Common Medicine Interview Questions

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Shweta Madhu

Lead Author

Medicine interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience – after all, how can anyone be expected to convinclingy explain all their passion, dedication and hard work in just a few minutes? This is where MMIs come in! The MMI (short for multiple mini interviews) interview format has been favoured by medical schools in the Australia for sometime now. It allows for a wide set of skills to be tested and provides a chance for multiple interviewers to give their opinion on you.

In the run-up to your interview some uncertainty and nervousness is to be expected. However being proactive and preparing for your interview is the one of the most important things you can do. This guide will explore some of the key topics and questions so you can familiarize yourself with them before the big day.

One of the easiest ways to organise your preparation is to take the hundreds of possible interview questions and divide them into broad categories. The most common beingL motivation for medicine, soft-skills, general knowledge and ethics. These of course do not encompass every single possible question that may be asked in a medicine interview, but it does give a good starting point on which you can base your preparation and practice.

Motivation for Medicine Questions

This is the most common sequence of questions an applicant will face at a medicine interview. Be it MMI or any other style, the interview is a chance for the admissions team to really explore your motivations. ‘Motivation for Medicine’ questions will explore topics surrounding your journey into medicine, desire to study medicine and your understanding of what’s to come. Common questions of this type include:

  • Why do you want to study Medicine/be a doctor?
  • Why do you want to become a doctor as opposed to a nurse or other healthcare professional? 
  • What inspired you to apply to medical school?
  • Tell us about the work experience you have done prior to applying to medical school?
  • What attracts you to [insert university name here]’s medical school?
reflect
Reflect on your experiences to help answer these questions

One of the best ways to prepare for these questions is to firstly reflect on your experiences and try to organise this into a logical and natural story or sequence of events. Be wary of being overly idealistic (i.e.; “I felt like I was born to be a doctor”) or too intense (i.e.; “I applied to medical school because I definitely want to be a cardiologist”). Rather, try to be genuine and discuss your work experience and academic journey. In particular, it is important to focus on reflecting on these experiences and the inspiration, motivation and logic behind them. 

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Soft-Skills

Some of the common soft-skills that may be tested include empathy, leadership, problem-solving, prioritization, time-management, teamwork and effective communication. While these are common topics for medicine interview questions, they can be asked in multiple ways. In a MMI, they may test soft skills through discussing your personal statement or even in a role-play situation. In a more traditional interview style station, there will simply be dialogue centered around the demonstration of certain soft-skills in various aspects of your life.

You should always include examples from real life when talking about soft skills. So, in terms of preparation, your personal statement should be your best friend. Print a copy and tabulate every experience – clinical or otherwise – that you have mentioned. Reflect on each experience in terms of skills developed, instances in which said skill was showcased and how you hope that these skills will hone your medical practice in the future. Add other experiences and achievements that may not have made it into your statement. Use this as a “cheat sheet” to structure your responses. This will help you schematically organize your skill-set in an effort to more efficiently communicate it. 

In the event of role-play scenarios, remember that the interviewers don’t expect oscar level performances. Rather, their focus is on communication – verbal and non-verbal – and the soft-skill being employed. 

General Knowledge 

General knowledge is an understandable part of any medicine interview. These questions test a student’s passion and dedication to read up on issues surrounding the world of healthcare, from more global issues like COVID-19 to more healthcare system problems like resource distribution. A strong grasp of general knowledge issues also suggest a deeper understanding of the healthcare system and a career in medicine. Some common topics include:

  • healthcare system structure 
  • Ethical movements (for example: the anti-vaccine movement)
  • Public health crises (for example: obesity, mental health, antibiotic resistance etc.) 
  • Political issues

Preparing for these questions may seem daunting due to the overwhelming amount of information available online. However, remember that they won’t expect you to rival public health officials in discussing these issues. Focus on facts, reflections and measured yet effective communication strategies. 

Ethics

Medical ethics are the cornerstone of modern day healthcare practice. They massively impact the doctor-patient relationship and are both a common source of comfort and debate amongst medical professionals. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that they’re commonly tested in medicine interviews. Again, these can present as role play scenarios or simple conversation. Below is a list of common ethical scenarios discussed during medicine interviews.

  • The candidate is asked about the 4 pillars of medical ethics (i.e.; autonomy, justice, non-maleficence and  beneficence)
  • The candidate is asked if they would prescribe contraception to an underage girl without the knowledge of her parent(s) and/or guardian(s)
  • The candidate is asked to choose who they would save from a set of people of different demographics 
  • The candidate is asked to navigate various religious requests that may interfere with their ability to perform medical procedures

This list is in no way exhaustive, with some other common ethical conundrums including conversations around abortion, end-of-life care, withdrawing medical treatment and consent. The best way to learn more about medical ethics is to simply read up about them and the various ways in which they manifest within medical practice. 

We strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the 4 pillars of medical ethics as they form the foundation upon which most modern-day treatment pathways are built. The concepts of autonomy, justice, maleficence and non-beneficence along with consent and confidentiality can be used as an informative crutch when discussing ethical issues during your interview. 

4 pillars of ethics
The 4 pillars are the foundation of medical ethics

As with all complicated scenarios, there is usually more than one right answer so don’t feel pressured to be correct. Instead, focus on providing an answer that will suggest unbiased, patient-centered care. Remain calm and take your time to think through your options. Talk out loud to allow the examiner to understand your thought processes. Finally, keep your patient at the forefront of your discourse. 

Whilst these categories encompass a vast majority of common medicine interview questions, they are not global. Some of the other common skills to reflect on include communicating bad news to patients or their families, tackling troublesome team members, data analysis and explaining tasks to people. 

Now, with all that information to digest, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and nervous. So this is the perfect time to bring up the most common skill sought after in a medicine interview – passion. Regardless of the question before you or the perceived apathy of the interviewer, focus on building your answer atop a strong foundation of passion and confidence. After all, that is the most important common medicine interview question – “Why should this candidate become a doctor?” – it’s just not one that they ask you directly.

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