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Medical School Interview Questions

Below is a comprehensive list of example interview questions. It is not exhaustive, but will give you a good idea of the style of questions asked. 

Background, motivation and personal insight

Interest in medicine

Teamwork

Work experience

Ethics

Medicine and society


Why do you want to be a doctor?

It is very likely that you will be asked this question. Be honest and make sure you can articulate your reasons clearly and confidently. Consider the following:

  • you want to study medicine for yourself rather than for someone else
  • your attributes that would make you a good doctor
  • if you want to ‘help people’ explain why you want to do this in medicine rather than another caring profession
  • is there a story or experience that inspired you to become a doctor?

What makes a good doctor?

You should be as specific as possible in your answer, referring to your own characteristics as well as the following:

  • Good communication skills
  • Compassion
  • Flexible and adept at working under pressure
  • Ability to adapt knowledge to find a solution to a problem

Which quality do you think is the most important in a doctor?

There is no right or wrong answer, but you must justify your opinion. For example: ‘adapting my application of knowledge because no two patients are exactly the same’.

What qualities do you have that mean that you will be a good doctor?

Be as specific as possible, explaining how you are different to other people in terms of what you can offer.

What do you feel are the good and bad points about being a doctor?

Give a balanced, well-researched answer. Talk about what you think you will enjoy about being a doctor as well as the challenges you might face. As well as RCS careers information, visit the NHS Careers website to learn about the reality of a medical career. 

Positive aspects might include: job satisfaction as you know you are making a difference to people’s lives; constant development of skills.

Negative aspects could include: it can be stressful; it takes a long time to train; being on-call means you have to wake up frequently in the middle of the night. 

How would you balance your outside interests with studying a degree?

It is important that you have an outlet for stress and a life outside medicine - doctors need to be people too.

How do you cope with stress?

Try to frame your answer positively - what techniques and distractions got you through GCSEs? How do you prepare for stressful situations and how do you unwind from them?

What are your best and worst qualities?

Be honest but frame your answer in the context of being a doctor. It is also worth explaining what you are doing to combat your worst qualities. 

For example: ‘I have found it difficult to concentrate on revision in the past. I have made efforts to create a timetable and have given myself fun rewards during my breaks as an incentive to work during my revision slots.’

Avoid saying that you don’t have any bad qualities; it is unlikely to be true.

What responsibilities do you have?

Think about what you do in your free time and any responsibilities you may hold or have held at school, such as sports captain, team leader or prefect. Talk about your role, responsibilities and what you learned from the experience. 

What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing medical school or learning how to be a doctor?

Consider what challenges you will face over your course such as independent working or financial independence, and how you may overcome them.

What will you do if you aren't accepted to medical school?

Most medical schools receive at least 10 applications per place so it is important to have a back-up plan if you do not get in.

Other options include taking a medically-related degree such as biomedicine or audiology and considering a graduate entry medicine course at a later date. You could also take a year out to improve your application. Entry via clearing is not an option for medical school.

Do you read any medical publications?

You are not expected to be reading high-end medical journals. Refer to publications such as Student BMJ, RCS Bulletin and newspaper health sections. 

Tell me about any medical advances and issues you have heard about recently.

This question can be daunting so good preparation is essential. Resources such as Bright Journals, Student BMJ and newspaper health sections will clue you in to the most recent medical developments. 

What is the difference between primary care and secondary care?

Primary care is healthcare provided locally by General Practitioners (GPs). GPs are the first point of consultation for all patients and make up the overwhelming majority of doctors in the UK.

Secondary care is healthcare provided in a hospital for life-threatening emergencies and specialist treatment. Almost all surgeons work in secondary care.

What is the 'postcode lottery'?

Despite the name, the NHS is not one organisation. It is broken down into local services (called NHS Trusts). The Trusts decide how money is spent on a specific area or treatment - not all decide to spend this in the same way. 

As a result, quality or availability of care can vary across the country. This results in a ‘postcode lottery’, where healthcare delivery is based on geographic location rather than need. 

Try to offer a view on the problems and issues this can cause, preferably with an example.

What do you think makes a good team?

Think about successful teams you have been a member of - what aspects made them different from unsuccessful teams? Use examples to illustrate your point, such as work, sports teams or other projects. 

What have you gained from your work experience/hobbies/community work?

Talk about how the skills you have gained will help you succeed in your future career in medicine or have just helped you develop as an individual.

What did you do in your year out? (if you had one)

Whatever you did, explain how it has helped you develop.

Would you prescribe the oral contraceptive pill to a 14-year-old girl that is sleeping with her boyfriend?

There is no right or wrong answer so give different points of view - including your own. Remember that you could be working in a place with official guidelines or policies around issues like this.

What do you think about abortion/euthanasia etc?

It is vital to show awareness of views for and against the argument presented. Remember as a doctor your personal beliefs and views are often overridden by the patient’s choice and/or the law. Be sure to present a balanced argument regarding all ethical debates.

How do you see the UK's healthcare system in 20 years' time?

Try to be optimistic or state reasons why you are not. Suggest how the situation can be improved.

If you had £1 billion to spend on one element of healthcare, what would you spend it on and why?

Be imaginative. For example: prevention of diseases such as obesity and lung cancer by promoting ways of keeping healthy. 

What single healthcare intervention could change the health of the population the most?

Justify your answer with a reason, example and statistics if possible. Think about long-term and short-term impact.

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