Careers Service

Interviews

Interviews

It is likely that you will take part in an interview, and preparation is essential.

The process varies between institutions. Some medical schools don't interview, some interview a few candidates and some interview everyone.

On average, the interviews last about 20 minutes and there will often be a panel of assessors. These may include clinicians, lay members, university academic staff and medical students.

Assessors use the interview to judge whether you are able to communicate effectively in person, as well as in a personal statement. 

They want evidence that you are able to make quick, rational decisions that you can explain clearly under pressure, and have an understanding of the issues surrounding a career in medicine.

If you've applied for an accelerated and an undergraduate medicine course at Newcastle you will only be given one interview for both courses. This can result in two offers.

The interviewers may also decide that you are unsuited to the demands of the accelerated course, but will still consider you for the undergraduate programme.

Practice interviews at Newcastle

Newcastle University students and recent graduates can visit the Careers Service to speak to an information adviser about preparing for interviews. No appointment is needed.

Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to arrange an interview coaching session with a careers consultant. You can also get general interview advice on our web pages.

Multiple mini interviews (MMIs)

MMIs involve being asked a range of questions with different interviewers, who are usually based at different ‘stations’ at the assessment centre. You may be asked to perform tasks at some of the stations, such as a role-play or a reading task.

They are a real test of your communication skills, as you’ll need to make a good impression at every station.

More information on MMIs

Advice and typical questions

The following are examples of the type of questions you might expect at an interview for medical school: 

Example motivation/interest/career choice questions 

  • Why did you apply for medicine - why not nursing or other medical specialisms?
  • Tell us about yourself. What work experience do you have and what are your interests?
  • Why did you chose this medical school? What do you know about this Medical School?
  • Why do you this method of training is right for you? (e.g. Problem Based Learning, Integrated learning)
  • Why did you choose your first degree?

Example competency/attributes questions

  • Give me an example of where you’ve demonstrated excellent communication skills.
  • How ambitious are you?
  • What is your motivation for being a doctor?
  • Can you tell me about when you’ve used team playing skills?  
  • Where have you used your management and leadership abilities?
  • Have you had opportunities to teach or mentor others?
  • Where have you demonstrated your interpersonal skills best?
  • Tell me how you handle stressful situations.

Example negative or incriminating questions

  • What would you say are your main weaknesses?
  • What makes you angry?
  • What are your concerns about studying medicine or being a doctor?
  • Give me a time where you have had to deal with difficult people.
  • How would you manage dealing with a problem with a colleague?

Example ethical questions/scenarios

  • Should an ex-alcoholic be given a liver transplant?
  • How far should the NHS fund fertility treatments?
  • Should the NHS treat patients with ‘self-inflicted’ diseases e.g. a heavy smoker who requires coronary artery bypass surgery.
  • How should doctors deal with patients who refuse treatment? 
  • A thirteen year old comes to you asking about contraception because she is in a regular sexual relationship. She doesn’t want her parents to find out. What do you do?  

Example questions about your knowledge and opinions of current issues in health care

  • Why do most doctors not wear white coats?
  • Should we be worried about antibiotic resistance?
  • What is the difference between medicine now and 100 years ago?
  • Should the NHS fund alternative medicines?
  • What does the term ‘holistic approach’ mean to you?
  • Can you highlight three recent developments or changes in the NHS?
  • What is your understanding of the NHS and how it operates?
  • What are your thoughts on the use of the private sector in the NHS?
  • What are your views on the training of doctors?
  • What medical publications do you read?
  • How does politics influence health care provision?
  • What does the term ‘inequalities in health’ mean to you?
  • What do you think are the main difficulties faced by doctors in their work?
  • Does treatment work better in hospital or in the community?

Tips for answering questions at medical school interviews 

  • Reflect - what did you do or observe during your work experience or shadowing experience?
  • Think about the most interesting, unexpected, worst and best things that you witnessed.
  • What did you learn from this?
  • Why was it important?
  • How have you applied what you observed and experienced to your own practice? Have you tried this learning out?

Tips for giving opinions in medical school interviews

  • There is not a right answer.
  • Use evidence or explanation to back up your answers.
  • Explain your thought processes.
  • Assume no prior knowledge on the interviewers’ part – not all interviewers will be medics.
  • Show awareness and recognition of different viewpoints
  • Don’t ‘sit on the fence’ – have an opinion!
  • Take a common sense approach.

More information

The following resources give advice on the interview process and more typical questions:

Resources to help with your interview research 

For more advice see Interviews and Assessment Centres

If you need help preparing for your medical school interview, come and talk to us. No appointment is necessary.