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Title150 Medical Interview Questions
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Page 1

(Cisc MEDICAL
Interview Skills Consulting

CONTENTS TABLE

Techniques & Frameworks
Formulating your answers
"I don't like selling myself. It makes me feel arrogant"
Selling yourself. The "TAGS" framework
Questions asking for examples
The "STAR" technique
Dealing with ... , coping with ... The four 'R's
Expressing an opinion

Analysis of interview questions
1 Tell me about yourself.
2 Take us through your application form/personal statement.
3 Why do you want to do Medicine?
4 Why not nursing? Why not any other healthcare profession?
5 What would you do if you did not get into Medicine this year?
6 What steps have you taken to find out whether Medicine is the

right career for you?
7 Tell me about your work experience.
8 Tell me about your gap year.
g What have you read or experienced to prepare you for Medicine?
10 What does a doctor do apart from treating patients?
11 Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years' time?
12 If you had the choice between being a GP, a surgeon or a

physician, which would you choose?
13 What do you want to achieve during your career in Medicine?
14 What impact do you hope to make in the field of Medicine?
15 Why have you chosen this medical school?
16 There are other universities with the same teaching methods.

Why this one in particular?
17 What attracts you the most and the least about our medical

school?
18 What challenges do you think that a career in Medicine will bring

you?
1g What are the pros and cons of being a doctor?

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How would you dissuade someone from going into Medicine?
What are you looking forward to the most and the least about
becoming a doctor?
What are the different aspects of communication?
How would you rate your communication skills?
How have you developed your communication skills?
Can you learn communication skills?
Are you an empathic person?
Can you think of a situation where your communication skills
made a difference to the outcome of a situation?
What makes a good team player?
Give an example where you played an effective role as a team
member.
What are the attributes of a good team leader?
Tell me about your leadership skills.
Are you a leader or a follower?
What makes a good team?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a
team?
How do you manage your time?
How good are your organisational skills?
Tell me about your IT skills.
How important is IT in Medicine?
What are your hobbies?
rell me about a non-academic project in which you were
i"volved.
Ilow do you cope with stress?
Ilow do you feel that your hobbies have contributed to your

Itldies?
Wllilt makes a good doctor?
WII,,! are your main strengths?
Wily me you the best candidate today? Why should we take you
llll?

, 11v.tllree adjectives that suit you best.
II, oW would your friends describe you?
WI,,,! would you like written in your obituary?
I'" V'H' IIl1vethe personality that it lakes to do Medicine?
WI,,,, .kills have you gained in your current work that are
I,"".r","hle to Medicine? (Question for graduates)

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of PBl?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional
teaching?
What do you know about our course, why does it suit you and
why does it interest you?
This course requires a great deal of independent study. Will you
manage?
60% of medical school applicants are female. Why do you think
that is?
What are the extended roles of nurses in healthcare?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the increasing
role of nurses?
Does the bulk of medical treatment occur in the community or in
hospitai?
How do politics influence healthcare decisions?
Do you think it is right to allow private healthcare to run alongside
the NHS?
How should healthcare be funded?
What do you think about the way doctors are perceived in the
media?
What does the phrase "inequalities in healthcare" mean to you?
What are the arguments for and against people paying for their
own healthcare?
How does Medicine now compare with 100 years ago?
What are alternative medicines I complementary therapies?
What is your opinion on them?
Do you think the NHS should provide alternative therapies?
Sliouid the NHS deal with patients who have self-inflicted
dj~HtaSes?
'illould the NHS fund non-essential surgery?
III what ways can doctors promote good health?
IlII""ld doctors show a good example to patients?
WIIlIlls holistic Medicine?
WIIIII{1 you say that Medicine is an art or a science?
WIIIII do you know about clinical governance?
WII"I do you know about the audit process?
WIIIII do you know about the European Working Time Directive?
WIIIIII. "Hospital at Night"?
WIIIII I. "Modernising Medical Careers" or "MMC"?

