For me, the medical school interviews were the most daunting part of the whole process! Each interview is slightly different depending on which medical school it is at, so preparation is essential. Here, I’ll share some of my experience of medical school interviews and my top tips for acing yours!
Know the answers to the ‘obvious’ questions
There are some questions you just know are super likely to come up. For example:
- Why do you want to do medicine?
- What are the qualities of a good doctor?
- Why do you want to study at this medical school?
- Give an example of when you demonstrated quality x
- What did you learn from work experience/volunteering?
These are just a few. Practice these so that you have a good, solid answer, but not too much that it sounds like you are reading a script. Try not to set yourself up for any unwanted questions. If you talk about a book you’ve read, be prepared for the possibility that one of your interviewers may have read it and could press you for details. If you talk about something you’ve done, make sure you’ve reflected on it and can talk about the experience thoughtfully.
Prepare anything the medical school have asked you to look at. This may seem obvious, but if you have been given an article to read, read it and research around it. Make sure you can talk about it as this will definitely form part of the interview. Some universities are known for always having certain things come up. For example, one medical school asks about the essay you wrote in the BMAT. Have a quick google to give yourself a head start when it comes to interview content!
Learn about the medical school you are interviewing at
Not reading up about the structure of the curriculum, the ‘best bits’ about the medical school, or having no clue about the societies they run is like turning up for a job interview and having no idea what company you are at.
Take the time to learn about the structure of the curriculum; is it integrated or traditional – when do clinical aspects begin. If the medical school does PBL, know how it works. If dissection is part of the curriculum, enthuse about that. There may be something the medical school is particularly proud of or that students really love, for example, being in a particularly diverse area, offering clinical experience from the first term, or offering dissection. Try to find out this information so that you can show enthusiasm for the medical school you are aspiring to go to!
There may be a current medical student on the panel who might ask you what you can bring to the student body. This is a great time to talk about your hobbies and how you can contribute to the student union or clubs and societies. Finding what is on offer is usually not too tricky as most student union pages will have a section for the societies and a little bit of info about them. If you know anyone at the medical school they will be able to give you an invaluable first-hand insight into what it is like to be there.
Demonstrate your qualities
This can be quite difficult to do in a 20-minute panel interview and perhaps even harder in an MMI! A good way to practise demonstrating your qualities is to make a list of them followed by an example of when you have shown this. Here are some examples (disclaimer – not my own personal ones!):
- Empathy: Talking to an elderly lady in the care home you volunteer at, who is distressed that she is forgetting things.
- Teamwork: A school project or team sport situation where you were a good team player. For something like this, just saying you were part of a team is not a strong answer. Give details that show that you were a good team player.
- Communication: Effectively communicating the concerns of fellow students at a school council meeting so that the other members understood.
Try to get these qualities across when discussing your experiences/things you’ve done. Some other qualities can be harder to show. Enthusiasm and passion should shine through when you are talking about medicine and being a doctor.
Mini tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit when you don’t know something. This can show honesty and willingness to ask for help which is essential for when you are a junior doctor working in a team! It is a fine line though, you do have to give a question a good go!
Practice really does help
Whether it is conquering your nerves or nailing how to articulate why medicine is the perfect fit for you, practising is the only way to go. Make sure you practice with friends and family and ask for honest feedback so you can improve. Try asking your teachers for mock interviews to simulate that serious environment. You could also video yourself answering questions to check for things like body language and tone and work on the articulation of your answers.
You will never be 100% prepared, as you just can’t possibly know everything that could ever come up. Part of practising is learning how to keep your composure when questions get tough and letting yourself take a pause when given an unfamiliar question or scenario you haven’t dealt with before. There will always be uncertainty when it comes to your interviews, but practising will help you confident in dealing with whatever is thrown your way.