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Mastering Medical School Interviews

Congratulations, you have made it to interview! You have already proven your interest in medicine, but what should you talk about, and how?

Every interview question will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your interest in medicine. This article aims to help give you an idea of what examples you can discuss, and how best to talk about them.

What skills and experiences demonstrate your interest in medicine?

  • Work experience and volunteering.
  • Clubs and societies.
  • Awareness of medical issues & breakthroughs.
  • Further reading.
  • NHS knowledge.

When talking about work experience and volunteering ensure you discuss specific learning takeaways that have enforced your interest. The time period and time spent will demonstrate both your commitment and interest. If you have volunteered regularly for over a year this will show much more dedication than another applicant who has helped out with one off events, as well as many more learning takeaways.

If your school has a medical society or club this is a great opportunity to show your interest. The more involved you can get, the better! Find out about any leadership positions, supportive roles, or even make your own. Do they need help organising fundraising events, or planning interview revision sessions? If your school doesn’t have anything in place consider arranging a group of fellow applicants to make your own! Not only will this give you an opportunity to help each other prepare, but also something for you to talk about at interviews.

Keeping up to date with medical news is paramount for demonstrating your interest in medicine. After all, you are applying to work in this field, so you should be aware of what’s going on. The most simple way to do this is to spend 5 minutes or so every day on the Health and Science section of the BBC News app. Other free resources include Medscape UK (also has some interactive features like quizzes and challenges), NHS news and science daily. To fully utilise these resources, set up phone alerts or email notifications, you may need to create a free account. You can also use paid services such as Newscientist, BMJ magazine, and medical podcasts such as BMJ podcast, RSM Health Matters, Science Weekly.

Closely linked with medical news is knowledge of the NHS, and areas of medical speciality. A rough idea of the NHS structure is important as they will be your future employers. The NHS England website is a great place to start reading. They have a great introduction to the NHS video, and explanations of healthcare provider organisations. The King’s Fund has a useful flow chart explaining how the funding flows in the NHS. Also check out the GMC for some useful videos. Health and social care services are regulated independently by Care Quality Commissions (CQCs). More information on their purpose and role can be found on their website. Clinical standards and guidelines are set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), so reading a blurb on what they do will also be useful! You may be asked which medical specialty interests you, so a bit of reading and awareness of areas of interest is a good idea. Don’t worry, you don’t have to necessarily pursue this as a career, just demonstrate you know what this specialty entails, and why it interests you!

Further reading is a great way to demonstrate your interest. Pick a course on futurelearn/ Coursera in an area of healthcare, science or medicine that interests you. Alternatively explore any research projects offered through school such as an EPQ, or an external institution like Nuffield health. Reading medical books is also a great addition. Scientific books, novels, and biographies are beneficial; each with different learning points and takeaways.

What are the main questions assessing your interest?

The following stations and questions primarily focus on demonstrating your interest in medicine, although it can be touched upon in any station.

  • Personal statement station e.g. how has x (mentioned in PS) show your interest in medicine?
  • Why medicine station.
  • Medical news station.
  • What areas or job(s) are you interested in? (e.g. specialties)
  • Work experience and/or volunteering e.g. what have you done to demonstrate your commitment and interest in medicine?
  • Commitment to medicine e.g. what obstacles have you faced on your journey to medicine & how have you overcome them?

Important things when answering these questions

  • Ensure you reflect fully, including examples to support and explain your interest. It may be helpful to use a structured response e.g. STAR reflection model.
  • Don’t spend too long on explaining the example, but ensure you are clear enough. You don’t want to be held up on irrelevant information, but explain clearly enough that someone without prior knowledge can understand.
  • When keeping up with medical news it’s important to note key articles and research areas that interest you. If possible, read further into these to explore and further demonstrate your interest.
  • If you have read any medical books, jot down notes and key takeaways while they’re fresh in your mind. Make sure you reflect on what points you have learnt, so that you could feel comfortable discussing them at interviews. For example a novel may give an insight into the demands and variety of a job in medicine, whereas a scientific research book may give you an idea of how much medicine may develop in the future and the range of opportunities available.

If you’d like to find out how to smash interview role-playing stations, click here.

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 Katie Balme