January throws those students applying to medical school into one of the most stressful parts of the application process, interviews! But, it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and practice any student can walk into the interview room with confidence. Our doctors who have experience going through this process have provided some unique insight and top tips into how to succeed at medical school interviews.
1. Show enthusiasm and passion to join Medical School
Interviews relating to healthcare are all about demonstrating just how much you want to enter the profession, and how determined you are to succeed. At this stage it's less about your academic achievements but more about your motivations for studying medicine and demonstrating this with your experiences of being in a clinical environment.
Before you apply, you need to ask yourself, is this what you really want to do? It's important to ask yourself this question so you have a good and original answer to respond with during the interview. Dr Jones gives her insight into answer this question:
2. Draw upon your relevant skills and experience
You will have spent the last 2 or 3 years fighting to gain work experience in a wide range of settings. Now is the time to make sure you mention your best parts and what you learnt. You will have heard "quality over quantity" a million times, this even more true in your interview. You wont have time to mention your all your work experience so we need to find your best 2 or 3 and be VERY comfortable talking about them.
Good examples are times when you have evidence of someone (not always a doctor) demonstrating skills that you need as a doctor. You are looking for examples of excellent: teamwork, communication, leadership, empathy, knowledge, respect, professional behaviour and listening skills.
3. Practice makes perfect
There is no substitute for mock interviews and practice sessions. This is where you can make mistakes and learn from them. Find a friend, family member, teacher who can sit and ask you example questions. It will feel awkward to begin with, but after a few sessions you will start to refine your answers and become more confident discussing your answers. Speaking your answers out loud is crucial to confidence in the real interview.
4. Show that you understand the reality of what life is like as a healthcare professional.
It's important to be able to show that you understand what life as a doctor, nurse, dentist or midwife is really like. The public image of doctors’ work is sometimes quite different from reality, so your understanding of the job without work experience might not be as accurate as you’d think. The world of medicine is constantly spotlighted in the media – but it's important you can rely to the interviewer that you understanding the not so glamorous side to being a doctor that is often not portrayed.
Make sure to talk to doctors or healthcare professionals, getting to know people who are doing what you want to do will give you a sense of belonging – this can be quite a powerful source of motivation.
5. Finally - enjoy it!
On the day of your interview, remember to dress professionally and act in a friendly manner. Leave plenty of time to travel to the interview location, especially if it is a place you are not familiar with. Be confident when you walk into the room, smile and shake everyone’s hand. Finally, don’t rush to answer the questions, and don’t worry if you don’t answer everything! The interviewer is not there to ‘catch you out’, but her or she is there to explore with you your skills, abilities and aptitude to undertake a medical degree. Enjoy it!