St George’s Medical School Interview Questions
In this post, we take you through everything you need to know about St George’s Medical School Interview.
In a rush? Here is a summary of everything we talk about:
- St George’s is one of the most challenging medical school interviews
- Know the questions specific to St George’s. These include:
- Why St George’s?
- What is a recent advancement in medicine?
- What are the pros and cons of privatising the NHS?
- Why is research important?
- How would you save money in the NHS?
- Practice role-play stations often
- Do plenty of research
- Keep calm and you’ll be fine!
St George’s interview can be considered as one of the most challenging UK medical school interviews out there.
They are known for their intimidating looking interviewers and niche questions.
But, with the help of this article and all your practice, you should sail past the interviews at SGUL.
This article will aim to be a detailed analysis of the St George’s interview experience and will include:
- Example questions (with brief model answers) specific to each station
- A personal insight into the interview experience and what it’s like on the day
- Tips on each station and question and how to tackle them
Note that all questions/roleplays are highlighted in red.
Overview of the Interview
The interview at St George’s is a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) that consists of eight different stations lasting five minutes each.
Some stations are very hard to prepare for and test your skills set whilst others can be easily prepared for.
Some of the stations include roleplay, problem-solving and answering questions about a video.
The university primarily looks at how good of a fit you are at St George’s and whether your skills and qualities match that of a medical student. Some of the skills assessed are teamwork, communication and empathy.
Station 1: Roleplay – Breaking Bad News
Now, there is no order to the stations at St George’s and the station you start at is completely random for each person. However, in this article, I am going to number the stations. Note that there is no ‘rest station’ at St George’s.
The roleplay station can be one of the trickiest stations especially if you don’t like talking a lot.
But don’t worry, they aren’t looking for Will Smith level actors.
The main things St George’s are looking for in the roleplay section are:
- Ability to communicate with people in distress
- Ability to communicate with someone in a clear and calm manner
- Honesty and admitting fault when a mistake has been made
- Looking for appropriate solutions
In this station be sure to use the SEARCH acronym,
Harm to patient
This will help structure your thought process and let you assess the situation appropriately.
It is fairly self-explanatory.
First, you should seek information from the actor and ask them appropriate questions. You should show empathy while they talk in the form of nodding your head and reflecting their emotions. Then you do an action and response. Deal with the consequences of what happened. Throughout the consultation, you should be assessing if there is any harm that could occur to the patient.
Practice is key to doing well in roleplay stations. Start with someone you are comfortable with and then practice with people you don’t know as well.
Here are some example roleplay questions specific to St George’s:
- You work for British Airways at check-in and a flight to New York has been cancelled. You had the task of notifying all the passengers of this flight cancellation last night however, you forgot to inform an elderly couple travelling from Scotland to Heathrow. They arrive at check-in and expect to be boarding a flight to New York. Talk to them
- You work at a launderette. You had to wash a black blazer for one of your customers who has a wedding to attend to but realise that you mixed the colours and the blazer turned pink. Break the bad on the day he has to attend the wedding.
To tackle these questions, here are a couple of tips:
- PAUSE a lot when speaking
- Keep saying sorry (almost to the point of excess so they know that you are taking responsibility for the mistake)
- Find solutions for the problem at hand
- If the actor is standing up, make sure to ask him/her if they would like a seat (this is something I forgot to do at my interview)
- Talk VERY SLOWLY
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Find a friend or family member to practice with
Station 2 – Motivation for Medicine
In this station, the interviewer wants to find out more about your desire to study medicine, work experience, volunteering etc.
Here are some example questions specific to St George’s:
- Why medicine? – Have genuine motivation. Don’t write something unrealistic eg. ‘I have wanted to study medicine since I was a baby’. You should prepare this answer first.
- Why St George’s? – Talk about PBL, how St George’s hospital is one of the largest in London, the fact that Tooting is very multicultural and how St George’s is a science-only university.
- Why not nursing? – DON’T UNDERMINE THE VALUE OF NURSES, feel as if nurses are more involved in the day to day care of patients whereas doctors are more involved in decision making.
- Tell us about your work experience/volunteering – Prepare this from before. Talk about examples from your work experience and how they made you appreciate the qualities of a good doctor.
- What things do you do to de-stress? – Sports, gym, talk to family or friends, prayers etc.
