Preparing for medical school interviews

Top Tips To Prepare For Your First Medical School Interview

For many applicants, the medical school interview is one of the first experiences you’ll have of a formal interview setting. This can be quite daunting, but the right preparation will help to calm your nerves and maximise your chances of a medical school offer.

Here are five top tips when preparing for your medical school interview!

1. Know your medical school

It is really important to demonstrate a good understanding of the medical school you are applying to.

-Think about what attracted you to that university in the first instance; could it be the course structure, any extracurricular activities, or a specific intercalated BSc, for example? Knowledge of the medical school itself will come across in your answers and will (hopefully) give you more motivation to prepare for the interview itself!

  • Consider the type of interview carried out at this medical school, as this will determine the best way for you to prepare. Most medical schools will carry out either multiple mini interviews (MMIs) or panel interviews (have a look at this article for more information).

2. Revise and reflect

This is one of the most crucial aspects when preparing for an interview. Certain topics won’t be covered by your A-level subjects but will be assumed knowledge in an interview setting.

  • Make sure you have a basic understanding of common topic areas, such as the duties of a doctor, medical ethics, and the structure of the NHS. Before your interview, read Good Medical Practice by the GMC to gain a better understanding of the roles of a doctor.
  • Have a look over your own application again before the interview. Make sure you know your personal statement thoroughly – have you read any books that you’ve included? If you’ve referred to particular conditions or topics of interest within your personal statement, try and carry out some wider reading to ensure that you’re comfortable elaborating on them in the context of an interview.
  • Reflect on your own experiences that you might wish to talk about. For example, if you’ve mentioned work experience in your personal statement, think carefully about specific scenarios which showcase your best qualities. Consider how your experiences have shaped your desire to do medicine and think about what makes you unique as an applicant.

3. Think about structuring your answers

Structuring answers is probably the most common pitfall in an interview setting, as most applicants struggle to answer questions in a way that is both informative and concise.

  • Think very carefully about how long your answers should be. In an MMI-style interview where the whole station lasts around 8 minutes, try to keep your answers to 3-4 minutes to ensure you have enough time to answer any follow-up questions. It’s useful to time yourself when practising as 3 minutes goes very quickly under pressure!
  • Take a moment to pause after the interviewer asks the question and think about how you are going to structure your answer. For most questions, aim to split your answer into three main points and then briefly summarise. Any more points, and your answer will most likely be too long and difficult to follow.
  • When answering questions on medical ethics or questions in debate stations where a yes or no answer is required, never say yes or no straightaway! Verbalise the ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments first, and then eventually come to a conclusion based on these points. This will make your answer sound more balanced.

The STARR Approach

The STARR technique is really useful when answering questions about motivation and insight into medicine, as it ensures you cover all the key points in a concise manner.

Situation – Briefly (in a few seconds) summarise the example situation.

Task – Briefly summarise (<10 seconds) what was involved in this situation.

Action – Think about what you did in this situation. How did you perform the task?

Result – What was the outcome of the situation?

Reflection – Think about what you learnt from this situation. How can this be applied to a career in Medicine? This is the most important component of your answer.

4. Practise common questions

Medical school interviews don’t change much year on year, and so it is really useful to prepare using example questions from previous years or mock interview question banks.

  • Practise saying these answers out loud – it’s even better if you can find friends or family members who can listen. Try to time your answers to ensure that you’re not waffling too much, and practise structuring your answers as mentioned.
  • Don’t write a script, as this will make your answer sound too rehearsed. Instead, list some key bullet points to mention for each interview question.
  • It’s also important to remember that the wording of the questions in the real interview may be slightly different to the ones you have practised. Although it sounds obvious, make sure you answer the question they give you rather than a similar one you have prepared!

5. Think about interview etiquette

Have a think about how you are going to present yourself in an interview setting.

  • Make sure you wear smart clothes, similar to what you may have worn for your work experience.
  • If the interview is in person, make sure to maintain eye contact, smile, and introduce yourself when entering the room.
  • If the interview is online, try and maintain good body language regardless and ensure you have a clear background with good lighting.

Finally, and most importantly, be confident. If you have secured an invitation to interview, the admissions panel believe you’ve got what it takes to be a successful applicant – it’s up to you now to show it!

Additionally, if you would like to join the inner circle, where you can get regular 1-ON-1 guidance to help you get into your first choice medical school, you can apply here. Alternatively, you may want to consider our medical school interview course.

Written By Maria Skaria

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