UCL Medicine Interview Questions

Note: This interview Q&A is based on pre-COVID in-person interviews (from 2019 and before). All university interviews changed in 2020-2021 to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article has been updated in November 2021 with the latest information, and we will continue to regularly update it! 

University College London medicine interviews follow a traditional panel structure and for the 2021-22 entry application cycle, UCL has stated that these will be carried out online. In this guide we provide an expert insight into past UCL Panel questions, the UCL interview day and tips for converting your medicine interview into an offer!

UCL MEDICAL SCHOOL: UCL is one of the UK’s highest ranked universities, offering a prestigious and renowned Medicine Course. The Medical School is currently ranked 8th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings Top Medical Universities (2020). Working closely with several major teaching hospitals, UCL provides a truly world-class medical education and students will benefit from both academic and clinical excellence.
UCL MEDICAL SCHOOL: UCL is one of the UK’s highest ranked universities, offering a prestigious and renowned Medicine Course. The Medical School is currently ranked 8th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings Top Medical Universities (2020). Working closely with several major teaching hospitals, UCL provides a truly world-class medical education and students will benefit from both academic and clinical excellence.
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 UCL Medicine Interview in a Nutshell

What is the UCL interview style?

The UCL medicine interview is panel style, normally with 3 interviewers. However, as mentioned earlier the University College London medicine interview will be carried out online for the 2021-22 cycle so this setup will be slightly different.

For the 2021-22 entry, interviews will be held virtually with each panel lasting roughly 20 minutes and assessed by 2 interviewers.

Download Free Medicine Interview Notes

    What are the UCL Medicine interview dates?

    UCL interview season begins in December and runs through March. Invitations to interview are issued on a rolling basis throughout the season, with candidates normally being given at least one weeks’ notice.

    How many candidates do UCL interview for medicine?

    Approximately 3500 applications to the UCL Medical School are received each year, for a total of 334 places (International Student places are capped by Government regulations). Up to 950 applicants are selected for a University College London interview. This means that 1 in 2.8 applicants will receive an offer. 

    What are the common topics covered at the  UCL Medicine Interview?

    • Academic curiosity, particularly in relation to medical topics
    • Motivation for and understanding of the course and career
    • Problem-solving and reasoning 
    • Professional attitudes and values (as dictated by the GMC)
    • Verbal and non-verbal communication skills
    • Medical ethical debates

    List of Recent  UCL Medicine Interview topics

    ThemeUCL Example Questions
    Motivation for MedicineMotivation for the career
    Professional ambitions prior to Medicine 
    Knowledge of the UCL course
    Qualities of a Doctor & Previous Work ExperienceMemorable work experience
    Leadership versus teamwork 
    Can empathy be taught?
    History of Medicine and EthicsMedical advancements 
    Budgeting and financial prioritization in the NHS

    If you would like to practice for the  UCL Medicine Interview, have a go at the following questions and check out our top tips for panel interviews Tips for Medicine Panel

    • Why medicine?
    • Why is confidentiality important? (You can also check out our interview video on confidentiality here
    • Imagine someone could not obtain work experience, what are other ways they could gain insight into the responsibilities of a doctor?
    • What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?
    • If you had £10 million to spend on either finding a cure for dementia, finding a cure for prostate cancer or understanding further the link between exercise and obesity, which of these 3 options would you invest your money in? What further information do you need before coming to a final decision?
    CITY LOCATION: On campus there are over 16 libraries and the new Student Centre, which opened in 2019, provides students with over 1,000 study spaces. UCL is perfect for students who want to study in a bustling city and be surrounded by amenities. It is located just off Tottenham Court Road which hosts numerous cafés, restaurants and street food stalls. Furthermore, over 18,000 students (just under 50%) are from outside the UK, giving you the unique opportunity to study alongside people from all over the world.
    CITY LOCATION: On campus there are over 16 libraries and the new Student Centre, which opened in 2019, provides students with over 1,000 study spaces. UCL is perfect for students who want to study in a bustling city and be surrounded by amenities. It is located just off Tottenham Court Road which hosts numerous cafés, restaurants and street food stalls. Furthermore, over 18,000 students (just under 50%) are from outside the UK, giving you the unique opportunity to study alongside people from all over the world.

    A UCL Medical Student’s Perspective

    Name 3 Reasons why you picked UCL

    I was attracted to UCL as it has a history of academic excellence and is consistently ranked among the world’s top universities, with many of the faculties leading their fields. They are renowned for their world-class research, global influence and impact across a broad range of subjects and for a field as dynamic as medicine I found that very exciting. Their forward thinking nature is reflected In the fact that they were the first medical school to accept women

    They teach anatomy through full body dissection,. This allows you to observe muscles, bones and organs in a life-sized model. I feel as if this would give me a a more accurate perspective of size and location than can be obtained using computer models or textbooks as the body is 3 dimensional. It also helps you learn more about detached concern and respect is learnt from this as the cadaver is your first patient.

    The location. London is a very vibrant city with a lot going on and the teaching hospitals UCL is attached too are amazing. Through the wide range of societies I think individuals are a lot more well rounded because you can really meet anyone- london is a very metropolitan city and you can meet anyone from any walk of life.

    What makes UCL unique to other medical schools?

