Medicine Interview Questions & Answers

Welcome to our database of real Medicine interview questions with answers, updated for 2019 entry. We will be updating this database throughout the year by adding new Medicine interview questions and answers.

Our database of real Medicine interview questions and answers includes both MMI scenarios and traditional Medicine interview questions. The Medicine interview questions and answers are organised into themes. For each medical school interview question, we explain what examiners are trying to assess. We then cover how to approach answering each Medicine interview question and advise on common mistakes to avoid in your answer. Finally, we provide examples of competent answers to each medical school interview question.

MEDICINE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT YOUR MOTIVATION TO STUDY MEDICINE AND BECOME A DOCTOR

Common variations: Why do you want to be a doctor? What interests you about Medicine?

Note: If you are a graduate or mature student then see our blog on how to answer this Medicine interview question coming from these backgrounds.

  What is this Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • You Motivations – That your motivations to study Medicine are based on a realistic understanding of a medical career, are well thought out, and sustained over a long period instead of being a phase which may pass. That your motivations are based on research and work experience and not just a strong desire to study Medicine. Candidates with these qualities are far more likely to successfully complete a Medicine degree (which is longer than most other degrees) and have a successful career in this challenging profession. This is why admissions tutors need to examine your motivations in such depth.
  • Your Communication Skills – All Medicine interview questions are assessing this, but this Medicine interview question specifically requires you to be able to fashion many different reasons and events into a single coherent answer. How well can you tell a story? How convincing and genuine is your answer? Do you come across as motivated and committed? You may also have to answer followup questions which will allow interviewers to see if you can think on the spot and handle some scrutiny.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

The first thing to do is to clarify in your own mind why you want to study Medicine. Only then can you think about preparing an answer for this common Medicine interview question. There are likely many scattered reasons in your mind that you have not yet fully formed into an answer. However, your eventual answer to this common Medicine interview question should focus on several main reasons which you talk about in more detail, instead of a huge list of reasons which you only spend a few seconds discussing. Once you know the main points you want to convey you can then start thinking of finding the right words.

Common reasons why people want to study Medicine/ become a doctor include:

  • An interest in Science, the human body, diseases, public & global health etc.

  • An interest in a particular condition, e.g. cancer or a speciality, e.g. psychiatry which then led to a wider interest in Medicine.

  • Wanting to contribute to science/research/public health/global health.

  • Wanting a job which helps people and makes a difference to their lives/ to society

  • A dynamic profession, constantly evolving, requiring constant life-long learning.

  • A career which means you will need and learn many skills and have knowledge from many disciplines, as well as the chance to work in and alongside many different disciplines.

  • A challenging, exciting, interesting, varied job. There are many careers within Medicine, and the training involves a wide exposure to these varied disciplines.

  • A stable, well respected, well-paid career with excellent career progression and job prospects nationally and internationally.

  • A degree (and later a profession) which incorporates elements from Medicine, Surgery, the Sciences, Pharmacology, Psychology, Sociology, Epidemiology, communication skills, human factors, management, teaching, research and more.

  • A very interesting, intellectually demanding and varied undergraduate degree with excellent graduate prospects in the UK and internationally.

You should sound personal. Do not just describe reasons why Medicine is a good career, instead describe how these reasons relate to you specifically and why Medicine is a good fit for you. However, you do not need to find unique anecdotes or very original ideas for wanting to study Medicine. An excellent answer can include very typical reasons delivered well. If you have an early experience which made you want to study Medicine, then you can consider including it, and this is often a good way to start your answer, but do not force one. The main things you need convey in this Medicine interview question answer are that you have solid reasons to study Medicine, are suited to it, you have confirmed this with experience and research and are well motivated.

Be smart about what you decide to include in your answer to this common medical school interview question. Use it as an opportunity to sell yourself and bring up your strengths. Make sure you briefly cover some of your work experience, your strengths and your achievements in your answer. You will only get time to touch upon them in your answer. These can be explored in more depth later in your interview. Giving examples makes your statements sound more credible instead of sounding like a collection of unsubstantiated claims. By talking about certain experiences, you can also to some extent control the direction of the interview. This is by making it more likely that interviewers will ask you follow up questions about topics that you have raised and are therefore more comfortable with compared to the interviewer being able to ask you a question about any random topic.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Covering too many points – In your answer, you should cover several points in detail, instead of many little points briefly. Remember, your aim in answering any Medicine interview question is to give an effective answer and not to simply state everything that you know about a topic. To give an effective answer, you must be selective.

