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Medical School Interview – What Admissions Tutors Look For

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Discover the secrets from the other side of the interview panel!

Secrets from the Other Side of the Interview Panel

This blog contains advice from our trusted sources: doctors and admissions tutors. Over the years, we’ve asked them “What gets students into Medical School?”. Whilst there is no definitive answer or robotic technique that will surely get you that place, there is a way of showing your interviewers what they want to see (as long as its genuine!). So, read these 5 top tips, and learn how to impress those interviewers!

1. Think about what they want

First of all, you need to switch your mindset from thinking, “how can I prove I am the best candidate?” to “what are the admissions tutors looking for and how do I show them I meet their criteria?”.

So, you’ve already got the work experience. You’ve got your DofE Gold. You’ve played in your school orchestra since you were nine, and you’ve been volunteering at a homeless shelter for the past year. All this whilst you were getting top A Level grades. Now, we know that these are great accomplishments. However, we also know that once you’re in your Medical School interview, you might try to rattle on at length about your experiences/achievements in answer to the first question they pose you. Steady on there! It may surprise you to know that this is not the best approach.

Instead of babbling away without thinking, use your experiences and achievements to back up your answers for why you want to study Medicine. Tell them how you felt after such achievements or work experience, why it fascinated you, and why you’d like do continue on the same path.

Speak to doctors and medical students at all stages about their experiences before you go to your Medical School interview. Learn what it’s like from them, and then you’ll know how excited you feel about the opportunities you may get to take. The admissions tutors want to know that you have gone to great lengths to look into what your life will be like, both as a medical student and as a junior doctor.

2. Show them you know what’s in store, and you’re ready to take it on

The admissions tutors in any Medical School interview are aware that as an average A-Level student, you won’t have had a lot of exposure to medicine on a day to day basis (unless you are very unfortunate!). It’s not a subject you study in school already.

As Medicine is a vocational degree, Medicine admissions tutors want to be sure that it is something you want to do, both for the next 5 or 6 years and your working life. In your Medical School interview, they want to see that you have really prepared yourself for what might be coming. Make sure you know what to expect, and that you are ready to start learning.

3. Let them know you live and breathe Medicine

The worst thing for Medical School admissions tutors would be to offer someone a place who later drops out because they weren’t all that passionate about medicine. Or maybe they hadn’t fully researched what the career would entail and then later decided it wasn’t for them. This place could have been offered to someone else. Admissions tutors don’t want to make a mistake and spend up to ~£250,000 on training a doctor, when the student isn’t going to become one.

4. Make it easy for them during your medical school interview

Often the interviewers will have sat through dozens of Medical School interviews that day. You don’t want to make them work to get the meat out of your answers. Reduce the amount of effort the interviewer has to make to understand your answer by structuring it well. Try to signpost each new point you are about to make.

5. Search online for what medicine admissions tutors want!

This is easy! Universities often publish exactly they are looking for on their admissions websites. This can vary from medical school to medical school. However, broadly speaking, most are looking for similar attributes. Remember to use your experiences to explain why you have all of the attributes they want, and more!

Words: Beth on November 11th, 2015

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