In this blog, we will answer a common query by applicants which is how long should your Medicine interview answers be? Firstly, it is important to note that there is not a fixed rule about how long your interview answers should be that you must strictly try to follow in all cases. You need to use your judgement to get the balance right between being too brief versus rambling on for too long. However, there are general guidelines you can apply to most questions.

For the first type of question, these are ones which are quite simple and require only a brief answer. If necessary, the interviewers will ask you follow up questions. Usually, however, even quite simple questions are an invitation to speak for longer. E.g. “is there anything you did not enjoy in your work experience?” is an invitation to say more than a one-word answer even if your answer is no. By being more elaborative, you can control the direction of the interview to some extent as you can purposefully bring up topics which highlight your strengths and in a way that invites the panel to ask you more in follow up questions. Make sure you try and answer the original question though, or you will sound like an evasive politician who is talking only about the topics that they want to discuss regardless of what question they are actually asked.

For answers which require a more structured response, as a general rule, if you are not interrupted, your interview answers should be approximately sixty to ninety seconds. Sixty to ninety seconds may sound like too short an amount of time but consider that you will have done plenty of practice and preparation and you will be familiar with most topics that could come up. You already have some idea of what the interviewers may ask and what they are looking for in a response. For these reasons, sixty to ninety seconds per answer is enough time for you to give a robust and thorough answer. It also provides you with some leeway to speak for longer if necessary.

Sticking to the time will be easier once you realise that you should only aim to cover three or four main points in detail, rather than many points briefly. Focusing on 3 or 4 main points per answer allows you to build these points up better than if you covered many points in little detail. It will also give your answer more structure and make it easier to follow for the panel.

Medicine interview coming up?

Medicine Answered are here to help. As well as our free resources such as our interview guides and interview question database; we also offer one-day medical school interview courses and bespoke one to one interview tutoring. One to one coaching is done by a doctor who passed all four Medicine interviews and can be done in person or online. It can include a mock interview with feedback if you wish.