Common Questions About Medical Interviews & MMIs

Importance of Medical Interviews

Why are interviews used to select students for entry into medicine and dentistry?

Medical interviews are an important part of the entry criteria for Auckland Medicine and Otago Dentistry (other parts being UCAT score and GPA score). Medical interviews are the only way that universities can assess your non-academic (non-cognitive) personal qualities.

Interviews are a unique opportunity to showcase your personality, skills and passion for studying medicine or dentistry.


How important are medical and dental interviews?

Medical interviews are an important, yet often underestimated part of the medical admissions process. For Auckland University, your interview is worth 25% of your final ranking. Your interview score is also an important part of admission into Otago dentistry. Be under no illusions – medical interviews are important!


Do I need to prepare for my medical or dental interview?

Yes! It is vitally important that you prepare for your interview.

Medical and dental school aspirants often overlook interviews, as they assume that interview skills are inherent: you either have them or you do not. Others believe the myth that you should not prepare for interviews. Still others assume that the interview is just a ‘chat’, and the questions will be straightforward. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Interviews are challenging and stressful. However, there are specific, proven and reliable strategies that you can use to boost your performance significantly. Having a solid understanding of interview questions and technique will give you an enormous advantage over others vying for a medical or dental school place.

Although you may be an ideal medical school candidate, unless you can present your skills and attributes effectively in an interview situation, you will not gain admission to your dream course. It is therefore vital that you do not try to ‘wing’ your interview.

Preparing for your interview will ensure you come across as confident, calm, genuine and motivated, rather than nervous or panicked.


Why are medical and dental interviews difficult?

There are a number of reasons why medical and dental interviews are difficult. You will be required to think in novel ways, under time pressure and may be faced with complex scenarios that you haven’t considered before. Many people find interview situations stressful, particularly if you understand how important they are to the admissions process. Furthermore, even though you may have a breadth of valuable life experiences and possess the qualities that the interviewers are looking for, it can be difficult to convey these in an interview situation.

If you want to make a good impression and give yourself the best chance of success, you must become familiar with the format and types of questions that are likely to arise and understand how to best present yourself.


MedEntry offers expert Interview Training

Interview Offers

When are interview offers for medicine released?

The interview offer release date varies depending on the university. Most universities release interview offers during October/November. For up-to-date information about offer and interview dates, please see our university admissions pages for each university.

Timing of Medical Interviews

When do medical and dental interviews take place?

Interviews take place at various times depending on the particular university and course.

Auckland University usually interviews applicants for medicine in mid-November.

Otago University usually interviews applicants for dentistry in early October.

Medical Interviews Questions & Themes

What types of medical and dental interviews are there?

There are broadly two types of interviews used in New Zealand to select students for entry into medicine and dentistry:

  • MMI (Multiple Mini Interview): candidates rotate through various themed ‘stations’, each addressing a particular topic presented as a ‘scenario’
  • Panel interview: traditional style of interview, where all candidates are asked the same or similar questions in the same order.


What types of medical/dental interviews are used at each university?

Auckland University uses MMI interviews.

Otago University has a panel of two interviewers: one from the dental profession and one from the community.


What kinds of medical and dental interview questions can I expect?

Each medical and dental school varies in the types of questions that are posed to candidates. No two interviews are the same. It is therefore important to know the types of questions that are likely to be asked at each university.


What are the common themes that arise in medical and dental interview questions?

Each university differs in the types of questions asked and has a different emphasis on various themes.

Some common themes that arise include:

  • Motivation to study medicine/dentistry
  • Current issues in health
  • Ethics
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Understanding of the university and medical program
  • Maori Health


What criteria are used to assess medical and dental interview performance?

In general, medical and dental interviews are designed to assess qualities considered important in both the study and practice of medicine/dentistry.

Each university differs in their marking criteria for medical and dental interviews. However, common assessment criteria include:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Social responsibility
  • Empathy
  • Moral and ethical reasoning
  • Self-awareness
  • Maturity
  • Awareness of health issues
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Quality of motivation to study medicine/dentistry


Who conducts medical and dental interviews? What is their background?

The background of the interviewers depends on the particular university. However, interviewers are generally:

  • Academic staff from the medical/dental faculty
  • Medical/Dental professionals
  • Graduates from the medical/dental program
  • Laypeople from the wider community


MedEntry offers expert Interview Training

Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

What is an MMI (Multiple Mini Interview)?

