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Panel Interviews for Medicine

Advice & Insight From Interview Specialists

Panel interviews are less commonly used than MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews), but will still be a part of the assessment process for many students. Considering the UK, only seven universities use this method. Here, we’ll look at the universities that use the traditional panel format, consider what exactly a panel interview is, look at some top tips, and of course consider previous questions.

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Which UK Medical Schools Use Panel Interviews?

The following UK medical schools make use of traditional panel interviews: Barts & The London, University of Bristol, Cambridge, University of Central Lancashire, Glasgow, Oxford, and Swansea. Of course there will be significant differences in the format of interview looking at these different schools – Oxford and Cambridge, for example, are most likely to focus heavily on academia and problem solving as part of their interview, whilst other universities are more likely to focus on the same kind of behavioural and personal questions that you would encounter in MMIs. Oxbridge interviews will also typically take place across two different colleges – meaning that you could have 2 or 3 different interviews over the course of a few days, whilst other schools will likely only require that you attend one.

What is a Medical School Panel Interview Like?

As mentioned, this will to some extent focus on the medical school. However, the core element of a panel interview is that it is focused on answering specific questions, rather than on dealing with tasks. Remember that there could be some element of an MMI within the panel interview – perhaps being asked how you might respond to a certain situation, for example.

Within the broader sphere of ‘panel interviews’ are both traditional panel interviews and structured or semi-structured panel interviews. The former is unstructured, and provides free reign for the interviewer to ask the questions that they want to ask – it is therefore less objective, but can allow for interesting discussion or debate. Structured or semi-structured interviews are more common, as they inject an element of objectivity, and ensure that candidates are on a more even playing field. A structured interview is more likely to feel like a rigorous back-and-forth, with the questions entirely set, and your response to the questions unlikely to change the direction of the overall conversation. A semi-structured interview provides some more scope for the interviewer to respond to your answers and for you to therefore change the dialogue, but ensures that you will still face certain questions.

A panel interview can be seen as positive in that you will be able to take more time over your answers, work with the interviewers to really show your personality and beliefs, and direct the interview yourself. However, there’s equally more time for interviewers to chase you on potential red flags or on difficult topics, or probe areas that you might struggle with. Equally, there’s much more scope for an interviewer’s personal beliefs or views to interfere with the process.

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Who will interview me in a Medical School Panel Interview?

The panel that interviews you will likely feature at least one member of the Admissions Committee of the university that you are applying to. This means that they will be a tutor or senior figure within the medical school. You might also be interviewed by consultants linked to the university, GPs, nurses, or even current medical students as well. It’s not uncommon with a larger panel to have either a member of the admission committee and a medical student, or a tutor, practising doctor and medical student. 

Top tips for Panel Interviews

The most important thing to remember in a panel interview is that you are being invited to have a discussion with the admissions tutors. As such, you should avoid being dogmatic, listen carefully to what interviewers say, and show that you are teachable, willing to work with others and respect their views, and that you are engaged and proactive.

Previous questions for Medicine Panel Interviews

Why do you want to study Medicine?

Tell me about some experiences that made you want to practise medicine.

What are three things you do well?

What would you like to improve about yourself?

What was the greatest challenge in your life so far?

Discuss your greatest accomplishment/failure.

What are your biggest personal weaknesses?

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Panel Interviews for Medicine

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