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Do you work better by yourself or as part of a team?
What is your main weakness?
If you could change two things about yourself, what would they
be?
Who has had a major influence on you as a person?
Tell us about your best I worst teacher.
Describe an instance where you made a life-changing decision.
What is your greatest achievement?
What are you most proud of?
How do you cope with criticism?
How do you cope with conflict?
As a doctor, who would you regard as part of the team?
Why is research important?
What research have you done?
What type of research would you be interested in doing?
If you were to set up a new medical research project, what would
it be?
How do you go about researching something you know nothing
about?
What makes a good teacher?
How important is teaching in the medical profession?
Who should a doctor teach?
When you are a doctor, would you like to get involved in
teaching?
Give an example of a situation where you held an opinion but
had to change your view.
What is the worst mistake that you have made?
How do you know what you don't know?
Which question would you most want to ask if you were
interviewing others to enter medical school?
Tell us about an interesting book that you have read or film that
you have seen.
Do you know what it is like to be a medical student?
Why do some students who qualify as doctors give up Medicine
and never practice?
Studying for Medicine is a long and stressful process. What
makes you think that you can cope with it?
What do you know about problem-based learning (PBl)? How
does it compare with traditional teaching methods?

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FORMULATING YOUR ANSWERS
Throughout this book, we will demonstrate how individual questions may be
approached in order to deliver a strong answer. There are a number of factors
that you should bear in mind and that should underline every answer that you
give:

Keep track of time: no longer than 2 minutes for most questions, 3 minutes if
the subject is broad (any longer and you will put the interviewer to sleep).

No one.liners: you need to explain what you say, back up all your
statements appropriately and generally provide a well.developed answer.
This is what this book will teach you to do. Your answers should be
sufficiently long to be interesting. A minimum length of 1.5 minutes would be
appropriate.

Keep to the point and use a sound structure/framework: always directly
answer the question at the start of your answer. Do not waffle or have a
lengthy introduction. You can diverge slightly afterwards if you want (providing
it is relevant). Make sure that your answer follows a well.defined structure or
framework. Most structures/frameworks will consist of 3.5 main points (this is
as much as anyone will be prepared to listen to). Raising too many points will
simply make you lose your audience. If you have more than a handful of
points to make, try to see if you can reorganise the information into bigger
headings.

Substantiate and personalise: use facts to substantiate your answer. Facts
bring credibility to your answer. You can draw from your work or academic
experience to discuss who, what, when, why and how, and to personalise
your answers. Using 'I' rather than 'we' gives more credit to your actions.

Be positive: keep the answers positive. Sell yourself. There is no need to
volunteer the negative facts. When discussing negative situations, use your
answer to explain how much you have learnt from your experience.

Conclude: always conclude your answer. Keep it brief. Whenever possiblo,
make sure that the conclusion relates back to you and your future role as II
doctor.

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InterView Skills Consulting

"I DON'T LIKE SELLING MYSELF.
IT MAKES ME FEEL ARROGANT"

Feeling arrogant when attempting to sell oneself is a common and natural
feeling, which even the shyest candidates have. If you feel arrogant, it is often
because you are trying to sell yourself by making bold statements along the
lines of "I am a good communicator", "I am a good team player", "I am very
organised", etc.

I'lsentially, all you are doing is giving the interviewers your own opinion of
yourself without explaining what you mean. There are three main ways in
Which you can get around that problem and, with a bit of practice, you will be
,~I. to build complete answers that present you as a balanced individual:

=xpress your strengths in an objective manner by mentioning the fact that
other people think that you are good (e.g. "I have often been
complimented by my teachers for being a good team player").

JUltify your skills by talking about the impact they have or had, and by
~Ivlng representative examples (e.g. "I have good organisational skills
WI,lch really helped me in making the College's summer ball a success at
II"I end of last year": you can then go into more details about what the
"V'lnt involved). This helps dilute the bold statement.

