Medical school interviews are the last step of an arduous medical school admissions process. Once you make it to the interview stage, you have proven that you have what it takes academically. Now you need to show that you have the personal qualities required of a medical professional. Consider the medical interview an opportunity to showcase yourself as more than the culmination of an ATAR, GAMSAT score, and GPA.

What Makes Medical Interviews Different From Any Ordinary Interview?

Medical school interviews take a unique approach in assessing candidates. It is not an easy process. You will be competing against a pool of very driven applicants. In most cases, for every successful interviewee, another interviewee will be unsuccessful.

What Are The Major Differences?

A panel interview consists of lengthier conversations on broader topics such as 'why do you want to study medicine?’ or ‘how will you deal with the potential stresses of medical school?’ Typically there will be multiple interviewers, and the conversation will be a guided discussion.

The more common type of medical interview is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) formats. Depending on the university, this involves students rotating between 6-10 stations of 5-8 minutes each. Each MMI station will include a different format or topic.  The medical interviewers will come from various backgrounds, including medical professionals, those who graduated and are even community members.

Unlike a standard interview, the questions are more vigorous. Your interview will cover highly ethical and complex topics both within the medical field and beyond. Each MMI interview question is usually posed with a main prompt read outside the interview room, followed by a series of follow-up questions. These questions tend to add additional layers of complexity and push your moral limits. While some questions may be based around common everyday situations e.g., a student cheating on a test, much of the focus is on tough medical scenarios e.g. abortion or euthanasia.

Medical School Interviews: What To Wear

Unlike a normal interview, you need to consider that you will likely need to wear this outfit for a few hours and move around quite a lot during the medical interview. Some stations at universities require you to ‘act’, but you will also need to move from station to station, in and out of rooms, and don’t want the added stress of a wardrobe malfunction.

Your outfit needs to be sharp but you also want to be comfortable. Choose an outfit that is practical- don't wear anything that will distract too much from your incredible verbal responses. If you are doubtful on the perfect med interview outfit, read our article on 'What To Wear During a Medical School Interview?'

Do All Medical Schools Need Interviews?

Most undergraduate medical universities with the exception of University of Tasmania require you to perform in a medical interview setting. 

For postgraduate medicine, the main admissions body is the Graduate Entry Medical School Admissions System (GEMSAS). GEMSAS administers the admissions for all medical schools that are part of the GAMSAT Consortium. This consists of the following medical schools

Students will only interview at one school from the GEMSAS Consortium pool and the score of the interview will be standardized across all universities. This score will then apply to all preferences on the candidate’s list that are equal to, or below, that of the school that they interview at. For example, if a student attends the interview at a university with their 4th preference, their interview score will also be passed on to the 5th and 6th preferences on their list but not their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd preferences.

There are also two GEMSAS independent universities that you can consider at the time of your application The University of Sydney and Flinders University.

Monash University, on the other hand runs a separate process but is only applicable to current or past graduates of Monash University.

MMI (Multiple Mini Interviews) Medical Interviews vs Traditional Interviews

For undergraduate medical schools, all universities use the MMI method of interviewing. 

Most postgraduate medical schools adopt the MMI approach. The exceptions are Australian National University which also includes a panel interview on top of the MMI and Flinders University that conducts only a structured panel interview. There are a few key differences between MMIs and panel interviews that we detail within this article.

Commonly Asked Medical Interview Questions

The questions asked in medical interviews are not always your classic interview questions like ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ (hint - a good answer wouldn’t be ‘I am a perfectionist!’ in this context). The questions are carefully created to assess if you have a genuine passion for medicine as well as the skills and mindset required of a medical professional.

Questions will often be specific to the university, such as asking how you would work in a team during ‘PBL’ (Problem Based Learning) at The University of Melbourne, or how you would manage to keep on top of GIL (Guided Independent Learning) at The University of Wollongong. For this reason, it is important to be knowledgeable about the university you are interviewing for, how their curriculum is structured, and most importantly, what values and principles are key to that university.

One of the most commonly asked questions is 'Why Medicine?' or even ‘There are many professions where you can help people. Why do you want to be a doctor?’. These questions often stump applicants, when they should be the easiest questions of them all! Even if you know why you are interested in medicine, sometimes it is hard to put this into words. Therefore, it is crucial that you PRACTICE this in advance because it is more than likely going to be asked at your medical interview!

Medical school interviews often include questions related to public health and current medical issues (think … COVID-19!). Other examples include: ‘what are the advantages of rural healthcare’ or ‘what are the current issues facing Indigenous healthcare in Australia’. It wouldn’t be a medical school interview without some difficult ethical scenarios too! When you start to practice these questions, it can be quite overwhelming. The scenarios come in all forms.

You could be asked ‘which patient should be treated first’ when presented with competing priorities or ‘how would you deal with a minor asking to keep the information confidential from their parents. To best answer these questions, it can be helpful to use a framework, such as the four pillars of medical ethics. This comes with practice and a lot of it.

How Should I Prepare For My Medical Interview?

Just as an interview for a café would have a different focus to an interview for a bank job, each medical school focuses on different types of questions. Be sure to thoroughly research the university that you are interviewing with and consider – What are their values and principles? How is their course structured? What are they looking for in a candidate? 

Getting Used To Medical Interview Question Styles

As with anything, practice really can make you perfect (or at least reduce some of the stress on the day knowing you have done this before) but it is also important you don’t become a robot! Remember – the aim is to show your personality and why you are more than a set of numbers! 

It is a very wise idea to practice all your theory and frameworks on actual past questions that universities have utilized in their interviews. It is for that reason we created the Free MMI Question Generator, equipped with all the past stations and subdivided into the universities’ topics and sub-topics, such as Hierarchy within a Communication station.

How To Spend Medical Interview Reading Time

What is it exactly that the interviewers want to hear? The answer is quite straightforward - honesty, and clear, rational expression. In short, they want to see whether you are a mature, thoughtful person, capable of engaging a patient in a hospital ward. Just like a real patient interview, this step in the medical school admission process requires careful preparation and focus. After all, a future doctor that waffles, or goes on wild tangents, will lose the patient’s trust and leave them confused.