- If you weren’t accepted into medicine what would you do? – Take a gap year and re-apply, graduate entry, make sure you don’t give up hope for medicine. Even if you plan on doing another degree, don’t tell that to the interviewers!
These are questions that can easily be prepared for and come up again and again in St George’s interviews.
Station 3 – Ethical Station
Treat this station like any other medical school ethical station. Use the four pillars of medical ethics:
- Autonomy – Respect for patients’ rights
- Beneficence – Doing good
- Maleficence – Not doing any harm
- Justice – Treat all people equally and stay within the limits of the law
Here is an example of an ethical question specific to St George’s:
Question: A heart transplant needs to take place for an 18-year-old student, a mother of two young children and an elderly war veteran. You only have one heart. Who would you choose and why?
Answer: The student has a long life ahead of them, the mother has two children dependant on her, the veteran might have a worse quality of life after the transplant. You must discuss all different characters and the reasons they should all have the transplant.
For the ethical questions, it is key to speak slowly and think about what you are saying. There is no point in talking for the sake of it in the ethical station.
Make sure you fully understand the 4 pillars of medical ethics and have had enough practice to apply it to any scenario. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Station 4 – Video Station
The video station will show you a video that will most likely show (common) misconduct that occurs in medical schools or health institutions.
They will then ask you to discuss the issues that you saw in the video and what you would do in that situation.
They may also show a video of someone making a mistake in a medical environment and ask what you would do in this situation.
With the video. It is important to remember that you are paying attention!
Keeping your concentration during the video is crucial as you will have to remember events that occurred during it.
Here are some examples of video scenarios specific to St George’s:
Example: One of your friends at medical school asks you to sign her into a lecture. She is stressed out at the moment and tells you that everyone does it and that she can catch up on the lecture notes at a later time. Discuss the issues here, and what would you do? –
Advice: Make sure you never go against the university’s rules. If she is not allowed to forge signatures then don’t do it even if she is your friend. Persuade her to come. Also, consider why she is stressed out and ask her why she wants to skip the lecture
Example: You are the leader of a PBL team and two of your teammates have had a fight and are not talking to each other. Other members have complained. What would you do?
Advice: Suggest something like having a coffee with the two members, try anything to get them together, be affectionate with them and don’t get angry with them, etc.
Keep calm and make sure you answer the question, if the interviewer is asking you to discuss the issues in the video don’t just describe what happened in the video.
Reading the GMC’s good medical practice will be very beneficial for this station.
Station 5 – Multicultural Station
This station is very specific to St George’s and has appeared for many people at St George’s interviews in recent years.
It is worth noting, however, that this station IS NOT CONFIRMED to come up in the interview like an ethical or video station.
However, it is very common and worth preparing for.
St George’s asks questions that relate to you working with people from many different backgrounds.
Here is an example of a question which is specific to St George’s:
Question: How do different religions and backgrounds affect/relate to nurses and doctors in the hospital?
Answer: Talk about how diverse hospitals are and how people from different religious backgrounds could bring ethical challenges, e.g. Jehovah witness. Many of the NHS staff are from minority backgrounds and can relate to patients from these backgrounds as well. Talk about a time you have worked with people from a different background to you and how you saw many people of a different background in your work experience
In this station make sure you talk about experiences you have had whilst working with people from a different background to yours.
Try and make it niche and mention your work experience.
Also, mention how this can help you become better suited for a career in medicine (as you will have many patients from a different background to yourself).
If they ask a question about religion make sure you respect how people from different religious backgrounds tend to have different needs. e.g. A Muslim or Jewish woman may not want to have a male doctor serving them and as a doctor, you must acknowledge and respect that.
Station 6 – Knowledge Station
The knowledge station is one you MUST prepare and research for beforehand.
Make sure you have the answers memorised for these types of questions otherwise you will have a difficult time in the interview room.
Preparation is incredibly important for all stations, especially the knowledge stations. Make a bullet point list of everything you want to say for the main questions.
Here are some examples of knowledge style questions specific to St George’s:
- Tell me about an advancement in medicine in the last 10 years/50 years/100 years – Prepare this question beforehand. My interviewer grilled on this and even though I had prepared for it, I still struggled! Use any medical advancement you want, e.g. HAART, stem cell therapy, MRI scans, gene therapy, vaccines, insulin, antibiotics…the list goes on. Just make sure you PREPARE!
