Receiving a medical school interview invitation is an exciting but nerve-wracking prospect. An interview gives you the opportunity to sell yourself and prove that you don’t just look good on paper; you really do have what it takes to be a future doctor. However, this opportunity comes with a lot of pressure – you have one chance to perform to the best of your ability, and this can become even more difficult when you mix in the nerves that accompany any interview.
With early preparation, you have a better chance of reducing your nerves and maximising your opportunity to sell yourself to the medical school. In this blog, I will give you some top tips for preparing early for your medical school interviews.
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You spent so long drafting and perfecting your personal statement – but it’s not yet time to forget about it! Some medical schools use it as the basis for their interview questions, because they know that you have a limited number of characters in the statement, and want to hear more about the various wonderful things you have described. They also want to make sure that you really understand what you have written, and did not just write things for the sake of seeming impressive!
Go through your personal statement with a fine-tooth comb, highlighting anything the interviewers could potentially ask you about. This includes work experience, voluntary work, positions of responsibility, academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, extra reading and anything else you have mentioned.
Different medical schools have varying styles of interview – for example, some use a traditional one-on-one interview while others use Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). You need to know which type of interview you are preparing for – and you may need to prepare for more than one type.
For example, in an MMI, you must be able to quickly build a rapport with the interviewer and answer questions concisely and efficiently. The stations usually test you in a very specific way – for example, finding out about your work experience, or asking you to discuss an ethical dilemma. Some students do not like the fast-paced nature of the MMI. However, on the positive side, if you feel that you have underperformed in a station, you do not need to panic, as you will be able to compensate in the other stations. You can read more about these interviews on our MMI page.
Contrastingly, you have more time in a traditional interview, and they tend to be more fluid, as they are led by what the interviewer found interesting in your application. The downside to this is that the impression you make in this interview will be the final decider of your fate – there will be no other opportunities to redeem yourself. However, some prefer this type of interview as it gives them time to settle down and get comfortable, without having to constantly move onto a new station and meet new interviewers. you can find out more about these on our Traditional Medicine Interviews page.
Wondering which university uses which kind of interview? Find out on our Comparison Tool!
Read through some of our sample questions and answer guides as this will give you a better idea of what to expect. Try to formulate your own answers, adapting what you read and personalising it to suit your own experiences and opinions. You can practice answering these questions in the mirror, or with any friends or family members who are willing to listen! Try to get other people’s feedback on the impression you give when answering questions, including any mannerisms that you may not be aware of. It can also be helpful to discuss questions with fellow medical school applicants and share ideas, as this can give you new perspectives on certain topics.
Don’t forget that interview questions commonly revolve around topical issues in medical news – you can read about some NHS Hot Topics here as well as checking out our weekly news summary blogs to help to keep you up to date.
Don’t worry if you feel nervous about interviews; this is completely normal! Interviews can seem very daunting, but early preparation will help you keep calm and perform to the best of your ability.
Words: Mariam Al-Attar
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