The medical interview can test you on the whole of your application, so the key is preparation. This includes knowing your extra-curricular activities well, being able to talk about your work experience and what you learned from it. Practise common questions before your interview, along with trying mock interviews. The questions you are likely to be asked can be divided into the following categories:
Think like a doctor
You are trying to get into medical school, so when responding to any scenarios or questions, answer them in a way that suggests to the interviewer that you would make a great medical student. In order to do so, make sure you have a list of personal attributes that you think a good doctor should have, and throughout your preparation practise integrating these qualities into your responses so that in your interview you can demonstrate these important characteristics.
You should use the PEE model of reflection to answer these questions, that is, point, evidence, explain. Make a point, provide evidence for it and then explain why it is relevant for medicine.
Remember that for ethical scenarios there is rarely a simple answer, and they are looking at your ability to reason and argue/defend a point rather than the contents of the argument itself.
Sarah – Newcastle University
‘Before my interview, I was provided with a online news article about “locked-in syndrome” and was required to read around the topic, and to consider the ethical arguments at play in the issue of assisted suicide. I extensively researched the issues mentioned in the article online and even watched a French movie about the condition. This was to gain better insight into the experience of living with such a debilitating condition from a patient’s perspective. This then allowed me to consider both sides of the argument about the legality of assisted suicide and apply it in the context of the article during my interview.’
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to simulate the experience so that you know what to expect, can prepare for areas of weaknesses and can also receive feedback about your performance and pointers to help you improve.
Am I talking too much?
One major thing that students struggle with is the length of their answers. If your response is too short it may appear to the interviewer that you did not really consider or think about your answer. However, a lengthy reply can suggest that you are struggling with the question and are resorting to waffle. The best answers will address all aspects of the question in a clear and concise manner allowing the candidate to show that they have thought about their response and can effectively communicate their ideas and appropriately end their response as knowing when to end one’s response is important.
Take your time
One of the hardest challenges in an interview is to actually answer the question you are given without going off on a tangent. The prompts given by interviewers will often highlight the specific issues that are the focus of the question or multiple-mini interview (MMI) station. Ensure that your answer responds to the prompts of the question. Do not ramble on about irrelevant issues.
No one can guarantee success in every interview situation, but conversely your performance can always be improved. To improve your performance you should become familiar with the interview process, particularly if it has a specific structure like an MMI or Oxbridge interview. You should recognise your weaknesses and think of ways that allow you to overcome them in the actual interview. It is much better to assess your weaknesses prior to the interview rather than during it, so that you can prepare and work around them.
Poise during an interview, and the ability to stay cool and calm, may put you over the line. Finally, sell yourself.
You know yourself, why you would make a good medical student, you just have to make sure the interviewer knows that too and gives you an offer.
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