The vast majority of medical schools (both direct and graduate entry) in Australia and New Zealand use some form of interview assessment to select their students. While they may already know the applicants’ academic credentials through the application form, they use interviews as a means to identify and evaluate personal qualities that would be essential for being a successful medical doctor.
These qualities include communication skills, critical thinking, decision making, empathy, ethics, maturity, motivation, problem solving, responsibility, self-knowledge, sensitivity and teamwork.
Read on to find out about:
Multiple mini interviews (MMIs) are used by the majority of medical schools in Australia and New Zealand. Each station is usually focused on assessing one or more soft-skills, allowing each university to evaluate you from different aspects.
Typically, a MMI consists of 6-10 independent stations that last 5-10 minutes each (including reading time), as outlined below*:
* Note: The table above is to the best of our knowledge based on official information available from the universities' websites and information from previous years. The number of stations and time per station may change without notice.
During this time, you will engage in a series of conversations with the interviewers about a given scenario or topic, be involved in a role play, give a short presentation or explanation, or carry out certain tasks (e.g. summarising a short article). Common topics include conflict resolution, decision making and prioritisation, ethical issues, knowledge of health, medicine and science, and motivation to study medicine.
At the end, an aggregate score of all stations is used to rank each applicant. While this means that your performance in every station counts, it also means that if you don’t do as well as you would’ve liked to in a station, you can easily make up for it with a stellar performance in another. This approach minimises any potential bias from the interviewers.
Not all MMIs are not the same in terms of the type of questions asked, duration and number of stations, marking criteria and reading time. However, with sufficient preparation to work on your soft-skills and practice with various MMI scenarios, you can improve your performance with any MMIs. Indeed, there is even scientific evidence to suggest that practice and experience can improve MMI scores.
Two key points to keep in mind when practicing for an MMI interview are timing and replication.
Most universities that do not use a MMI for their interview process use traditional semi-structured panel interviews. Instead of having multiple rotating stations and strict time schedule to follow, these types of interviews involve the interviewers asking a list of questions and then asking follow-up questions that do not necessarily adhere to a pre-written script.
These interviews are typically centred around questions around your achievements/background/experiences, demonstration of leadership and teamwork, learning style, motivation to study medicine, and personal management. They may involve discussion of the healthcare system, and an assessment of your analytic skills, decision making, empathy, ethical reasoning, problem solving skills, and professionalism.
Focus on the following when practicing for a panel interview:
It should be noted that some universities may use online/phone panel interviews instead of MMI for international applicants.
The following universities use semi-structured interviews:
University of Adelaide is unique in that its interview is a mix of semi-structured interview and MMI and consists of two 15-minute sessions (or one 20-minute session for international applicants).
University of Sydney (provisional entry) is also unique in having a more relaxed and unstructured interview that is taken together with several other students. Note that this only applies to the double degree programme as the graduate entry programme uses MMI to assess its candidates.
Below are the basics of medical interview preparation.
Know what’s going on in the healthcare, biomedical and medical fields. When you read news articles on non-healthcare related issues, think about how it can impact the medical field.
Keep up to date while you’re on the go with the ABC news app or by listening to the radio. If anything in particular interests you then write it down along with where you found it. With this technique, you can mention where you found your information when discussing current affairs in your interview. This will make you sound much more credible.
That being said, only talk about news you’ve found through respectable sources. It’s probably not a good idea to talk about things you’ve found on Reddit or Youtube.
Learn more about how to identify fake news with ABC’s article, Real or Fake News: How Do You Know?
It can be hard to think of ideas under pressure.
Few of us can recall a time we showed resilience or leadership on the spot. So in preparation for this kind of question, make yourself a bank of examples to demonstrate when you used a certain skill and reflect on it.
Here’s an example of what your skills bank could look like:
Example pre-interview checklist
▢ Finishing my skills bank
▢ Gathering important medical stories from the past, e.g. Dr Bawa Garba, Charlie Gard
▢ Mastering relevant knowledge of the Australian or New Zealand healthcare system (how it works, challenges, patient journey through primary and secondary care)
▢ Mastering ethics knowledge, particularly around:
- 4 pillars of ethics: autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence
- Refusal of treatment
- Organ donation
- Capacity and Gillick competence
▢ Gaining sufficient knowledge of common conditions, particularly:
- Cardiovascular disease
▢ Reviewing hot topics (i.e., topics in the news, which can change year to year)
Self-reflecting, preparing anecdotes, learning about healthcare and understanding interview techniques are only effective if you can culminate this preparation into a cohesive interview answer.
Practise answering interview questions with friends, family, in front of a mirror and while recording yourself, and look for honest feedback from them and from yourself.
The more you practise the better you will become at incorporating everything you’ve learnt into a strong response. However, practising the same questions too many times can cause your responses to feel rehearsed and unnatural, so try to practise with new questions every session.
Medify’s ANZ Interviews Online Course provides everything you need to excel in your medical school interview. Prepare at your own pace with in-depth tutorials, authentic example video responses from real students, and an extensive Knowledge Bank.
Sam, Curtin University
'I separated my medical interview preparation into two distinct components. The first was learning, where I found out more about myself and about broader topics like the healthcare system and medical ethics. The second was practicing, where I used what I’d learnt to answer interview questions. I moved between learning and practicing over the course of my preparation, but having these two components helped me stay focused and remember what I wanted to work on in each preparation session.'
Refer to the table below for how each medical school conduct their interviews.
* Note: The table above is to the best of our knowledge based on official information available from the universities' websites and information from previous years. The interview information may change without notice.
Are you interested in attending a medical school in the UK instead of Australia or New Zealand? Check out Medify’s UK Medical School Admissions Guide.
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