Interview Tips: How To Be Confident At Your Medical School Interview
Interviews in themselves can be daunting, with medical interviews among the most stressful. Being confident can improve how you come across, as well as your outcome, so it’s definitely worth reading through these top tips!
- Be prepared.
- Do university-specific prep.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Be organised.
- Get used to being outside your comfort zone.
The internet is a great resource when it comes to interview preparation. Common interview questions are grouped together with tips and strategies on how to approach them. Ensure you are aware of topics they could ask you, and experiences you can link to skills or characteristics they may be assessing. This blog article on interview preparation is a great read! Have a look at Futuredoc’s preparation guide and medicine interview summary series on YouTube as a great resource. For those that prefer books, Medical School Interviews by isc medical is a good asset.
Preparing for your specific university choices
Many medical schools have extra interview information and tips on their homepage. For some this may be describing the interview format (e.g. panel or MMI), while others may give you information and examples of non-academic qualities and skills assessed. This helps give you an idea of what to expect at this interview, and may also guide your preparation. Preparing for a ‘Why this medical school?’ is a good idea here. Find something personal to you, also linking to the university and their course will help you to stand out!
How should you practice
It may not seem like the most original top tip, but the best way to improve is practice! Your school may provide mock interviews for you, but you may also find a tutor helpful. You can also use the resources we’ve discussed to create mock MMI and panel scenarios that you can practice with fellow applicants. Remember the most important thing is to receive feedback to understand where you can improve.
Family and friends with no medical experience are also extremely useful here. At the interview a range of medical and non-medical interviewers will be present, so make sure you are used to this. They can also be great for assessing how you come across e.g. tone, eye contact, pace, body language and clarity.
How not to practice
With that being said, make sure you don’t practice too much (especially the same questions), as this may come across too rehearsed or uninterested. Confidence is key, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. A way to avoid this is by using bullet points to list skills and examples to talk about for common questions. Try not to practice the same questions in a mock, it’s better to practice similar ones, so you’re still having to think on your feet.
Responding during the interview
It is a good idea to pause before you answer questions to gather your thoughts. The interviewer will assume you have never heard the question before, even if you have prepared for it, so it is a natural response to pause and think for a few seconds, or ask for longer if it’s a difficult question. You can always say something like, “That’s a really difficult question, could I please take a moment to think?”
You can always paraphrase the question as the first part of your response. For example, “there are many skills that contribute to being a good doctor, I believe the most important are …”. During your preparation ask someone to throw you a complete curveball question, just to see how you can respond on the spot.
Minimise stress on the day. This can include small things like preparing your clothes; ensure you have checked the university’s dress code, dressing both comfortably and professionally. Get everything ready the night before to minimise the amount of decisions, and stress for the day. Be organised, and arrive with plenty of time. Make sure you have finalised travel arrangements, and allowed for delays and cancellations. Many university interview homepages have lists of things to do in the city, so if you have some spare time this could also be a great way to relieve stress, and help you get used to the environment. Finally ensure you are well rested and fuelled. After all, you want to be your best self on the day!
Getting used to stepping out of your comfort zone
Interviews require you to put yourself out there and step outside of your comfort zone, so putting this into practice is a great way to boost your confidence. Within school, or through extracurriculars provide good opportunities. Sign up for activities such as public speaking, or get involved with presentations and campaigns.
Stimulating an interview environment is great to help put any nerves at ease for the real thing. Companies like Futuredoc provide in person and online mock interviews, which are highly beneficial. Applying for part time work or summer jobs that interview, also gives you a chance to stimulate the formal setting.
A very simple way to get out of your comfort zone is by talking to strangers. A tip I came across when preparing for interviews was to talk to a stranger on the day of your interview, e.g. someone on the journey, current university students or people at the hotel. I found that this was a great way to get rid of some nervous energy on the day, and also to make sure you don’t have a dry throat before the first question!
Remember that no matter how much preparation you undertake, they still may throw you a curveball, so try to stay cool, calm, and collected. Being confident is definitely easier said than done, but just remember that they have asked you to an interview because they believe you have the potential to become a great doctor, so try to be your amazing self!
Written By Katie Balme