    It offers full body dissection which is regarded as one of the most enjoyable and valuable aspects of the preclinical course. There is also a compulsory integrated year which would allow me to pursue an individual subject of my choice in much greater detail, allowing me to pursue my own interests. The style of teaching is also more theory based in pre clinical years which for me meant that it was easier to apply this later on. It is such a large university situated in the centre of London, the range of opportunities available to you are unparalleled.

    Insider Guide:  UCL Medicine Interview Day

    How did the  UCL University Interview day work?

    As previously mentioned, interviews will be held virtually with 2 assessors and will last roughly 20-30 minutes.  Usually there are no articles or questions to pre-read and prepare, so no reading time was necessary.

    What did you have to bring for the UCL Medicine Interview?

    Candidates didn’t have to bring anything to the University College London interview. It is advised that you wear smart clothes to your interview, even if it is virtual! Photo ID will also be required. A strong Wi-Fi connection, webcam, microphone and a quiet and brightly lit space is needed as well.

    What were the  UCL University  Panel examiners like?

    The examiners are very friendly! The UCL interview is largely conversational, delving into topics that interest both the examiners and the applicant. Enthusiasm and exploring your reasoning are key as is approachability. They particularly admire those who take the time to think before answering.

    What were the personality questions like in the UCL medicine interview?

    The personality questions are typically focused on giving examples where key skills have been demonstrated. This opportunity could be used to link in any extracurricular activities as well. The key is to reflect and integrate other qualities. For example, discuss specific communication techniques alongside empathy and rapport-building. This will present you in a better light to the interviewers.

    Did they expect you to know about recent NHS topics for your University College London medicine interview?

    Yes, there is an expectation of a general understanding of common NHS Hot Topics, such as anti-vaccine sentiments and junior doctor strikes. You should have some knowledge of what issues plague both the NHS and global medicine as well as what research and treatments are available. Tying in other aspects of care provision, such as social determinants of healthcare will further strengthen your responses.

    Did the  UCL Medicine interviewers ask a lot of follow up questions?

    The UCL medicine interview does ask follow-up questions. This can be from a predetermined list, particularly for stations involving research or media. They may also ask follow-up questions more conversationally based on topics of interest when discussing your personal statement or work experience. 

    What were the Work Experience questions like at the UCL interview?

    The UCL interviewers tended to keep the work experience question very broad. This gave candidates free range to talk about the work experience placement of their choice. A strong focus on reflection and links to the GMC guidance will be well received. 

    How long is the actual  UCL University Interview?

    The UCL panel interview is expected to last around 20 minutes.

    How long did it take for you to hear back after the  UCL University medicine interview?

    University College London aims to advise interviewees of the outcome of their interview within 21 working days of their visit. However, delays are to be expected due to logistical pressures from the pandemic.

    Top Tips for  UCL University Medicine Interview  

    • Read the Medical School Council guidance for online interviews – this has been recommended by UCL and can be accessed here Online Interviews
    • Have your gear ready and set the scene – Ensure that you have a strong connection in a suitable place where you won’t be disturbed by others. Prepare beforehand so that you’re aware of how close you need to be to your camera, bearing in mind that you may use hand gestures whilst talking. Practice by doing an online mock interview if possible (this is a key feature of our Interview Lessons, find out more here Interview Lessons)
    • Understand the factors involved in decision-making for funding – this can be related to the medical pillars of ethics justice and beneficence. Read up on COVID-19, particularly its impact on medical research, social inequality and funding in the NHS. 
    • Know your personal statement – the UCL interviewers could pick any part of it, even a single line, and ask you to elaborate on what you’ve written so ensure thorough knowledge, reflection and confidence in your own experiences.
    • Make sure you actively listen to and actually answer the question they are asking you, not just one answer that you may have rehearsed. When you’re under pressure, of you’ve rehearsed too much, you may fail to answer the question. Make sure you listen carefully to each question before you start thinking of a response. A good approach I have found is to incorporate the question into your answer. By doing this at the start of your reply, you show that you have listened and remind yourself to address the points in question
    • Make sure you take your time. UCL sometimes uses the interview to see how well you function under stress. They deliberately put you in an uncomfortable position to observe how you act and speak under pressure. Typical tactics include asking questions about sensitive or controversial topics, delving into personal matters, rattling off a series of game show-like trivia questions or showing disapproval at almost everything you say.
      If you find yourself in this position, try to relax. Interviewers don’t expect you to have a ready answer for every question, but they do expect you to be able to think on your feet and give a considered response. If a question catches you off guard, don’t be afraid to take a moment and formulate an answer before you open your mouth. If a question seems ambiguous, ask for clarification. By taking the time to make sure that your response is well-conceived and well-spoken, you will come across as thoughtful and articulate—two characteristics essential in a good doctor.
    • Impressions count as they are judging your personality as well. Be polite, smile, ask questions but not ones that are easily answered by looking at the UCL website for example. Make eye contact and use a firm handshake. If you are on zoom, be sure to look at the camera rather than your laptop screen. Smile and be positive. In a group setting, where the committee talks with more than one candidate at a time, you will be observed not only when you answer a question, but also when your fellow applicants are speaking. Keep alert, and show interest.
    Medicine Interview Online Course
    Breakdown of the Most Common Interview Question Types, How to Perfect Your Interview Technique, and Mock Interviews Tailored to Your University Choices
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    Download Free Medicine Interview Notes

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