How Medical Schools Interview


All UK medical schools will interview school leavers before offering them a place, to assess their suitability to study medicine and to become a doctor.  They will be looking at communication skills, motivation, attitude, awareness of what is happening in medicine, and an understanding of what the study and practice of medicine will involve.  Medical schools will do this in one of two ways.  The following are summaries, and you will find more detail on each type, and on Oxbridge interviews, elsewhere in the Knowledge Base.

The traditional or structured interview #

This type of interview is question-based but can develop into more of a conversation in which you have time to elaborate on your answers.  You are most likely to have more than one interviewer, who may be drawn from admissions staff, professionals, or current students.  The length can vary but expect 20 – 40 minutes as standard.  Questions tend to be drawn from common themes, which you can find in published question banks, so you can prepare some answers in advance, and many medical school websites will indicate if there are things they will explore during an interview, such as your work experience.

The multiple mini interview (MMI) #

The MMI was introduced as a more objective way of assessing candidates and is now being used in some form by the majority of medical schools.  As it is practical, it gives a more accurate representation of a candidate’s actual abilities than a traditional interview and being modular can cover a wider variety of skills.  You will encounter a number of stations, each lasting no more than 10 minutes, but some much less, which can be role play situations, problem solving, data handling, teamwork, or short interviews covering your work experience or how you would cope with stress. 

The COVID factor #

Many interviews for 2021 entry were conducted online, on a platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  Some universities may continue with this for 2021/22.  If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you are somewhere quiet, with the best wifi you can, and that you will be uninterrupted.  Dress and behave as you would for an in-person interview.  Although the setting is less formal, you are still being assessed, so prepare and focus in the same way.  The Medical Schools Council has prepared some useful guidance on taking an online interview which you can read here.

The medical schools #

The tables show which type of interview the medical schools are now using, and any special arrangement they have announced for 2021/22 interviews.  This may change, but if you are offered an interview, they will give you full details and instructions.  Institutions usually assessing by MMI are included in that table, even if they are proposing to use a more structured approach in online interviews for 2021/22.

Medical schools using traditional (structured) interviews #

University Traditional Interviews
Interview will last approximately 30 mins, with two assessors, each one asking two questions. Both will assess responses separately.
ONLINE for 2021/22. At least 2 interviews conducted by Colleges with at least one current practitioner on the panel.
Around 30 minutes, with 2 panels, each with 2 interviewers. Panel A explores what being a doctor means, panel B includes discussion of an ethical scenario.
ONLINE for 2021/22. Candidates will be interviewed by academic tutors from 2 colleges, usually two interviewers but occasionally more.
Queen Mary, London (Bart’s & The London)
Interview panel consists of 2 members of senior academic or clinical staff, a medical student and sometimes a lay selector. Your personal statement will be considered but does not form part of the scoring.
There is a panel interview lasting around 20 mins, with 2 interviewers, and a group task lasting around 30 mins, following 5 mins preparation.
Swansea (graduate entry only)
30 min written situational judgement assessment and two 20 min panel interviews to discuss your personal statement. Pairs of interviewers are drawn from clinicians, academics, medical students and lay people.

