After months of preparation, you’ve finally received that letter inviting you for an interview! Congratulations! As you’re probably aware, the Lancaster medicine interview is in the form of a Multi-Mini Interview (MMI). This consists of 15-17 stations, with 5 or 10 minutes in each station. This is not a huge amount of time, so the focus really is on giving a good first impression, being able to think on the spot, and answering the question in a structured manner.
1. Preparation is key – practise in real time by doing some role-play
Lancaster Medical School is looking for people who can demonstrate excellent communication skills, so set yourself some time to practice and get a good friend or a teacher to ask you questions in a formal setting. I remember giving myself five minutes to describe what I did for my work experience and I was shocked by how appalling my answer was, so no matter how well you think you can answer a question, knowing what you want to say is only half the picture.
On my way to school while preparing for my Lancaster medicine interview, I would pick three questions at random from an interview book and practice out loud. It doesn’t matter which book you get, just use one as a platform to improve the structure of your answers and read about interview techniques. It also highlighted some gaps in my knowledge such as the principles of the NHS constitution or the role of the GMC, and it helped me familiarise myself with terms such as confidentiality, autonomy and mental capacity. Several of these terms came up in my interview and being aware of them gave me more confidence in my answers.
2. During the MMI, expect a station where the interview will be an observer
Each year is different, but be expected to demonstrate your skills where the interviewer will act as an observer. This may be in a form of role-play, where you will be interacting with an actor, or you may be given a task to complete in a limited time frame. Whatever the case, do not dive straight into it. Give yourself half a minute to familiarise yourself with the scenario and think about how to best approach the situation.
The interview process is exhausting. I remember how grateful I was when I reached a break station where I was given water, a biscuit and some earphones to block the noise. No matter how tempting it may be, do not try to overhear other people during your break station. Listening to other people will only stress you out more, and it will give you a false impression of what to expect in the next station. Most importantly, you need to use that time to recuperate and rest your mind in preparation for the next station.
Aside from demonstrating your ability to think on the spot, the MMI tests your ability to bounce back after a disappointing station. Messing up one station is not the end of the world, but don’t let that knock your confidence, remember that the next interviewer will have no idea how you performed in the previous station!
3. The PBL group activity is about demonstrating teamwork, not regurgitating knowledge
At your Lancaster medicine interview, the interviewers are looking for people who will suit a problem-based learning course. This is about interacting well with people in a group setting and showing off your teamwork skills. If someone in your group is being over-dominating and doesn’t give you the chance to demonstrate your knowledge, don’t panic as this will reflect badly on them, not you. Pointing out that someone is trying to speak and giving them the chance to do so, or referring back to points made by other candidates will score you far more points than regurgitating everything you know about NICE guidelines.
Words: Natalia Kyrtata
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