Success in your MMIs or Medical School interviews is largely a result of having adequately prepared with a sufficient range of medical school questions. Common medical school interview questions are common simply because they are the most likely to tell admissions teams what they need to know – whether you have the correct attributes to be a doctor. Here, we will focus on 10 common medical school questions in detail, as well as supplying another 15 that you should be aware of – and that you can use lessons learned in the example answers to help with.
Medicine Questions: Traditional Interview
Why would you like to study Medicine?
There are three main reasons why medicine appeals to me:
-I like the idea of working independently as an individual in treating patients, improving their quality of life, whilst very much supported within a team environment.
- From my work experience, I was attracted to the energy and enthusiasm around the medical profession, and from speaking to doctors, I have learnt how fulfilling and rewarding a career it can be.
-I have also seen how medicine is always evolving; as a doctor, you have great flexibility to diversify and specialise into numerous fields, making medicine such a unique and unparalleled profession.
Why not consider a career in nursing or as a pharmacist?
I recognise that there are many similarities between medicine and nursing with both professions vital in the effective running of the NHS, optimising patient care and many nurse practitioners also now playing a vital role in diagnosing conditions and prescribing medications. However, I am particularly drawn to Medicine due to the wide range of specialities which I could choose to pursue, and also the fact that being a doctor is dynamic and very much at the forefront of medical innovation. Hence, as a doctor I would be at the pivot of medical advances, in a vital clinical decision making role.
What do you do in your spare time?
I currently do a wide range of sports, voluntary work and exam preparation throughout the year as I feel that it is important to have a firm balance between work and extra-curricular activities. I enjoy representing my school in netball and hockey teams and as captain of the badminton team, it is my duty to organise and pick teams and pairings for matches, which has strengthened my decision making skills, an important quality as a doctor. I volunteer at an elderly nursing home, where I can see the similarities in patient care with what I had witnessed during my work experience at a GP surgery and hospital setting, with all environments requiring a holistic approach, in the way that patients are treated for their psychological and social aspects as well as their physical problems. Within school, I volunteer in assisting younger years’ mathematics classes during my free periods, helping less able pupils which often requires a lot of patience and determination. Finally, throughout the year, I find it important to continuously consolidate my notes, ensuring that I have a thorough understanding of all topics, that way during exam time it is less stressful as I can implement what I have already learnt
What would you do if you do not get into Medicine this year?
I hope that my application has the credentials to be successful this year however I recognise that the Medicine application process is competitive, with many excellent candidates. Initially, I would request feedback from each of the respective universities and thereafter I would aim to strengthen my application accordingly. This may involve arranging additional work experience or improving my personal statement in order to demonstrate my suitability for medical school and I would subsequently re-apply next year, with the ambition of studying Medicine here at Imperial College London.
You are an on-call FY2 Junior Doctor, and one of the nurses (who you have not met before) has asked to speak to you regarding her farther (Mr Jones) who is a patient on your ward. The nurse would like to discuss her father’s recent test results.
Mr Jones CT Report Summary
‘There is evidence of widespread cancer spread throughout the lungs, liver and Spleen; palliative input to be considered.’
‘Hi Miss Jones. Thank you for asking to speak to me, and I understand that this is a very difficult time for you. How are you doing? Can I ask what you know about your father’s current situation? (allow response). Whilst I understand that this will be frustrating for you, I’m afraid I can’t provide any information on your father’s current condition or test results – beyond what you already know – without his permission. I’m sure you’re aware that this is standard policy regarding patient confidentiality. However, I can look to facilitate him sharing permission for you. Would that be of use?’
You are an FY2 doctor on a general medical ward, and your consultant has asked you to discuss the following investigation results with Mrs Smith.
CT Chest, Abdomen, Pelvis Summary
There is evidence of cancer spread from the ovaries to the lungs, liver and stomach suggesting of advanced end-stage malignancy. Palliative input to be considered.
Hi Mrs Smith. Thank you for speaking to me today. Are you comfortable speaking here? How are you doing today? First of all, I’d like to check with you and find out your understanding of the current situation. What’s the latest that you’ve heard, and is there anything in particular that you’re concerned about or that you’ve received information about?’ (allow response)
I’m afraid that this won’t be an easy conversation. Are you OK for me to continue..? The results show that… (provide the patient with results, then respond to their further input as is appropriate).
You are a medical consultant and several staff members have approached you regarding your new junior doctor who they have described as dishevelled and often malodourous. The staff members have signed a petition stating that they will refuse to work on the ward, if action is not taken. You have also noticed the strong body odour, and have arranged a meeting with the junior doctor to discuss the matter further.
