Interview Question and Model Answer Bank: Creativity
Interview Question and Model Answer Bank: Creativity
Hey there, future medical professionals! If you're reading this, chances are you're gearing up for one of the most important moments in your journey towards becoming a doctor—the medical school interview. Congratulations on reaching this stage! Now, let's talk about a specific aspect of the interview process that often catches students off guard: Creativity-based questions.
In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating world of creativity-based questions and how they can test your lateral thinking and thought-process. You might be wondering, why would they ask me questions unrelated to medicine? Well, the aim is to gauge your ability to think outside the box, to assess your problem-solving skills, and to see how you handle situations where there are no straightforward answers. These questions offer a unique opportunity for you to showcase your ability to approach challenges with creativity and innovation.
Preparation is absolutely key when it comes to smashing your medical school interview. So, make sure you check out FutureDoc’s detailed guide here which explains the types of interviews in greater depth.
Throughout this article, we'll provide you with a bank of creativity-based questions commonly asked in medical school interviews. Moreover, we'll offer model answers to help you understand the mindset and structure required to tackle such questions effectively. Our aim is to equip you with the tools to impress interviewers and demonstrate your ability to think critically and imaginatively. You can also use these worked examples to practice your technique by yourself or within a group. Remember - practice makes perfect!
What are creativity-based questions?
Creativity-based questions, as the name suggests, are interview inquiries designed to assess your ability to think creatively and approach problems from unique perspectives. These questions may not have an obvious connection to medicine, but they serve a crucial purpose in evaluating your lateral thinking skills, adaptability, and capacity to generate innovative solutions. By presenting you with scenarios that require thinking beyond the conventional boundaries of medical knowledge, interviewers aim to gauge your capacity for intellectual flexibility and your potential to navigate the complexities of patient care in an ever-evolving healthcare landscape. Remember, in the medical field, being able to think creatively is invaluable when confronted with complex cases and novel situations. From forming an initial diagnosis to offering treatment, creativity is a key skill required to be a great doctors toolkit!
So, how can I prepare for these questions?
Preparing for creativity-based questions requires a combination of mental agility, practice, and a willingness to embrace unconventional thinking. Here are five strategies we recommend:
- Embrace diverse perspectives: Engage in activities that broaden your horizons and expose you to different fields of knowledge. Reading books outside of the medical realm, exploring art, or participating in creative hobbies are good examples. This exposure can enhance your ability to draw connections and think beyond the boundaries of medicine.
- Cultivate critical thinking: Sharpen your critical thinking skills by regularly engaging in thought-provoking exercises. Practice analysing complex scenarios, identifying underlying assumptions, and challenging established norms. This will help you develop the capacity to approach problems from multiple angles and consider innovative solutions.
- Solve hypothetical scenarios: Seek out creativity-based questions or hypothetical scenarios and practice devising thoughtful responses. As you tackle these scenarios, focus on articulating your thought process, demonstrating your ability to consider various perspectives, and providing logical justifications for your choices.
- Reflect and learn from experiences: Take time to reflect on past experiences where you needed to think creatively or solve problems in unique ways. Consider the steps you took to arrive at a solution, the challenges you encountered, and the lessons you learned. This reflection will not only help you articulate your experiences during interviews but also enable you to draw upon real-life examples to illustrate your creative thinking abilities.
- Practice, practice, practice: Mock interviews and role-playing exercises can be immensely helpful in preparing for creativity-based questions. Work with a mentor, fellow applicants, or even record yourself responding to questions. Pay attention to your delivery, clarity of thought, and ability to communicate your ideas effectively.
Worked Example 1: “If you could invent a new medical device, what would it be and why?”
Student 1's answer: “I would invent a device that can instantly diagnose any disease just by taking a selfie. It would use advanced facial recognition technology to analyse your facial features and determine the exact medical condition you have.”
Student 2's answer: "If I had the opportunity, I would invent a smart pill dispenser that utilizes advanced technology to enhance medication adherence. This device would feature a built-in digital reminder system and individualized medication schedules. It would also connect to a smartphone application that sends notifications to patients when it's time to take their medications. The dispenser would provide accurate dosing, track adherence patterns, and even notify healthcare providers or family members in case of missed doses. By addressing medication non-adherence, this device aims to improve treatment effectiveness, reduce medication errors, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes.”
