The Format: The Medicine Interviews usually take place over two days, with each candidate being interviewed at a minimum of 2 colleges. The first college is usually the one you have applied to, and the second is a college you have been allocated. You may be interviewed at a third depending on whether you are pooled.
At each college you will have two interviews, the length of which varies between colleges, mine lasted around 30-40 minutes each. We were organised into groups of 6 depending on our time slots, and invited to meet some of the tutors before the actual interview started. The tutors would normally run through the format of the interview, and what to expect in each one. For example, you may be asked more ethical questions in the first interview and more science based ones in the second. The number of tutors present in an interview is college dependent; for me it ranged between 2 and 5. Often each tutor would take it in turn to ask you an initial question, followed by a series of questions to delve deeper into the subject. Do not worry if you can’t answer the all the questions or have no idea what the answer is, say what you’re thinking even if you know it’s wrong. If you’re really stuck they usually prompt you with additional information or questions to help you reach an answer. During the interview you may be presented with experimental data and asked to consider different parts of it. Don’t panic if you don’t understand parts of it, ask questions to help you make sense of it. If it’s a graph it’s good practise to read the title and axis and look for overall patterns in the data and explanations for that. You could be handed an object and asked to describe it: I was handed two human bones and asked to show how I thought they articulated to form a joint. You can’t prepare for these sorts of things, you just have to use whatever knowledge you have and think logically through the problem. At the end of the interview they usually ask you if you have any questions for them, this isn’t part of the interview and they normally just want to give you an opportunity to speak to them about something that might have come up or intrigued you. I was still quite nervous at the end of my interviews and couldn’t really think of any questions; in this situation it might be wise to ask them a question that they asked you. But don’t worry if you don’t ask anything and can’t think of a question. My question had nothing to do with what we discussed; I just wanted to know if each interview is equally considered and it is. During the two days you have a lot of free time between interviews. I’d recommend spending it in the JCR (Junior Common Room), where current students are usually running activities. It’s also an opportunity to talk to other candidates and make friends with people you could potentially be studying with next year. I found that spending my time in this way gave me a much better idea, than an open day, of what student life would be like in Oxford. Also in the JCR or lodge there is usually a list of your interview times and locations, it’s important to keep checking this regularly as if you’re pooled or called for another interview, it will be posted here. At present it will be difficult for you to imagine that once you get into the interview and relax into it, it becomes enjoyable. You’re being asked questions that you haven’t ever thought about in the same way before, discussing them with people at the forefront of medical research.