‘Hi Tom, thank you for agreeing to chat with me today. How are you doing? (allow them to reply) First of all, I’d just like to ask if you’ve any idea why I might be needing to speak with you today? (if not) The issue is that numerous other staff members have highlighted your appearance and lack of self-care recently. It’s been clear through your dishevelled clothing, and also through your body odour, I’m afraid. I’m not looking to tell you off; rather, I just want to explore this issue with you and see if there’s anything going on in the background, and how we can work to solve this together. Is that OK?’ (continue, guided by their responses).
You are captain of the school hockey team and are due to announce the squad for the regional championships tomorrow. Unfortunately, you have decided that one of your close friends Chris has not made the final squad. You have arranged to meet Chris prior to the announcement, to break the bad news.
S – Setting up the interview (Preparing yourself and the consultation setting)
P – Perception (Understanding Chris’ perception of their hockey performance and the reason for the meeting)
I – Invitation (Wait for Chris to invite you to deliver the bad news)
K – Knowledge (Knowledge and information transfer to Chris)
E – Empathy and emotional support
S – Summary and strategy for the future
Hi Chris! How are you today? thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me. First of all, can I just ask you if you’ve any idea why I need to meet with you today? (allow Chris to respond). OK – and can I ask you how you think your season is going with the team, in general? As that’s why I have to talk to you today, really. (allow Chris to respond). Yes, it is regarding the team. I’m afraid that… (deliver the bad news, then empathetically respond to Chris’ concerns and support him, ensure that all is well with his personal life and that he understands how to move forward positively).
You are a second year medical student on attachment in a local hospital. In preparation for this attachment, your supervisor has asked that you introduce yourself to Patient A (known to have mild anxiety) and ease their apprehensions on a pre-surgical appointment.
Good morning, my name is _ and I am a second year medical student on a work placement here. I do hope it would be okay for me to have a conversation with you before your appointment this morning? (allow patient to respond)
Open Questions and Develop Rapport:
It is an absolute pleasure to meet you, the doctor will be seeing you shortly. I hope you do not mind if I sit in on your appointment this morning. (allow for response)
If you don’t mind me asking, how are you feeling this morning? (allow for pause and patient response)
Address the issues known:
I understand that many patients feel a little apprehensive about seeing a doctor (allow patient to add comment).
We are here to assure you that we strive to provide you with the best care possible and should you feel nervous or uncomfortable at any time, please do not hesitate to tell any of the staff on duty. We want to make your visit as pleasant and comfortable as possible. (allow patient to add comment)
There are quite a few coping mechanisms that different patients find useful when dealing with medical anxiety and I’d be happy to show you a leaflet and talk through them with you if that would be helpful to you?
Identify any additional issues:
I appreciate that we have discussed a few concerns today, was there anything else concerning you? or anything else that you would like to discuss?
If there was anything else related to your treatment you wanted to raise, I’m sure the doctor would be more than happy to speak to you about any concerns or queries.
Summary and plan going forward:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this morning. A member of staff will call you through shortly, but do let us know if there is anything you require in the meantime.
15 additional common medical school questions
Tell us about a time when you demonstrated your ability to lead others.
What makes a good team player? Do you possess those qualities?
What makes a good leader? Do you fit this description?
Tell us about a time when you were part of a team that succeeded against the odds.
Tell us about a time when you had a falling out with a friend or colleague, and how it was resolved.
Did you have a mentoring position at school? If so, tell us about it and your learnings.
What is the role of the multidisciplinary team in Medicine?
What kind of challenging situations have you found yourself in, where communication was difficult? This may have been an emotional situation, or a stressful situation.
What kind of patients might doctors find it harder to communicate with, and how can these barriers be overcome?
How do you deal with difficult or stressful situations? Do you work well under intense pressure?
What is your opinion on abortions? Would that opinion change the care that you provide?
What medical issues have you read about recently?
Should recreational drugs be legalised in the UK?
Should junior doctors be allowed to go on strike?
Should the same care be provided on the NHS to those that cause their health issues or comorbidities (such as through smoking or eating poorly) as is provided to those that try to live a healthy lifestyle?
General preparation tips
In general, to best prepare for the questions found above, and others that you will encounter, you should:
- Practise common interview questions. MMIs or interviews will include common questions that you can prepare for in advance, like those above. These may include questions about your motivation for pursuing medicine, your strengths and weaknesses, and your experiences in healthcare.
- Research the school and program. Make sure you have a good understanding of the school and program you are applying to. This includes researching the school’s mission and values, as well as the specific features of the program that appeal to you.
- Develop robust knowledge of Medicine and healthcare. Although interviews are not a test of your medical knowledge, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate solid knowledge of the world of Medicine and the current hot topics in healthcare.
You can find many more tips and strategies for preparation elsewhere on our site.