Congratulations! You’ve been invited to a medical school interview. You have worked so hard to meet all the entry requirements. Now the next hurdle between you and that precious offer is this nerve-racking interview. That email popped into your inbox faster than you had expected. You are feeling butterflies in your stomach.
This article aims to give you last-minute tips for your important medical school interview from an up-to-date successful medical school applicant.
Firstly, I should point out different medical schools have different interview styles. Some conduct the traditional panel-style medical school interview and increasingly, many conduct multiple mini interviews (MMIs).
At this point, you should already know which type of interview you are preparing for. Whatever the type of interview you are about to face, these last-minute tips listed below will enhance your chances of getting that precious seat!
1) Be Honest
Medical school admissions committees want to get a sense of your character in that short time that they spend with you. As an applicant to medical school, you are being considered for a profession in which one’s integrity is of utmost importance. So be honest! I can’t emphasise this enough.
Your interviewer may nit-pick on something you wrote on your personal statement or your slip in grade one particular term just to see how you react. Use this moment as an opportunity to talk about what you learned from that experience. Turn it into something positive. Turn it into your advantage.
If your interviewer happens to be a neurologist and asks you which specialty of medicine you are interested in and you honestly don’t know, don’t feel compelled to reply ‘Neurology!’ – just be honest. Most medics do not know the answer to this until later on in medical school. Committing too early may even make yourself seem a little too myopic as you have not even stepped foot into medical school yet.
2) Be Humble: Use Other Peoples’ Praise
Be tactful in the way you describe yourself. You need to showcase your qualities but not sound arrogant.
When asked about your best qualities, a smart way to avoid sounding arrogant in your answer is to cite what others have said about you. Talk about that “outstanding communication skill” or that “excellent leadership quality” your supervising consultant at your last work experience placement commended you on.
3) Importance Of Body Language
Body language has been arguably more important than the content of your conversation and can turn the tide in your favour.
Look interested! Avoid being too stiff, but sit up straight. Lean forward slightly every so often, to show your interviewer that you’re listening. Show your palms, it signals honesty and engagement.
Eye contact is important throughout the medicine interview. If you are facing a panel, always include all the assessors in your answer delivery. Lastly, remember to smile!
4) Dress To Impress
First impressions stick. The first one you make is often the way you are dressed at your medicine interview. My advice is to dress in the way you would like to see your doctor dressed. You can never go wrong with dark, neutral colours.
Make sure everything is clean and neat. For males, get a haircut and shave before the interview. For females, I would encourage removing your nail polish because you are not allowed to have them when you are on your clinical rotations!
5) Review Your Personal Statement And Work Experiences The Night Before
By reviewing your personal statement and work-experiences they’ll be fresh in your mind and you’ll be able to answer any questions relating to them quickly. This will show your interviewer that you are confident, both in your abilities and in the interview itself.
If you hesitate on a question relating to your work experiences, it could signal that you weren’t truthful on your application and raise a red flag.
6) Prepare A List Of Questions
At the end of the interview, you will be asked whether you have any questions about the medical school or medicine in general. This is your opportunity to show interest in your course, it’ll do you no harm to prepare a list of questions for your interviewers.
You can ask them literally anything, from the curriculum itself, work-life balance, research, or even the local area. Not asking any questions makes you look disinterested.
7) Thank Your Interviewer
It’s surprising how many applicants fail to thank their interviewer as they were too nervous. It’s useful to remind the interviewer that you are polite and able to interact well with your future patients.
8) Plan Well And Leave Extra Time
Have your clothes ready for your big day, well before bed the night before. Plan out your route to the location in advance and leave yourself a minimum of 30 extra minutes, regardless of your mode of transport. Nothing is worse than stressing about being late for your interview, except for actually being late.
9) Make A Good Night’s Sleep Your Top Priority The Night Before
You have probably been advised to read Tomorrow’s Doctors, published by the General Medical Council (GMC). At this point, it is probably too late to cram in such a wordy document. You are better off getting adequate rest to maximise your performance for your big day!
You’ll feel more relaxed if you’re well-rested and your answers will come to you more easily, allowing you to articulate with more confidence. Remember we said before that first impression sticks? Your fresh appearance and demeanour will make a better impression.
Of course, it can be hard to sleep the night before an interview, so give yourself time to wind down before bed. Remember to set your alarm!
You are good to go! Best of luck!
Words by Keng Siang Lee
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