You have just heard back from Imperial and been invited to book an interview sometime between December and March – brilliant! Now is the time to do a little bit of preparation to secure an offer. These are some of my tips that helped me when getting my offer…
Preparing for your Imperial interview:
1. Understand what the Imperial medicine interview involves
Imperial runs a pretty standard panel interview lasting around 20 minutes. You will arrive on the day, register and be placed in a waiting room (for slightly longer than you should be) until an interviewer calls for you. I suggest you spend this time speaking to the other candidates waiting with you to reduce any prior anxiety and get you in the conversational mood.
Once called you will be escorted to a room with 3 or 4 interviewers – the panel. The panel will probably be comprised of a lecturer, a current medical student and a lay observer (they won’t speak to you). When I walked in I shook the hands of all the interviewers before sitting down but this isn’t necessary – do what feels right in the moment.
The Imperial medicine interview itself is very conversational and follow a very standard question set: ‘Why medicine?’ ‘Give examples of when you’ve displayed [insert skill here]?’ ‘Why Imperial?’ etc. It is likely you will be given an ethical based question as well so brush up on your debating skills as you will be expected to look at both sides.
In a panel interview, you will find that the questioning is very interactive compared to multiple mini interview (MMI) and you may have to justify your responses further so think about what you’re saying.
Finally it is good to make sure you mention any relevant work experience or volunteering whenever giving examples or where an anecdote is applicable to a question. This will ensure you demonstrate more of the key skills they’re looking for.
2. Re-read your personal statement
You may have spent months perfecting it but by now you will have forgotten most of it. Imperial invites candidates to interview based on personal statements – meaning the interviewers will have read and analysed your personal statement.
During your Imperial medicine interview, they will ask questions specific to you and your experiences so it is important you know what you wrote and are able to speak about any points in depth immediately. It doesn’t look very good if you are sitting there trying to recall skills you learnt or what you wrote.
Take 10-15 minutes out highlighting several obvious points you could be asked about in your personal statement and write 3 points of how you would respond. This will be more than enough preparation as anything more becomes a script which will sound unnatural and over-prepared.
3. Practice by talking to others
It sounds obvious but you need to get into the rhythm of speaking to people for an extended amount of time. The best way to prepare is by speaking to anyone about everything.
Find some friends, family or other applicants and just discuss current topics and news articles. Getting into the swing of sharing ideas and developing your own will put you in good standing when it comes to making up comprehensive arguments on the spot.
The Imperial medicine interview will be like a discussion but ultimately lead by you. The better you can explore and present your ideas, the better the interviewers will grasp how you think and how much they want you.
Anyone can talk a lot of nonsense but being able to speak with substance is a skill, and this is what you’re trying to work on here.
4. Don’t feel intimidated
Any interview is undoubtedly nerve wracking but don’t let it get to you. The interviewers are extremely friendly and genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Remember that no one is trying to catch you out and really they want to give you an offer. Imperial receive over 2400 applications per year from which they offer about 800 interviews and then make around 600 offers. This means if you make it to the interview stage, you are more likely to receive an offer than be rejected!
Like I said previously, speak to the other people in the waiting room to relieve any anxiety. Then when you’re in the room you should be in the flow of the interview within minutes and time will fly by – so don’t stress out too much!
5. Get a good night’s sleep
If this is your first interview you will definitely be eager to attend but don’t stay up all night thinking about it or practising your speech on why medicine is your only passion in life!
A sleepy person can’t think straight for the simplest tasks, let alone something this important. You need to be alive and active to respond and interact with the panel.
If you know you have trouble sleeping then do something active to tire yourself and make sure you try to sleep earlier than usual – this will benefit you.
Words: Kramer Chall
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