Here are 5 real medical interview techniques that will help you make use of the time before you begin the interview, whether it’s with a medical faculty or in the hospital.

1. Know Where You Stand

The biggest misconception around medical interviews is that there are ‘right’ answers and ‘wrong’ answers. This is somewhat untrue, rather, responses to interview questions fall into the categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. In fact, markers award points based on a candidate’s display of particular skills such as compassion or foresight. Therefore, there are multiple ways to approach any given question.

This means that explaining and justifying your answer is just as important as the content of your response. For example, the University of Melbourne often includes stations examining your understanding of aspects of the healthcare system. In reading time for such as station, it’s important to take a second and ask yourself: “what do I believe?” and “why do I believe this?”. It’s very easy for an examiner to tell when a response is pre-prepared – the clarity and passion that come with honesty are almost impossible to reproduce with a cookie-cutter response.

2. Clear Your Mind

In clinical training, one of your biggest enemies is racing thoughts.

The same is true of medical school interviews. It’s impossible to process a complex scenario if it isn’t focused on your mind. So, the first priority in reading time is paraphrasing and summarising the scenarios. As you read, explain the situation to yourself in clear and concrete terms. Following this, continue to develop an answer from your understanding. Time spent overanalysing the prompt is time you aren’t spending thinking about your answer. Pausing to evaluate the question is also critical during the interview.

Ethics-based stations often ask open-ended questions such as “what would you do?” This often leads students to launch into unstructured and repetitive rambles. Do not be afraid of small quiet pauses to collect your thoughts or process a follow-up, they are a useful tool in organizing your ideas appropriately.

3. Signpost

Speaking of unstructured rambles – a mature response is mapped out before it is spoken. Never launch into an answer hoping it will end up in the right place. Just as in an essay, effective responses should be signposted. Signposting is opening a discussion by succinctly informing the listener of your talking points. This could be as brief as stating the number of points you will be making, or as detailed as a run-down of your approach to dissecting an ethical situation. On that note – it's usually good to aim for three talking points.

Regardless, you need to have these ideas formed in your mind before you consider responding. There is a useful technique to develop this habit. During reading time, pick one of your hands – each finger has now become a memory aid. As you come up with a distinct speaking point, mentally ‘assign’ it to one of your digits. This will force you to structure your interview response while also serving as a memory aid during the interview station. Just remember not to fiddle with your hands too much when conversing with your examiner! 

4. Remember – It’s A Conversation

Long gone are the days of faculty with a stiff upper lip. Just because you have to be respectful doesn’t mean your interview has to be dry. Not everyone is a natural extrovert, however, and this is where the art of the interview comes into play. Many of us may be wonderful, quiet souls – but a good doctor can’t be shy to engage the patient and build a strong rapport. This is where you have to summon every ounce of confidence (without verging on arrogance!) in the seconds before you enter the room and ‘fake it till you make it.

Remember – the best station is the one that feels like a natural conversation. It’s okay to smile. It’s okay to have a light-hearted chuckle. It’s more than okay to emote with your voice to reflect your passion. After all, as the old adage goes - ‘show, don’t tell’!

5. Plan Your Approach

There is one thing, and one thing only, that you must absolutely have a concrete plan for – how you enter the room. It’s very hard to juggle signposts, charisma, and body language. And though it might seem trivial, first impressions are incredibly powerful. When considering your approach there a few things to think about – how will you knock on the door? How will you respond to seeing your examiner? Do you reach for a handshake (or perhaps an elbow bump in this world so changed by COVID)?

Of course, none of these small actions will make or break your application, but having an idea of how you will manage the physical aspect of the interview frees up valuable cognitive capacity that you will no doubt require to manoeuvre through complex follow-up questions.

It’s also one less thing to worry about! (H2) Final comments and best of luck And that’s it! There are certainly other minutiae that have to be worked out and perfected, but these are the key ingredients to successful reading time. However, none of these techniques is a replacement for good old-fashioned practice.

So...

...Get to those Fraser's mock interviews! Stand in front of your mirror! Film and re-watch yourself speaking! In brief – get rehearsing! 

Post-Graduate Medical Interview Guide

So you’re done with your applications and the GAMSAT, and you’ve finally received an invitation to interview. All your hard work is about to pay off! Now it’s time for the cherry on top. The interview may seem like a daunting experience, but it’s definitely doable. With proper training and mentorship, you’ll outshine the rest of the applicants and make an unforgettable impression on your interviewers. This guide will help you understand what exactly medical interviews are about, how the MMI works, the qualities your university is looking for, and how Fraser’s can help you become a candidate they can’t reject.

Why Are Medical Interviews Important?

Your medical school interview is arguably the most important interview you’ll ever take; it has the potential to determine your career for the rest of your life. The reason medical schools place such a huge emphasis on interviews is that success in medicine requires much more than academic competence. GAMSAT scores and GPA don’t predict a competent doctor. Medicine requires integrity, altruism, and self-regulation. That’s why universities will assess your communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. In one study, non-academic characteristics assessed through interview evaluations had a strong association with student performance during clinical rotations.

That said, it’s also important to consider how medical schools will use the interview scores to determine who gets an offer. Most schools will be using specific rubrics to identify qualities they’re looking for. They’ll use the Likert Scale (from 1-10), where 1 is “unsuitable for the profession” and 10 is “outstanding”. The interviewers won’t assess your clinical knowledge, but rather your ability to navigate through difficult scenarios, display maturity, and show compassion.

MMI Interviews (Multiple Mini Interviews)

MMIs (Multiple Mini-Interviews) were founded in Canada as a way of reducing the amount of bias in traditional panel interviews. They have since been found to be a strong indicator of student’s performance throughout medical school and clinic. In fact, your performance in MMI is a much more accurate indicator of future success than your GAMSAT score or your GPA. Each university varies slightly in the types of stations they use, often reflecting their own values.

