These types of questions on the medical school you’re applying to are very common – and often the ones that trip students up! This blog will cover the four key elements you need to research before your interview (and don’t be fooled into thinking these are reserved for traditional interviews – they can feature in MMIs too).
Example question: ‘What do you know about Cardiff?’
Make sure you research the city itself before your interview. What are the main attractions of the city? Have you visited before? What do you like about it? Maybe you like the idea of being in a busy city as well as near the sea and countryside, or maybe you visited the National Museum of Wales on a trip. Obviously you don’t need to reel off a list of impressive historical dates or the exact population number, but you do need to show that you’ve put some thought into what the city might be like to live in, and why it appeals to you. However: one key thing to remember is that if you’re asked a question like ‘Why Cardiff?’, the first thing you talk about should be the course, not that you love the city’s nightlife!
Know the medical school and the course
Example question: ‘What do you know about Glasgow’s Medicine course?’
This is an obvious one – so don’t let it catch you out! Is the course traditional or integrated? Do they use Problem-Based Learning? Do they offer dissection as part of anatomy teaching? Once you have explained what you know about the Medicine course, it’s a good idea to talk about what appeals to you about it, what its advantages are and why it will suit your learning style. This will show your interviewer that you’ve really put some thought into it!
A key part of answering these questions is to know what the medical school offers – and you can check this in detail on their website. For example, at Glasgow, the course is an integrated one with PBL. You might then explain how you think you would prefer to learn this way as you’ll get early contact with patients while learning, and that PBL gives you the chance to work in a team with your peers. Glasgow also has a ‘spiral curriculum’, which means topics are revisited at different stages with increasing depth and clinical focus, so you may want to mention why this appeals to you. The key to these questions is to do your research, and think specifically about why the course suits your learning style.
Example question: ‘What do you know about the health of the local area?’
For this kind of question, it’s essential you do your research beforehand. Research the local area online and make a note of any key health issues that arise. Is there a health condition common to the area? What is the area’s demographic?
At an interview for Barts and The London in Whitechapel, for example, you could mention that there is a high prevalence of tuberculosis in East London. You could then consider a number of factors – such as the number of fast food places in the local area, or if the local hospital recently ran a public health campaign. This will show that you’ve thought carefully about the kinds of issues you may be faced with as a Medicine student there. While you’re researching the local area, it’s also a good idea to research any hospitals there that your medical school is associated with, as this is where you’ll be working with patients.
Know the Student Union
Example question: ‘Are there any extracurricular activities at Sheffield that appeal to you?’
This is essential in showing that you’re a well-rounded candidate! Before your interview, look at the Student Union website and see if there are any societies or clubs that appeal to you. Do you fancy trying a new sport? Do you already know a bit of Spanish but would like to continue this at university?
Noting down a few societies you’re interested in, and looking them up on their Facebook page or website (for example, how often do they meet? Do they regularly run film screenings or are there rehearsals every Thursday?) will only take a few minutes and is crucial in answering a question like this.
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