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Medical Interview Questions – What To Avoid

Got your interview soon? From discussing salary to being overly negative about the NHS, discover the most common interview mistakes – and how to avoid them in this blog. 

1. Salary

It goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway: talking about the salary that a career in medicine offers is not a good way to convince the interviewer to offer you a place! Even if it is true that money is your main motivator, there are lots of other careers which are equally, if not better, paid. So if this really is one of your top reasons, perhaps use a bit of imagination and look beyond a career in medicine!

In general, it’s wise to always stick to three key points in your answers to medicine interview questions. This will help you keep your answers well structured, and will also help keep the interviewer’s attention. Whilst you need to earn a living, salary should not be in your top three reasons.

2. Being overly positive

Medicine is a fantastic career, but saying you want to study medicine because you want to heal the sick and cure cancer may give off the wrong impression and suggest that you’re viewing the profession with rose-tinted glasses. Admissions tutors might feel that you don’t have a realistic expectation of what the majority of doctors do on a daily basis. In order to show them that you are aware of all the challenges that come, you need to have serious answers to their medical interview questions.

When thinking about the challenges all doctors face, use your work experience (or connections with doctors and medical students) to really assess what the difficult aspects are. For instance, whilst you may already appreciate some of the challenges – for example having to break the news to a patient that they have a terminal illness – you need to be able to fully reflect on how and why you personally might find this difficult.

3. Being overly negative about the NHS, cuts in salary and long hours

It’s impressive if you have managed to speak to junior doctors about what can make the job difficult. Chances are, in the current political climate, they may refer to the long hours they work. You may be tempted to talk about this if you are asked questions like, “what do you think are the challenging or negative aspects of being a doctor?”. However, it’s all about striking the right balance between passion and realism: show that you understand the challenges involved in the profession, like working long hours, but make sure above all that you communicate your passion for medicine.

4.Not being able to articulate why you want to study medicine

Even if you know that you really, really want to study medicine, you might find this difficult to get across when anyone asks you. A good start is to think why you want to do it. This will usually help the words to flow! It doesn’t matter if there wasn’t one overriding factor, or one key moment which led to your decision. Reflect, reflect, reflect. As Confucius said, “by three methods we may learn wisdom, first by reflection, which is noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is bitterest”.

Good luck!

Words: Beth (November 20th, 2015)

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