MMIs usually consist of 5-7 stations of 6-8 minutes each, with approximately 2 minutes between each station to read the scenario or question. Each station is in a separate room with a completely new interviewer. This means that each new station is a new opportunity to impress, regardless of how your previous one went.

This allows for a more objective evaluation of the attributes and personality of the interviewees compared to the traditional interview model. That’s why MMIs have currently used at all Australian medical schools, with the exception of Flinders University.

There Are Three Types Of Stations Expected In An MMI:

Question/Discussion

  • These stations are designed to assess your communication skills, logical reasoning, and professionalism.

Scenario/Acting

  • These scenarios will test your ability to express empathy, interact socially and solve problems.
  • They tend to be either ethical, behavioural, legal, or professional scenarios

Task/Collaboration

  • Task stations are used to learn more about your ability to work with others and in a team to solve problems. 

Panel Interview

Your panel interview lasts for 40-45 minutes and involves answering questions asked by a committee (usually three people). The committee will ask you standard interview questions, such as:

  1. Why do you want a career in medicine?
  2. What are your weaknesses/strengths?
  3. Why did you apply to our university?

In some cases, certain topics will be discussed to gauge your ability to adapt to new kinds of information, think under pressure, demonstrate emotional intelligence and remain calm in a stressful situation.

Qualities Assessed

The interview is the singular opportunity for the university to assess the softer qualities, such as empathy, compassion, and care, necessary to make a good doctor. Each MMI station is designed to assess a non-cognitive ability or skill deemed important for its students and future trainees. The top three qualities and personal characteristics assessed during the admission interview are (2):

  1. Motivation for a medical career
  2. Compassion and empathy
  3. Personal maturity

However, each medical school has specific qualities they are looking for. Therefore it is essential is to determine the characteristics important to the school where you will be interviewing. Here is a list of the qualities assessed in interviews by each university offering graduate medical programs:

University of Melbourne Medical Interviews

“The interview component is an 8 station Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Each station takes 5 minutes and has a single interviewer. The MMI aims to assess non-academic qualities including cultural sensitivity, maturity, collaboration, reliability, and communication skills. The stations could include practical tasks, answering questions, commenting on short films, and explaining thinking.”

Deakin University Medical Interviews

“Eligible applicants are invited to attend a Multi-Mini Interview (MMI) which consists of 10 five-minute stations addressing desired course outcomes: Communication Skills, Commitment to Rural and Regional Practice, Teamwork, Professionalism, Motivation for a Career in Medicine, Evidence-based Practice, Social Justice, Health Promotion, Effective Use of Resources.”

Australian National University Medical Interviews

“It aims to produce graduates who are committed to compassionate, ethical health care and the expansion of medical knowledge. Professionalism and leadership develop these vital skills of a good doctor”.

University of Wollongong Medical Interviews

“Personal qualities valued by the GSM: Communication skills, Empathy & compassion, Resilience and coping skills, Decision making & Problem-solving ability, Teamwork, Honesty, Reflection/self-appraisal, Leadership, Ethical standards and values, Insight and understanding.”

University of Notre Dame (Sydney) Medical Interviews

“Recognising the unique qualities required of someone who is responsible for human life, our admissions requirements look closely at personal attributes - standout traits such as passion, motivation, and a strong desire to make a contribution to the community.”

“As the only medical program offered by a Catholic university in Australia, the Doctor of Medicine aims to develop and train caring and ethical doctors imbued with the values of compassion, respect, and service.”

Macquarie University Medical Interviews

“Our program integrates four graduate capabilities – Scientist and Scholar, Clinical Practitioner, Engaged Global Citizen, and Professional – across the program. It aims to build within students the capacity to be ethical and reflective practitioners who are public health and systems-aware and are socially and culturally versatile; team workers who are patient-centred and safety-focused and are effective personal and digital communicators.” (9)

Griffith University Medical Interviews

“The GUMSAA (Griffith University Multi-Station Admissions Assessment) is a high stakes assessment of candidates’ personal and professional attributes. Aims GUMSAA has been designed to assess qualities such as communication skills, empathy ethical judgment, professionalism, decision-making, motivation, learning style/team-work skills, personal management, and self-evaluation skills prosocial attitude” (10)

University of Queensland Medical Interviews

“The MMI aims to assess the applicant’s non-academic qualities, such as empathy, integrity, adaptability, and verbal communication skills. MMIs have demonstrated high inter-rater reliability and good predictive validity. We aim to select applicants who are representative of the populations we serve and whose goals align with our vision":

Critical scientific thinkers: Our graduates are research literate and curious. A significant proportion pursues clinical academic careers, expanding the boundaries of knowledge in their field.

Socially accountable: They are champions for integrating patient care and committed to improving health disparities in their communities. As patient-centred professionals, our graduates practice values-based medicine.

Global leaders in health care: Our graduates are actively engaged in improving the quality of patient care and public health globally. They are effective team players, bringing skills in leadership and innovation to improve health care in their communities.”

University of Western Australia Medical Interviews

“The purpose of the interview is to allow applicants an opportunity to display some of the personal qualities considered desirable in medical and dental practitioners. There are seven criteria used in the interview each year. All criteria (except Communication Skills) will be assessed in a specific station. Communication Skills will be assessed globally across all stations.

The list of criteria for the interview has been consolidated into nine topics, three of which will be constant across years: Communication Skills, Explaining Skills (School Leaver applicants) or Graduate Presentation Exercise (Graduate applicants) Motivation/Commitment to a career in medicine, dentistry or pharmacy.

The remaining four criteria will be selected each year from the following six: Awareness of social diversity, Provision of assistance, Self-awareness, Trust and trustworthiness, Values and ethics, Working with others.”

University of Notre Dame (Fremantle) Medical Interviews

Look above at the University of Notre Dame (Sydney)

University of Sydney Medical Interviews

“The actual MMI is expected to last approximately 45 minutes. However, the entire process including registration may take up to 2 hours. The MMI process is designed to assess the suitability of applicants based on qualities important for success in the MD and DMD, including: - good communication skills; - a sense of caring, empathy, and sensitivity; - an ability to make effective decisions; - an ability to contribute as a member of a team; - an appreciation of the place of medicine/dentistry in the wider context of healing; and - a sense of vocation, motivation, and commitment within the context of medicine/dentistry.

