Medical school interviews can be really intense. Fantastic predicted grades, excellent test results, a brilliant personal statement and amazing references will mean absolutely nothing if the interviewer doesn't think you can answer the questions confidently.

The questions you're going to be asked are going to fall into four main groups. That's going to be you as a doctor and your motivation. Your work experience and what you got from it. Your opinions or your ideas about popular topics. And then how will you apply logic to strange and unfamiliar situations.

The exact style of the interview is going to vary slightly between institutions, but all of them ask questions that fall into those four broad areas. It is a really good idea to spend some time and mind-map each of those areas, write down some few key notes about everything. Don't try and script answers because that will generally get you flustered in the interview if they ask the questions in a slightly different way. Just make a few key points on each area. Try and get somebody to try and expand the areas with you. Think of all of the things about your work experience, all of your motivation behind becoming a doctor.

The style of the interview will vary slightly between institution, it could be a very traditional interview where you're facing a panel who spend quite a long time asking you questions. Some people are going to be writing down, there's going to be someone who always looks really stern, someone who always looks really happy, and then a couple that have blank faces who you can't tell anything from. This type of interview can be quite intimidating, but it's still very, very common.

A few places have moved towards a series of mini-interviews, where you go around having short conversations with lots of different people. It's one-on-one which can be quite intense if you're just used to the traditional style of interview. There could be some role-play involved where you meet a patient and have to help them through, or there could be another situation happening and they want to see how you react to this.

During the interview don't be afraid to ask for clarification. If you're not exactly sure what they're asking, ask them to expand upon it a little bit. Don't give them the answer that you think they are looking for. They want to admit you, not the person that you think, they think, you should be. They are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

For some of the questions it is going to be no right or wrong answer. They just want to see how you work through the problem, what your opinion is on the situation and how you would deal with things. You can prepare for these interviews by making notes on each of the topics that follow.

And then lastly, you need to be confident and you need to believe in your abilities. You deserve to be in this interview, you deserve this place at medical school. So, don't feel you have to hold back, don't feel you have to be shy, be confident, and show them what an amazing person you are. You've got this far, you've got the interview based on your amazing predicted grades and your awesome personal statement. Show them what a brilliant doctor you would be.

Common Interview Questions

You should aim to prepare answers for each of these questions before your interview, don’t learn them verbatim, as you may get flustered if you may a mistake. Think about a few key points for each question.

You as a doctor and your motivation

Why do you want to be a doctor?

How has the recent publicity about junior doctors’ contacts made you feel?

What is your motivation?

What qualities are important for a doctor to have?

Why did you choose to apply here?

What do you find most interesting about medicine?

Can you give me an example of a medical issue you’re particularly interested in?

Have you read any interesting articles recently?

Can you give me an example of a recent medical breakthrough that really excited you?

What is the most historically important medical innovation?

Which was the most interesting dissection you’ve seen? (There are lots on YouTube!)

Is dissection of cadavers an important tool for teaching?

If you don’t get a place at medical school what will you do?

What is the most appeal aspect of being a doctor?

What are the least appealing aspects of being a doctor?

What is the hardest part about being a doctor?

What are your weaknesses?

What are your strengths?

Why do you deserve a place on this programme?

What can you offer this medical school that other students can’t?

What extracurricular activities do you have that would mean you’re going to be a good doctor? (try to think of medical related ones and not medical related ones)

Are there any new extracurricular activities that the university offers that you’re planning on trying out?

Is empathy important?

Tell me about your extended project

What are your long-term career goals?

Do you have a specialism in mind?

What would be the five things you’d take to a deserted island?

Which is more important passion or effort?

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Is evidence-based practice important?

What do you think of PBL verses tutorials as a style of teaching?

What do you think the work load is going to be like?

How will you cope if you fall behind?

What mechanisms do you have in place to deal with stress?

Imagine you’re a junior doctor, how would your patients describe you?

How would you react if you made a mistake that led to a patient dying?

What public health campaigns are you aware of?

Your work experience and what you got from it

Has any one doctor inspired you?

What have you learnt from the doctors you’ve been speaking to?

Why is work experience important?

What did you learn from your time doing work experience?

During your work experience did you see any difficult situations?

What did you find challenging about your work experience?

What was the best part about your work experience?

Did you work experience change any of your previous views?

Application of logic to strange and unfamiliar situations

How much does the moon weigh?

What would a world without fire be like?

How many notes are there in a song?

Why do we wear clothes?

Your opinions and ideas about popular topics

Discuss the continuing problem of overuse of antibiotics

Should the NHS fund IVF?

Should organ donation be ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’?

Should the NHS fund public health campaigns?

Should underage children be given contraception?

Is the sugar tax a good idea?

Australia doesn’t pay childcare benefit to families that have not vaccinated their children, should the UK follow this model?

There have been a number of recent cases in the news where doctors have wanted to discontinue treatment for terminally ill children, but the parents have wanted to continue. Who has the decision-making right and why?

Should people who become ill due to their lifestyle contribute to the cost of their treatment?

Should patients with HIV be made to inform their sexual partners?

Should euthanasia be legal?

Should abortion be legal?

Should sex selection of a foetus be legal?

Should the birth of ‘saviour siblings’ be legal?

Should people be fined for attending A&E or calling an ambulance in inappropriate situations?

Each year 854 women die from cervical cancer. The recent introduction of a vaccine against this aims to reduce those numbers. The same vaccine could prevent deaths from penile (134 yearly deaths) and anal (399 yearly deaths) cancer, should the NHS fund the vaccine for men as well?

How much of a problem is ‘health tourism’?

Should the NHS spend more or less on mental health provisions?