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1. Prepare for the group task
A Southampton medicine interview typically contains a group activity which involves around eight candidates sitting around a table discussing a certain topic, whilst being watched by two interviewers. The topics usually involve discussing something you probably have very little knowledge about. The key thing to remember is that the interviewers aren’t there to assess your knowledge on the topic, they’re observing your capacity to work as a team with other people you don’t know or necessarily get along with. They want to see that you have the values of a potential NHS doctor (respectful of others, good listener, teamwork) through how you interact with everyone at that table. Try to keep that in mind and make sure you demonstrate that you so possess these abilities. For example, if you notice someone being a little quiet, encourage them to join in, introduce yourself or ask everyone their name; if someone disagrees with you, do not take it personally but try to understand and show that you respect their opinion.
2. Don’t forget to speak up – but don’t dominate the discussion!
Similar to the first point, do not get intimidated by everyone else and say nothing at all in your Southampton medicine interview. During my group discussion, I completely froze and struggled to speak up and contribute anything to the team! Everyone else had spoken and the candidate sitting right next to me would interrupt and speak over everyone else. Towards the end, another candidate turned to me and said, “hey, you haven’t had a chance to speak yet, what do you think?” which scored him lots of points (again, encourage the quiet ones to talk) and I ended up just recycling what everyone else had said because all the good points had been taken. However, at the end of the discussion, everyone gets two minutes to reflect on how it went and I mentioned how difficult it was to speak up with such strong characters in the room and how I wish I had said more and not been intimidated – the interviewers completely understand these situations. If you show them that you’ve learnt from the experience and can say what you will change next time, they will score you much higher than if you pretend things went fine and do not acknowledge what went wrong. So, if things do not go to plan, it’s okay as long as you can recognise that and tell them how you could improve next time. The person who spoke over everyone else did not get an offer so make sure you are not that person. If you do catch yourself interrupting/talking over people, simply apologise and ask them to carry on – this demonstrates maturity and self-awareness, showing you are in fact team player and not just a dominating character.
The Southampton medicine interview also involves a traditional interview with two interviewers – one of the most popular questions are “Why have you chosen Southampton?” and you must have an answer. Is it because you like that it’s a spiral based curriculum with an integrated teaching style? Is it because you are very interested in research and know third year students undertake a research project and have the option of intercalating? Whatever the answer is, make sure you know at least something about Southampton because the interviewers will know if you’re winging it.
Before your interview, try to practise your answers to the most popular questions such as, why this university? What motivates you? Who inspires you and why? Tell us an example of how you dealt with a negative situation? On the day, you mind may go completely blank but if you have had a couple of practises, it’ll be easier to think of your answer when put on the spot!
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