Student 3's answer: "I would invent a wearable device that continuously monitors and analyses vital signs in real-time, providing immediate alerts and insights to both patients and healthcare providers. This device would integrate sensors to track parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation. It would also have built-in connectivity to securely transmit data to a cloud-based platform, allowing doctors to remotely monitor patients' health status. By enabling proactive monitoring and early intervention, this device would enhance patient safety, improve disease management, and reduce hospital readmissions.”
Comparing the three answers, it is clear that Students 2 and 3 have a better grasp of the question. Unfortunately, Student 1's answer is unrealistic, and it relies on oversimplified assumptions. It also overlooks the complexity of diagnosing diseases, which often require comprehensive medical evaluations, lab tests, and clinical expertise. Facial recognition technology alone cannot accurately diagnose various diseases or consider the multitude of factors involved in medical diagnoses. Contrastingly, Student 2 and 3's answers showcase more realistic devices and more importantly, they quantify the impact they would have on patients. Furthermore, they are specific, innovative, and they show that the students have thought deeply about the question.
KEY TIP: Always ensure your answer includes a reference back to patients and the multidisciplinary team!
Worked Example 2: "If you could design a city from scratch, what unique features would you include to make it truly innovative?”
Student 1's answer: "I would include more parks and bike lanes in the city. The parks would provide green spaces for residents to relax and enjoy nature, while the bike lanes would promote a healthier and more eco-friendly mode of transportation. By increasing the number of parks, people would have more opportunities to engage in outdoor activities and improve their overall well-being. Similarly, the addition of bike lanes would encourage a shift towards sustainable transportation options, reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions. These features would make the city more liveable and environmentally friendly.”
Student 2's answer: "In designing a city from scratch, I would prioritize the well-being of its residents by creating an environment that promotes health and vitality. The city would feature a comprehensive network of pedestrian and bike-friendly infrastructure, encouraging active lifestyles and reducing reliance on cars. Green spaces and parks would be strategically integrated, providing opportunities for outdoor activities, relaxation, and improved mental well-being. To support physical health, the city would prioritize sustainable food systems through urban farming initiatives, ensuring access to fresh and nutritious produce. In addition, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and wellness centres would be incorporated, offering advanced medical services, preventive care programs, and recreational facilities to promote a holistic approach to health. By combining these elements, the city would create a symbiotic relationship between the built environment and the well-being of its residents.
On first glance, both answers seem to provide good ideas for dealing with the challenging nature of this question. However, Student 2's answer provides additional health-related context, showing that the student has insight into how city-wide measures can improve public health. By emphasising these elements, the response showcases a commitment to improving the physical and mental well-being of the city's residents, creating an environment that supports healthy lifestyles and addresses health concerns. A key part of this question is relating it back to medicine, and Student 2 does this clearly.
KEY TIP: When faced with questions like these, it can be challenging to come up with a succinct answer on the spot. Taking a few seconds to formalise your thoughts is key. Feel free to let your interviewer know this too. You may say “That's a fascinating question, I'm just going to take a few seconds to organise my thoughts….”
Worked Example 3: "Should doctors have a role in contact sports such as boxing? If so, what innovative approaches could be implemented to ensure athlete safety?”
Student 1's answer: "Doctors should be present during boxing matches to provide immediate medical assistance if any injuries occur. Their expertise can help in assessing and treating athletes on the spot, ensuring their safety and well-being. In case of severe injuries, doctors can provide prompt interventions and recommend appropriate follow-up care. Having doctors on-site can give athletes and spectators peace of mind, knowing that medical help is readily available.”
Student 2's answer: "Doctors should play a crucial role in contact sports like boxing to prioritize athlete safety, considering the ethical nature of these sports. Innovative approaches, such as comprehensive pre-event screenings, physiological monitoring, post-match assessments, and educational initiatives, could be implemented to address athlete well-being and prevent injuries.