The MMI process aims to broadly sample the candidate's competencies in order to gain an accurate picture of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. This is achieved by having several brief interviews with different interviewers.”

Flinders University Medical Interviews

“Interviews are held in May and August each year. If you’re selected for an interview, you’ll be presented with a common set of questions, often including scenarios. Interviews are designed to assess whether you have the qualities to succeed at medical school and in a medical career. These include - Communication skills, Quality of motivation, Decision-making, Learning style, Pro-social attitude, and Personal management.

Monash University Medical Interviews

“Monash uses the MMI for the selection of students. MMI stations comprise a series of scenarios and associated questions focusing on an applicant’s: advocacy, collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, ethical reasoning, motivation; The MMI interview consists of six sequential interviews 'stations'. At each station, the applicant will be interviewed for eight minutes followed by two minutes for scoring and changeover (ie ten minutes per station) with a 'circuit’ taking 60-70 minutes to complete.”

Example Medical Interview Scenarios

Ethics station:

  • You are working in an emergency department. A 44-year-old lady arrives with severe pain in her abdomen, caused by a tube leftover from a previous surgery in this hospital. She did not realize that she needed to come back in to remove it. The hospital stated that it was not its responsibility as they had informed the patient already. What are you going to do?

Find out more relevant information on the medical interview ethics station. 

Rural health station:

  • The University has decided to implement a scheme that gives students from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds bonus points for admittance into medical school. What are the issues here? Should students from rural areas be given preference? What are some other strategies to improve rural health outcomes in Australia?

Teamwork station:

  • You and several students are working on a presentation in PBL (problem-based learning). One of the students begins to become upset about the direction of the project and is becoming increasingly agitated. You are not the designated leader, but no one is stepping in. What would you do in this situation?
  • Talk about a time when you have experienced conflict in a team. What role do you play in a conflict situation?
  • Have you ever been in a team where the end result was bad?
  • What successes have you had in a team?

Here's all the information you need on the MMI teamwork station.

Motivation station:

  • What are your motivations to study medicine and why do you think you would be a good fit for ___?
  • What qualities do you think you possess that would make you a good doctor?
  • How will you support yourself during your studies?

More information on the MMI motivation station. 

Public health station:

Nadya is a 21-year-old asylum seeker with a heart condition. She is detained in an on-shore Australian detention center. Nadya is an undocumented refugee, originally from a war-torn country. Current government regulations do not allow her to seek medical treatment to the same degree as a citizen. Recently, as a visiting experienced doctor, you notice sufficient symptoms to refer to a cardiologist. Nine days later, scan results show that she needs a life-saving heart transplant – one which requires you to undergo action against government policy.

  • From the viewpoint of the doctor, what are the issues involved in this scenario? 
  • What would you do in such a scenario?
  • After she came for treatment at your hospital, you refuse to sign the outpatient exit form to release Nadya, knowing full well that she will be returned to detention when released. How do you think this will affect you, your colleagues, and the hospital department respectively?
  • After having explored all avenues, you realize that government intervention is highly unlikely. The only way to save her life is if an action is taken against the law. What would you do in such a scenario?”

More information on the public health MMI station.

Indigenous health station:

“Indigenous Australians have significant health inequalities in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians. Cardiovascular disease is one of the major health issues in Indigenous Australians."

  • If you were the Minister for Health, what would you do to tackle the problem of cardiovascular disease in Indigenous Australians?
  • What are some other health issues that affect Indigenous Australians?
  • What are the barriers to deliver health care to rural regions?
  • How would you improve the retention rate of doctors who train in rural areas?

Emotional scenarios:

You are in your first year of medical school. You notice one of your classmates has stopped attending classes and uploading their work on time. You are grouped with them for a group assignment and they haven’t been responding to any of your messages.

  • What do you do?
  • The following week you find out their mother has died of cancer. They finally respond to your messages and express they are feeling overwhelmed but cannot afford to fail the unit. How would you respond?

Medical Interview Training

All medical universities assess a finite number of core values. A single station typically assesses 5 of the following key values:

  • Empathy: The capacity to take oneself out of one’s own context in order to understand what another person is experiencing.

  • Patient advocacy: Act as a voice for the patient in the scenario, supporting and promoting patient’s rights in their interview answers.

  • Professionalism: Encompasses a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and adherence to ethical principles.

  • Problem-solving: Recognition of the complexity of the problem, demonstrate lateral thinking, level-headedness, adaptability and flexibility.

  • Ethical consideration: Informed consent, patient autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, confidentiality and privacy, respect of patient and family wishes, recognition of professional limitations.

  • Motivation: Why does the student want to pursue a career in medicine?

  • Self-care: The capacity to look after one’s own mental and physical health.

  • Critical reasoning: Capacity to conceptualize and evaluate a set of ideas and opinions. Do not accept ideas at face value.

  • Cultural sensitivity: An awareness of multi-cultural values and perspectives, but also an understanding that one set of cultural beliefs is not superior to any other.

  • Integrity: Commitment to honesty and a strong adherence to moral principles.

  • Expression: How well the student can articulate their answers.

  • Communication: The ability to communicate with the various people and institutions involved.

  • Conflict resolution: High level of communication skills, but also the capacity to negotiate and compromise.

  • Leadership skills: Ability to take initiative and be proactive, while simultaneously recognizing their limitations. Capacity to see the bigger picture and prioritize accordingly - e.g. delegation of tasks to individual strengths.

  • Understanding the medical workplace: Health professionals working as a team (interprofessional teams) to deliver holistic and personalized health care to patients.

  • Risk assessment: Being aware of the various stakeholders in any situation and the consequences that may affect them as a result of a particular action or decision.

