Research shows that a first impression is formed within the first 1 tenth of a second of meeting someone. That shows just how vitally important it is to walk into your interview with a nice big smile and with a certain degree of confidence and enthusiasm.
To give that impression you should then go on to shake the hand of the interviewer/s and introduce yourself. A good way to do that would be using the line “Hello, my name is…”. This phrase is great for introductions as it follows on from the huge hospital campaign led by a doctor whilst she was being treated for her terminal cancer. You can read more about the campaign here.
2. Sounding too rehearsed
This is a huge problem. You might be worried that you’ll run out of things to say, so you may be tempted to learn a paragraph or two. Don’t. Your interviewers will have carried out enough interviews to be able to differentiate a memorised answer to one that you’ve carefully considered and thought of on the spot.
The question you memorised the answer to will be very unlikely to appear in your interview anyway, so you’ll probably end up going off track and waffling on about something completely irrelevant to what was asked…and that’s not going to be impressive at all.
The way to overcome this potential problem is by making sure your preparation is filled with practise as opposed to rote learning. In your interview, be willing to take a moment to think and then answer before blindly diving in to just get the question answered for the sake of it.
3. Not being realistic about Medicine
In an interview there’s a tendency to face towards the light and allow all the negatives to be hidden away in the shadows. Positivity and enthusiasm are definitely important in an interview, but there is a line. You don’t want to be that person that leaves the interviewer thinking that you’re in a false illusion or living in a fantasy world.
When you’re talking about why you chose to pursue a medical pathway, keep it real…mention that there are some potential negatives. Show the interviewer that you have thought about this career properly and you know all about the hurdles you might face – and of course don’t forget to mention how you’re planning on overcoming them.
The last thing you want is to portray is that you have a sugar-coated idealistic view of Medicine and to be called out on that in your interview. At the end of the day you want to convince the interviewer that you are suited to study medicine and you can only do that if you are able to demonstrate that you truly understand what that will entail. Have a read of this true insight into the medical profession gained by doctors of different specialities discussing their daily challengers.
Keep reminding yourself that Medicine has two parts: the science side and the people side. Your interview isn’t all about getting the answer right, but it’s also about showing that you have the “soft skills” needed to carry you through medical school and a subsequent medical career.
Make sure that you do show you have the qualities of a doctor: leadership skills, team working, empathy, compassion. If you have an MMI interview, this may be easier for you to do as the stations are often centred around different themes, but if you don’t have an MMI you’ve still got no excuse for not showing that you can excel on the “people side” of medicine. Things such as a compassionate, understanding and empathetic nature are such that they can’t just be said verbally – instead they must be demonstrated.
Some medical schools explicitly state that your personal statement will be used in the interview, and you can almost guarantee that you’ll be asked about your work experience at some stage. Your personal statement is the only information the university currently has about you, so it would be an ideal starting point to branch off from there to find out more about you.
It would be the biggest shame if you were to trip up on the aspect of the interview that you should find the easiest, after all there can be no surprises here, you just need to talk about yourself.
Words: Masumah Jannah
Masumah is a 1st year medical student at the University of Manchester. She runs a blog in which she shares her journey through medical school and also gives advice to students applying for Medicine.