Medical school interviews can be absolutely terrifying, especially if you’ve never been in an interview scenario before – it’s hard to know what to expect and people often panic about not being able to answer questions.
Don’t worry though, as I’ve put together some tips for you based on the things that I wish I’d known before completing my medical school interviews!
- Look professional but be comfy
I’ve seen lots of people stress out about what they should wear to their interviews and I think that as long as it’s professional you don’t need to worry.
A lot of the other women at my interviews were wearing skirts with blouses or shirts and if you’re comfy in that then go for it, however, I personally chose to wear a plain black skirt with a flowery top because I was much more comfortable in that.
There’s no point in wearing an outfit that you’re going to feel uncomfortable in just because you think you have to look a certain way – your interviewers care a lot more about your skills and experiences than how you’re dressed on the day!
- They already think you’re a good candidate
When going into an interview it’s important to remember that they wouldn’t have invited you if they didn’t think you could do it – after all, why would they waste their time interviewing people who wouldn’t be suitable for their medical school?
This is something that you should keep in the back of your mind when going into an interview as going in with a positive attitude can help you to set the right tone straight away.
All you need to do now is show them that they’re absolutely correct and that you are the perfect person for their university, which brings me to my next point…
- Give specific examples
Medical schools will all have a list of traits that they want to see in their students (some even publish them on their websites), so in an interview, they will be looking to see if you fit these characteristics.
They may ask you about the types of qualities you think a doctor needs and then ask about times in your life when you’ve shown these qualities yourself.
Instead of just saying something like “I think that I was successful at working in a team when I helped to organise a bake sale within my school,” try saying “During my time on the school council, I helped to organise a bake sale at school”.
You could even say, “As part of my role on the team, I coordinated weekly meetings with the other members of the council which allowed us to keep track of our progress and made sure that we kept to our deadlines.” This offers a greater insight into your role specifically and allows them to see how you demonstrated the traits that they are looking for.
- Look up the types of questions that they ask in advance
Many medical schools will have a certain structure to their interviews in order to keep them relatively standardised – for example, UCL almost always ask about your BMAT essay as part of their interview, specifically how you would improve it.
Looking at the specific interview guide pages on The Medic Portal and online student forums can help to give you an idea of what to expect when you go into the interview so that you can start to prepare beforehand.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should memorise your answers as this is not what they are looking for and you could easily be caught off-guard!
- Take your time
In a stressful scenario, such as an interview, many students feel as if they need to answer the question as soon as it has been asked. This really isn’t the case and the interviewers expect that you might need a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts.
It’s much better to take a few seconds to compose yourself and answer the question in a thoughtful way, than it is to answer a load of nonsense straight away, so don’t be afraid to take your time.
If you catch yourself going off on a tangent then pause for a moment and organise your thoughts before continuing rather than wasting your time by talking about something irrelevant.
Never, ever, reply with “I don’t know”, if you don’t know the answer for certain, start by talking through the question and considering different viewpoints. This is a million times better than giving up before you’ve even given it a go!
So, there are some of my top interview tips for you. Remember, your interview will never go as badly as you think it did. After my interview at UCL I chugged half a glass of water in front of my interviewers and then proceeded to spill that water once I got back into the waiting room!
However, I still got an offer and I’m now studying there, so it just goes to show that even though you think it was a nightmare, it probably wasn’t that bad at all.
Words: Emily Coates