  • Ability to reflect: Capacity to reframe problems and reassess one's actions, using the power of hindsight to inform future practice.

  • Understanding of rural health: Understanding that Australians living in rural and remote areas tend to have shorter lives, higher levels of disease, and poorer access to and use of health services compared to their metropolitan counterparts. The reasons for this are multi-faceted and not limited only to physical distance. Students should recognize that living rurally can be associated with a level of disadvantage related to education, employment, and income, leading to poorer health literacy and health behaviours
    .
  • Understanding of public health: An understanding of how social determinants shape the lives of patients. This includes the influence on their health literacy, health behaviours, and how they access healthcare. Students should always take into account how factors such as socioeconomic status, job security, mental health, ethnicity, education, and housing influence a patient’s health.

  • Understanding of health policy: Understanding the decisions and actions undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society, e.g. vaccination and tobacco policy.

  • Understanding of Indigenous health: Many Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes and higher levels of morbidity and mortality than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Students should demonstrate an understanding of First Nations history and how generations of trauma and neglect continue to act as barriers to adequate healthcare. It is important to understand that social and economic exclusion, unemployment, low income, poor housing and sanitation, poor education, and lack of adequate nutrition shape poor health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. A lack of representation of Indigenous people in decision-making about their own lives and communities also continues to serve as a barrier to ‘closing the gap’.

  • Engagement with the actor: A student should engage in an authentic and genuine way with the actor rather than the examiner, and try to emulate a real-life scenario as best as possible. Think about their eye contact and body language and how that influences their interactions with the actor, as well as the content of their answers.

  • Emotional intelligence: The ability to be sensitized to the emotional constitution of others. It is distinct from empathy, such that it involves being aware of the emotional state of others as well as oneself and uses this ability to regulate and manage one’s own emotions in interactions with others

  • Ideal Candidate: The ideal candidate for medical school interviews has explored all the possible scenarios and prepared themselves with rehearsal and study. They also understand what their particular medical school stands for, why they applied, and where they fit in. They embody professionalism and confidence, remain humble but yet passionate, and show empathy and understanding.

Medical Interviews: General Advice

Remember this: it’s better to be the only rather than the best. Make sure to present yourself as unique. Don’t come off as robotic, or, even worse, sounding like everyone else. Also, keep in mind that there’s no difference between fake confidence and real confidence. You can easily trick your ‘nervousness’ into excitement—your body can’t tell the difference!

It’s better to be the only rather than the best.

To help you prepare, you can also film yourself while practising. It's a little ‘cringy’, but it’s absolutely worth it. You’ll clearly see how you sound and look, giving you insight into how to adjust your non-verbal communication (ie. body language, vocal inflection). Alternatively, use a mirror to rehearse your responses. Expose yourself to as many scenarios as possible.

Check out our article on 'How to Perfect the Medical Interview Tone?'

Finally, the best investment you can make in preparing for interviews is to have a mentor. At Fraser’s Interview Training, we have genuine tutors who have all been through the interview process themselves. Our tutors are trained to get you to your best self and ready for the day. Come to the simulated mock interviews for your particular university and see how close it is to the real thing. We always try our hardest and can confidently say that it won’t disappoint!

Undergraduate Medical Interview Guide

If you’re at the stage of reading this then you’re likely done with your undergrad applications and UCAT, having finally received an invitation to an interview. All of your hard work is about to pay off! 

Now it’s time for the last hurdle: the medical school interview. The interview may seem like a daunting experience, but with a bit of well-guided training and mentorship, you can floor the rest of the applicants and impress your interviewers. In front of you is a guide to give you a taste of what interviews are about - how they work, and what qualities are being assessed by medical schools.

Why Are Medical Interviews Important?

The medical school interview is arguably the most important interview because it has the potential to determine your career for the rest of your life. Medical schools place a huge emphasis on interviews because success in medicine requires much more than academic competence. UCAT scores and the ATAR do not predict a good doctor. Succeeding in medicine requires integrity, altruism, and self-regulation. Therefore universities will assess your communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. In many cases, universities pick the best candidates from those interviewed regardless of ATAR/UCAT scores achieved preceding the interview offer. In other cases, the interview is weighted equally (ATAR:UCAT: Interview).

That being said, it’s also important to consider how medical schools will use the interview scores to determine who gets an offer. Most schools will be using specific rubrics to identify the qualities they are looking for. The interviewers will not assess your clinical knowledge but rather your ability to navigate through difficult scenarios, display maturity, and show compassion. You will be assessed on how well you handle the scenario, the qualities you display, and how you communicate with your examiner throughout. 

Medical Interview Types - Panel vs. MMI

Panel Interviews

The panel interview lasts for 40-45 minutes and comprises answering questions by a committee, usually of three. These members typically differ in experience and perspectives and may be a mix of faculty members and members of the community.

Standard interview questions will be asked such as:

  1. Why do you want a career in medicine?
  2. What are your weaknesses/strengths?
  3. Why apply to our university?

In some cases, certain topics will be discussed to gauge your ability to adapt to new kinds of information, think about pressure, show emotional intelligence and remain calm in a stressful situation.

The key to performing well in a panel interview is to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Being asked a number of back-to-back questions in front of the same panel of examiners can be very fatiguing. It’s crucial that your confidence, fluency, and performance do not falter as the interview goes on.

MMI Interviews

The multiple mini-interview, or ‘MMI’, was an idea that originally came out of McMaster University in Canada. The MMI involves applicants moving through a series of unique stations with different examiners. Here, they may need to respond to a text, act, or even explain a difficult topic in a simplistic way. If you muck up in the MMI, you are able to brush yourself off and start fresh in your next station. The MMI is structured so that examiners can be moderated for fairness and data can be collected for quality improvements. Whether we like them or not, the MMI is our best current option for ensuring that applicants are assessed without bias, in a way that is as evidence-based as possible.

MMI Medical Interviews

How does an MMI run?

