Medicine Interviews

Two women looking at a laptop

The interview process is designed to help assess your suitability for a career in medicine aside from academic excellence so that we can train students to become doctors who will embrace the values of the NHS including respect, compassion, resilience and commitment to quality of care.

We interview around 1,300 of our highest-scoring applicants for the 5-year MBChB (A100) course and make around 850 offers to the highest performing candidates.

Around 100 of our highest scoring 4-year MBChB (A101) applicants are invited for interview and around 50 offers are issued to the highest-performing candidates at.

For more detailed information regarding interview outcomes from previous application cycles, please see our application statistics document.

Please note that the impact of COVID-19 means that for the 2020/21 application cycle we will be interviewing all candidates online. We have also modified our Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format to accommodate this change. Details can be found below in our 'Interview Format and Stations' section.

How to Prepare

Whilst it’s not possible to ‘revise’ for MMIs, preparation for interview should include keeping abreast of medical issues appearing in the news and media and discussing and debating them with friends and family. Relevant work experience can also offer great insight into the demands placed on staff, the strategies staff employ to handle difficult situations and the benefits they obtain from caring for people and working in teams.Whilst it’s not possible to ‘revise’ for MMIs, preparation for interview should include keeping abreast of medical issues appearing in the news and media and discussing and debating them with friends and family. Relevant work experience can also offer great insight into the demands placed on staff, the strategies staff employ to handle difficult situations and the benefits they obtain from caring for people and working in teams.

Advice and tips for Medicine Multiple Mini Interviews at Birmingham Medical School

Watch our handy Medicine MMI video below, delivered by some of our current students, that offer you some handy tips before your interview. Although the format has been changed for 2020/21, their advice and tips still apply to the modified format.

Advice and tips for Medicine Multiple Mini Interviews at University of Birmingham

Interview Format and Stations

For 2021 entry - online interviews

All interviews will take place in January, online via Zoom, and will last for no longer than 30 minutes per candidate. Your online interview will comprise of two 6-minute interview stations, one of which is a role play station, followed by a separate calculation station. The online calculation station test will take 10 minutes and will take place on a separate date from your interview and further information on this can be found below.

Each interview station lasts for 6 minutes, with 2 minutes preparation time during which you will be informed of the discussion topic and, where relevant, the primary questions you will need to answer. At each station you will interact with one interviewer but a second interviewer will also be present. You will be scored independently by each. The exact format of the stations has not been defined. We expect that we will use a professional Role Player and Medical Students who will contribute to scoring.  For some of your stations, an observer may be present but this person will not participate in any aspect of the process.

Each station will last about 10 minutes in total to allow extra time for joining and moving between stations, but the 2 minute/6 minute schedule described above will apply to all. This allows you to start afresh at each mini-interview station, and ensures that you will receive the allotted time for each station. 

Our stations comprise of:

  • 1 x Dealing with personal and ethical challenges station 
    You will be provided with a scenario relating to potential challenges faced by doctors. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the personal qualities important for coping in a demanding career and also provide an assessment of your own capabilities in dealing with challenge.  

    We have provided information to help you develop your understanding of healthcare practice. We may ask you to explain some of the issues underlying healthcare challenges and also to address your own qualities that relate to dealing with challenge. We will be interested in your reflections and what insights you gained from your experiences, especially from observation of healthcare professionals either in their place of work, or virtually, through online work experience platforms (such as Observe GP). Please note that this does not have to be doctors, nor does it have to be face-to-face observation. 

  • 1 x Role Play station 
    This role play station gives you a chance to show how comfortable and confident you are meeting a new person, and having a short conversation covering issues of substance. It will be important to give appropriate advice in managing the situation. In the role play, you will be interacting with someone who has been trained in role play. You'll be provided with a brief paragraph to explain the context of the conversation. You will be expected to take an active role but how it runs depends also on how you respond to the role player.

  • 1 x Calculation Station
    This has not been defined in detail as yet and will take place on a separate date from your online interview as explained above. We expect you will have 10 minutes to complete one or two tasks, and all applicants will complete the task at the same time, via a virtual software platform off camera.  You will be asked to undertake simple mathematical calculations involving data that has clinical relevance. The mathematical skills that are being tested are at GCSE level and below. The sophistication of each task is to recognise which piece or pieces of data need to be manipulated at a particular stage and to determine the precise mathematical approach that needs to be applied. There will be a number of stages in the calculations and to establish the order in which these are performed is important too.  This task must be undertaken independently, without assistance from others and will take place on a separate occasion to your interview. 

Usual interview format and stations from previous years - face-to-face interviews

Usually, we use the multiple mini-interview format (MMI), which is comprised of seven 6-minute stations that are a mix of interviews, role play and calculation tasks. Instead of sitting opposite a panel of interviewers, MMIs allow you to demonstrate a range skills you have which are relevant to studying medicine, such as: motivation for medicine, communication, reflection, ability to evaluate information, empathy, self-insight, ethical reasoning, data analysis and interpretation.

Before each interview and role-play station, you will be presented with a scenario to read through for a couple of minutes, so you will have a bit of time to prepare an answer (before your 6-minute station begins). The way you approach each station and the challenges it poses are often just as important as the solutions you arrive at.

