Firstly, if you’re preparing for an interview with a medical school – congratulations. Due to the volume of applications that institutions receive, it’s an achievement in itself to be called in for an interview, so you must already have made a good impression.

Interviews may seem like the most nerve-wracking component of any degree application. It’s important to compose yourself well, speak clearly and show that you’re prepared. Interviews are seen by admissions staff as a great way of getting undergraduates to expand on their qualifications and personal statement while looking into their communicative skills and aptitude.

There are hordes of sample questions and interview preparation sites out there, which is great in many ways, but can be a hindrance in others. Interviewers are wise to this and often look to change things up to avoid the risk of talking to somebody who may as well be reading an auto-cue.

Be sure to study your invitation for an interview carefully, as it can reveal a lot about the format that it will take. While traditional interviews will take the form of an informative conversation between one or two members of staff and yourself, the notion of the Multiple Mini Interview is beginning to gain popularity in education today. One sure thing you can prepare for is the structure and style of each type of interview.

Med-school interviews take one of 3 forms:

·       Traditional

·       Oxbridge

·       MMI

Traditional Interviews

These resemble job interviews and you’ll likely first be asked questions about your background and goals – why you want to study medicine, where your passions began and what your ambitions are. The interviewer will want to discuss medicine itself including medical ethics, advancements and key hot topics or current affairs about the NHS. You’ll also be asked about your own life, your motivation, your hobbies and passions and ways in which you’ve worked through problems and challenges. Expect questions like “give me an example of when you worked with a team to achieve a critical goal” or “explain a time where you coped under considerable pressure”.

It’s best to prepare by writing down some notes about key moments that occurred during your work experience or school/college life and also key moments in your personal life. For example, you could explain how you functioned under pressure during a work placement and then go on to explain how you’ve coped with a challenge on a more personal level. Anything which displays empathy, warmth and care is a massive bonus as this is considered very important for those wishing to work in healthcare.


Oxbridge medical courses are more heavily focussed on research. This means that their interviews are far more focussed on assessing your cognitive abilities and thinking skills. That said, they’ll want to create a detailed picture of how you approach sensitive ethical subjects and more general areas of medicine.

They might kick off the interview with something so simple that it throws you off like “what makes a good doctor?” and then go on to ask you more detailed questions which might involve mathematics or knowledge of areas of medicine that you should have covered at A-Level. Oxbridge interviews have gained some notoriety for their offbeat questions but even if the question is difficult to grasp in the moment, they at least want to see that you’re approaching it openly from an angle of discussion rather than simply shutting it down with an “I don’t know.”


The MMI approach is a modern method of interviewing in which you face a number of interviewers in relatively quick succession. Each one will either give you a task or ask you questions. The purpose of this is to assess your interdisciplinary approach to tackling problems. It also keeps you on your toes and assesses your ability to adapt. You’ll conduct a series of ‘mini’ interviews with members of staff that will present you with a scenario that requires a demonstration of problem-solving or role play to resolve. Each part of the interview is designed to last for less than ten minutes, but the overall interview process may take up to two hours to complete. While the prospect of interacting with multiple members of staff may seem daunting, the method of interview is bound to work wonders for the more interpretive, visual and physical learners among us.

Some of these questions might be a little offbeat and unexpected. For example, you could be asked to tell the interviewer how to unwrap a box or pour a bottle of water into a cup and you’ll be expected to give precise instructions which can’t be misinterpreted. E.g. if you tell them to lift up a flap on a box to open up, they might lift up the wrong flap. Other interview stations will quiz your ethical views, medical knowledge and personal life and background.