My biggest piece of advice is to practise answering questions verbally. Use a bank of common interview questions to work through different topics and see the variety of questions that could come up.
Whether it’s by yourself, or with a family member/friend asking you practice questions, getting used to verbalising your thoughts will help you to feel more confident at your interview and be comfortable fully explaining your answers.
I would also recommend recording yourself answering questions. If you record a video, this will allow you to assess your body language and ensure you present yourself confidently during the interview.
A lot of interview questions begin with: “Tell me about a time when you…”. I suggest that you prepare for this by writing down a list of your relevant past experiences. These could include work experience, volunteering, caring responsibilities, books you’ve read, sports clubs and other extracurricular activities you’ve participated in, etc.
Think about what qualities these experiences have helped you to develop, such as leadership, teamwork, resilience or creativity. Aim to list multiple qualities next to every experience.
This way you will have plenty of scenarios to discuss for lots of different questions, which will ensure you don’t end up repeating yourself. You will also be able to highlight a wide variety of reasons why you’re a good candidate.
During an interview, it can be easy to panic and not fully explain yourself. Using the STARR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection) can help to prevent this.
For example, the technique could be used to describe a time you showed leadership whilst captaining a football match.
Situation: tasked with captaining a football match.
Task: to motivate the team and ensure everyone knows the game strategy.
Action: arranged a team meeting before the game to motivate the team and discuss strategy.
Result: the team was motivated and implemented the game plan, resulting in a win.
Reflection: you developed leadership skills, and it showed you the importance of having a leader who communicates clearly and the difference that good leadership can have on team performance.
Something that interviewers look for in applicants is an awareness of the medical profession. You can show them this by using the STARR technique to structure your answers, explain why an experience of yours is relevant to Medicine, and prove that you have the qualities to be a good Doctor.
Although it may sound obvious, one of my most important tips is to research the Med School that you are interviewing at.
Make sure you know how the university teaches Medicine. For example, is anatomy taught via dissection or prosection? Is it an integrated course with early patient contact or is it a more science-based traditional course? Does the Med School use PBL/CBL teaching methods or is it more lecture/seminar-based? At which local hospitals are you likely to do placements?
During my interviews, I was asked to explain and justify which features of the course I was attracted to, and why I thought they suited my learning style. Doing this research beforehand will help you to demonstrate your interest and distinguish yourself from other candidates.
Researching the interview format is another vital prep tip. For example, will it be an MMI or a panel interview? How long will the interview last? Will it be in person or will it be an online interview? Are there different stages to it, e.g. a role play or a data/calculation stage?
If you’re doing an MMI, timing yourself when you practise answering questions is essential. Comparatively, if you’re doing a panel interview, make sure you’re comfortable discussing topics in depth and at length. Understanding the details of your interview will reduce unnecessary stress and ensure you arrive punctually and prepared.
Another important piece of advice is to re-familiarise yourself with your personal statement.
Whilst many med schools won’t use your personal statement at interview, some will ask you specific questions regarding it. Looking back over it beforehand will ensure you are prepared for this.
Even if the interviewers don’t use your personal statement, revisiting it will remind you of your experiences and qualities which you can discuss at other points in your interview.
One of the most common interview topics is medical ethics. Although an in-depth understanding of legislation is not required, learning about the 4 pillars and some NHS hot topics will be incredibly helpful. It’s worthwhile to research topics such as abortion, euthanasia and organ donation, and examine the different attitudes and ethical issues associated with them.
I would similarly recommend looking up one or two ethical topics that have been in the news recently, because you might want to discuss them at your interview to show your wider interest in Medicine.
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