Understanding how to prepare for Medical School interviews is the most important place to start. Make sure you also understand the difference between panel and MMI interviews – and that you know what every Med School’s interview plans are.
The way you structure your answers at your medicine interview is critically important. This is because it prevents you from rambling and ensures you cover key points. We recommend using the STARR acronym:
For example: Tell me about a time when you have successfully demonstrated leadership skills?
Situation: I was captain of my school 1st XI football team.
Task: To lead the team to the best of my abilities, ensuring we operated well as a team and achieved our objective: winning the cup.
Action: I ensured I remained approachable and delegated tasks effectively, such as organising travel to away matches and leading our pre-match warm ups. I adapted my communication to get the best out of people from a variety of age groups. My school teacher commended me for this.
Result: At the end of the year we went on to win the cup, and have one of the most successful set of results in our school’s recent history.
Reflection: In the football team, I developed my approach to making decisions under pressure and learned how to communicate with different personalities. Having carried out a wide range of work experience, I have seen how critical leadership and working within a team is in Medicine. I look forward to developing my skills set further in this area.
You need to showcase your qualities but don’t want to sound arrogant. In practice, this can be tricky. For example, you might get asked what your best trait is. You can answer this question but avoid sounding arrogant by citing what others have said about you in your Medicine interview.
During my last work experience placement, my supervising consultant commented on what he called my "outstanding communication skills" and very kindly reported back that some of his patients had said I made them feel comfortable on the ward. I therefore think communication skills are one of my strongest attributes.
Wherever possible always use genuine personal examples to back up your answers in your Medicine interview. This will:
You only have up to four interviews to demonstrate your suitability for medicine. We urge all aspiring medics to read the General Medical Council’s Ethical guidance for Doctors document.
At the end of reading it, you’ll have a clear understanding of the role of a Doctor and can start speaking a little more like one in your Medicine interview.
For example: The role of multi-disciplinary teams in medicine is central to patient care.
Key buzzwords like this will help you stand out, as long as you can back them up. Acknowledging the growing importance of a doctor’s roles as a teacher would also demonstrate insight.
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 clever approach 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.
First impressions stick – even if you’re interviewing remotely. The best tip we heard on this topic was from an Admissions Tutor, who said: ‘dress in the way you would like to see your Doctor dressed’.
Tips for dressing for your interview:
Usually, you’d be advised to make eye contact and introduce yourself once you’ve entered a room – and to shake hands if the set-up allows it.
This isn’t possible with COVID. Instead, make sure you maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera. If you’re facing a panel, always include all the assessors in your answer delivery.
Some tips for your body language:
Every scenario is designed to make you think. You should never commit yourself to a definitive answer immediately because if the first word out of your mouth is a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’, does it really look like you’ve weighed the debate properly?
A better course of action is to first discuss arguments both for and against, before coming up with a balanced conclusion that appreciates the nuances of the scenario.
This should be done, where possible, within the framework of the four pillars of medical ethics:
We have all heard of the saying ‘location, location, location’ in relation to the property market. ‘Verbalise, verbalise, verbalise is The Medic Portal’s equivalent for the Medicine interview!
We cannot stress enough the importance of articulating your answers again and again. Practice saying your answers to friends, family, teachers — and anyone else who will listen.
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