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Types of interview questions

Familiarise yourself with each of the question types that commonly come up at medical school interviews.
Published 23rd Nov 2019

Familiarise yourself with each of the question types that commonly come up at medical school interviews. Being familiar with these will guide your preparation and will reduce the chance of being asked an unexpected question at interview.

These are some of the most common question types:

 

Questions about your motivation

  • “Why do you want to be a Doctor?”
  • “Why do you want to study at this particular medical school?”

 

Open questions about your experiences

  • “Tell us about your work experience.”
  • “Walk us through your voluntary work.”

 

Reflective questions about your experiences

  • “What did you learn about yourself through your voluntary work?”
  • “What skills did you develop during your work experience and how will those skills make you a better Doctor?”
  • “How do you handle stress and tell us about a time when you have dealt with stress?”

 

Questions about your understanding of the role of a Doctor

  • “Why do you want to be a Doctor rather than another healthcare professional such as a Nurse or a Paramedic?”
  • “What makes Medicine different to Nursing?”
  • “What makes a good Doctor?”

 

Questions about healthcare and NHS hot topics

  • “Can you tell us about the possible impact of Brexit on the NHS?”
  • “Tell us about something related to healthcare or Medicine which you’ve read about in the news recently.”

 

Questions about medical ethics 

  • “Many parents do not wish to vaccinate their children. Please explain the arguments for and against vaccination and then present your opinion.”

 

Scenario-based questions

These are also called Situational Judgement questions. They are similar to the questions that may come up in the Situational Judgement section of the UCAT

  • “Imagine you a Junior Doctor working in a hospital. One morning your Consultant comes in to work and is behaving very oddly and smells strongly of alcohol. What would you do?”

 

Role-play scenarios

These are common in MMIs but do not tend to come up in panel interviews. They might seem a bit bizarre sometimes, but they are designed to assess a key skill of a doctor – in this example, the skill of breaking bad news and communication

  • “Please role-play the following scenario with the actor, who is your neighbour Jane. You were reversing your car outside your house and you accidentally ran over Jane’s cat. You did not see the cat before you started to move your car because the cat was under the car. As soon as you realise what has happened, you get out of the car and go to speak to Jane. Please role-play this conversation with the actor.”

 

Quote based questions

  • “Please tell us what this quote means to you – ‘In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learnt about life: it goes on.’ -Robert Frost.”

 

Verbal reasoning questions

This question type is common in MMIs but not usually in panel interviews.

  • “Please read this passage of text, then summarise the main points for and against the argument.”

 

Data interpretation questions

Again, these come up in some MMIs but not usually in panel interviews.

  • “Please look at this graph/table/diagram and explain what it shows.”

 

Group tasks

These come up at a few medical school interviews – like Southampton. They require you to work in a team with a number of other candidates on something. The interviewers watch the group and assess things such as your teamwork and leadership abilities, communication, reasoning and problem-solving.

  • “As a team, you have ten minutes to discuss whether euthanasia should be legalised in the UK.”
  • “As a team, you have ten minutes to solve this puzzle.”
  • “One of the team members will be blindfolded. The rest of the team must work to guide them through these obstacles.”
  • “Everyone in the group apart from one individual will be shown a picture/diagram. The group must guide the individual to draw the picture/diagram.”
  • “As a team, you must build the tallest tower possible using these items. The tower must stand up by itself.”

 

Personal questions

  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • “How would your friends describe you?”
  • “Describe yourself in three words.”

 

Unusual/abstract questions

  • “If you could be any organ in the body, which would you be and why?” (I was asked this exact question in one of my interviews!)
  • “If you were going to a deserted island alone and could only take 10 items with you, what would they be and why?”

 

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