ItlV practical and talk about your experience rather than what you think
'" .,r. good at. For example, "I have a lot of experience of working with

1"'"111 both as a leader and a simple team member" is a lot more effective
,,,., ,Iown to earth than "I am a really good team player and team leader".

r'l "HJrle, once you have made a statement about your level of
I'''' Io)[1CO, you will need to go on describing that experience and your

•"I" wllhln it.

lUll' '111 11)11book, we will show you how this can be achieved in individual
11"'1

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Interview Skills Consulting

SELLING YOURSELF
THE "TAGS" FRAMEWORK

A number of questions are designed to make you talk about yourself, to
describe why you feel that you are a suitable candidate for Medicine and what
your aspirations are. To answer such questions successfully, you will need to
address a wide range of issues, thereby demonstrating a broad knowledge of
the medical environment and what being a doctor entails. You will also need
to deliver your answer in a clear and structured manner, for which the
following framework should assist you. Where necessary, we will refer to this
framework throughout our explanations.

Training & ExperiencelClinical
• The exams that you have passed

The extent of your technical knowledge and of your training
• The extent of your experience

The courses and seminars that you have attended

Academic
Teaching others
Carrying out research activities

• Ensuring that your practice is up to standard by doing regular audits

Generic skills
• Communication skills (listening skills, caring approach, empathy, etc.)
• Team playing
• Leadership
• Management and organisational skills

Social
Social life, hobbies, volunteer work, etc.

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(CiSCMEDICAL
Interview Skills Consulting

QUESTIONS ASKING FOR EXAMPLES
Questions asking for examples are popular at interviews. This form of
questioning, called "behavioural", stems from the fact that your recruiters are
likely to learn a lot more about you by getting you to talk about your past
experiences than by asking you how you might behave in hypothetical
situations. Typical questions are likely to be of the form: Describe a situation
where you played an important role in a team, where you used your
communication skills effectively, where you made a mistake, where you
leiled to communicateeffectively,whereyou had to deal with conflict, etc.

fh. Rules
AllI,ough most candidates find such questions difficult, they are in fact
",I.lively easy once you have identified a good example to discuss, providing
" 'u tallow a number of important rules.

$$ $"" 1: Makesure that you choose a specific example
*) candidates prefer to address vague situations or to speak about their
"MI"J,ilnce in general. For example, "Describe a situation where you played
I" Itflportant role in a team" often leads to answers of the type '" work in
''''''''1 nil the time, at school, in my summer job or at the local youth club".

'" I 1uch an answer would be missing the point of the question. If you read
11110'plltltlon correctly, it is asking about a situation, i.e. a specific case or

I'" • '1101 you handled. You would therefore need to be very specific.

If,,'. ." '#&#some time to identify all the skills that you need to
IIII''''';{,,'

flU' lion such as "Describe a situation where your communication skills
, " "",live effect on a situation", it is obvious that the question is testing

tltllil ( to communicate. In other less obvious questions, such as "Give an
I,h. "t IJ IUuBtion where you had to deal with a complex situation", there

',lIlllhol you can demonstrate such as:

" .,1 ""ly 10 loke Ihe initiative and to work within your own limits.
II '11 'lillY to Identify the resources you need to resolve this problem.

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(Cise MEDICAL
IntervIew Skills Consulting

EXPRESSING AN OPINION
There will be many questions where you will be asked what you think of such-
and-such concept or situation. These questions are not designed to test
whether your ideas match those of the panel. Indeed. you are allowed to think
what you want. providing it'does not make you an unsafe or bigoted doctor,
and provided that you can justify your opinions with sensible arguments.

What the panel will require from you is an ability to think about the topic from
different perspectives, to present balanced arguments in a clear, concise and
structured manner and to be in a position to discuss the topic in an adult
fashion with them. In most cases, this will mean reserving your own opinion
on the topic until the end and presenting the various sides of the argument
first. Giving your opinion first would not only stop you from addressing the
multiple facets of the issue in question, but would also often make you run the
risk of appearing one-dimensional.

