Although you may have a lot of strengths and skills, make sure the examples you give at your interview are relevant to a career in Medicine.
Think about the qualities you observed in Doctors during your work experience, such as leadership, teamwork and communication skills, and consider how you have demonstrated these qualities in the past. For example, if you were the captain of a sports team or the team leader of a school project, talk about this experience and cover what you did, what you learned and how it developed your skills.
Linking your strengths to Medicine will help to add structure to your answers. It will also allow you to demonstrate that you have some of the attributes that are needed to be a good Doctor.
In your Medical School interview, you might be asked to tell the interviewers about your weaknesses. Many candidates say their biggest weakness is being a perfectionist, because they think this is what the interviewers want to hear – however, this answer is overused and isn’t really what they’re looking for.
Choose a more genuine weakness (of course making sure it isn’t so extreme that it portrays you as a bad candidate) and talk about the actions you’ve taken to address or overcome this weakness. This will show the interviewers that you are determined and keen to develop your skills.
This is a common interview question, so I would recommend preparing an answer in advance. Taking time to reflect on your weaknesses will also give you a better understanding of yourself and how you learn, which should prove useful.
It’s important to be honest during your interview, but you also need to ensure you don’t end up looking like an unsuitable candidate for Medicine. For example, if you say that you struggle to work as part of a team because you’re more suited to being a leader, the interviewers might doubt your suitability because being a good Doctor involves a lot of teamwork.
This is why it’s important to think about your weaknesses before the interview, so you are prepared with a relevant answer. A good way of ruling out bad examples is to think about the most vital qualities that a Doctor needs (for example, teamwork and empathy) and make sure you don’t name any of these as your biggest weakness.
A medical career comes with a lot of challenges. Interviewers will want to see that you understand this – so don’t try to claim you’re so suited to Medicine that studying/practising it will be easy for you.
You can demonstrate that you’re aware of challenges such as working long hours, having to break bad news to patients, and dealing with difficult (and potentially upsetting) situations on a daily basis. Acknowledge that being a Doctor is hard, otherwise it may seem like you have an unrealistic view of the career.
Also, you might be asked to talk about how you deal with stress, because being a Doctor can involve a lot of it. Show the interviewers that you already have some coping mechanisms to deal with the stress you may face as a Doctor – and don’t say that you’ll be fine because stress doesn’t really affect you. After all, nobody’s perfect!
Your interview is all about showcasing why you’re a good candidate for Medicine – but you need to find a good balance in your answers so that you come across as confident but not arrogant.
For example, if you are asked “Why should we accept you into this Medical School?”, talk about your own strengths and qualities without being overly humble and downplaying your achievements. However, don’t be arrogant or boastful by comparing yourself to other people or claiming that you will be top of the class.
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