MMIs vary in length and quantity but usually consist of between 5-7 stations of 6-8 minutes long. There is usually an additional 1-2 mins between each station to read the scenario or question. Each station is in a separate room with a completely new interviewer. This means that each new station is a new opportunity to impress, regardless of whether the previous station was an absolute disaster. How this process might look has been summarised for you below:

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Figure 1: MMI Interview Process

MMI Questions: The specifics

There are three types of stations expected in an MMI: 

  1. Question/Discussion
  • These stations are designed to assess communication skills, logical reasoning, and professionalism
  1. Scenario/Acting
  • These scenarios will test your ability to express empathy, socially interact and solve problems.
  • They tend to be either ethical, behavioural, legal, or professional scenarios
  1. Task/Collaboration
  • Task stations are used to learn more about your ability to work with others and in a team to solve problems.
  • This could be describing a scientific term in simple language or playing a puzzle-like game with your examiner

We will discuss each in detail below.

Discussion/question

These are the more intellectual stations. The premise here is that if you are looking to take on the responsibility of medical studies, you should be responsible enough to understand why you embarked on this course, and what it entails. Questions in this category range from the introspective “why medicine?” through to discussion of various national health policies and problems. The most important piece of advice when it comes to this style of the station is this - know where you stand. Candidates with regurgitated or disingenuous answers are incredibly easy to spot. The wider skill tested here is your capacity for introspection - are you capable of asking yourself what opinions you hold, and why you hold them? 

Scenario/acting

These stations aim to assess your character. The most straightforward clarification of the word character is this: it’s a tricky combination of knowing where to stand your ground, and where to be open-minded. These questions will present situations that might (at first glance) appear to have obvious solutions. Is Neighbour being loud? - tell them to be quiet! Does GP use alternative medicines? - report to the authorities! This style of station baits the candidate into a snap judgment that should be avoided at all costs. A mature discussion of a question starts with the recognition of two things: first, that real life is not black and white, and second, that everyone should seek more information before making any decisions. That being said, it’s important to know that explicitly dangerous and unethical behaviour should be condemned outright. Knowing where to draw the line between an ethical dilemma and immoral conduct - that’s where the art of the interview comes in!

The difference between scenario questions and acting stations is twofold. In scenario questions, a situation is illustrated and you describe your plan of action and underlying motivations. The focus here is primarily an assessment of your navigation of morally ambiguous situations. Acting stations, however, place you directly in the situation. Do not be intimidated by your lack of theatre experience - scoring an academy award is not the point here! All these stations aim to test is are capable of thoughtful empathetic communication - after all, if you are accepted there is a good chance you’ll have to talk to doctors and patients in a real clinical setting in a few months. 

Task/collaborative

Medicine is about collaborating and integrating into a multidisciplinary team. While this may seem like a collection of buzzwords, the criteria for passing this station are rooted in managing a potentially conflict-riddled situation in an equitable and cool-headed way. When it comes to teamwork, we are all familiar with the language used to describe it - open communication, delegation, support, open-mindedness, diversity. The list of catch-phrases is endless and as such, meaningless. Your task here is to answer the question of ‘how’ you aim to achieve these in a team environment. More specifically - how are you going to achieve open communication? How will you delegate tasks? How do you aim to support yourself and your colleagues?

Another key aspect of teamwork is conflict resolution. Fortunately, few candidates have faced the extreme scenarios described by team crisis stations in real life. Unfortunately, this also means that most of us aren’t well-practiced in taking the appropriate steps. A well answered conflict resolution station takes a restrained approach, that escalates problems to higher authority only when absolutely necessary. You also have to make sure that your team, and the assignment at hand, don’t suffer as a consequence of the calamity you are facing.

Question Formats and Types: By University

As discussed above, every university constructs an MMI that will allow them to select students who best fit their university values, criteria, and ideal medical cohort. We’ve made a handy summary of the different interview formats and question types below. It is important to remember, however, that this is subject to change, and you should always prepare broadly regardless of which university you are applying for.

Example Scenarios / Important Topics

To help you get started with your preparation, we’ve provided a number of example stations for various topics that are commonly assessed at Medicine MMIs. 

Ethics station:

“You are working in an emergency department. A 44-year-old lady arrives with severe pain in her abdomen, caused by a tube leftover from a previous surgery in this hospital. She did not realize that she needed to come back in to remove it. The hospital stated that it was not its responsibility as they had informed the patient already."

  • What are you going to do?”

 Rural health station:

“The University has decided to implement a scheme which gives students from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds bonus points for admittance into medical school."

  • What are the issues here?
  • Should students from rural areas be given preference?
  • What are some other strategies to improve rural health outcomes in Australia?”

Teamwork station:

“You and several students are working on a presentation in PBL (problem-based learning). One of the students begins to become upset about the direction of the project and is becoming increasingly agitated. You are not the designated leader, but no one is stepping in."

  • What would you do in this situation?
  • Talk about a time when you have experienced conflict in a team. What role do you play in a conflict situation?
  • Have you ever been in a team where the end result was bad?
  • What successes have you had in a team?”

More information on the MMI teamwork station.

Motivation station:

“What are your motivations to study medicine and why do you think you would be a good fit?"

What qualities do you think you possess that would make you a good doctor? How will you support yourself during your studies?”

More information on the MMI motivation station. 

Public health station:

Nadya is a 21-year-old asylum seeker with a heart condition. She is detained in an on-shore Australian detention center. Nadya is an undocumented refugee, originally from a war-torn country. Current government regulations do not allow her to seek medical treatment to the same degree as a citizen. Recently, as a visiting experienced doctor, you notice sufficient symptoms to refer to a cardiologist. Nine days later, scan results show that she needs a life-saving heart transplant – one which requires you to undergo action against government policy.

  • From the viewpoint of the doctor, what are the issues involved in this scenario? What would you do in such a scenario?
  • After she arrives for treatment at your hospital, you refuse to sign the outpatient exit form to release Nadya, knowing full well that she will be returned to detention when released. How do you think this will affect you, your colleagues, and the hospital department respectively?
  • After having explored all avenues, you realize that government intervention is highly unlikely. The only way to save her life is if an action is taken against the law. What would you do in such a scenario?”

