3 Tips to Get Ahead with Med School Interview Prep

Early Interview Prep

The medical school interview is used by universities to distinguish between applicants who may have similar grades and admissions test scores, and it is your chance to shine out as a unique, passionate individual to your interviewers.

It is a common misconception that you should only start preparing for your interviews once you’ve received an invitation, but with many universities only providing a short window of notice (usually around two weeks) this is often not enough time to carry out all your interview preparation.

In this blog, I will give you some advice on how to start preparing for interviews early in the application process to ensure you’re ready to perform highly when the time comes around!

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1. Know your NHS and current affairs

No matter which university you have applied to, there is no doubt that you must be prepared to either directly answer questions about medical current affairs or at least include this knowledge into your answers yourself.

Since it is most likely that you will be working in the National Health Service (NHS) upon completion of the medical degree, the interviewers will want to see that you’ve done research and know what you’ll be getting yourself into.

You can start your research by looking into the NHS constitution, which establishes the principles and values of the NHS. Within the constitution, there are the seven principles which are deemed to be the core values of the NHS. Universities such as Hull York Medical School directly state that you will be assessed upon ‘your understanding of these values’.

The BBC Health website will become your new best friend, and the place to go to stay updated with current affairs in the news. The Medic Portal’s own series of Weekly News Summaries on our blog is also a great way to get a quick recap of what has been going on in health news.

Read all about the challenges facing the NHS>>

Read NHS Hot Topics 2018-19>>

2. Reflect on your own experiences

Think back to your work experience, volunteering, extra reading and any extra curricular activities that you’ve done in the lead-up to applying to study medicine. One thing an interviewer looks for is how you can reflect upon your experiences – I’m sure you have heard the phrase “It is not what you’ve done, it’s what you’ve learned from it” many times over the past few months!

Take the time you have now to think about the skills you have gained and developed from your experiences and how they have been beneficial to you in a healthcare context. Some common examples are teamworking, leadership and time-management skills; how have you developed these and what examples of these skills did you see in your work experience?

There is no use talking about skills you have unless you can relate them back to medicine, and this is easy to forget in an interview. By making the links early on in your preparation, when it comes to your real interviews you’ll be able to speak naturally about each skill you have.

See 100+ question and answer guides for your medical school interview here>>

3. Practice speaking about medicine and ethics

This continues from the point above. Whilst, by now, you may be used to writing about why you want to do medicine, speaking about it aloud is completely different, and may require some practice if it does not come completely naturally to you.

Practise answering questions and arrange to have mock interviews with teachers, friends or family members so you can really build up your confidence in an interview setting. Even consider obtaining a list of practice interview questions and answering them out loud in front of a mirror!

You’ll want to find the perfect amount of practice to ensure that your answers don’t sound robotic and monotonous, but they also aren’t unstructured and completely improvised during the interview. Instead of falling into the trap of rote-learning answers to common interview questions, simply bullet point brief ideas of things you may mention if you were asked these questions.

During most university interviews, there is a high chance that you will be tested on your understanding of medical ethics.

One great way to prepare for this part of the interview is to regularly discuss medical case studies and ethical debates with your peers who are perhaps also applying to study medicine; consider creating a society where you have ethical discussions and debates once a week.

Having such discussions allows everyone to gain new ideas and perspectives, helping you reach a more balanced ethical argument in an interview scenario.

See our guide to answering questions on ethical scenarios>>

While the idea of interviews can be terrifying, early preparation gives you enough time to walk into that interview and perform to the best of your ability. Good luck with all your preparation – go and smash those interviews!

Words: Surina Mittal

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