3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Medical School Interview
Medical school interviews are hard, there’s no doubt about it. Medical schools have to find a way of distinguishing who can perform under pressure, and as a result, who will make a good doctor.
However, there are numerous ways in which you can ensure that you are prepared for the interview, whatever the format may be.
As a fourth year medical student, I have been through interviews, and have also had a hand in the admissions process myself, so I’m in a good position to talk about the things I’d wish I’d known before my interviews.
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1. Know your university inside out, including the course, town and any traditions
My first medical school interview was a panel interview at St Andrews medical school. I felt reasonably confident, having had mock interviews in the weeks leading up to it, and I had done thorough research (or so I thought).
However, once it came to the interview, I realised that it wasn’t just the medicine course that they were asking about; they were also interested in finding out about why I wanted to move to the town.
St Andrews traditions such as Raisin and May Dip are key events in the university calendar, but I had not taken a holistic view of my reasons for applying there – so do your research!
2. The interview will involve some on-the spot thinking
The interview process is a way of determining who is most suitable for a medical school place. As part of this, I can almost guarantee that, regardless of interview type, there will be a station/question which will involve you having to think on your feet.
The key thing here is not necessarily whether you produce an answer that the interviewers will want to hear; they just want to see that you can put a suitable argument forward. The kind of scenarios that you will be given involve the following:
Panel: You may be given an article on an ethical topic and then asked, “What is your opinion on…”
Multiple Mini Interview (MMI): previous applicants have been given a puzzle which has been difficult to solve, then asked how they respond to failure
Group task: as a group, you are given a clinical condition (for example, diabetes), then asked to discuss the specifics of the condition.
Practice thinking on your feet by practising giving interview answers to family and friends!
3. Universities don’t want well-rehearsed answers to questions
This point is really important! It’s absolutely key that you’ve done your research into each of the medical schools you’ve applied for, but DON’T try to remember paragraphs of replies to certain questions!
I fell into this trap and it is immediately clear to the interviewers that you are adept at revising answers, but this is not what they’re looking for. They want a genuine, motivated, enthusiastic individual to join their medical school, not some robot.