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9 Things You Should Not Say In A Medical Interview

9 Things You Should Not Say In A Medical Interview

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

When it comes to a medical school interview, there are definitely some things you should not say.

Nine things you shouldn’t say in a medicine interview are:

  1. “I’m not sure why I want to be a doctor”
  2. “I don’t mind which medical school I get into”
  3. “I wouldn’t apply again if I didn’t get in”
  4. “I don’t have any questions for you”
  5. I’m not really sure what a junior doctor does”
  6. “I don’t remember writing that on my personal statement!”
  7. “I don’t really keep up-to-date with the news”
  8. “My parents want me to be a doctor”
  9. “I’ve messed this up haven’t I?”

With only a few short minutes to give a good impression of yourself to the interviewer, you don’t want to be leading with any of the following statements.

In this guide I’m going to dissect each of them in turn, explaining exactly why they’ll leave a sour taste in your interviewer’s mouth.

1. “I’m Not Sure Why I Want To Be A Doctor”

This is probably the statement that can nosedive your chances of getting an offer the quickest!

Why, oh why have you turned up to a medical school interview if you’re not sure if you really want to be a doctor!?

Your interviewers will be looking to select highly motivated candidates that have proven their determination to become a doctor- be that through their work experience, extra-curricular activities or shadowing.

After all, getting through five years of medical school is not a walk in the park.

There will be tough days, weeks and potentially months.

In your interview, you’ll want to exude your motivation for medicine, making it clear to the interviewers that you’re set on medicine and are in it for the long haul.

The question “why do you want to be a doctor?” is so common in interviews I’ve actually written an article on how to give the perfect answer here.

2. “I Don’t Mind Which Medical School I Get Into”

When I was applying to medicine, this statement was entirely true for me.

To be honest, I really didn’t mind which of my four university choices I went to… as long as I got into medical school!

However, you do not want to be blurting this out during your interview.

Interviewers want to know why you’ve chosen to apply to their university in particular… and saying because they had the lowest grade requirements won’t cut it!

You want to give the impression that this medical school is your top choice… even if it isn’t.

Students relaxing on university campus

This shouldn’t be hard to do- after all, you have selected it as one of your top four out of the forty-four available in the UK.

As part of your interview preparation, be sure to brainstorm a few key reasons that drew you to the medical school that you can then use if you’re asked about it on the day.

3. “I Wouldn’t Apply Again If I Didn’t Get In”

If you really want to become a doctor as much as your personal statement suggests, then surely you wouldn’t give it a single shot before giving up and studying biomedical science…

Now to be clear, I’m not actually saying you need to keep applying to medical school for the rest of eternity until you get in.

I’d have probably taken a gap year and given it another go before going and studying physics or engineering.

However, along the same lines as saying you’re not sure why you want to be a doctor, it doesn’t give a good impression if you say you’d be happy enough with your backup option.

Now I’ve got to say this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Perhaps this is your second (or even third) time around the buoy and you’d be showing honest realism by saying you’d call it a day if you don’t get an offer this year.

But for the vast majority of applicants, I’d suggest you say that you’d undoubtedly try again if you were unlucky enough not to get an offer.

4. “I Don’t Have Any Questions for You”

You’ve just finished your medicine interview and the interviewer turns to you and asks if you’ve got any questions…

“No I don’t but thank you for the interview.”

What a wasted opportunity!

Admittedly it isn’t the end of the world if you end an interview like this.

But you have missed out on a chance to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

You’re an intelligent, curious individual who’s interested in the world around them.

Surely you have at least one question for your interviewers.

When will I hear back? Have you got any changes to the curriculum planned? What sort of feedback have you collected from current students recently?

Now I’m not saying ask anything that comes to your head in the moment.

If you ask something that’s easily researchable online, such as what the medical school’s A-level requirements are, it won’t reflect well on you.

However, by asking an astute, perceptive question you’ll stick out in the interviewers’ minds compared to the uninterested masses.

5. “I’m Not Really Sure What A Junior Doctor Does”

I’ve got to say I count myself lucky that I wasn’t questioned too closely on the duties of a junior doctor.

It was only when I started actually doing the job that I think I developed a good understanding of what it involved!

What you don’t want to do is draw attention to a gap in your knowledge like this by saying something like the above.

Your medical school interview is in many ways an application for the job of junior doctor… so you should really know what they do!

A junior doctor working in clinic

If you don’t know what your day-to-day will look like in five years then how can you confidently say that you:

  1. Want to do the job
  2. Would be good at it!

Use work experience, shadowing and speaking to doctors to build up your knowledge around what a junior doctor actually does.

That way you won’t sabotage yourself with the phrase “I’m not really sure what they do.”

6. “I Don’t Remember Writing That On My Personal Statement!”

If you submitted your personal statement in October and your medicine interview isn’t till March, you’ve had six months to forget about all the wonderful things you wrote in it.

That time you saved a child’s life, lead your crazy golf team to victory at the world cup and discovered a new cure for cancer.

Your interviewers will have just read your personal statement and may even have it directly in front of them.

Now isn’t the time to “um” and “er” as you desperately try and remember what you’ve written in it.

Make sure you read over it in the days before your interview so you know it inside out.

That doesn’t mean you have to memorise it line by line so you can repeat it back as the world’s shortest and most boring audiobook.

But you should be able to entertain an interviewer’s questions regarding any part of it and ideally expand on the topics and themes you cover in it.

7. “I Don’t Really Keep Up-To-Date With The News”

In my day-to-day life, I can’t say I religiously stay up-to-date.

I’ll watch the news if it’s on and have been known to check BBC News in a particularly boring lecture, but I wouldn’t say I always have my finger on the pulse.

This all changed in the run-up to my interview however.

I watched the news, read the newspaper and subscribed to magazines such as the BMJ.

Taking notes on a magazine article about mental health

Hot topics and recent events in the news are a massive topic of conversation at medical school interviews.

You don’t want to be caught out by a lack of awareness about current events that results in you giving a very lacklustre answer to an interviewer’s question.

8. “My Parents Want Me To Be A Doctor”

I’m sure you’ll be all too familiar with the clichΓ© of parents putting a lot of pressure on their child to pursue a career in subjects such as medicine or engineering.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this concept of your parents wanting you to study medicine- after all, it’s a very rewarding, respected and interesting vocation.

You may come from a long line of doctors and be keen to continue the tradition.

The impression you want to avoid giving however is that you’re here only because your parents want you to be.

Students who go to medical school only because their parents want them to are far less likely to have the required dedication to even complete the course.

If your parents are dead set on you studying medicine I wouldn’t hide or lie about it.

I’d just be mindful that you have to be careful not to give the wrong impression regarding your motivations.

9. “I’ve Messed This Up Haven’t I?”

This last one comes from hard-won personal experience.

I was so convinced I’d done terribly in my role-play station at my MMI for Leicester, I actually laughed at myself during the interview!

As it turned out, Leicester gave me an offer and I ended up studying there.

The moral of the story being don’t be too quick to judge yourself.

For reasons I can’t explain all my interviews that I thought had gone well didn’t, and all the interviews I thought I’d messed up on gave me offers.

Don’t make the same mistake as me and continue giving your best in a medical school interview until you walk out that door.

Final Thoughts

There are my top nine things you should not say in a medical school interview!

Having read this article I’m sure you’ll be clever enough to steer well clear of them all in your interview.

If you want to learn more about answering medicine interview questions you can read my guide about how to answer anything they throw at you here.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.