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Published on 21st December 2016 by lauram

This is part of our new ‘Interview Guide’ blog series, where each post will be focusing on a different aspect of a medical school interview. This guide collects a range of our resources on Teamwork, from topic-specific blog posts to Interview Questions.

What is Teamwork in an interview?

Teamwork is a key aspect of working in Medicine – so your interviewers will want to see evidence that you understand this. Questions may take the form of asking you about the importance of teamwork, or when you saw examples of good leadership skills – or an MMI station involving a group task.

More traditional teamwork questions will often draw on your work experience, or extracurricular activities. Think of all the times you have worked in a team: in your medical society, in your Duke of Edinburgh award, working at a local charity shop or at your care home work placement. Your interviewers will be interested in what you have taken away from these experiences, and that you have demonstrated the key skills to become a doctor.

Key resource: How to tackle Teamwork questions

What kinds of questions will I be asked on Teamwork?

Questions on Teamwork may take a variety of forms, for example:

  • Tell me about a time when you worked in a team and you were successful.
  • What qualities are important in a good team leader?
  • Tell us about a time when you faced a difficult situation in a team.
  • An MMI station may involve a group task or exercise – such as explaining to your partner how to draw a specific image.

The traditional questions are highly focused on examples, so make sure you have some good ones! Even if the question doesn’t seem to require one, it’s a good idea to use one to support your ideas. If you’re answering a question on what makes a good team leader, you could give an overview of your opinion and back this up by explaining a situation in which a group resolved their issues with the support of a fair and supportive leader. These will add strength to your argument, and will demonstrate that you have a good grasp of the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

You can use our Teamwork Question Bank to practice these types of questions with a friend – and this resource also includes free detailed answer guides.

Key resource: Teamwork Question Bank

How can I prepare for Teamwork questions?

A key thing to remember for these questions is that listening is just as important as leadership skills. When you’re giving examples, make sure you emphasise that a good team is one in which members listen to each other as well as lead – and do your best to practice this in an MMI team exercise. Make sure you listen to all members of your group as well as contribute your ideas.

On a similar note, you’ll need to have examples of when you demonstrated both skills – perhaps you listened to your team leader when organising an event for your medical society, or lead your group through a difficult scenario during your Duke of Edinburgh award. It’s important that you emphasise both qualities – as both are necessary to a great team!

As outlined above, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve recently re-read your work experience diary to have some key examples to use for these questions. For example, when did you observe good leadership skills on a placement and what did you learn from this? Remember to also base your answers around certain skills and characteristics of good team members – for example, good communication skills, honesty, empathy or understanding – and think of examples which highlight these. As well as talking about specific examples, it’s also good to reflect on your experiences. What did you learn from each experience about working in Medicine? What did you learn about the importance of teamwork on a hospital ward?

Key resource: MMI: How To Show Teamwork

How we can help:

  • MMI Circuits – team tasks are a common feature at MMI interviews. Created and run by doctors and education experts, our practice MMI Circuits recreate a real MMI experience with a variety of different stations.
  • Interview Courses – we devote a section to Teamwork and Personal Insight at our one-day Interview Course. The day also includes proven techniques to tackle all interview formats and a comprehensive workbook.
  • Interview Tutoring – our bespoke sessions are entirely tailored to suit your needs, so you could choose to focus on Teamwork question techniques or bespoke adjustments for particular UK medical schools.
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