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What Interviewers look for in prospective medical students (Part 1)


Many of the personal qualities that the UMAT aims to assess in prospective medical students are the same qualities that are required to be a good doctor. Whilst the UMAT can only assess what you put on a paper in multiple choice format; the medical interview that will follow, can look for these qualities in person. 


Your choice of words, body language, attitude and way of thinking will all be up for examination in the medical interview. Without some internal self-reflection, you will not be able to paint a detailed enough picture of yourself. A lot of these qualities we take for granted as inherent second nature; but when you are presented with a series of strangers who only have 5-8 minutes to sniff these talents out in you, you must learn to embody them fully. 


To bring to the forefront what you believe in yourself are indications of a good future doctor, you have to understand what the medical interview stations are looking for and how you can be most direct in portraying what you think. Every person sitting in that UMAT examination hall, including yourself, will believe to some extent that they are the right person for the medical field. But rather than simply asking if you are a suitable candidate, the interview stations aim to make you prove these qualities in hypothetical scenarios. Whether or not you believe that you perfectly embody the following qualities, knowing how to recognise and demonstrate them will be valuable to your self-reflection and subsequently your performance in a medical interview.



Integrity involves moral courage and traits of honesty and virtue. Honesty or truth-telling is an important value for health-carers.


Respect for diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from one’s own. These can include dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs and political beliefs.


Sensitivity to the needs of others and ability to establish rapport

Virtues of kindness, empathy and benevolence recognise the emotional and physical vulnerability of the human condition. Understanding these difficulties and being able to respond sensitively and appropriately are essential qualities in health practitioners.


Effective communicator

The ability to convey information and ideas clearly is a central facet of safe and effective health care and critical for communication of research ideas. Listening and verbal skills are essential components of effective communication.


Demonstrates insight

The appreciation of the role of one’s values and attitudes and the capacity to recognise and change behaviours that impede personal and professional growth and development is critical in the health field.


Effective decision-maker

The capacity to make a decision on the available information and know how to tackle a problem and how to identify the steps in problem solving is important for any doctor.


Information manager

Knowing how to record and recall information and the ability to sift information and summarise the most important issues is central to being an effective practitioner.


Ability to make a shared plan

Health care services are best delivered by teams of people working collaboratively. The ability to share information, make shared decisions with patients and other members of the health care team is key to optimising health outcomes.


Self-directed learner

The capacity to impose self-discipline and demonstrate an inquiring mind to further knowledge and skills is important as a medical student and doctor.


Understands the role of health professionals in society

The success of twenty-first century medicine largely corresponds with scientific research and discoveries. Understanding the benefits of science as well as the pressures on clinical practice is important for understanding the role of medicine in society.


One on one with a medical school interviewer
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