Acing the Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) Interview: The Top 10 Questions and Answers

Your values serve as the cornerstones for your organization. Here’s how to conduct a values interview to bring the right people into your company.

When building a house, you need pillars made of concrete, steel, or brick to make sure the structure is stable and will last for many years. The same concept applies to building an organization—except that your company values serve as the pillars. When you make business decisions and see how your employees treat each other, these values set the tone for your culture.

How do you keep these values alive, especially as your company grows and changes over time? It’s all about hiring the right people and being clear about your company philosophy from the start. That’s where a values interview comes into the picture.

Values interviews aren’t something you can bring to life overnight. Due to the vague nature of the word “values,” it takes a lot of careful discussion to figure out what that means to your organization and then turn that knowledge into a complete set of careful and in-depth questions. We’ll explore how to approach this process below.

The Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) interview is often the final and most challenging step for applicants pursuing this accelerated route to becoming a doctor in the UK. Competition is fierce, with thousands vying for limited spots each year. Strong interview performance is crucial to demonstrate both your academic ability and your suitability for a rigorous career in medicine.

This article unpacks the 10 most common GEM interview questions, from assessing your motivation to probing your understanding of the realities of medical practice. Read on for tips and sample answers to help you present your best self and tackle this all-important interview with confidence.

Overview of the GEM Interview Format

While approaches vary between medical schools, most adhere to the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. This consists of a circuit of 8-10 short, focused interview stations, each with its own examiner and question. Stations typically last 5-10 minutes and evaluate non-academic qualities considered essential in doctors, including:

  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Ethics
  • Decision making
  • Teamwork
  • Reflectiveness

Some stations may also directly test scientific or mathematical knowledge relevant to medical practice Thorough preparation across all aspects is key to succeeding in this rigorous interview gauntlet,

10 Common GEM Interview Questions and How to Nail Them

Here are 10 questions that frequently appear, with strategies to craft compelling responses:

1. Why do you want to study Graduate Entry Medicine?

This fundamental question assesses your motivation Demonstrate your commitment by emphasizing

  • Longstanding desire to become a doctor
  • Draw to helping people and improving lives
  • Passion for science and human health
  • Belief in the value of second career doctors
  • Alignment of medicine with your skills and experiences

Example: “I’ve aspired to be a doctor since I was young, motivated by a desire to alleviate suffering and make meaningful change through patient care. While I found fulfillment in my previous career in medical research, I realized direct patient interaction was missing. The clinical focus and accelerated pace of GEM appeals to me as the ideal path to follow my passion for medicine relatively late in life. My background in biochemistry and collaborations with physicians equip me with foundational knowledge and a holistic perspective I hope to bring to medical practice.”

2. Why do you want to study at this particular medical school?

Show you’ve done your research on the school and can articulate specifically why it’s a good fit for you. Reference details like:

  • Curriculum emphasis or special programs
  • Focus on certain medical fields or approaches
  • Research opportunities
  • Volunteering/community initiatives
  • Aspects of school culture

Example: “Beyond your outstanding reputation, the chance to participate in clinical rotations abroad through your global health program strongly appeals to me. I’m dedicated to serving disadvantaged populations, so the opportunity to learn approaches to accessible healthcare worldwide aligns perfectly. I’m also drawn to your case-based curriculum and early clinical immersion, which I believe will allow me to integrate my background in biological sciences with direct patient experiences right away. Being surrounded by researchers and clinicians passionate about equity in medicine inspires me.”

3. What do you want to achieve from a career in medicine?

This evaluates your motivations and aspirations as a future doctor. Show how they align with the values of medicine by highlighting a desire to:

  • Make positive impacts through patient care
  • Continually expand medical knowledge
  • Advocate for better access and quality of care
  • Collaborate to improve systems and policies

Example: “I hope to make lasting differences in patients’ health by combining compassionate care with cutting-edge treatment approaches. While the clinical side is my priority, I’m also passionate about contributing to medical knowledge throughout my career. Whether through direct research or community-centered program development, I aspire to be an advocate for vulnerable and underserved groups. My ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of compassionate care to all patients, while also voicing and enacting systemic changes that promote health equity.”

4. What aspects of being a doctor appeal to you? What doesn’t appeal to you?

This two-part question tests your understanding of the medical profession. In the first part, convey your ability to connect with and care for patients. In the second, thoughtfully discuss challenges like:

  • Long work hours
  • Emotional toll
  • Bureaucratic frustrations
  • Work/life balance

Example: “The privilege of guiding patients through difficult diagnoses, making treatment recommendations that improve their lives, and forging meaningful relationships over time deeply appeals to me. However, I appreciate that the emotional toll of losing patients or delivering bad news can weigh heavily. Navigating the healthcare system’s complex bureaucracy could be frustrating at times. Most challenging for me will likely be finding work-life balance, as I have many personal responsibilities outside medicine that I prioritize highly. However, I am prepared to meet such challenges through professional support networks and reliance on the coping strategies I’ve cultivated over my career.”

5. How do you cope with failure?

Medical training inevitably entails setbacks. Demonstrate resilience and growth mindset by outlining:

  • Your process for constructive self-reflection
  • Strategies for keeping difficulties in perspective
  • Channeling failures into determination and improved strategies

Example: “When I fall short of a goal, I remind myself that missteps are inherent to the learning process – as long as I take them as opportunities for growth. I reflect objectively on the factors that caused the failure, then create an action plan to improve. Support from mentors, friends, and family helps me maintain motivation during tough periods. I won’t pretend failure doesn’t sting. However, by striving to learn rather than assigning blame, I emerge wiser and more driven to succeed in the end.”

