How to succeed in your medical school interview

Hello! My name is Louise Osborne, and I’m currently a first-year medical student loving it at the University of Liverpool.

Let’s face it: preparing for medical school interviews is stressful, especially when you’ve already had to juggle excelling in extra-curriculars, obtaining voluntary work/work experience, sitting the UCAT, and keeping on top of your A Levels.

However, the interview stage is your best opportunity to showcase how much you truly want to study medicine.

As someone who has been through it all very recently, and who received four out of four offers from medical schools, I hope my advice will help you to do just that!

How to prepare

Having a clear structure to your answers is the key to an impressive answer – and this will only come with practice. Practice is key. Here are some steps to take when preparing for your interviews:

  1. Learn the main types of questions that could be asked – a list of useful websites is below.
  2. Develop a framework/approach for answering the main question types. For example, a question like “tell me about a time when you have shown teamwork,” can be answered using the STARL method (situation, task, action, response, learning, link back to medicine).
  3. Take time to think about moments from your own work experience, volunteering, sport, music etc. that you can include in your answers.
  4. I would advise against writing out answers to all of the questions and memorising them – save your time and energy! Instead, the approach I took was to write out a long list of questions and ask my family to test me every evening leading up to my interview. This also gets you accustomed to having unfamiliar questions thrown at you, and encourages you to think on your feet.
  5. Alternatively, you could form a group with other students applying to medicine – at lunchtime, do practice questions and discuss your answers together.
  6. Finally, I would highly recommend reading The GMC’s ‘Good Medical Practice’ to gain a greater understanding of the values that Universities are looking for. Try to refer to it within your answers where possible.

Websites and resources

  1. The Medic Portal: This website breaks down has high quality, free breakdowns of how to approach MMI stations and NHS hot-topic questions. The information is highly detailed (don’t worry about memorising it all!) but is of very high quality. Furthermore, there are some extremely useful free practice questions.
  2. Youtube Videos: Medic Mind, The MSAG, Ali Abdaal and Kharma Medic have made high quality videos breaking down frameworks for answering interview questions.
  3. Blackstone Tutors: Although you need to pay for full access, there is a free question bank available with examples of MMI stations you may face.
  4. Medic Mind free question bank: practice makes perfect! These questions are very similar to the ones you will face in the actual interviews.
  5. Medfully – although a subscription is £29, you can access some questions for free. This resource presents you with sample questions, then lets you make flashcards so you can test yourself.


Personal examples and reflection

Answers that are personal to you, either based on work experience or an extracurricular activity, are what will allow you to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.

Equally important, though, is that your answers show an ability to reflect on your own experiences, and specifically how they link back to medicine. This demonstrates maturity, and an awareness of the wider implications of your experiences.

More than anything, reflection is highly encouraged in medical school, and occurs every day in clinical practice. A reflective candidate will make an ideal medical student!

For example, if you are asked about a time you had to overcome a challenge, go beyond just describing the event – talk about what you learned from it, and how those lessons will inform your practice in medicine.

Enthusiasm goes a long way

Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for medicine. Ultimately, it is what the interviewers are looking for!

Keeping up with medical news and events is a great way to do this. My recommended reading list includes The King’s Fund, The Health Foundation, The BMJ, The BMA website, Nuffield Health, and The Guardian.

Good luck

Honestly, you have done so well to get to the interview stage – don’t let yourself forget that!

My final piece of advice is to do everything you can to keep yourself calm on the day,  whether that’s breathing exercises, exercising or positive visualisation.

Keep a cool head, and all the preparation you have done up to this point will surely shine through.