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creativity questions in medical school interviews

So you have prepared for the ‘why medicine’ question, you can finally recall the four pillars of medical ethics, and you have been keeping up to date with NHS news… but you are now unsure how to approach those interview creativity questions!

This article is here with some tips on how to tackle these questions, with some ideas on how to approach specific examples!

1. Pause and Think Before Immediately Responding

As mentioned in our top tips article, when answering any question, it is important to pause and think about your answer before jumping straight into it without any points. Specifically, when it comes to creativity questions, interviewers are looking for a unique answer from you, so taking the time to pause and give a well-thought answer will prove valuable.

2. Be Methodical in Your Approach to Answering the Question

Creativity questions are difficult to predict; this is because they are designed to challenge you to offer new ideas in a high pressure setting, particularly on topics you may not have thought about before. Whilst it may feel easier to prepare for questions such as ‘why medicine’ or ‘academic questions’, choosing to be methodical in your approach can help you give a memorable answer and leave a good impression!

Using this example creativity question below, take two minutes to think about an interview-style answer.

Question: ‘If you were stranded in a deserted island, what one item would you choose to aid you and why?’

HINT: try to be methodical by thinking about what is important in this scenario and how this can be achieved.

Now that you have had time to think of a response- firstly, there is no single correct answer! It is, however, important that you took time to think of an answer and some justification for it.

Using the above tip to be methodical and the above hint to focus on what is important, an example of a response to this question is below:

‘In order to aid my survival, I would choose water purifying tablets for sea water, to ensure that my supply of water can be unlimited and I do not get dehydrated in the search for food or shelter.’ (This answer could then be further explained).

Another example on a completely different note can be read below:

‘In order to keep entertained and better my knowledge of the environment, nature and potential animals around me, I would choose an encyclopaedia. This may provide survival information with the benefit of numerous pages to keep my mind occupied and morale high’.

Both of the above answers, although completely different, provide justification for the object and show insight into how the question was interpreted. By following a methodical approach and focusing on the goal of survival as the main theme to the question, both these answers are clear and unique which is what should be aimed for when answering creativity questions!

3. Be Yourself and Get Creative!

As simple as this may sound, creativity questions require you to use your qualities and elements of your persona to deliver an answer that is representative of a creative and new side to you, different to what academic questions will bring out. So when thinking of answers, although it may feel odd, try to think about some of your other interests, skills and hobbies outside of medicine- although it may not feel relevant to the interview, you may show a quality that the interviewer is looking for!

For example, if you were asked to ‘what superpower would you like to have if you could choose one’, and you were passionate about travelling and meeting new people and communicating with them, you could say ‘the ability to speak any language’ with the above justification. This answer is different from ‘the ability to fly’ and ‘superspeed’ (which are not wrong answers, just more common), but it also has some justification and shows the quality of you enjoying talking to people, an important quality for a doctor!

Therefore, thinking about the world outside of medicine and the qualities and interests of you as a person may help you provide a unique answer, as after all it is based on you as a person.

4. Think About the Basics and Apply

Some creativity questions may involve answering questions such as ‘if you have to estimate, how many marbles could fit in this container’. If you are faced with questions such as these, try to think about them on simpler levels. For example, if the container is large, think about how many marbles could fit in a small container and then think about how many of those small containers could fit in a large one. Speaking through this methodically to the examiner will also aid the interviewer in understanding your thought process, as well as demonstrate your problem-solving skills!

5. Practice using the above tips

Finally, whilst it can be hard to be prepared for every creativity-related question, think about the tips mentioned above and practice some creative questions with friends, family or our FutureDoc tutors!

Try to listen to the question carefully, pause and think about a sensible approach to answering the question and be methodical in your reasoning and response. If in doubt, think back to basics and speak through your thought process to help you generate ideas and make the interviewer aware that you are attempting to problem-solve in a high-pressure, unfamiliar scenario (these questions are designed for this remember!)

If you want help getting into your dream university then also be sure to check out our 1 On 1 Coaching Programme. As part of this programme, you will get in-depth help with the entire application process from whatever stage you join at till you get into the medical school of your choice. This is done through cycle-dependent teaching and the founder of the course, Dr Ashley Hilton is always available for any questions. You can find out more about the Elite Programme here.

Written By: Ilina Sohal