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29th October 2020
Most Medical School interviews are moving online this year, because of COVID-19 restrictions. It’s the first time that UK candidates will face online interviews, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about what to expect. We share our seven best tips to help you prepare for remote interviews.

Dress To Impress

Although the interview may be happening remotely, it’s still a formal process. You should dress for the interview as you would as though the interview was happening face to face.

Smart casual is the best way to go, which means shirts and blouses are good choices. You also need to be comfortable, because the last thing you want to do is be constantly readjusting or fiddling with your top during the interview.

Take inspiration from what you would imagine yourself wearing for a work experience placement. And if you’re unsure, it’s better to be too smart than too casual – you want to create a good first impression.

Mind Your Body Language

Although positive body language is key to remember for any type of interview, it is particularly important for online interviews.

You should make sure there’s a suitable distance between you and your webcam. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your chest and shoulders are visible, with a little space between the screen and your head.

Make sure your webcam is aligned so that it’s eye-level. It may be tempting to look at the interviewers on the screen, but if you look straight into your webcam then the interviews will feel like you’re making eye contact with them.

Think About Your Speech

Sometimes there can be lag during video calls, so your speech needs to be adapted in anticipation of this.

Remember to nod and smile as interviewers are talking, as this will demonstrate positive interest and shows you are listening. Practice speaking a little slower than you would with an in-person conversation, in order to overcome any connection glitches. And be mindful of talking too soon and interrupting the interviewer – let them finish and pause for a second before you begin talking.

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Do You Have The Right Equipment?

There are several points to consider when you set up for your interview. Firstly, do you have a suitable device? Whether it’s a laptop, phone or tablet, ensure it has a working camera and microphone. If you don’t have one, could you ask friends, family, or your school to borrow a device?

Is your wifi strong enough to handle the bandwidth of the call? It’s worth testing the strength in different areas of your home to make sure you’ll get a strong enough signal for video calls.

How noisy is your environment? Do you need headphones with a built-in microphone so that you can hear properly, and the interviewers can hear you clearly? The headphones you get with your mobile phone are good enough – just make sure you can plug them in, or buy an adapter if you need to.

Your interview invite should outline what software will be used for the interview. Make sure you have the relevant software installed (if this is required) well in advance, and that you have taken some time to familiarise yourself with it.

Prepare Your Environment

It’s important that your interview set up is quiet and in a space that you will not be disturbed in. Background noise could make it difficult for you to hear the interviewer or vice versa. It may be the case that you talk to your parents, family or housemates about giving you some space or letting them know when your interview so they can be conscious of being quieter.

Understandably this may not be possible for everyone, so perhaps arrangements can be made with your school or college to allow you to use a room for the duration of your interview.

Other key things to consider for the optimal set up include the background and lighting. Ideally, you should be facing a window rather than have your back towards it – so that natural lighting makes it easy for the interviewer to see you. If there are no windows in your room, try facing a lamp instead. Try to avoid any glare or shadows, if you can.

Remember the non-technology items you might need on the day too. For example, does the Med School require you submit a digital copy of your ID prior to the interview? Or will you need to show proof of identity (e.g. a passport or school ID) right before the interview commences?

You’ll be talking a lot, so have a glass of water nearby too!

Practice

Ask your friends or family to help you practice via video call. This will help you figure out how you will answer interview questions, and work out how to effectively communicate through a video call. You can also test your WiFi and connection too.

It’s also a good idea to have a test call on the software the Medical School is using if that’s possible.

You can also record yourself giving answers to questions. This lets you see how you come across on video chat, and will help you spot what areas need improvement. But don’t be tempted to record your actual interview – this is considered unprofessional and could risk your place at Med School.

Don’t Prepare Notes

It might be tempting to prepare notes you can glance down at during your interview, but this is strongly discouraged. That’s because if you’re looking at your notes, you’re not engaging with the interviewer – and that creates a bad impression.

The interview process is not about finding out how well you can recite rehearsed answers. Focus on answering the questions without pre-prepared answers, and engaging with the interviewer as much as possible.

You should also avoid taking notes during the interview. This is another sign that you’re more interested in something other than the interview.

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