In most cases, the opinions that you will be required to give will be related to
something which is either in the news at the time of the interview (current trial,
court case), an ongoing political issue (role of nurses, NHS reforms) or an
ethical issue or scenario (abortion, euthanasia, vivisection, liver transplants
for alcoholics, etc.).

In order to deal with current issues or political issues, you will need to be
familiar with the details and this book will help you a lot in understanding
some of the intricacies. However, you would be well advised to spend some
time reading relevant news websites and newspapers as they are often a rich
source of arguments that you can use in your own answers.

In order to deal with ethical issues, you will also need to have done u
substantial amount of thinking and reading in your own time so that you COil
acquire a good ability to debate. This book will give you many arguments th"l
you can use. However, to complement it, you will need to spend some tim
discussing them informally with friends and family. You will be all the mar
equipped for having listened to and argued with your closest friends Ilr
relatives. The interviewers will expect you to engage in a similar debate Willi
them.

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Interview Skills Consulting

MEDICAL SCHOOL
INTERVIEWS

ANALYSIS
OF

ERVIEW QUESTIONS

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QUESTION 1
Tell me about yourself.

Introduction
This question, when asked, will be Ihe first one in the interview and you must
use it to your advantage to make the best possible impression. Most people
find Ihal it is a difficull queslion to approach and struggle to find an interesling
angle. Consequenlly, they end up making one of two serious mistakes:

They want to teli their life slory and end up speaking for over 5 minutes,
giving a year-by-year account of Iheir studies and interests;

or
They menlion two skills superficialiy and do not personalise their answer.
This results in a 10-second answer of Ihe Iype 'My name is John, I like
science, I am a good team player and I want to be a doclor".

Many candidates' first reaclion is "What do you wanl me to talk about: my
studies, my hobbies or my work experience?" In reality, you should exploillhe
vagueness of the question to discuss what you want to discuss (and nol what
you think they might want to hear), using the opportunily 10 sell your
experience and skills.

How to approach the question
Essentially, this queslion is asking you to verbalise informalion that should
already be included in your personal slatement. It Iherefore gives you an
opportunily to shine using infonmation Ihal you have already gathered. If thero
are some omissions in your personal statements, here is a chance to mak
up for Ihe deficiencies.

In order 10 provide a complete picture, use the TAGS framework highlightull
on page 14 and take the interviewers through each section in lurn.

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Interview Skills Consulting

Training & Experience
Provide the highlighls of your educalion so far, your 'A' Levels and career 10
dale. Explain how you developed your inleresl in Medicine and, as part of
this, whal you gained from your work experience.

Academic
Develop your experience and interesl in teaching, lab work, research, elc.

Generic Skills
llighlight your interpersonal skills and other personal attribules. This would
Include communication skills, team playing abilities, organisational and
h",dership skills. You should relate each skill mentioned to your life
nll:pnrlences and work experience, giving examples of situations where you
dl1lllonstrated such skills.

Ild,,1
1.11. "lIout yourself as a person. What social life do you have? How do you
,.10 •• 1 What are your hobbies? This aspect is importanl as il presenls you as

w,,11 hnlnnced individual. This will be crucial throughout medical school and
'" lih, ns a doclor 10 enable you to cope with Ihe pressure of exams and
" Ill! work experiences, and to relieve your stress.

1\ J I lIlinutes to answer the question, and four sections to address, you
II."IV hllve 30-40 seconds per section. You Iherefore need to be succinct
II nllMwor, while providing enough information to sound interesting. This

1" "pnrotion and practice.

I. "'nn Ineffective answer
'''''''" /s John. I am currently taking my 'A' Levels and am really

,., 01" M"d/cine. I think Medicine will be a great way to have an
11'0 w,d to make a real difference to people. I am a good

"''', II good team player and I am very dedicated and focused. I
'llIJ loot/mil and going out with my friends.

I, ,,"I "lIad". The general slruclure and approach are fine bul
lUll \lllllUric to have a strong impact. Its main weakness is that

IItflllV •• Illtements that are not fully explained and whose
, 10 1••11I., llio judgement of Ihe interviewer.

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