Medical schools using the MMI #

University MMI
6 stations, each with 2 examiners for 5 mins (total 10 mins). Subject areas are published on their website.
Anglia Ruskin
6 stations, 6 minutes each, typically one examiner per station unless it is a role play exercise. Areas tested are published on their website.
7 – 10 stations. Qualities they are looking for are listed on their website. Medical knowledge will not be tested.
Likely to interview online (Zoom) for 2021/22. Two stations, 6 mins + 2 mins preparation, one of which is role play. 2 examiners, but only interact with one. Also a separate calculation station, 10 mins, on a different date.
Brighton and Sussex
5 discussions, 10 mins each, with one examiner. They suggest you prepare by reflecting on your work experience, and studying the Medical Schools Council guidelines.
6 stations consisting of short interviews. Format will not change if delivered online (Zoom).
Use Objective Structured Selection Examination (OSSE) consisting of a series of tasks to test abilities related to ‘Good Medical Practice’ published by the General Medical Council.
University MMI
Look for ability to think on your feet, critically appraise information, communicate ideas and demonstrate you have thought about issues relevant to your career.
2020/21 format was online, with 5 stations, 6 mins each, in the form of a panel interview. Candidates asked to consider questions, situations, and dilemmas.
East Anglia (Norwich)
7 stations, 5 mins each plus 1.5 mins for changeover and preparation. One interviewer per station, drawn from a range of medical school staff.
Edge Hill
Assesses a range of skills and attributes listed on their website. Previously, have had 8 stations, 7 mins each.
Series of short interviews, held on an Assessment Day, when you also have a chance to find out more about the university/course.
A series of short structured interview stations to assess non-cognitive qualities, such as communication skills, empathy, insight, and motivation.
Hull York
6 stations; 3 are mini-interviews focusing on your understanding of current medical issues, motivation, and critical thinking, then a group scenario, an individual scenario, and a student station where you can ask questions.
Imperial College, London
Remote interview for 2021/22. You will be required to video record your interview to upload. Topics are published on their website.
Usually MMI stations with a separate numeracy assessment, but 2020/21 was online with 2 mini-interviews only. Yet to announce proposed 2021/22 format.
Kent & Medway
Format not published, but likely to be around six 7-minute stations, plus a much longer group station. They say their MMIs differ from usual UK ones but will supply guidance to candidates.
King's College London
Usually 7 station MMI 6 mins per station, but 2020/21 was an online panel interview with 2 assessors Yet to announce proposed 2021/22 format.
University MMI
Usually 12 to 15 x 5 min stations, plus a 20 min group station. For 2020/21 adapted this to Circuit A stations (5 min tasks or questions), Circuit B stations (5 mins to read and think + 5 mins with interviewer), then a group session, (3 mins to read + 15 to discuss). 2021/22 format to be announced.
8 stations of 7 mins each, to assess non-academic qualities, all with different formats. 7 stations likely to be interviews and one a role play.
Will include a number of stations. List of qualities to be assessed is on their website. Currently planning to hold 2021/22 interviews in person.
Usually 8 stations but for 2020/21 interviewed online (Teams) in a 30-40 min session with 2 interviewers which included questions on 4 scenarios, one of which was a role play. Plans for 2021/22 not yet announced.
Expecting to offer online interviews for 2021/22 but content and format has not yet been finalised.
2020/21 format was a 4 or 5 station MMI, with each station lasting 7 minutes, with no reading or writing component. Format for 2021/22 still to be decided.
7 stations, each of 7 mins with an extra 2 min ice breaker question in the first station. One will involve a role play scenario.
Usually 8 stations but for 2020/21 interviewed online (Teams) in a 30-40 min session with 2 interviewers which included questions on 4 scenarios, one of which was a role play. Plans for 2021/22 not yet announced.
Plymouth (Peninsula)
In 2020/21 online MMI there were 4 single assessor stations but expect more if face to face in 2021/22. Assessors are from a range of different backgrounds.
Queen’s, Belfast
Usually 9 stations, some being rest stations. A semi-structured interview may form one of the stations. Expect fewer stations if online again in 2021/22..
University MMI
8 stations; questions will be sent to you in advance, and subject areas are on the website. Interviewers are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds. Will revert to online structured panel interviews 2021/22 if COVID restrictions reimposed.
There is a panel interview lasting around 20 mins, with 2 interviewers, and a group task lasting around 30 mins, following 5 mins preparation. (Included here as more than one element, although not strictly MMI).
St Andrews
6 mini interview stations of about 6 mins Communication and interpersonal skills assessed at each, withat least one role play with an actor.
St George’s, London
6 – 8 short interviews of about 5 mins each. May involve answering a question, a practical task, or a role play.
10 stations, 5 mins each, one of which may be a video to discuss, and a role play. Also there is a 30 min pass/fail numeracy test.
Ulster (graduate entry only)
8 stations, with areas looked at available on the website. Held virtually in 2021/21.
University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN)
8 stations, 7 mins each which includes 2 mins reading time. One station will discuss the transferable skills statement you are required to submit.
University College, London
Anticipate using MMIs for 2021/22 but will review in October, dependent on any COVID restrictions. This will be the first time so no guidance available yet..
Warwick (graduate entry only)
6 exercises, observed and scored by trained assessors. Session lasts a total of around 2 hours.
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