Indigenous health station:

“Indigenous Australians have significant health inequalities in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians. Cardiovascular disease is one of the major health issues in Indigenous Australians.
If you were the Minister for Health, what would you do to tackle the problem of cardiovascular disease in Indigenous Australians?

  • What are some other health issues that affect Indigenous Australians?
  • What are the barriers to deliver health care to rural regions?
  • How would you improve the retention rate of doctors who train in rural areas?”

Emotional scenarios:

You are in your first year of medical school. You notice one of your classmates has stopped attending classes and uploading their work on time. You are grouped with them for a group assignment and they haven’t been responding to any of your messages.

  • What do you do?
  • The following week you find out their mother has died of cancer. They finally respond to your messages and express they are feeling overwhelmed but cannot afford to fail the unit. How would you respond?”

Fraser's Medical Interview Training

The Fraser’s mock interviews are designed to emulate the specific medical interviews typically held in each university. However, they all assess a finite number of core values. A single MMI station typically assesses 5 of the following key values summarized in the table below.

Table 1: Fraser’s MMI Values

Value

Explanation

Empathy

The capacity to take oneself out of one’s own context in order to understand what another person is experiencing

Patient advocacy

Act as a voice for the patient in the scenario,
supporting and promoting patient’s rights in their interview answers

Professionalism

Encompasses a commitment to carrying out professional
responsibilities and adherence to ethical principles.

Problem-solving 

Recognition of the complexity of the problem, demonstrate lateral thinking, level-headedness, adaptability and
flexibility.

Ethical consideration

Informed consent, patient autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, confidentiality and privacy, respect of patient and family wishes, recognition of professional limitations.


Motivation

Why does the student want to pursue a career in medicine?: 

Self-care

Capacity to look after one’s own mental and physical health.

Critical reasoning

Capacity to conceptualize and evaluate a set of ideas and opinions. Do not accept ideas at face value.

Cultural sensitivity

An awareness of multi-cultural values and
perspectives, but also an understanding that one set of cultural beliefs is
not superior to any other.

Integrity

Commitment to honesty and a strong adherence to moral
principles.

Expression

How well the student can articulate their answers.

Communication

Ability to communicate with the various people and institutions involved.

Conflict resolution

High level of communication skills, but also the capacity to negotiate and compromise.

Leadership skills

Ability to take initiative and be proactive, while simultaneously recognizing their limitations. Capacity to see the bigger picture and prioritize accordingly - e.g. delegation of tasks to individual strengths.

Understanding the medical workplace

Health professionals working as a team (interprofessional teams) to deliver holistic and personalized health care to patients.

Risk assessment

being aware of the various stakeholders in any situation and the consequences that may affect them as a result of a particular action or decision.

Ability to reflect

Capacity to reframe problems and reassess one's actions, using the power of hindsight to inform future practice.

Understanding of rural health

Understanding that Australians living in rural and remote areas tend to have shorter lives, higher levels of disease, and poorer access to and use of health services compared to their metropolitan counterparts. The reasons for this are multi-faceted and not limited only to physical distance. Students should recognize that living rurally can be associated with a level of disadvantage related to education, employment, and income, leading to poorer health literacy and health behaviors.

Understanding of public health

An understanding of how social determinants shape the lives of patients. This includes the influence on their health literacy, health behaviors, and how they access healthcare. Students should always take into account how factors such as socio-economic status, job security, mental health, ethnicity, education, and housing influence a patient’s health.

Understanding of health policy

Understanding the decisions and actions undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society. E.g. vaccination and tobacco policy.

Understanding of Indigenous health

Many Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes and higher levels of morbidity and mortality than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Students should demonstrate an understanding of First Nations history and how generations of trauma and neglect continue to act as barriers to adequate healthcare. It is important to understand that social and economic exclusion, unemployment, low income, poor housing and sanitation, poor education, and lack of adequate nutrition shape poor health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. A lack of representation of Indigenous people in decision making about their own lives and communities also continues to serve as a barrier to ‘closing the gap’

Engagement with Actor

A student should engage in an authentic and genuine way with the actor rather than the examiner, and try to emulate a real-life scenario as best as possible. Think about their eye contact and body language and how that influences their interactions with the actor, as well as the content of their answers.

Emotional intelligence

An ability to be sensitized to the emotional constitution of others. It is distinct from empathy, such that it involves being aware of the emotional state of others as well as oneself and uses this ability to regulate and manage one’s own emotions in interactions with others.

Ideal Medical Interview Candidate

What is an ideal candidate? Is it a future Nobel Prize winner? A potential pioneer in cardiothoracic surgery? A student with a heart of gold? The answer is no to all of the above! The medical admissions team isn’t there to make a snap judgment on your future trajectory. On the contrary, they are there to assess whether you are capable of handling the rigors of medical studies while being capable of sensibly interacting with a diversity represented by members of the public. Specifically - are you capable of sincere communication or are you dry and rehearsed? Are you aware of your limitations and how you will overcome them? Do you have a sound moral compass? These are the questions that a perfect medical candidate can answer.

Medical Interview General Advice

Remember it is better to be the only rather than to be the best. Make sure to present yourself as unique. Do not come off as robotic or even worse, sounding like everyone else.

Also, keep in mind there is no difference between fake confidence and real confidence. You can easily transform your ‘nervousness’ into excitement and your body cannot tell the difference!

Other things you can do to help your preparation is to video record yourself while practicing. It's ‘cringy’ but absolutely worth it to see how you sound and look, giving you insight into how to adjust your non-verbal communication (ie. body language, vocal inflection). Alternatively, use a mirror to rehearse your responses. Expose yourself to as many scenarios as possible.

Finally, the best investment you can make in preparing for interviews is to have a mentor. 

Commonly Asked Medical School Interview Questions 

Do I need to prepare for Panel interviews differently from MMI interviews?

