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18th November 2019
Finding it difficult to prepare for your interview? We’ve created a range of interview preparation tips, including practical advice, games and tips on how to prepare for the day, covering all interview question types and different learning styles. 

Make Mind Maps For Each Interview Topic

This may be a good preparation technique if you’re a visual or linguistic learner. Take a look at our Interview Question Bank and make a large mind map for each topic. This can be a good way to plan your answers and collect your ideas in one place. Here are a few examples of how these could work:

  • Teamwork – These questions are usually reliant on examples, so your mind-maps for each one could feature an example of where you demonstrated the relevant skill. For this, you could jot down a specific experience you had informing your school’s medical society to show your teamwork skills.
  • Knowledge of Medical School You could create a mind-map for each medical school you’re applying to and make notes under the following headers: the teaching style of the course (do they use PBL? Is it an integrated course?), the extracurriculars offered, key facts about the medical school itself and what specifically appeals to you about the school (this should ideally be a combination of the course, learning style and perhaps some extracurriculars – not simply that you’d love to live in London for a few years!)
  • Medical Ethics– A mind map can be a good way to get to grips with Medical Ethics. You could write out the four pillars and apply these in bullet points to a range of different scenarios from the question bank, considering which of the four pillars are in conflict for each one.

Play Games And Explain A Process To A Friend

If you’re preparing for an MMI, this will be great communication practice – and is great if you’re an auditory learner. Try explaining an activity to a friend or family member as if you were teaching them for the first time. Here are a few ideas:

  • How would you explain tying shoelaces without using your hands?
  • Ask a friend to draw a floor plan layout of a building on a piece of paper – with several rooms, doors and corridors – and a door at each end, marked ‘Door A’ and ‘Door B’ – then give it to you. You should then explain to your friend how they would get from Door A to Door B in a few minutes.
  • Imagine your friend has never made a cup of tea before. Explain the process to them while they follow your instructions.

With a group of friends, or with your family, you could also make a bank of these types of questions, toss them into a hat, and each take it in turns to explain your card to the rest of the group – this might be a fun way to prepare, and you’ll be able to practice your communication skills at the same time!

Another fun way to prepare for creativity questions may be to do a similar thing and pool together a group of questions to put into a hat, such as:

  • How many words are in the average book?
  • Why do we wear shoes?
  • If you were stranded in the middle of the jungle, which one person would you pick to accompany you and why?

The group can then take it in turns to explain their reasoning – and you could then look at Creativity Questions for our detailed answer guides to see if you were on the right lines!

Highlight Your Work Experience Diary

This may a good technique if you’re struggling to apply your work experience to different scenarios. Go through your work experience diaries with a highlighter to find the key points, such as specific patient interactions or observations. After this, you could go through the Interview Question Bank and organise your experiences under different headings to help you tackle these questions in an interview. For example:

  • Empathy– Under this, you may want to mention any work experience you had in a care home – or where you observed other doctors or nurses communicating with patients in a kind and understanding manner, which helped you to understand the importance of empathy in a medical setting.
  • Personal Insight– For example, if you were asked ‘what do you think you would find hardest about being a doctor?’, you may mention that you previously found it hard to witness a patient suffering, but that your work placement at a hospital gave you the opportunity to ask colleagues for advice, which helped you with that aspect of medical work.
  • Teamwork– You may be asked, ‘what do you think makes a good leader?’ – look through your diary for examples of when you saw good leadership skills. Perhaps the doctors you were working with demonstrated the importance of organisation or communication skills when interacting with all members of their team
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Create Flashcards For Different Questions

This is an ideal way to practice verbalising your answers to a friend. You could make flashcards with an example of a common interview question on one side, and some key bullet points of things you’d like to mention for this type of question on the other. These could take the following forms:

  • Motivation For example, you could write ‘Why Medicine?’ on one side, and on the back, note down some key things you’d like to talk about in bullet points, such as ‘GP work experience’ – and you could then expand on why your placement was particularly rewarding and furthered your passion for Medicine.
  • Empathy On the back of an Empathy question card, you may want to mention your care home placement where you interacted with elderly patients, or that you observed doctors in a GP giving a diagnosis to a patient – and in your answer, reflect on how these experiences impacted your understanding of patient care and the importance of empathy.
  • Teamwork – For a question such as, ‘Can you tell us about a time you worked well in a team?’, you could note down your experience of group activity in your Duke of Edinburgh team and the ways you learned about the qualities of a successful team.

As interviewers are looking for natural responses (and the questions will always be different), it’s very important not to memorise your answers, but jotting down a few key ideas for each topic may be a good way to get started – and you can then practice using these cards with a friend. They can prompt you with the card’s bullet points if you’re stuck – and eventually, you’ll have a good bank of examples and ideas to draw on in your real interview, and can tailor these to fit the question.

Explain A News Article To A Friend

A good, active way to prepare for questions on Depth and Breadth of Interest or NHS Hot Topics may be to go through dedicated pages and try to find a particularly interesting news article for each topic.

You could print each article and go through it with a highlighter to pick out the key points. Once this is done, give the article to a friend or family member to read, and then explain it aloud to them, making sure to mention the key debates and recent developments in your own words. Another good way to weave this research into your interview practice is to ask your friend to test you on a range of ‘hot topics’. Here are three example questions:

  • What do you think about the junior doctors’ contract? Would you have gone on strike too?
  • Do you think the NHS Long Term Plan is viable?
  • Are high street heart checks the solution needed to prevent heart disease?

As mentioned above, while it’s obviously important not to learn these articles or answers off by heart, this can be a good technique to practice talking about what you’ve read aloud and linking your research to a current debate.

Structure Answers Using The STARR Technique

The STARR technique is great to use when you’re asked a question such as ‘tell me about a situation when you saw good leadership skills’ or ‘give us an example of when you worked in a team and it was successful’. This doesn’t need to be repeated for every answer, but it can be very helpful to get you started if you’re struggling to structure your answers. This is the STARR technique:

  • Situation: what is the context of your point?

For example: you were one of the organisers of your school’s medical society

  • Task: what was the task at hand?

For example: to organise a medic to deliver a talk at your medical society

  • Action: what did you personally do to complete the task? This should be the longest section of your answer.

For example: you contacted the medic, arranged the logistics and planned the event with your team

  • Result: what happened as a direct result of your actions?

For example: the team behind the medical society learned excellent organisation and communication skills while running the event, it was an incredibly useful talk for the society’s members

  • Reflection: were you satisfied with your actions? This is the most important part of the answer.

For example: the event was very important in connecting the medical society members together and you learned the importance of teamwork and communication within a team – and that this is especially important for working in Medicine

To get to grips with this technique, you could jot down a few answers to questions from the Question Bank. This will work particularly well if you’re a visual or linguistic learner. Try plotting a few answers in this style.

To practice verbalising this, you could write the above STARR points down on a card and give this to a friend (you could use this in conjunction with the flashcards you may have made in Point 1) so they can prompt you during your answers to give an example or to reflect on your actions. By practising in this way, you’ll become familiar with this structure and can implement this in your real interview.

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