Contact sports raise ethical considerations related to the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice. By having doctors involved, a balance can be struck to uphold these ethical pillars. Post-match assessments in collaboration with sports scientists and rehabilitation specialists are particularly important as they can ensure athletes have a tailored recovery plan.
Moreover, educational initiatives can enhance the medical knowledge of coaches, trainers, and officials, fostering a collective responsibility for athlete care. A condition I read about was Traumatic-Induced Encephalopathy which can lead to dementia. By promoting healthcare promotion, doctors can contribute to avoiding serious conditions like this.
This is a challenging question as it tests various elements including your understanding of ethics, your creativity, and your prioritisation of health promotion. Student 1 provides a good explanation of health promotion but omits mentioning any innovative approaches and the ethical nature of contact sports. In contrast Student 2 refers of the four ethical pillars and offers creative ways to improve athlete safety. Importantly, they also mention the role of a doctor as both a leader and an educator - showing key insight into the numerous skills required in a medical career. Finally, Student 2 also incorporate some wider reading through their knowledge of Trauma-Induced Encephalopathy (TIE). This shows additional knowledge which may impress the interviewer.
KEY TIP: When faced with questions with an ethical aspect, make sure you are aware of the four pillars (Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Justice). Refer to each in turn and how they impact your ethical judgement. Importantly, try and remain balanced with ethical questions, showing your ability to consider both sides.
Worked Example 4: “If you had to give up one of your five senses, which one would you give up and why?”
Student 1's answer: "I would be willing to give up my sense of smell because it's not as important as the other senses. While it can enhance the enjoyment of certain experiences like food or fragrances, losing it wouldn't significantly impact my daily life. The sense of smell is more of a luxury than a necessity, and I believe I could easily adapt to life without it.”
Student 2's answer: “If I had to choose one sense to give up, I would reluctantly choose my sense of taste. While taste is important for enjoying food, it is closely connected to the sense of smell. Losing taste would diminish my ability to perceive flavours fully. However, the other senses hold immense value in our daily experiences: sight for appreciation and navigation, hearing for communication and awareness, touch for physical sensations, and smell for memory and perception. While any sense loss would have an impact, by focusing on the other senses, I could adapt and still derive satisfaction from meals. Moreover, giving up taste would deepen my appreciation for other senses and foster empathy towards those with sensory impairments.”
In contrast to Student 1's answer, Student 2 displays an appreciation for all five senses whilst showcasing a logical thought process as to how they arrived at their decision. By explaining the immense importance of the other four senses in their life, they show a deep understanding of the question. In addition to mentioning the intrinsic link between taste and smell, they also include a fantastic ending by referencing those with sensory impairments. In comparison, Student 1's ending comes off as impersonal and offers no justification as to how they would adapt to a life without smell. Importantly, there is no right answer to this question. The interviewer is looking for a logical thought process and your ability to succinctly offer a structured answer. Reference back to patients is a bonus and should always be considered!
What other questions could come up?
Here are a few more to practice creating answers to:
- “How many golf balls can fit inside a school bus?"
- "How many hair strands are there on a person's head?"
- "How many bricks were used to build the Great Wall of China?”
- “How much does a volcano weigh?”
KEY TIP: These questions can appear quite “random” and difficult to answer. However, to answer these well there is a structure you can use. Firstly, mention the difficulty in accurately giving an answer due to varying measurement options. Secondly, don't stress and provide a random number. Thirdly, offer a potential solution using mathematical principles. For example, you could divide the internal volume of the school bus and then the volume of a golf ball to have an approximate answer. Fourthly, include reference to how you would make your answer more accurate. The key to these sorts of questions is to show a logical thought process.
We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into creativity-based questions and their significance in the interview process. Highlighting your ability to think outside the box, approaching problems from different angles, and proposing unique solutions will demonstrate your potential as a future physician.
Remember to emphasise the role of creativity in healthcare, where innovative approaches can lead to improved patient care and medical advancements. If you're seeking a comprehensive guide on answering interview questions, definitely explore FutureDoc's exceptional in-depth interview course.
We wish you the utmost success on your pre-medical journey and may your creativity and passion for medicine shine brightly throughout the application process!”
Written by Rohan Mehra