INTERVIEW
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Navigating UG & PG Medical School Interviews in Australia

Published on
May 11, 2024
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Medical school interviews mark the last step in the rigorous admissions process. Now you need to show that you have the personal qualities required of a medical professional. It is the chance to showcase yourself beyond the culmination of your ATAR and UCAT or GAMSAT and GPA.

This article discusses the general information essential for a bidding student to pass their medical school interviews. For more information that goes into depth about specific university medical interviews, please read refer to our Medical Universities Interview Guide .

Why are Medical School Interviews Important?

Medical schools place a huge emphasis on Med Interviews because success in medicine requires much more than academic competence.

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. The interviewers won’t assess your clinical knowledge, but rather your ability to navigate through difficult scenarios, display maturity, and show compassion.

Qualities Assessed in Medical Interviews

Each MMI station is designed to assess soft skills that are deemed important for its students and future trainees. The top three qualities and personal characteristics assessed during the admission interview are:

  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. Check out our University specific articles to know more about Qualities assessed each Med School.

Undergraduate Medical School Interviews

Please note that the above table describes direct-entry options for students who enter a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program without having to complete a separate bachelor’s degree first.

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

State University Degree Duration UCAT Interview
NSW University of New South Wales Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 6 years YES PANEL
NSW Western Sydney University/Charles Sturt University Doctor of Medicine 5 years YES MMI
NSW University of Newcastle/University of Armidale Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 5 years YES MMI
QLD Bond University Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 5 years NO - Psychometric Testing required MMI
QLD James Cook University Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) 6 years NO - Written Application required PANEL
VIC Monash University Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 5 years YES MMI
SA University of Adelaide Bachelor of Dental Surgery 5 years YES MMI
SA University of Adelaide Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 6 years YES MMI
SA Flinders University Bachelor of Clinical Studies/Doctor of Medicine 6 years YES NO
WA Curtin University Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) 5 years YES MMI - Casper Test required for interview offer
TAS University of Tasmania Bachelor of Medicinal Studies/Doctor of Medicine 5 Years YES NO
NZ University of Auckland Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) 6 Years YES MMI
NZ Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) 6 Years YES PANEL

Please note that the above table describes direct-entry options for students who enter a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program without having to complete a separate bachelor’s degree first.

Post-Graduate Medical School Interviews

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 , alongside their GAMSAT and GPA, 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 overall assessment including interview score, GAMSAT, and GPA will also be considered for 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.

Medical School Interview Method

What Makes Medical Interviews Different From Any Ordinary Interview?

Medical school interviews distinctively evaluate candidates through a holistic perspective, emphasizing not only academic excellence but also vital soft skills such as empathy, communication, and ethical reasoning.

The Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) format is particularly effective at assessing a wide spectrum of competencies, including the ability to think critically in ethical dilemmas and the resilience needed to overcome challenges. This thorough approach ensures the selection of individuals who are not only academically qualified but also possess the interpersonal skills and rationality necessary for the medical profession.

Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

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.

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The above figure summarises the MMI Interview Process.

What are the different types of MMI Stations

In the Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) candidates encounter three distinct types of stations, each designed to evaluate various facets of their potential as future medical professionals.

  1. Question/Discussion MMI Stationsaim to assess candidates' communication skills, logical reasoning, and professionalism. These stations often delve into the candidates' motivations for pursuing medicine, their views on health policies, and other relevant topics, emphasizing the importance of introspection and authentic, well-considered responses.
  2. Scenario/Acting stationsare crafted to evaluate empathy, social interaction, and problem-solving abilities in ethical, behavioural, legal, or professional contexts. These stations present candidates with hypothetical situations requiring nuanced understanding and mature judgment, testing their ability to navigate moral ambiguities and engage in empathetic communication.
  3. Task/Collaboration stationsfocus on teamwork and problem-solving skills. Candidates may be asked to explain complex concepts in simple terms or participate in activities requiring cooperative effort, assessing their ability to work effectively with others, resolve conflicts, and contribute positively to team dynamics.

These station types collectively offer a comprehensive assessment of the qualities essential for success in medical school and beyond, prioritizing candidates' non-cognitive abilities alongside their academic credentials. For an in-depth exploration of each type of MMI station and strategies for preparation, please refer to our detailed article on How to ace an MMI interviews.

Panel Interview

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.

Key Values Assessed in Medical Interviews

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

Essential Advice for Medical School Interviews

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?

Importantly, understanding the four pillars of medicine—Biomedical Ethics, Clinical Ethics, Professionalism, and Systems-Based Practice—is compulsory as they form the foundation of medical practice. Check our article on Four Pillars of Medical Ethics to get a deeper insight into how these pillars influence the medical profession can be crucial for your preparation.

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?'

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.

Should I Have a Mentor for Medical Interviews?

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!

What is the Ideal Medical Interview Candidate?

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.

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.

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!

Final General Advice

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. 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.