Queen Mary, University London (Barts) Medical School Interview 2023 Explained
Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (QMUL) is a prestigious and exciting place to study medicine. Along with the great location, the university offers brilliant teaching linked with outstanding teaching hospitals.
The interview usually follows a panel format.
There are 3 assessors: two academic staff, clinical staff, or medical students and one layperson.
How long is the interview?
It is a short interview – usually around 20-25 minutes, and invitations to interview are sent out in December. The interviews are held between January and March. Usually, the interview is split into two parts. You will be sent an article prior to your interview, and the first part of the interview will ask you questions regarding that article. The second part of the interview will be more traditional and will be asking you questions about yourself, your experiences and motivation.
During COVID, the interviews moved to online, however no information has been given about the 2023 cycle yet, so keep checking!
What questions could I be asked?
According to the QMUL website, the qualities the interviewers will be assessing for are:
· Motivation and reality of a carer in medicine
· Team work
· Initiative, resilience and maturity
· Contribution to university life
· Communication skills
Below, I go through each of these and talk you through how you can approach potential questions that line up with those attributes.
Motivation and Reality of a Career in Medicine
“Why do you want to study medicine?”
This is the most popular, age-old question asked in medical interview. Universities sometimes like to follow up or ask specifically why you want to study medicine over other allied healthcare professionals. This could be a nurse, physiotherapist or physician associate, amongst others. It's important to be aware of all the different jobs and how each job differs. Remember, each professional has a different job that is essential to the MDT. Remember to remain respectful and appreciative of the role involved, while explaining why you have chosen medicine instead.
The 14 allied healthcare professionals and their roles are available on this link. A lot of these you may be aware of, but some roles may be new to you, for example, a physician associate who can diagnose patients but cannot prescribe medication. They work under a medical supervisor. There are also training differences as physician's associates don't attend medical school - perhaps this is something you're looking forward to, so you can explain this as a part of your reasoning!
When approaching your answer, think of it like a story. Start off by talking about where you initially discovered medicine. Then talk about what you did after that – what steps did you take to find out more about the career, and to determine if its for you. this is a good time to talk about your work experience and volunteering, talk about what you did and saw, but most importantly remember to reflect on your experiences and talk about what you learnt from them and how they solidified the fact that medicine is the right path for you. finally, it’s nice to talk about what you are doing at the moment. This could be an essay, EPQ project, starting a club or society to talk about medical hot topics or ethics, or anything else! By talking about what you are doing now, you are reiterating and showing your passion and interest in the career, whilst also showing your ambition and resilience.
“Tell me about a time you worked well as a team?”
This is a potential question you could get asked; however, the question could vary and they could ask you to talk about a time where something went wrong whilst working as a team. Ultimately, they will be assessing your understanding of teamwork and personal examples are a really good way to showcase your skills. You should include the fact that teamwork is an integral part of the GMC's Good Medical Practice document and is a very important skill when working in the Multidisciplinary Team.
To explain the example situation you want to talk about, MasterMed Prep’s STAR is a good approach to use.
Situation, Task, Action, Result + Reflection
Situation: this is where you set the scene of your example. It can feel a bit counterintuitive to spend time explaining where you were, who was there, etc. when you know this is the least important part of the answer, but it is vital to give the interviewer some context to the story.
Task: specifically, what were you/your group looking to achieve
Action: tell the interviewer what you did. When talking about a group, it can be easy to start saying ‘we did…’. Try to avoid this, as the interviewer won’t know how much you contributed and what ideas were yours. In the interview, you are selling yourself, so be proud of your actions and achievements and make sure it’s known it was your doing! So, remember to phrase things as “I did…”
Results + Reflection: finish off by talking about how the scenario ended and what you achieved. And then most importantly – reflect! Take your result (and the actions that led to your result) and talk about what you learnt from it. What you think you did well, and what you could have done better. This shows personal reflection and is a quality the interviewers are looking out for! Then, go on to link your experiences back to medicine. This shows that not only do you think about your actions and learn from them, but you are also aware of the skills and qualities required in medicine and are working to better yourself in the context of medicine. You can link it to be medicine by talking about how it has enforced your decision to study medicine or how it has allowed you develop skills you know are important in medicine and as a doctor.
Initiative, Resilience and Maturity
This is a broad topic, and so you can be asked about this in a number of ways. Some potential questions may be…
“What would you do if you were rejected from all 4 medical schools you applied to”
“Tell me about a time you let someone down”
“Tell me about something you saw during your work experience that made you see medicine in a different light?”
“What are the drawbacks of medicine?”
Those questions are all quite varied, however, the qualities the interviewers will be looking for are the same.