- Tell me about the pros and cons of privatising the NHS – A pro could be something like it would deter people from leading an unhealthy lifestyle and their diet could improve. A con could be that it would be unfair for poorer people as they can’t afford the healthcare.
- Why is research important? – Finding out new treatments, quicker diagnosis, quicker recovery times, can tackle large epidemics such as COVID-19.
- What would you do to save money in the NHS? – Spend more money on preventative schemes, deal with epidemics such as the obesity epidemic, it costs the NHS billions. Make schemes to promote healthy eating, educate people.
The key to this station is not to undermine the importance of preparation.
As the saying goes, ‘fail to prepare then prepare to fail’.
Make sure you know exactly what you are going to say when going into this station.
If you don’t know the answer to a scientific or technical question in this station then be honest and say that you don’t know rather than attempting to answer it.
Station 7 – Extracurricular Activities
In this station, the interviewers will attempt to see whether you have some of the qualities that a doctor would have. For example, good leadership skills and teamwork skills.
Here are some examples of ‘skill’ type questions specific to St George’s:
- Tell me about a time where you have demonstrated leadership skills?
- Tell me about a time you did something and it impacted negatively on the rest of your team? What you did to make it right?
- Tell me about a time where you have successfully demonstrated good teamwork skills?
- Using examples from your life tell us why you would make a good doctor?
- What problems can arise in a team?
In this station you will inevitably be expected to talk about your experiences, so do that!
Make sure they are genuine. If you can’t think of one then you could “stretch” the truth and exaggerate what might have happened. Make it sounds genuine.
This is another station where preparation will benefit you a lot.
Here they are trying to see where you have demonstrated the qualities of a good doctor. Don’t worry if here you are repeating things that you say on your personal statement.
Station 8 – The Odd One Out
For this station, many candidates are asked very weird questions, which can be very challenging.
There is no confirmation on what this station can consist of but a lot of the time students are asked very niche questions.
Here are some examples specific to St George’s:
Question: Businessman instructed you to be somewhere at 10 am and not to be late, he has given you 130 credits, you also get seasickness very badly. So why do you think we asked you that?
Question: You have to travel to Windy City from Sunny Town for a meeting. Your budget is £150. The meeting starts at 10.10 am Windy City time and your supervisor has warned you not to be more than 20 minutes late. The time in Windy City is one hour ahead from Sunny Town. Choose one of the following routes.
- Route 1 – A train journey from Sunny Town that costs £140 and then a taxi costing £20. You will arrive at Windy City at 9.20 am Sunny Town time.
- Route 2 – A coach journey from Sunny Town that costs £130 and then a bus ride costing £18. You will arrive at Windy City 9.40 am Sunny Town time.
- Route 3 – A flight from Sunny Town that costs £180. You will arrive at Windy City at 9.50 am Sunny Town time.
General Tips for the Interview
- Stay calm and don’t let the nerves get to you
- Make sure you have prepared enough before the big day
- Practice enough so it doesn’t seem as if you have memorised the answers – this is crucial as you don’t want to be talking like a robot on the day
- Take a very short pause before answering each question so you can collect your thoughts
My Experience of the Day at St George’s
Make sure you arrive earlier than the allocated time as the interview area is quite hard to find!
First, I handed in all my documents then we were taken to a room with a big projector and were told all about how the interview process would work.
A 5th-year medical student also gave a talk about studying at St George’s which was interesting.
On the day you will also be allowed to have a tour of the university, similar to what you might have seen on the open day.
The interview room itself is quite small and one thing that may distract you is how you can hear all the other students talking to their interviewer.
During the interview, I found that the interviewers looked very stern.
They tend not to interact with you at all and even if you have finished talking maybe 30 seconds early, they will not prompt you and ask any more questions. This was quite hard to deal with but make sure to act as confident as you can.
I knew that this was going to happen from beforehand so I wasn’t put off by the sternness. Try and practice with people who are good at being strict so you can be prepared for this too.
Overall, even though the day can be very intimidating, St George’s managed to provide a comfortable interview experience and were very welcoming!
To conclude, the St George’s interview process is one of the hardest ones out there, designed especially to try and knock your confidence.
But trust me, St George’s wants you to perform your best and at the end of the day, they are a university so they want you to come!
The key to this interview is preparation and with enough of it, you will have no problem during this interview.
Just remember to smile and be yourself.
Best of luck!