answers, and can respond to their suggestions.
Top Tip: This is be difficult if you are so terrified you can barely listen to what they are saying! So try to stay as calm as possible.
4. Be enthusiastic and show you are keen to learn
The medical interview questions asked are designed to show whether you are teachable. It is likely that the person interviewing you would be one of your tutors if your application was successful. The interviewer wants to see that the tutorial style of Oxbridge teaching would suit you.
To show that you are enthusiastic, make sure you demonstrate your thirst for knowledge. Show th interviewers that you are keen to learn. You also need to show that when your current knowledge is limited, you are ready to go away and find new things out.
Top Tip: Why not try a practice discussion with family friends? Find science-orientated medical interview questions and start a debate at home. Just try not to let it descend into a blazing row!
Medical interview questions: worked example
Question: At what point is a person “dead”?
Some key considerations to think about for your answer: Is it when they are no longer alive?
What does dead mean? When a person stops breathing? When their heart stops?
A person who has drowned may have stopped breathing and may later be revived by slow rewarming.
A heart can be restarted by CPR/defibrillation so death cannot be at the point the heart stops.
What if their own heart and lungs have stopped working and a machine is doing these things for them? Are they dead then?
What about when their brain stops working? Do you cease to exist when your brain stops working (because who are you if not your brain?)
It is the brain which controls your heart and lungs, and all your other organs ultimately, so in the absence of a machine, death of all body systems will surely follow .
Does death mean something that is irreversible?
Can a person have truly ‘died’ and then come back to life?
Uploaded by Beth on November 24th, 2015
Online Mock Interview Video
Watch this video to see how our fantastic new tool allows you to practise interviews from the comfort of your own home! Meet the Dean Emeritus of The Royal Society of Medicine and have all your answers assessed by our medical education experts - book today!
Need MMI help? We're here to help you pass! Our MMI courses will train you up with all the info you need to answer those tough problems and ethical scenarios. Written and hosted by trained medics and doctors, you'll experience the circuit-style layout of the MMI format, and get full mocks. Learn how to think on your feet - book now.
Take a look inside our free Interview Question Bank. With worked questions and answers, you'll discover traditional, MMI and Oxbridge style questions. Learn how to answer ethical scenarios or scientific problems. Written by medics for those wanting to be medics - check it out!