The reason why you’re so likely to get asked about teamwork in Medical School interviews is that Medicine is a team sport.
As a Doctor, you will work with many different people in the ‘multi-disciplinary team’ (MDT), including Nurses and Allied Health professionals. It’s important to recognise this and address it in your interview.
Some candidates may come to interview with six weeks of work experience at six different hospitals – while others may have two weeks of work experience with their local GP. This difference doesn’t really matter, because quality is more important than quantity.
The most important thing about your work experience is what you learned from it and how well you can reflect on your experiences of teamwork.
One of the best ways to prove you have good teamwork skills is to show, rather than tell. So make sure you model the very best teamwork behaviour during your interview, whether it’s an MMI or a panel interview.
For example, it’s good to speak up and get your point across, but make sure you are allowing other people to get theirs across too. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying and think you have a better idea, wait until they have finished speaking. Then acknowledge their idea and put forward your own, always remaining polite and courteous.
When you talk about your teamwork skills, you will need to share examples. Can you think of a time when you worked well within a team – and did that have a positive outcome? Perhaps you observed great teamwork during your work experience, and can talk about the impact of that?
The best examples will have a positive outcome that is verifiable (e.g. your team winning a competition) and where you made a positive contribution to the team. It’s useful to get feedback from someone outside the team about how well you all worked together so that you can also cite this in your answer.
Leadership skills are also important in Medicine, but remember that you’re going to spend many years of your career as a member of a team and not the leader. Being able to work in a team and carry out assigned tasks efficiently is a key skill to develop and something you should definitely talk about at interview.
If you have a team task to complete, one way you can show leadership constructively is to include someone who might be feeling left out or need some more encouragement to speak. For example, if someone hasn’t said anything, ask them if they think the group is going in the right direction. They may have a great idea that they haven’t been able to voice yet, or they may be the only person to have realised that the group is about to run into difficulty with the task.
Review example teamwork questions and practise answering them before your interview.
This will help you get to know the sort of questions you might be asked and practise articulating your teamwork experiences.
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