There are two main interview styles used by medical schools in the UK. The first is the panel interview – a panel of up to four people asking you a series of questions for about 15 – 30 minutes. The other type of interview is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) – it consists of multiple short stations, with each station designed to assess different attributes or skills. While you read up on what we’ve compiled below, however, remember that it’s not all theory! Practice is of utmost importance if you want to ace your interview. Sign up for our free Skype interviews (note: only on desktop) conducted by medical students so you can put these skills to practice and get feedback on how you could improve your performance.
Note: For clarity, we have only included information for Standard Entry Medicine here. If you are applying for Graduate Entry Medicine, you can find thorough entry requirements for all UK universities (2019 entry) here.
Before we begin...
There are a few exceptions to what we have said. We will address these here: -
University of Edinburgh: Undergraduate applicants are usually not interviewed. If you are a graduate, the interview will be MMI-style.
Hull York Medical School: The MMI conducted by this university operates on a slightly different format as compared to other medical schools. The MMI has only four stations, and are described as below: -
a) Station 1: 20-minute group exercise with other applicants
There will be two observers present during this activity, and you will be scored based on your ability to work effectively with your peers.
b) Station 2: 10-minute panel-style interview
You will be asked about your personal qualities.
c) Station 3: 10-minute panel-style interview
You will be asked about issues in medicine.
d) Station 4: 5-minute MMI-style scenario station
You will need to interact with an actor who is playing a character. Two observers will assess the way you handle the situation.
University of Southampton: Chosen applicants will be invited to attend a Selection Day, which will consist of a panel-style interview and a group task.
Universities conducting panel interviews
(updated: 2019 entry)
University of Cambridge (usually two interviews)
University of Glasgow
Imperial College London
University of Oxford (usually four interviews)
Queen Mary University of London
University College London
Panel interviews (also known as Traditional Interviews) are conversational interviews conducted by a panel of 2 – 4 people representing the medical school faculty. Panel interviews usually last between 15 to 30 minutes and are extremely versatile. Universities like University College London choose to take a more ‘personal’ approach, with many questions centered around the applicant and their personal statement; while universities like the University of Cambridge are known for taking a more ‘scientific’ approach, with many questions specially designed to test the applicant’s knowledge and scientific aptitude. Other universities conduct more generic interviews, where applicants receive more general questions so that it is easier to compare and rank different applicants against each other.
Panel interviews tend to be more subjective than MMIs in their scoring method, with a lot of the assessment having to do with the interviewer’s ‘overall impression’ of the candidate. Because these interviews tend to be longer, most candidates find it easier to build a rapport with the interviewers. However, unlike the MMI, you cannot ‘start anew’ with a different interviewer every five minutes if you, for example, say something terribly wrong. Regardless of how well or how badly you think you performed in your interview though, remember that panel interviews rarely adhere to strict mark schemes (unlike MMIs). So, even with some incorrect answers, it is possible to be offered a place if the interviewers think you have potential! Of course, this works both ways – if you answer all the questions perfectly but come across as arrogant and snobby, it is very likely that a rejection letter is coming your way!
THE panel interview explained
how to prepare
Practice, practice, practice!
When you practice, remember to focus on: -
1. Listening to the question carefully.
This may sound trivial, but it’s common to forget to listen to the rest of the sentence once you hear the keywords from a question you have been rehearsing for days. Take a step back and think – How many parts does this question have? Are they asking for my opinion or are they testing my knowledge? Is there a clear-cut answer or do I need to present both sides of an argument?
2. Learning how to come up with points quickly.
When you say the first thing that comes to your mind without planning the rest of your answer, it’s easy to lose track of what you are saying – your points may overlap without you realising it! Try to think of your main points quickly before you answer any question. Ask yourself: Can I come up with two to three points to answer this question? Do I have any evidence to support my points? Am I putting my best points forward or am I raising issues that are not worth mentioning?
3. Linking answers to yourself, your work experience, or medicine.
Remember that your interviewers are probably asking very similar questions to almost every candidate. How are you answering these questions in a way that makes it personal to you? Draw on the things that you have personally observed or experienced, and show them that you are able to reflect in a mature fashion.
4. Speaking calmly and confidently.
Get your friends, family members, and teachers to conduct mock interviews with you. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be on your interview day. Practice speaking at a good pace, using appropriate gestures, and learn the art of recognising the fine line between being confident and being arrogant.
5. Being yourself.
Never memorise or rote-learn answers! Although it may tempting to do this for common questions like “Why medicine?” or “Why this university?”, interviewers can tell when students have memorised an answer beforehand. Such answers often sound stale and you risk coming off as not genuine. Come up with key points instead of full sentences; that way, you can answer the question in your own words every time you get asked about it, whether it is a mock interview or the real one.
There are a number of common generic questions that every applicant needs to be familiar with to a certain extent, and we will list them below. In addition to these questions, you should also read up on the NHS, current affairs in medicine, and important ethical issues in medicine (e.g. consent, confidentiality, abortion, euthanasia, DNR forms, distribution of resources, etc.). The Health section on the BBC website is a good source for health news, and we highly recommend this book for getting a good foundation on medical ethics. Also, if you have mentioned a medical procedure, disease, or scientific theory in your personal statement, you definitely need to know about it. Read around these topics to demonstrate that you did not simply mention these things just for the sake of including them in your personal statement. How embarrassing would it be if you wrote about the eradication of smallpox in your personal statement, only for your interviewers to find out that you don’t actually know very much about smallpox after all?
20 generic (common) interview questions: -
Why (insert name of university)?
Tell us about yourself.
What do you do in your spare time?
