You’ve done all the hard work and finally received an interview for medical school. Interviews can be very daunting, but by preparing well and remembering a few important pieces of advice, you can succeed!
Here, one student who has experience on both sides of the medical school panel gives her top tips on how to impress your interviewers.
1. Make a good first impression
First impressions count, and medical school interviews are no exception. When you first meet your interviewer(s), try to come across as confident, with good eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile!
Additionally, entering the interview in a positive mindset and making a good first impression will make you feel more at ease throughout the rest of the interview, allowing you to let your personality shine through and not let the nerves get in the way.
2. Approach questions logically with a clear structure
When you get asked a question you weren’t expecting, or your mind has gone blank, it is important to have a structure to fall back on that will help you to answer questions as coherently and possible and convey everything you want to say.
If the question is regarding a skill or personality trait (e.g. teamwork, leadership), it can be helpful to start with a situation you have been in (e.g. when volunteering for a charity) and explain what you did.
Try to pick an experience that best matches the skill they have asked for. It can also be helpful so talk about how your developed or improved this skill, as well as discussing any challenges or difficulties you had, especially if you were able to overcome them!
By using examples, you are showing the interviewer that you have real experience, as well as impressing them with any voluntary or extracurricular activities that you took part in.
If the question is regarding an opinion on a medical topic, it is important to start by discussing the various viewpoints. By creating a balanced argument, you are showing you have considered the issue fully, not falling down heavily on either side and ignoring other possible standpoints.
If the interviewer is looking for you to express your opinion as well, you can then state how your viewpoint fits in with the arguments you have already talked about. By using this structure, you are showing you can think critically about an issue, something that will definitely impress your interviewer!
3. Reflect on your experiences
Whilst you may think that interviewers only want to hear what you’re good at and what you enjoy, reflecting on any challenges or negative experiences can really help to differentiate you from your peers.
Throughout a medical career, medical students and doctors will face many challenges and may experience some negative situations. Reflection a key process required in both medical school and whilst working as a doctor, so showing you’re able to do it will come across really well!
Reflect on challenges, by stating the obstacle you were faced with, how it made you feel, and how you overcame it, can show your resilience, a really important trait for future doctors to have.
When discussing negative experiences, talking about how they made your feel and if they changed your point of view on certain situations can show your strength of character.
Always try to be genuine with your reflections, they will come across much better. Preparing in advance will be really helpful for this!
4. Research the medical school in advance
At your interview, it is not uncommon to be asked about why you have applied to that specific medical school. Interviewers will love to hear that you have researched the medical school curriculum and discussing why you think the style of teaching suits you will make the interviewer more convinced that you will fit in and thrive.
For example, if your chosen medical school uses PBL, you can talk about how this fits your style of learning, such as how interaction-based discussions improve your understanding and memory of a topic.
You may also be asked about how you are going to get involved at the university, as it is so important for medical students to maintain a good work-life balance by having interests outside of medicine.
You can easily look on the student union website and find a selection of societies, volunteering opportunities and sports clubs that you can mention, showing that you have gone to the effort to research this, but also expressing your personality by showing your interests.
5. Be yourself!
My final tip is one of the most important! Your interviewers are talking to you, not your personal statement. Rather than just reciting a list of things you have done, bring some personality to the conversation.
Reflecting on experiences and expressing opinions on a topic are an excellent way to do this! As hard as it is, coming across as confident and friendly will go such a long way in convincing your interviewer that you will fit in at their medical school.
Finally, good luck!
Words: Gemma White
Want more tips on how to impress your interviewers? Book a space on our Interview Course!