Interview Experience

JessHi, my name’s Jess and I’m a third year medical student at Nottingham! You’ve trekked to the open days, done the UKCAT, written your personal statement and are now waiting for those all-important interviews!

I had four interviews; my first was early November, at King’s College. I’m so glad this was my first as I found it really relaxed – we sat in armchairs in a sort of sitting room and the whole interview felt more like a chat about me than an intimidating Q&A. They mainly focussed on asking me about my personal statement, so my first tip is to make sure that you know your personal statement inside out and can back up/expand on any points that you make – interviewers will ask you about it! They asked me things such as what my favourite aspect of a work experience I’d talked about was, or what I’d learnt about myself from being on the student leadership team at school.

My second (and least favourite!) interview was at Newcastle. They asked some really tricky questions about the NHS organisation, current affairs and got me to explain one thing which I’d learnt at A-level. Another horrible question that they asked me was how I would save money in the NHS. Unfortunately I did the wrong thing and panicked — I said that I would put obese people and smokers to the bottom of waiting lists for health care. This in no way reflects my actual thoughts and obviously isn’t a very ethically sound suggestion, but I still got my place at Newcastle. I think this is because I gave a figure on how much obesity cost the NHS a year and could justify myself. I would recommend preparing a much better answer to this question, but the point I’m making is that if you make a clear, informed and well-argued point then you might be able to get away with it!

Nottingham was my third interview. Nowadays they are MMI, but in my time they were just your average panel interview. The first half was standard questions – this was fine. The other half was an ethical dilemma – this was horrible. As far as I can remember the dilemma was about a friend who was having problems at home. However, every time you said what you would do to help they changed the scenario slightly, for example adding that she’d now started drinking excessively. They pushed and pushed me until I was out of ideas. They questioned every suggestion or idea that I had. But I think that really they just wanted to see that I could cope under pressure, and still think logically and clearly even with them breathing down my neck. My advice would be to keep calm and learn the 4 medical ethical principles (a quick google just so you have a brief understanding of them would be fine!); these are really helpful in structuring an answer. I found websites online with hundreds of interview questions and then my mum would ask me some for half an hour every night. I found it invaluable to do interview practise with someone else, because not only do you realise your bad habits (for example saying ’like’ a lot) but it helps you learn how to structure an answer. It was especially helpful for ethical questions because my mum would tell me how she would have answered the question, giving me other views to consider, and being able to show you can see an ethical scenario from several angles is an important skill.

My final interview was at Birmingham. This was MMI, which I loved because even if one station was bad, you could come out of it and start again with someone completely new.  If I remember correctly, there was an ethics station, a role play station, a station asking you to interpret a graph and a station asking about work experience. Make sure you have practiced to death the answers to questions that you know you’re going to be asked – ‘so why do you want to be a doctor’ was the starting question for almost all of my interviews and it’s not an answer that you can make up on the spot. Other questions that came up again and again were ‘why do you want to be a doctor not a nurse’ and ‘give an example of when you’ve worked in a team’.

Good luck guys, interviews seem scary but as long as you’re well prepared and passionate about becoming a doctor then you should be fine!