Trying too hard to be original – You do not need to force a unique story or event which made you want to be a doctor. If you are going to use a personal story, make sure you can justify why it makes you want to be a doctor. Saying something like you had a relative with a condition or went to hospital once is only half a story – what specifically did it stir inside you? Many people care for sick relatives without wanting to become a doctor. Why did a hospital experience as a child make you want to be a doctor, but a visit to the dentist did not make you want to be a dentist?

Grand claims for why you want to be a doctor – avoid language such as you were born to be a doctor, Medicine is your calling etc. These sound incredibly cliched and are also difficult to back up. They add little to your overall position so are in a sense wasted words. Use the limited time that you have at your disposal to answer Medicine interview questions to instead include claims which are easier to back up and add to your position.

Sounding rehearsed – this is inevitably a Medicine interview question that everyone rehearses for, and your interviewers know this. However, avoid sounding robotic. Instead try to show your enthusiasm and passion (you do not need to go over the top, especially if this is not in your nature). Remember, the content of your speech is only one component of an effective answer. How well you deliver it is the other. Also make sure your speech has natural pauses.

Answering the wrong question – As this is such a commonly anticipated Medicine interview question it is very easy for candidates to not pick up that the interviewer has asked a slight variation to this question. This is a common pitfall as candidates have practiced certain questions so much and are nervous so can easily jump the gun when they hear a few keywords which makes them think that they are being asked a question that they have previously heard. A useful tip for answering all Medicine interview questions, including this one, is to give a slight pause before speaking instead of immediately answering. This will give you a second to gather your thoughts. Additionally, it will make you appear more relaxed and make your answers sound less scripted then if you immediately reeled off a lengthy continuous answer. Clarify a question before you answer it if you have not understood it.

Common variations & related questions:

  • Why do you want to be a doctor and not a Physician Associate/ physiotherapist/optometrist or another healthcare professional?
  • Have you considered being a Physician Associate or Advanced Nurse Practitioner? (particularly if you are applying as a graduate or come from an existing healthcare background)
  • A physiotherapist or an optometrist study the human body in detail and treat patients, so why not study something like physiotherapy?

  What is the Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • This medical school interview question may be asked as a follow up to “why do you want to be a doctor/study Medicine?” If this is the case, then it does not mean that your first answer was not adequate. Usually, this question is asked to probe your motivations for wanting to study Medicine further. It tests your understanding of what a career in Medince entails and your knowledge of similar careers.
  • Your knowledge and understanding of these things show admissions tutors if your motivation to study Medicine is based on realistic ideas about being a doctor and also proves that you are motivated as you have done your research on other careers. This is important for interview tutors to establish as candidates with a realistic understanding of what a medical career entails and who are well motivated are more likely to succeed in this challenging degree and profession.
  • Admissions tutors will want to see that you can handle this Medicine interview question diplomatically. That you can highlight why you want to study Medicine without being dismissive of other careers.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

To answer this medical school interview question and related questions, it is important to have the following key background knowledge:

  • Other healthcare professions share similarities to Medicine (e.g. a physiotherapist uses scientific expertise to diagnose and manage conditions). These professions also require and attract people with similar characteristics to doctors (e.g. a caring nature, good communication skills, an interest in Science and people).
  • The “scope of practice” (i.e. what is considered within their normal job role and what they are allowed to do) of other healthcare professionals is constantly expanding so that their roles are increasingly sharing more in common with doctors. One reason for this is because there is a shortage of doctors and the government has realised that it is possible for other people to do certain things which doctors traditionally have done if these people are given the appropriate training.
  • For example, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner’s (ANP) role can include undertaking the following tasks independently, which doctors can do: assessing a patient (e.g. by history & examination); ordering investigations (e.g. X-rays, blood tests etc.) and interpreting the results; making a diagnosis; commencing a management plan including prescribing medication; and referring patients for further treatment or discharging them.
  • However, ANP’s do this within a clearly defined scope of practice agreed with their employer, and the level of complexity that they deal with is usually less than that of a doctor. Often their roles are heavily protocol driven, leaving less scope for making decisions outside of these protocols. Additionally, ANP’s are usually highly specialised to one field, e.g. a respiratory ANP, an Emergency Medicine ANP and they work within that field only. A doctor will have more general training in all areas of Medicine, and their scope of practice will be far wider, as will their ability to specailse in a wider range of fields. A further point is that these roles are limited and not all nurses can attain them. They will need to meet certain criteria and hold certain qualifications and then undergo further training to become an ANP.
  • Another role you should know about is that of Physician Associates (PA). This is a relatively new role in the UK, that is already well established in the USA where over 100,000 PA’s work. Physician Associates work alongside doctors in hospitals and GP practices. Currently, they work under the direct supervision of a doctor but can work autonomously with the appropriate support. They will work within a scope of practice that can include taking medical histories; performing certain examinations; performing certain procedures, e.g. inserting cannulas and taking blood; and interpreting some investigations. The role is constantly evolving and expanding, and it is expected that in the future they may be able to prescribe some medications and order a wider range of investigations (they cannot currently prescribe or order investigations involving ionising radiation, e.g. X-rays, CT scans etc.) Physician Associates are usually graduates in Science or health-related fields that have undertaken Physician Associate training which typically involves completing a 2 year post graduate course.