The focus of the preparation should lie with the types of questions you're going to be answering.  There are also subtle differences in the interview physicality depending on the number of people present (i.e. how you maintain eye contact/engage interviewers). Besides this, our recommendation regarding whether you need to prepare is always a resounding YES! But keep in mind that many interviews answers, strategies and techniques are transferable across many types of interviews. 

What is the most common MMI station?

You shouldn’t worry about these types of questions - it is not worth your time trying to predict the exact questions you may or may not encounter. Rather, consider developing approaches to question types that can be flexibly adapted to tackling new scenarios. Nevertheless, statistically speaking, the best response to this FAQ would most likely be the question “why do you want to study medicine?”

Should I practice to time?

Yes, but you should learn to walk before your run. What that means is that aimlessly attempting to answer endless lists of MMI questions isn’t a productive use of your time. It is important to develop a strategy for dissecting and responding to scenarios so that you’re systematic in your approach to questions. This takes time and forethought. When this step is complete, you can move on to timing yourself to see if your strategy is effective, and prevents you from speaking too much, or too little. It also emulates the pressure of the interview room. In brief - timing is critical!

Going Digital - How Do You Prepare For Your Online MMI?

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The ever-changing scape of the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia means we are likely to see Medical Interview & MMIs for the 2022 entry cohort run in an online format, so how does this change the way we prepare?

COVID-19 Changes to Medical Applications

The evolution of COVID-19’s behaviour within Australia throughout 2020 has truly thrown curveball after curveball at the way we have approached preparing for medical school applications leading into future intakes. In March, we saw the postponement of an in-person GAMSAT, followed by the unprecedented announcement of its transition to the first online version of the exam.

Now, leading into 2021, all our postgraduate entrants are eagerly researching medical schools, preferencing universities and are keen to receive medical interview offers between mid-late September and all the way into early November. Meanwhile, our undergraduate entrants will find themselves in the registration and preparation phase to sit the UCAT soon.  To cope with the fast-paced virus, and the social distancing regulations, certain universities may continue to use a virtual medical interview in the future.

Should You Prepare For An Online Medical Interview?

It’s difficult to say at this stage, with any degree of certainty, exactly what these 2021 medical school interviews will look like. We do, however, have some predictions about how these interviews may be run, with our primary prediction being a transition to an online format. I’ll emphasise that this is only a prediction, and that uncertainty is rife when discussing the topic - even in a normal year. Despite the differences in restrictions and regulations across the country, a certain level of comparability between interviews conducted at the GEMSAS universities must be struck for the postgraduate students.

As a result, if due to the restrictions, certain universities are required to conduct their interviews online, then the rest of the GEMSAS universities across the country will be required to conduct their interviews in the same fashion to eliminate any degree of advantage or disadvantage caused to those in the online format, and to allow a degree of comparison between all interviewees. This is because one can interview at a university, for example, let’s say ranked second in their preference list, but receive an offer from their fourth preference. This is a result of the translatability of interview scores between universities. So if the transition to online interviews does occur, then there will be a unanimous switch to this format across all participating universities. So should you prepare to go online? We think so.

What Will Online Medical Interviews Look Like?

If a switch to an online medical interview format does occur, what will these medical school interviews look like, and how can you prepare for them? We anticipate that universities will maintain their current format of the interview, but with a transition to an online medium. For most universities across the country, this means an online MMI interview.

For Flinders, this means an online panel interview. The exact intricacies of how they will run some of the more “involved” stations, such as acting stations or detech stations, remain a bit uncertain at this time. Given the rest of the stations are feasible in an online format, your preparation should remain the same, and that preparation should take place in the form of practice.

Practice for online medical school interviews is of paramount importance. Students often come into their interviews having studied like they would in a traditional academic format, i.e. reading about certain issues they predict will come up in stations. However, as it was so eloquently put by Anton Chekov, “knowledge is of no value unless it is put into practice”. Practicing interview stations ensures improvement through continually generating considered responses to the wide variety of topics that could be presented to you in your online medical school interview.

We suggest getting started here, with our MMI Interview Station Generator. With this, you will be able to select the university you wish to simulate an interview for and select different styles of interview stations, with specific topics within that station style. By practicing through a wide range of scenarios, you will be able to put your best foot forward no matter the kind of station or issue presented to you to discuss.

Final Advice

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1. It is a longer day than you think.

 Try to eat something even though you might be nervous. Although they may say it will only take two hours, it is usually 3-4 hours by the end of it. Your nervous energy burns a lot of calories and you need to be focused to perform at your best. You don't want tummy grumbling throughout your answers.

 2. Try not to overthink things.

People become transfixed on things such as attire. Of course, try to be well-groomed and dressed, men usually in a suit and tie and ladies in a conservative dress but beyond that, it doesn't really matter. Interviewers will focus on what you say and think, you won’t be marked down for the tiny scuff on your shoe. Similarly, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. You need to focus on yourself, your body language, and your performance.

3. Don’t change your thinking or behaviour.

 Be yourself! We know it is a cliché, I can see you clicking away as we speak. But this extends quite deeply into your approach to interview preparation. You don't need to come up with all the solutions, issues, stakeholders, and consequences. Don't forget the interview is fundamentally trying to select people that have the characteristics of great doctors, not automated robots that follow rigid structures to the detriment of their personality. That is why our training is so important for students. Learning how to blend rules, with personality and nuanced communication is difficult.

4. It is not as daunting as you think.

 Everyone wants to build it up, almost as though you're walking into the dragon’s den. And to some extent that is true, but ultimately, the people are there to help you through and help you perform at your best. Yes, there are little traps along the way but they aren’t there to torture you. Be on your toes but don’t psych yourself out.

5. Use your time wisely.

 DO NOT allow one bad station to ruin your whole interview process. These are indeed high-pressure situations but you need to compartmentalize each station. Do not let the past affect the future. If you have a bad station you need to let it go, as hard as that may be. Brief meditation between stations or just taking a deep breath during the break station is a good way to calm yourself down for 5 seconds or 7-8 minutes. The whole thing is over quite quickly so taking that time to compose yourself will aid you in the remaining stations.