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27th October 2016
During your Medicine interview, it’s likely that you’ll be asked some personal insight questions. That’s because Medical Schools want to understand how self-aware you are and find out how you deal with pressure. This blog looks at three reasons why having personal insight is important, and three ways that can help you demonstrate this.

Why is Personal Insight Important?

1. Doctors use this skill every day

During your time at Medical School, and once you become a Doctor, you’ll be asked to keep a portfolio and to reflect on your experiences. You will need to think back on your interactions with patients and think about what went well and where you could have improved. To be able to do this well requires the ability to look at the situation critically and objectively. You also need to be able to look at yourself, critically and objectively. Think ‘what can I do better? How can I be better?’.

By showing that you are able to engage in this type of self-reflection, you are showing the interviewers in your medical school interview that you are committed to continual professional development.

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2. It helps you see what you’re doing well

Personal insight means that you can identify both your strengths and weaknesses. It gives you the chance to show that you are willing to take action to work on your self-perceived weaknesses. Remember, however, that it’s also important to recognise your strengths, and to keep doing what you are doing well.

3. It stops you risking patient safety by over-stretching

Knowing which areas you find more than difficult than others will enable you to ask for help when you need it. One of the key duties of a Doctor is to recognise the limits of your competence and only act within that competence.

Tips For Demonstrating Personal Insight

1. Keep a portfolio and reflect on your experiences 

Keep a record of all your experiences, including your work experience, any extracurricular activities and any situations in which you were part of a team or led a team. Reflect on your role and on what you felt comfortable doing in these types of scenarios.

This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, do you feel comfortable leading a team? Do you feel comfortable speaking in large groups? What kinds of situations do you find stressful or pressurised? How do you deal with that stress? Do you think you have good coping mechanisms? How have you dealt with stressful situations in the past? These are just some of the questions you can utilise to gain further personal insight.

2. Ask your teachers, friends and family for feedback

Ask people who know you well what they consider to be your strengths and weaknesses and ask them to be as honest as possible.

Getting feedback on your weaker areas can potentially be uncomfortable for you to hear. However, remember you will be receiving feedback from all your colleagues in the multidisciplinary team throughout your career during the process of re-validation.

3. What are you doing to work on your weaker areas?

Once you have identified some of your weaker areas, think about ways in which you can take action to help improve them. For example, if you feel you aren’t as good at public speaking as you might perhaps like, what can you do about this? Can you seek out more opportunities to speak in public and gain confidence?   

Test Your Knowledge

Take our quiz and see if you’re prepared for personal insight questions.

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