With the above knowledge, here are some things to consider in your answer to this Medicine interview question:

  • You should highlight the similarities between these different careers and Medicine and how they all play an important role in reaching successful outcomes for patients.
  • You should state that you have considered other careers (if this is the case).
  • You should state your case for why you wish to be a doctor instead of these other careers.
  • You could also include in your answer that you look forward to working with these different healthcare professionals, perhaps sharing some experiences you had during your work experience.
  • Avoid the common mistakes in answering this Medicine interview question which we list below.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Being dismissive, condescending or rude about other professions – There can be other healthcare professionals such as nurses on the interview panels. More importantly, this is a bad attitude for a future doctor to take.

Having a poor knowledge of what other healthcare professions do – For example not knowing that some nurses and other healthcare professionals can prescribe medications or that nurses also lead teams, make important decisions, have management roles, require excellent communication and interpersonal skills etc. Or not knowing that there are advanced roles which allow nurses to independently; diagnose, order and interpret investigations, treat patients and further refer them or discharge them.

Stating that being a doctor is better than the other roles – Different professions involve different roles and are suited to different people. They share similarities to Medicine and the common theme of working towards successful outcomes for patients.

Stating that doctors have the biggest impact on patients – choose your words carefully. Nurses and other healthcare professions have an integral role in patient care. Often, they are the people who get to spend the most time with patients, often far more so than doctors, and they are often the ones to identify the earliest changes in patients.

Common variations: Do you have a backup if you do not gain any offers to study Medicine?

What is the Medicine interview question trying to assess?

  • That you have strong commitment and motivation to study Medicine but are realistic.
  • That you have a pragmatic approach to dealing with adversity and failure. That you learn lessons from these situations and use them to improve instead of letting these situations overcome you.

How to approach answering this Medicine interview question

Your approach to answering this Medicine interview question would depend on your situation.

1) If this is the first time you are applying to Medicine

The panel will have serious doubts over your commitment to study Medicine if you are considering abandoning your ambition to become a doctor if you fail at this hypothetical first set back. Your answer to this Medicine interview question should show that you will assess why you failed, learn from this, strengthen your application and then try again. This will usually be by taking a gap year to strengthen your application, but it also could be by applying to study a related course with a view to then studying Medicine. Pursuing an entirely different career after a single failed attempt would indicate a poor ambition to study Medicine, but it may be an option in the scenario described below where you have applied multiple times.

2) If you have applied to study Medicine before

You must give a pragmatic explanation of what you intend to do. You cannot realistically tell the panel that you are going to keep applying until you finally reach retirement age.

Your main sensible options would include:

  1. Strengthening your application and applying again – is this realistic if this is the seventh time you are applying?
  2. Deciding to study a degree related to Medicine or healthcare. This could be with the view of possibly then applying to study Medicine, e.g. as a graduate. This may not be a sensible option if you already hold a related degree.
  3. Deciding to study an entirely different degree or take a different career course. If you already hold a degree in a differing discipline or work in an alternative career, then you may wish to return to that area. This can be a very risky strategy for your answer because if you execute it poorly then you can cast doubts on how committed you are to study Medicine. Generally, if possible try and relate Medicine and the different career by saying how it will allow you to exercise similar values that you hoped to gain from being a doctor. For example, by becoming a teacher, you can work closely with others, stimulate yourself intellectually, use your communication and interpersonal skills and can have a strong impact on people’s lives.

Common Mistakes to avoid when answering this Medicine interview question

Not showing that you learn from setbacks or adversity. It is no good saying that you would simply apply again until you get a place. You must state how you will assess why you were unsuccessful, make a plan to address these issues and then apply again.