Medicine Interview Advice

InsideUni Team
Created: 1 year, 10 months ago
Last modified: 1 year, 10 months ago

So you’ve got an interview for Medicine at Cambridge! To help you prepare we’ve compiled some of the best advice from successful Medicine applicants so you can get all the top tips in one place.
If you’re looking to learn more about the course from Cambridge themselves you can do so from their website 🔗, and you can find advice from us how to prepare a Medicine application here 🔗 🌟.

How many interviews will I have?

Our interview testimonials show that different colleges will have a different number of interviews. While the majority of colleges have two interviews, other colleges such as Peterhouse and Gonville and Caius have had three interviews in recent years. Your college should inform you of how many interviews you are required to attend following your application.

How do I prepare for my interview?

“I took my personal statement and highlighted everything they could ask me about at the interview. One by one I went through these points and practiced talking about them. I also came up with questions that they could ask me based on these points. This was the most useful thing I did! What was less useful, in my experience, was trying to memorise difficult science facts about things in my statement or questions I had seen online. There's no point trying to memorise anything - they are far more interested in what you can figure out on the spot than what you can regurgitate.” - applicant to Gonville and Caius College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I made mindmaps with some central topics of discussion, e.g current news in the medical field, my work experience etc., which I kept at the back of my head during the interviews.” - applicant to Pembroke College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I had practice interviews in school, it's best to practice talking about topics you don't know because interviewers will always press you to a topic you know little about to see how well you can learn and absorb new knowledge.” - applicant to Downing College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I did mock interviews with friends, family members, and teachers - anyone I could get to practice with me! Reading around the subject in areas that interested me and staying up to date with news stories related to medicine was also helpful, as was doing multiple MOOCs.” - applicant to Peterhouse. Full interview here 🔗.

“I think the two most important things to prepare for interviews are to review your personal statement and have a good knowledge of all the subjects you mentioned on the SAQ. For example, the week before my interview I reread the book I mentioned on my personal statement so it was fresh in my mind, and I went through all my notes from Years 12 and 13. For medicine, it's also important to know the GMC guidelines for professional practice, as well as a bit about how the NHS is structured and what its core values are. It's also a good idea to make a list of some current health news stories that you can bring up in the interview if appropriate.” - applicant to St Catharine’s College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I revised the A-level content for all of my subjects and read a few books around the subject. For example, I read books about medical ethics because that was something I was interested in after attending philosophy and ethics lectures. I also had conversations with friends and teachers about my personal statement.” - applicant to Magdalene College. Full interview here 🔗.

What should I expect on the day?

“I'd expected [the interviewers] to continuously throw really hard science problems at me. This was not the case. If you've got to the interview stage, they already know you're smart. For a course like medicine, they want to see the human side of you as well.” - applicant to Gonville and Caius College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I arrived the night before and was shown to my room by a current student. The next day I went straight to my first interview with two fellows. They said they just wanted to hear my thoughts and how I worked through the problems I was set. I then had a break in the waiting room before being shown to my interview by another student.” - applicant to Emmanuel College. Full interview here 🔗.

“Almost all questions were academic, while some were problem-solving questions with multiple layers. The questions were reasonably tricky so don't be afraid to talk over your thought process with the interviewers and ask questions. Some questions were on my personal statement.” - applicant to Clare College. Full interview here 🔗.

“We predominantly discussed some basic biology questions, as well as a couple of maths questions. The questions were quite "open" and easy to answer at first, but as the interview proceeded I was gradually prompted to consider aspects of the questions which I hadn't originally considered. Overall the interviewers were very friendly.” - applicant to Trinity College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I was so nervous at first, but definitely settled in as the interview progressed! There was so much stuff I didn't know, but was actually able to work out some things using basic A-level knowledge and it ended up being sort of fun!” - applicant to Churchill College. Full interview here 🔗.

Any other advice for interview day?

“Don't rush into your answers. Talk through your thought process, and don’t try and come up with the final answer right away. At the same time, feel free to ask for a second or two to think about the question before blurting out the first thing you can think of. Don't be scared to ask the interviewer to repeat what they said.” - applicant to Magdalene College. Full interview here 🔗.

“I would suggest not panicking too much about not knowing enough, because, in truth, you will never know enough. The interviewer doesn't expect you to know it all, and that is why you will be going to Cambridge to learn more. Reading up regularly on topics related to Medicine is definitely helpful but practise thinking aloud as the interviewer wants to know how you think and whether or not you are suitable to the teaching styles of Cambridge. Be confident and answer the questions with whatever you do know. Even if you don't have an answer, the interviewer will help you by asking questions, hoping that you can deduce the right answer from the basic scientific knowledge you are expected to have.” - applicant to King’s College. Full interview here 🔗.

“Keep in mind that the interview process is not a test; it's merely an opportunity for your interviewers to get to know you better, both in terms of your academic aptitude and your general attitude. Your interviewers want to see you succeed, so don't feel intimidated when they ask you challenging questions: in most cases, they will help you reach the answer to their questions. At the end of the day, your interviewers are trying to see how "teachable" you are, so not immediately knowing the answers to all of their questions is not at all a bad thing.” - applicant to Peterhouse. Full interview here 🔗.

“Looking back, I think the interviewers were looking for someone who is confident, enjoys having academic discussions like in the interview, and isn’t ashamed of making mistakes and learning from them.” - applicant to Downing College. Full interview here 🔗.

“The questions are all designed to trigger a thought process: you're not expected to know the answer straight away but are instead meant to figure it out with help from the interviewers. Basically, don't panic if you have no idea what the answer to the question is! Don't worry if the interviewers refuse to shake your hand or if they laugh at your answers, they want to see how you handle a high-pressure situation (I was quite scared of my interviewers, but now I have them as my supervisors and they're lovely, they're just putting on an act in the interviews). Walk into the interview ready to make the most of the experience, rather than feeling as if your life depends on it going well. Remember that the interviews are meant to mimic a supervision and these aren't about getting the answer right - in fact, the interviewers would much rather you made mistakes and then figured out the correct answer than if you answered everything perfectly because you memorised a textbook. The interviews are meant to assess how you think more so than what you know, so if you're passionate about your subject and you want to learn more about it you'll be ok.” - applicant to St Catharine’s College. Full interview here 🔗

If you would like to read the accounts of Medicine applicants in full, we have a huge selection of testimonials in the interviews section 🔗 🌟 of our website. You can find more general information about the interview and how to prepare a Cambridge application here 🔗 🌟, and the Cambridge University YouTube channel also has a video 🔗 about the interview process. Good luck with your application!