6. You notice a colleague behaving unethically. How would you respond?

This scenario assesses your integrity and ability to navigate ethical dilemmas. Emphasize:

  • Putting patient well-being first
  • Voicing concerns professionally and constructively
  • Utilizing appropriate channels and oversight procedures
  • Understanding the impact of reporting on trust and team dynamics

Example: “If I witnessed unethical actions that jeopardized patient care, I would feel compelled to speak up irrespective of the difficulties it may cause. However, I would approach my colleague first in a discreet, non-confrontational manner to advise them of my concerns and understand their perspective. If unsuccessful, I would pursue proper reporting procedures confidentially through established ethics oversight committees. Although challenging interpersonally, maintaining patients’ trust and adhering to ethical standards take priority. My goal is to encourage voluntary resolution when possible, yet take appropriate action to prevent harm when necessary.”

7. A patient relies on traditional medicine that clashes with your medical opinion. How do you respond?

This complex scenario tests your respect for diverse cultures and ideas. Describe your approach to:

  • Listening openly to the patient’s perspective
  • Finding common ground when possible
  • Providing guidance sensitively and non-judgmentally
  • Prioritizing the patient’s best interests

Example: “If a patient’s traditional healing practices conflict with my medical opinion, professional standards require me to educate them on any objectively serious risks I discern. Yet it is equally important that I take time to understand the personal and cultural significance of their chosen approaches. With sensitive discussion, I would hope we find alignments, adapt integrative methods, or decide on partial traditional care under monitored conditions. While physicians have a duty to speak up when they see potential harm, patients also have a right to choose therapies aligned with their beliefs. My role is to provide counsel while respecting diversity, guiding the patient to the solution they feel best supports their values and well-being.”

8. A patient insists on an experimental treatment you consider unwise. What do you do?

This difficult scenario probes your ability to communicate empathetically and stand firm when appropriate. Discuss:

  • Hearing out the patient’s wishes and reasoning
  • Explaining your reservations and alternative options
  • Appealing to ethics and safety standards if needed
  • Involving other medical opinions sensitively
  • Recognizing and addressing the emotions involved

Example: “I would start by asking thoughtful questions to understand why this experimental treatment appeals to them, then walk through my clinical reasoning against it. I would explain potential risks and why proven options are preferable currently. With compassion, I would check for any underlying emotional factors influencing their insistence. If the patient remains firm, I would gently but clearly express that my duty is to only recommend care I deem safe and clinically appropriate. However, I’m happy to coordinate an ethics consultation to discuss the situation transparently and include other expert opinions. My goal is finding the right solution together, prioritizing both their wishes and their well-being. With open dialogue, I’m confident we can reach alignment.”

9. You notice a team member struggling emotionally. How do you support them?

This scenario evaluates empathy and responsibility towards colleagues. Discuss:

  • Speaking privately to express concern and willingness to help
  • Actively listening without judgment
  • Inquiring directly about suicide risk if concerned
  • Discussing reasonable options like temporary leave
  • Respecting privacy while encouraging seeking professional help

Best practices for values interviews

You can’t write values interview questions without knowing what your company values are. Even if your company already has values, you should still go over them with the hiring team to make sure everyone understands them the same way.

For instance, if one of your values is “holding yourself to a high level of accountability,” be very clear about what that means. You should ask yourself what accountability looks like at work and whether it looks different on each team. This exercise makes sure that everyone is on the same page and not looking at things through different lenses.

If your business doesn’t already have set values, get your leadership team, employees who want to have a say, and other important people in the business together to come up with some ideas. Use this as an opportunity to identify your company’s core values as a group. Remember: these are the principles that will serve as your cultural cornerstones, so be specific, clear, and intentional.

Write questions that reflect your company values

Every question you ask in a values interview should lead back to one or more of your company’s core values. If you don’t, you might lose sight of exactly what you want in a candidate, which makes bias and personal preferences more likely to win out over a clear goal.

To accomplish this, create questions that are specific to your organization—not something you pull off the internet. Again, values are a broad term, and even if two companies have the same values, they may not interpret them in the same way. In this case, if having a growth mindset is one of your company’s values, you might ask:

  • Tell us about a project that didn’t go as planned. What did you do about it, and what did you learn from it?
  • How do you make sure that you’re always getting better at your job?
  • What would you do to help a coworker or direct report who is having trouble learning a new skill?

Gem Expert interview questions

How long is a gem interview in 2024?

For 2024 entry, Nottingham’s GEM interviews will be held via Microsoft Teams and will be MMI style. Each interview includes questions on four scenarios, typically assessed by two interviewers and lasting between 30 and 45 minutes.

What is the interview process like at GEMS Education?

I interviewed at Gems Education in Mar 2023 First the HR calls you to verify a few basic details and the a member fro the SLT would interview you. The formal interview was very structured and professionally conducted. On the same day, I was asked to get ready for a demo lesson to be done in the following week.

How do I prepare for the Nottingham gem medicine interview?

To prepare for the Nottingham Graduate Entry Medicine interview, it’s recommended to have a loose structure for answering any question. The interview will have follow-ups that are typically contextual and based on your initial answers.

How long does the GEM course last?

The GEM course at Nottingham lasts 4 years. Students will earn a BMBS degree and benefit from the excellent facilities and teaching standards at Nottingham. For 2024 entry, Nottingham will be holding MMI style interviews via Microsoft Teams for admission onto the 4-year long GEM course.

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