A Guide to Approaching Medical Interviews
The process of applying to medical school is a journey with plenty of hurdles, which can be an anxious and overwhelming experience. This blog explores how to approach one of the last hurdles: the medical interview.
Why am I writing this blog?
I am a third-year medical student, and recently participated in holding mock interviews with applicants. It brought back plenty of memories from when I was in the same position. I remembered being unbelievably nervous, but also how practise and preparation considerably diminished this.
I interviewed at Kings’, Barts (Queen Mary), and St George’s, and I was fortunate enough to receive offers from all 3. Through my own experience as an applicant, and by coaching others through the process, I have written a guide on how to hopefully ace your interviews.
A Bank of Experience and Research
This is one of the most vital parts of preparing for your interview.
First, think about all the extra-curricular activities, work experience, volunteering, academic achievements you have compiled and list them down. Then, write down a list of skills needed by doctors: empathy, good communication, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, patience, and more. Finally, try to reflect on where you have exhibited these skills by applying them to your first list.
If you are extra meticulous, you will realise that some experiences coincide with multiple skills and those are the best ones, because it means you do not have to remember an infinitely long list!
- The four pillars of medicine
- Current medical news
- Current medical research
- The roles of different professionals in the MDT
One thing I noticed while helping applicants, is that they tend to have amazing experience, but they do not reflect on it; instead stating what they have done and not what they have learned.
One way to get around this is, especially in questions highlighting skills needed by doctors, is by using the following structure:
- Describe the situation – What happened?
- Link this to life as a doctor or medical student: What did the doctor do? They showed skill x by …
- Link this to your own development as a potential doctor: I have done A to strengthen skill x
The interviewers know what a doctor does and what skills they have, so you need to tell them how you have worked to develop those same skills!
Try to stick to 2 or 3 points per question to ensure you have enough time to complete an answer. It can also help if you paraphrase the question as your first sentence, that way you can process the question at the same time.
Practise Makes Perfect
First, try to practise in untimed conditions on your own, and get used to answering questions. Once you feel more confident, start practising with friends and family in timed conditions. Finally, look out for mock interview opportunities, this can be with university societies, your school, and with us – have a look at In2Med’s MMI course!
What To Do If You Get Stuck?
Ask the interviewer to repeat the question or repeat it yourself; you can even do both! This will give you a few seconds to collect your thoughts. It also shows you are thinking and not rushing ahead, which looks great.
I hope that this guide has helped you feel more prepared for your interview. It is daunting, but it is also such a valuable time to demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate.
In the next blog I will explore a few standard questions to practise and get you going, so stay tuned!
You have put in the hard work already throughout the years, building up your experience, now tell them all about it. Good luck!
Queen Mary University
This blog is written by Nafisa a third-year medical student. Nafisa is interested in medical education and research. In her spare time, she enjoys embroidery and watching movies.