What makes you a suitable candidate?
What important qualities should a doctor should have?
What is the most difficult thing about being a doctor?
Tell us about your work experience.
Tell us about something you recently read in the news.
Can you list a few examples of when you displayed good teamwork?
Are you a good leader?
What is your biggest achievement to date?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
How will you cope with being a medical student/doctor?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
What are some challenges do you think you will face as a doctor?
What do you think has been the most significant advancement in medicine so far?
How do you deal with failure?
What is a multi-disciplinary team?
What are the challenges we face in healthcare today?
Multiple mini interviews (mmi)
Universities conducting MMIs
(updated: 2019 entry)
University of Aberdeen
Anglia Ruskin University
University of Birmingham
Brighton and Sussex Medical School
University of Bristol
University of Buckingham Medical School
University of Dundee
University of East Anglia
University of Exeter
Hull York Medical School
King’s College London
*includes numeracy assessment
University of Leeds
University of Leicester
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
University of Nottingham
Queen’s University Belfast
University of Sheffield
University of St Andrews
St George’s, University of London
University of Sunderland
University of Central Lancashire
THE MMI explained
MMIs consist of a series of short stations with each station specially designed to assess different attributes or skills. These function on a similar concept to OSCEs, the practical examination used to assess medical students. MMIs typically last between 45 minutes to two hours long in total, with about seven or eight 5-8 minute stations. Because every university runs their MMI differently, there will usually be a short talk in which the admissions tutor explains how the circuit will work. Usually, this is also when candidates are asked to sign a non-disclosure form. Since everyone receives the same interview questions, this ensures that candidates do not leak the content of the stations to other candidates who have yet to attend their interview.
Some stations will function like ‘mini panel interviews’, while others may test mathematical skills, graph interpretation, or interaction with patients. There are universities that also include stations where candidates are required to play a game, learning about the candidate’s thought process through this. For universities with many stations, they may choose to include a ‘rest station’, in which the candidate has one empty station somewhere in between two stations in a circuit.
The general MMI circuit & how it works: -
(Let’s assume: There are 8 stations in total, each lasting 5 minutes with a 1-minute reading time. Station 8 is a rest station.)
1. Eight candidates enter the room, each having been assigned a candidate number and a ‘start station’.
2. Candidates stand outside their respective ‘start stations’ and wait to begin. (Note: The candidate starting at Station 8 will therefore start with a rest station.)
3. An announcement is made asking the candidates to start reading the instructions posted outside their station, and a timer for 1 minute begins.
4. The timer goes off, and candidates are asked to enter their respective stations simultaneously. (Like with every interview, always greet the interviewer politely and introduce yourself at the start of every station!)
5. There will be an interviewer/examiner who will assess your ability to answer the questions or perform the tasks required. There may be follow-up questions.
6. A bell/buzzer is rung to indicate 1 minute remaining. This is when candidates should start wrapping up their answers.
7. A timer goes off indicating that the station has ended. Candidates should thank their interviewer and move on swiftly to the next station as the reading time for the next station usually begins immediately.
8. This continues until all candidates have completed all stations. e.g. The candidate starting at Station 1 will end at Station 8, while the candidate starting at Station 5 will end at Station 4 (5 -> 6 -> 7 -> 8 -> 1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 4).
MMIs tend to be more objective than panel interviews, with examiners/interviewers using mark schemes to award students with points for ‘correct’ answers or appropriate responses. Every station is mutually exclusive and your performance in one station does not affect your score in other stations.
how to prepare
Since a number of stations will probably be very similar to the conventional panel interview, all the advice above on panel interviews will apply here as well. Before you prepare, look at the websites of the universities you applied to, because they usually publish guidelines on what their MMI will be like. Look out for information on the number of stations, how long each station will be, and the types of stations there will be. Some universities are known for having unconventional stations, so try to prepare for anything and everything.
Practice answering questions within specific time limits and learn how to plan your answer quickly in your 1-minute reading time. Also, practice talking to friends who are willing to pretend to be patients, and remember to be empathetic and attentive to what they are saying. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know how you are expected to respond to strange scenarios, but the best advice is to be yourself; sometimes the best thing to do can be very simple and may be right in front of you. For example, if your ‘patient’ is crying and you see a box of tissues on the table, offer the ‘patient’ a tissue. It may seem like a meaningless gesture, but doing that will display your empathy for the patient. Another piece of advice would be to read the guidelines in Good Medical Practice, a booklet on the duties of a doctor published by the General Medical Council.
We’ve included a full circuit of eight MMI stations below – you can download this resource for free and use it under timed conditions. Ask a friend or family member to help!
TheStudentMedic Free Mock MMI (8 Stations)
How to use the circuit instructions:
The ‘Candidate Instructions’ document is for you – start a timer and start reading the instructions for Station 1.
The ‘Interviewer Instructions’ document is for your interviewer. Once your 1-minute reading time is over, start your 8-minute timer let the interview begin. In the interviewer sheet, we’ve included follow up questions in blue and additional advice in red for when your interviewer is offering you feedback after your circuit.
Repeat this process until you have finished all stations.
Other MMI resources you can find for free online: -
The Medic Portal: https://www.themedicportal.com/e-learning/interview/mmi-questions/
University of Saskatchewan Sample MMI Scenarios: https://medicine.usask.ca/documents/Admissions/MMI-Sample-Scenarios.pdf
University of Sheffield Sample MMI Scenarios: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.744900!/file/SampleMMIStationsusedintheSheffieldMMI.pdf
Astroff MMI: https://multipleminiinterview.com/mmi-questions/
All the best!
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