Usually, there are seven stations altogether, and you could be asked to start at any one of them. Our interviews will be amended each year, as we act on feedback from previous candidates. Our stations comprise of:

  • 2 x Calculation stations (an average score is taken from these laptop-based stations)
    You will have 6 minutes to complete the task at each of these two stations, which will both have a calculator and a laptop on a desk for you. We will take an average of both of these stations combined when we calculate your interview ranking. You will be asked to undertake simple mathematical calculations involving data that has clinical relevance. The mathematical skills that are being tested are at GCSE level and below, so those taking A level Mathematics are not necessarily at an advantage. The sophistication of each task is to recognise which piece or pieces of data need to be manipulated at a particular stage and to determine the precise mathematical approach that needs to be applied. There will be a number of stages in the calculations, and to establish the order in which these are performed is important, too.
  • 1 x Critical Thinking station (interview)
    You will be presented with a topic relevant to health care but you are not expected to have prior clinical knowledge. You must identify the issues that are of particular relevance to this topic. You should also present rational arguments for possible appropriate courses of action in attempting to resolve the inherent challenges.
  • 1 x Interaction in a Social Setting station (role play)
    This role play station gives you a chance to show how comfortable and confident you are meeting a new person, and having a short conversation covering issues of substance. It will be important to give appropriate advice in managing the situation. In the role play, you will be interacting with a university student. The student role will be taken by a member of our medical cohort. You’ll be provided with a brief paragraph to explain the context of the conversation, and then how it runs depends on how you respond to the student prompts.
  • 1 x Motivation and Insight into Medicine station (interview)
    You will be asked to discuss specific aspects of your work experience; in particular, those experiences where you had some role in providing care or support to vulnerable individuals. We will be interested in your reflections and what insights you gained from your work experience and from observation of healthcare professionals (please note that this does not have to be doctors).
  • 1 x Dealing with personal and ethical challenges station (interview)
    You will be provided with a scenario relating to potential challenges faced by doctors. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the personal qualities important for coping in a demanding career and also provide an assessment of your own capabilities in dealing with challenge.
  • 1 x Interaction in a healthcare setting station (role play)
    Your skills in communication are important throughout the interview process, but in this station you will be engaging with one of the role players used for training and assessing healthcare students. You are expected to interact with the role player as if the situation is real. The role player will be assuming a specified role. Your skills in establishing an effective rapport whilst dealing effectively with the challenges that will be presented to you will be assessed.

Approximate Interview Dates

Invitations to interview are usually sent between December and January, with our interviews taking place in January and February (with one dedicated date for extra-time and A101 candidates). Applicants will continue to be invited to interview until all places have been filled. Unsuccessful applicants will hear from us too, however the majority of these decisions are unlikely to be made until after we have filled our interview places. 

Candidates who are interviewed are able to participate in a self-guided tour of the Medical School and University. If you can, it is a good idea to visit the University prior to application on one of the University Open Days held each June, September and October. Details are given in the University prospectus. Please note that we cannot make arrangements to meet with prospective applicants on an individual basis.

We advise you to wait until March before enquiring about the status of your Medicine and Surgery application as enquiries may slow down the processing of applications.

Disabled Applicants and Reasonable Adjustments

Please note: This information is only relevant to the normal face-to-face interview process and is not applicable to the 2020/21 online interviews.

During a normal interview cycle, we offer a number of interview slots on the same day for applicants with a disability who usually have 25% extra time in examinations (i.e. dyslexia). These slots will allow for 25% extra time in the MMI, and the scenarios you are required to read through will be printed on coloured paper. Once you have booked an interview slot in our extra time category, you will need to send through evidence of your disability which qualifies you for 25% extra time. If we do not receive this in a timely manner, your slot will be released to another applicant. Should you have a disability which does not qualify you for extra time in the interview, please do let us know if you require any special arrangements in good time and we will be happy to accommodate your request if we able to do so (i.e. reading material in a larger font or on coloured paper).

Outcome of Interview/Interview Performance Scoring

For 2021 entry online interviews

The decision whether an offer is made is based on the interview performance data as well as a score derived from your SJT result from UCAT. A total score will be derived as follows:

  • Interview/role play station scores - One quarter for each
  • Calculation station score - One quarter
  • UCAT SJT result - One quarter

The maximum score for each component will be the same. The following scoring system will be applied to the SJT result:

Band 1 = Maximum

Band 2 = 2/3 of maximum

Band 3 = 1/3 of maximum

Band 4 = 0

We will not re-review academic information in making the decision unless absolutely necessary (e.g. if there are a number of applicants on the same interview score).

Applicants will be ranked by the total score and for the 5-year MBChB, approximately the top 850 applicants within this rank will be made an offer. For the 4-year MBChB, approximately the top 50 applicants will be made an offer.

We will inform candidates of our decision as soon as possible. 

Usual scoring method for face-to-face interviews from previous years

The decision whether an offer is made is based on the interview performance data as well as a score derived from your SJT result from UCAT. A total score will be derived as follows:

  • Interview/role play station scores - One seventh for each
  • Mean score of 2 calculation stations - One seventh
  • UCAT SJT result - One seventh

The maximum score for each component will be the same. The following scoring system will be applied to the SJT result:

Band 1 = Maximum

Band 2 = 2/3 of maximum

Band 3 = 1/3 of maximum

Band 4 = 0

It is likely that we will set a minimum performance standard for each station, except for the calculation stations. This standard will be well below the average score, so any applicant who does not reach the minimum standard for one or more stations may not receive an offer, irrespective of their overall interview score.

Offers are based on interview performance and SJT score only, not academic merit. We will not re-review academic information in making the decision unless absolutely necessary (e.g. if there are a number of applicants on the same interview score). Once a decision is made, we will not review our final decision upon request, as this will not be fair to other candidates (i.e. you will be unable to ‘appeal’ against our decision).

Outcome of Interviews

We will inform candidates of our decision as soon as possible. We aim to have all decisions on UCAS Track by mid-March, and these decisions are final.

We advise you to wait until March before enquiring about the status of your Medicine and Surgery application as enquiries may slow down the processing of applications.

Please be aware that the formal offer has to be processed by the university's central admissions office and it can take up to 3 weeks from the initial notification of the outcome before your offer is received.