An MMI or Multiple Mini Interview is a particular type of interview used at some universities, such as Auckland, to select students for entry into medicine. It involves a series of ‘mini interviews’ conducted in separate rooms, booths or stations. Each station has a specific theme, and there are usually 6-8 stations which are each separately timed. In a typical station, the applicant receives a written scenario or excerpt, and then a series of pre-determined questions are posed. The number of questions asked and the duration of each ‘station’ varies between universities.


Why are MMIs used?

MMIs are considered a fairer and more reliable way to assess candidates. MMIs involve more interviewers, therefore potentially minimising bias. They give the university a broader, more holistic evaluation of your non-academic qualities.


What makes MMIs difficult?

MMIs can be challenging. As well as having to present interesting, insightful, concise and cohesive responses to questions, you will need to manage time, remain composed and establish rapport with the interviewers quickly.


What types of medical interview questions and scenarios arise in MMIs?

Most MMIs are mini panel interviews covering a specific theme. Students may be provided with a written prompt, and then interviewers pose pre-determined questions. You may be given a hypothetical situation, excerpt from a research paper or other passage to analyse or debate. Some stations may involve other tasks, such as evaluating videos, acting as a doctor to explain something to a patient, or completing a practical task. Some MMI stations test your reasoning, problem solving skills and values.

Medical Interview Coaching

What types of questions will come up in my medical interview?

Each university varies in the types of questions they pose to candidates. Some questions involve hypothetical scenarios. There are hundreds of potential interview questions that may arise.

Some sample questions include:

  • Why do you want to study medicine/dentistry? Why not another profession that involves caring for others?
  • Describe a setback or disappointment that occurred in your life. How did you cope?
  • Tell us about a time when you worked in a team and things did not go well. What did you learn from the experience?
  • What volunteer work have you engaged in?
  • A patient, who is a Jehovah’s witness, urgently needs a blood transfusion to save their life after an accident. Their beliefs prevent them from agreeing to a blood transfusion. What would you do?


How should I prepare for my medical interview?

Just like the UCAT, there is an effective and systematic way you can prepare for medical school interviews.

To best prepare for your interview, you should:

  • Have an understanding of what interviewers are looking for
  • Understand how to best present yourself during the interview, including:
    • Your manner (e.g. voice, body language, eye contact, confidence, passion)
    • The content of your answer (e.g. level of insight, length, clarity, use of interesting anecdotes/examples)
  • Have an understanding of the types of questions that are likely to arise at each interview for which you have received an offer
  • Practice answering the questions that will arise in each particular university’s interview
  • Practice answering questions within time limits (particularly for MMIs)
  • Have an awareness of:
    • Current issues in healthcare
    • Rural and Maori health
    • The particular university’s course
  • Seek feedback on your performance and take steps to improve

All of the above is comprehensively covered in MedEntry’s Medical Interview Training.

With the right preparation, interviews are a wonderful opportunity to showcase your unique life experiences, achievements and skills, giving you a significant advantage over other candidates vying for a place in medicine.


Why do some universities say I shouldn’t prepare for my interview?

Just like with the UCAT, there is a common misconception that you shouldn’t prepare for interviews, or that you don’t need to prepare for interviews. While some universities may discourage you from medical or dental interview coaching, they coach their graduates for job interviews!

Some people may feel that preparing for your interview will mean that your responses are not natural and authentic. However, preparation does not mean you should memorise your answers– in fact, this is a terrible strategy. Preparation means knowing the types of questions, knowing how best to present yourself and understanding the features of an excellent response. Quality preparation will allow you to formulate genuine, interesting and effective answers. It is vital that you undergo coaching for your medical or dental interview.

How should I prepare for my medical/dental interview?

MedEntry has been training students for medical interviews for over 20 years, and we therefore have an in depth understanding of the questions that arise at each university’s interview, and how you can best present yourself in an interview situation.

MedEntry offers comprehensive interview training in three parts:

  • Strategy Day with Dr Ray: a day-long session hosted by Dr Ray Boyapati, a Consultant Gastroenterologist and expert in medical interviews, covering everything you need to know to present your ‘best self’ at your interview
  • University-specific mock interview: a half day simulated interview session which will allow you to practice your interview skills and obtain feedback on your performance
  • Structured interview curriculum: a comprehensive interview guide with eight modules, interactive MMI/question bank and additional, valuable university-specific information

MedEntry’s interview training will help you learn theory and practice your skills, have all your questions answered and feel well prepared and confident before the and most important interview of your life!

MedEntry offers expert Interview Training