As mentioned in the last section, the STAR approach is applicable here too. Examples are a really good way to answer questions (even if they haven’t specifically asked you for one). It’s similar to the concept of a picture says a thousand words. If you give a personal example of something you have seen or been through, then you are not only answering the question, but you will be automatically reflecting as part of it too. It also gives some more strength to your answer, as you are not just talking about something you would to, but showing the interviewers it’s something you have done; you’re putting your money where your mouth is.
However you end up answering the question, make sure to try and include these points..
Initiative – tell the interviewers what steps you took. If you came across something that shocked you, did you go and speak to someone about it? Did you research into similar cases?
Resilience – this is a key aspect of medicine and so is a good thing to be able to demonstrate. If you’re talking about a time where things didn’t go to plan, tell the examiners how you felt – you’re allowed to show your emotions, and tell them you felt disappointed or upset! But then focus on telling them what you did after. Linking to initiative – did you find out where things went wrong? Did you ask for feedback? Figure out what needs improving? And then how you implemented your plan.
Maturity – this will automatically come across when you talk about how you approach certain situations. If you are talking about resilience and initiative, as discussed above, then your maturity will also show. You can also showcase this skill by talking about wider medicine and the negatives associated with the career. As shown in the media, there are quite a few! By talking about these, where applicable, you’ll be showing the interviewers you see medicine for what it is, and are not misinformed about it. Remember to not go too much into the negatives though! You want to show you are aware of them, but at the end of the day you still want to apply and you think the benefits outweigh the negatives!
Organisation and Problem Solving Abilities
This could be approached in a number of ways. They may potentially give you a puzzle, or riddle to solve. Whilst solving them is the ideal outcome, remember that the interviewers are more focussed on your process and way of thinking. Getting the answer is definitely not the goal!
So, if you’re presented with a strange question – start by simplifying the question. Break it down into its components, and then work through each one. In this station, make sure to voice nearly every thought you’re having. You want to show the interviewers what’s going on in your mind, so thinking out loud is crucial!
Contribution to University Life
This could be as simple as ‘why do you want to come to QMUL?’, or they may phrase it a little differently by asking what you would bring to/contribute to the university. The content of your answers will be the same, it’ll just be how you word it that would change!
Some things to talk about are…
The city – Barts is in London, and the medical school campus is in Whitechapel. Being a medical student in London is exciting, especially given the diverse range of patients and conditions you will encounter. Additionally, most of the NHS' research comes from London so there will be ample opportunity
The university – alongside talking about the medical school, you can also talk about the university itself and all it has to offer. Have a look at the SU page and check out all their societies. Pick ones that interest you and talk about them. Remember to pick genuine interests that you can talk about and relate back to you. It’s always much better to have one or two things to talk about in a lot of detail, with a lot of passion rather than listing off everything you have read. You want to show the interviewers you have looked into the university, but you also want to bring your personality and interests across! You can also talk about the campuses and buildings you were drawn to.
The curriculum and medical school – you can talk about the 3 phases, PBL approach, opportunity to intercalate, 13 student selection components (SSCs) allowing you to explore parts of medicine that you are interested in but may not have made it into the original curriculum.
This will be tested throughout the interview, as the interviewers will be assessing your ability to communicate with them. As the panel is comprised of a mix of academic/clinical and lay individuals, it is important to communicate in a way that everyone will understand. This will be especially important when answering questions about the article you will be given – try to avoid using scientific jargon.
You could also potentially be asked a specific question about communication skills. This could be…
“Tell me about a time you witnessed good communication skills”
“Tell me about a time you resolved a dispute”
“How would you explain leadership to a 5 year old?”
With the first two questions, remember to use STAR, and when reflecting talk about what was good about your communication skills and what could be improved.
When approaching the final question – remember to change your vocabulary to include words that a 5 year-old would understand. Again, maybe use an example to explain the concept of leadership. They key here would be using an example that the 5 year-old could relate to. You could maybe talk about a playground game they play: for example, “what’s the time Mr Wolf?”. Use that example and talk about how the wolf is the one leading the game by telling them the time. And then relate it back to the concept of leadership. Ask them if they’re following what you’re saying as well – this shows really good communication, as ‘chunking and checking’ is a very useful tool when explaining things.
Congratulations on getting this far! Receiving that invitation to interview is a great accomplishment, so well done! I wish you all the best of luck with your interview, and hope you found this blog helpful. As always though, the most important part of interview prep is practice, practice, practice. We offer one-to-one interview tutoring where we can help you prepare in more detail with lots of support. We can help you improve in any areas you don’t feel comfortable with, and we also offer mock interviews made specifically for QMUL, based off their requirements. Please get in touch with us if you would like to book some lessons!