5 min read

Undergraduate Medical Interview Guide

Published on
May 13, 2024

1. Introduction

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

Now time for some cherry on top. The medical interview may seem like a daunting experience but it is definitely doable. With 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.

2. Why Are 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. The reason why medical schools place a huge emphasis on interviews is that success in medicine requires much more than academic competence. UCAT scores and ATAR do not predict a good doctor. It also 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 rankings 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 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 ethical scenarios, the qualities you display, and how you communicate with your examiner throughout. 

3. Interview Types

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 maybe 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, thinking 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! Constantly asked a varied set of questions in front of a 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, the student is expected to either respond to a text, enact, or even simplify difficult topics. In the MMI,  even if you muck up at one station, you still have the chance to brush yourself off and start fresh in the 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.

4. MMI Interviews: In detail

How Does An MMI Run?

MMIs vary in length and quantity but usually consist of between 5-7 stations each running 6-10 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:

Figure 1: MMI Interview Process

This provides a more objective evaluation of the attributes and personality of the interviewees compared to the traditional interview model. Therefore the MMI interview is currently used by all Australian medical schools with the exception of Flinders University.

MMI Questions: The specifics

There are three types of stations expected in a Multiple Mini Interview:  

  1. Question/Discussion
  2. These stations are designed to assess communication skills, logical reasoning, and professionalism
  1. Scenario/Acting
  2. These scenarios will test your ability to express empathy, socially interact and solve problems
  3. They tend to be either ethical, behavioral, legal, or professional scenarios
  1. Task/Collaboration
  2. Task stations are used to learn more about your ability to work with others and in a team to solve problems
  3. 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.


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? - reported to the authorities! This style of station baits the candidate into a snap judgment that should be avoided at all costs.

Here's a useful article on 'How to Approach Medical School Interviews - Ethical Scenarios'!

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 behavior 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 two-fold. 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' time! 

Task / Collaborative

Medicine is very much about collaborating and integrating into a multidisciplinary team. While this may seem like a collection of buzzwords, the criteria for passing this station are very much 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 specifically 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.

Here's a good way to ace an MMI styled interview - check out the Medical MMI Question Generator and answer a range of questions to prep yourself before the big day! 

5. 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.

Figure 2: Undergraduate Interview Formats By University

6. Example Scenarios / Important Topics

To help you get started with your medical interview 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 a part of a Teamwork station where the end result was bad?
  • What successes have you had in a team?”

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?”

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's 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?”

Are you worried about your tone during a medical interview? Fear not, read our article on 'How to Perfect the Medical Interview Tone?' and apply it during your med interview!

7. Fraser's Interview

The Fraser’s mock interviews are designed to emulate the specific 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
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 htat 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 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 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.

8. Ideal 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.

9. 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. At Fraser’s Interview Training, we have genuine tutors, who have all been through the interview process. The 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!

10. FAQs

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 interview 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!

Where can I find more practice MMI questions?

Check out our free resources at Fraser’s which we’ve created specifically for undergraduate medical applications. 

You can also enrol in our Comprehensive Medical Interview Preparation courses specifically tailored for undergraduate applicants. These include access to our resource-laden LMS, an intensive workshop, and live MMI mocks that are specific to the universities you are applying for.