“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since I experienced A&E as a 5-year-old” or words along those lines are almost certain to be mentioned by the clear majority of medical student hopefuls during their interview, amongst many other well-known phrases, but what can you do to stand out from the rest? Here I have set out the 5 Top Tips that I believe are key in the ability to excel at a Panel Interview.
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It might seem obvious and, no doubt, hard enough to do in one of the biggest moments of your life, but a smile can show to the interviewers that you’re well prepared or (maybe?) even looking forward to speaking to the panel about your passion to pursue medicine.
Be aware of the likely structure of the panel interview
The medical school may send lots, little, or absolutely no information to you regarding your interview. Regardless of the volume of information given, you should bear in mind the structure of a typical panel interview, which is generally set out with questions (in no particular order) on:
Desire to be a doctor (“Why medicine?”, “Why this university?”, “Tell me about your work experience and which aspects you found most interesting?”)
Skills (“Give an example of a time when you used your leadership/communication skills effectively”, “Tell me about what you gained from acting as captain of your netball team”)
Ethics (“What do you think of [x] article in the news recently”, “If you had £1000.00 to spend on 1 kidney transplant, would you give it to a 30-year-old lawyer with a history of chronic drug use or a 64-year-old retired gentleman with no past health problems?)
Ensure that you address everybody on the panel in some way
Some panel interviews will have their own “Good Cop vs Bad Cop” panel interviewers, who will do their best to intimidate you. The key word here is positivity – don’t be drawn to the interviewer whose seems to warm to you the most; it’s key to distribute your concentration across the panel to give an equally positive impression.
Arm yourself with facts
Medical schools will expect you, as a minimum, to know the basic “pulling factors” that differentiates them from other schools. If, however, you can pull together some of the lesser known details, such as specific research the university carries out, that will go far further than the basics. Having this depth of knowledge proves your extensive research into your medical choices, and will only add to the increasing number of tick boxes you will have next to your name.
One of the major pitfalls I have seen in medical school hopefuls is their incredible ability to memorise vastly complicated, “model” responses to questions pitched by the interviewer. However, the interviewer can see straight through this! Whilst remembering key points of the questions such as “Why [x] medical school?” is essential, a genuine tone and giving the impression that you have thought about the question rather than memorised it will stand you in much better stead.