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9th November 2020
You’re almost guaranteed to get ethics questions in your Medicine interview. Often this takes the form of a simple question, where you’ll be asked what you think about a hot topic – but don’t make the mistake of jumping to express your personal opinion.

Instead, use the interview prep tips below to learn a framework that you can use to answer any ethics question you’re asked.

Don’t Express Your Opinion Straight Away

Whilst it can be tempting to launch straight into your personal opinions about abortion or euthanasia, this is not what your interviewers are looking for.

When asked an ethics question, the best thing to do is to pause, fully process the question and think about why they have asked this.

Think About Ethical Principles

Remember the key ethical principles:

Think about which of these apply to the scenario – and how. Do other principles apply, like consent and capacity?

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Summarise The Key Issues

Once you’ve thought about the ethical principles and the scenario given, it’s important to summarise what you think the key issues are. It’s a good idea to focus on the two or three most important arguments to keep your summary concise.

By showing your thinking, you can help the interviewer understand how you’ve approached this question or task.

Think About Wider Implications

Once you’ve outlined the key arguments you should also discuss the wider implications. For example, if you’re asked to analyse a situation in which you consider that a doctor lying to a patient may be justified, then think about what would happen if you applied this rule to other scenarios. This is always a good way to test out the validity of your ethical viewpoint – and you can explain this to the interviewer.

Where questions have been asked in a seemingly abstract way, try to think about healthcare-related implications.

Stay calm

Ethical scenarios will always be some of the trickier questions you will be asked in your interview. Try to remember that interviewers aren’t looking for you to understand every possible viewpoint and every legal aspect of certain scenarios. But by showing you have considered more than one point of view and can weigh them up, e.g. by using the ethical pillars, you can show your interviewer that you can think critically and understand complex issues.

Stay calm, speak slowly, and allow yourself to take pauses. This shows that you’re processing your thoughts, so you can answer the question to the best of your ability and really impress your interviewer. Don’t feel pressured to fill the silence by chatting.

Prepare For Common Questions In Advance

Some ethical hot topics are more likely to be asked than others, so think about what is topical and what is a long-standing issue. For example, you could be asked about vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccination in the news, or about medicinal cannabis, or abortion or euthanasia – and beyond.

As these subjects are so important, doing your research before your interview and having a good idea of what you would talk about can be really helpful. Our hot topics guide covers these in detail.

Additionally, practising applying the four ethical pillars to these scenarios will also be a really good way to prepare – and so can reviewing example interview questions

Make sure you practice how to answer questions with people, too. This will give you a sense of how you sound, and whether you’re able to confidently apply the tips outlined above.

Test Your Knowledge

Another great tip for ethics questions is to test your knowledge. Try our quiz to find out how much you know about ethics – and see if you still need some help with this topic.

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