These tips come from a UCL Med Student, who shares what they wish they were told before they sat their interviews.
Words by Emily Coates
I’ve seen lots of people stress out about what they should wear to their interviews – both online and in-person – and I think that as long as it’s professional you don’t need to worry.
A lot of the other women at my interviews were wearing skirts with blouses or shirts and if you’re comfy in that then go for it! I chose to wear a plain black skirt with a flowery top because I was much more comfortable in that.
There’s no point in wearing an outfit that you’re going to feel uncomfortable in just because you think you have to look a certain way – your interviewers care a lot more about your skills and experiences than how you’re dressed on the day!
It’s important to remember that the Med School wouldn’t have invited you if they didn’t think you could do it. After all, why would they waste their time interviewing people who wouldn’t be suitable?
This is something that you should keep in the back of your mind because starting with a positive attitude can help you to set the right tone straight away.
All you need to do now is show them that they’re absolutely correct and that you are the perfect person for their university.
Medical Schools will all have a list of traits that they want to see in their students (some even publish them on their websites), so in an interview, they will be looking to see if you fit these characteristics. We’ve included details of this for every Med School in our interview guide.
They may ask you about the types of qualities you think a Doctor needs and then ask about times in your life when you’ve shown these qualities yourself.
Instead of just saying something like “I think that I was successful at working in a team when I helped to organise a bake sale within my school,” try saying “During my time on the school council, I helped to organise a bake sale at school”.
You could even say, “As part of my role on the team, I coordinated weekly meetings with the other members of the council which allowed us to keep track of our progress and made sure that we kept to our deadlines.” This offers a greater insight into your role specifically and allows them to see how you demonstrated the traits that they are looking for.
Many Med Schools will have a certain structure to their interviews in order to keep them relatively standardised. They may even tell you what they will focus on in the interview.
It’s helpful to think about this as part of your interview prep – but don’t be tempted to memorise answers. Instead, look at practice interview questions so you can familiarise yourself with them – and focus on learning strategies to answer questions over whole answers.
In a stressful scenario, such as an interview, many students feel as if they need to answer the question as soon as it has been asked. This really isn’t the case and the interviewers expect that you might need a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts.
It’s much better to take a few seconds to compose yourself and answer the question in a thoughtful way than it is to answer a load of nonsense straight away – so don’t be afraid to take your time.
If you catch yourself going off on a tangent then pause for a moment and organise your thoughts before continuing. Don’t waste your time by talking about something irrelevant.
Never, ever, reply with “I don’t know”. If you don’t know the answer for certain, start by talking through the question and considering different viewpoints. This is a million times better than giving up before you’ve even given it a go!
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