In this section we’ll first go through the different interview types and then the qualities medical schools are looking for as well as the key questions and tasks that can come up. Take this chapter seriously, because we’re going to go through a lot of the important stuff you need in order to build a solid footing, and so that you can handle any interview that’s thrown your way!
The two interview types
There are two main types of interview formats used: the multiple mini-interview (MMI) and the semi-structured interview (the traditional model). In recent times, the multi mini-interviews have replaced the traditional format of interviewing candidates in many medical schools in the UK and this trend continues to increase.
It may be obvious, but every question and task given in these interviews will be marked according to strict criteria – it isn’t arbitrary who gets an offer. Of course, there’ll always be a subjective element in deciding a good performance but be aware that you’ll be marked against a checklist of skills, attributes, and attitudes that they’re looking for. We’ll go through these in depth later on but let’s familiarise ourselves with the basic format of these interviews first.
It is also worth noting that Oxbridge medical interviews follow the semi-structured interview format but the type of questions tend to different, giving more focus to science-based questions. We’ve written a specific section later to help you prepare for these.
Differences between MMI and structured interviews
You’re unlikely to get any role-plays in a semi-structured interview and you won’t get as many straight or general questions in a MMI. The MMI can be more challenging because it demands you demonstrate a wider skillset and under timed conditions. At the same time, the MMI can be good because you have more than one opportunity to make a good impression on the interviewer whereas if you start poorly in a semi-structured interview you’re going to need to play catch-up and impress.
Apart from that, there aren’t actually that many differences between the two interview formats, and the way you prepare should be the same. Medical schools want to find the applicants who have the best chance of becoming good doctors – everything will be geared towards that.