If you’ve gotten this far, you’re doing really well. However, the medical admissions interview can sometimes feel like a daunting and overwhelming prospect. We have created a comprehensiveseriesof guides to highlight the most important considerations when preparing for medical admissions interviews, as well as provide tips and tricks to help you along your way.
What’s the Point of the Interview?
What’s the point of the medical interview? Having a clear idea of what to expect and planning how you will prepare for this can set you apart from other candidates.Take a minute to think about what the interviewers may be looking for in both a medical student and a future doctor. Now, narrow this down to a list of qualities that cannot reasonably be assessed through exams and a personal statement. There are many factors we will discuss throughout these guides, but below are a few to consider.
- Communication (and other soft) skills. Undeniably forming the foundation of medicine, communication allows all interacting members of the healthcare system to work well. This includes building rapport with patients, difficult conversations with family members and effective communication with colleagues.
- Stress Management. Medicine is unpredictable, and so is the stress that accompanies the career. Having tools in place to manage acutely stressful situations will prove invaluable, and the interviewer wants to see this.
- Impression. As a representative of the medical school and medical profession, the interviewers will be interested in the type of person you are. What is it that motivates you to study medicine? What changes would you implement within the NHS?
Understanding the role of a doctor, and having true insight into the skills required, will help demonstrate and justify your motivation to pursue medicine.
Interview preparation can broadly be separated into four sections. Naturally, there is huge overlap between them. However, it is important you structure your revision, ensuring you cover all important content and achieve the highest yield for the time you spend. We will be releasing subsequent editions of this guide to cover each of the four following topics, to ensure you have a complete and coherent resource to depend on.
1. Sharpening skills
Like any other assessment you have previously experienced, there are key skills and techniques that can elevate your performance at your interview. These skills include data analysis, construction of arguments and acute stress management.
2. University-Specific Preparation
Each university will have their own unique take on the interview. This will reflect the emphasis they place on different aspects of being a doctor, and will dictate the content you cover during your preparation. You can split your research amongst the two following domains:
- How is the course structured? PBL (Problem Based Learning)/Traditional? What are you most looking forward to?
- How is anatomy taught?
- What opportunities are available at the university that stand out to you? How will you engage with your peers and contribute whilst studying?
- What is the format of your interview? MMI (Multiple Mini Interviews)? Panel?
- What are the most commonly asked questions at your chosen university? Do they emphasise scientific questioning? Will they present you with an article to analyse?
You will need to practise your questions and answers. Although you do not want to sound scripted, waffling your way through the opening question, “Why Medicine?” will not do you any favours. Questions may fall under any of the following domains.
- Role Play.Most commonly found as part of MMI circuits, the role play tests communication through real-world scenarios. These scenarios often combine an element of acute stress with a challenging conversation, e.g. console a patient with a recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, or explain to a patient that they have suffered complications after surgery.
- Analysis. You may be given a calculation to perform such as evaluating BMI (body mass index). Such calculations may involve simple formulae (provided) and often includes interpreting data from tables and graphs. This is designed to best replicate simple calculations you will be required to perform as a doctor. Alternatively, you may be presented with a news article or recent piece of academic literature, and be tasked with answering questions using information in the handout.
- Background.These are your bread and butter questions. Why Medicine? Work Experience? Hobbies? Your responses to these should be fluent since interviewers know you will have prepared.
- Misc/Challenging.These are designed to show the interviewer how you deconstruct a question, and criticise information given to you. This question may manifest as an ethical scenario, such as the role of euthanasia in medicine. These questions will require some knowledge (e.g. 4 Pillars of Ethics), but the application of such knowledge is particularly important. They may also be so unpredictable that they catch you off guard. Having a framework to resort to will help you construct a robust answer whilst clearly demonstrating your ability to analyse the question.
4. Rest and Consolidate
Consolidate the knowledge you have accumulated. Make brief notes of important ideas you will call upon in the interview. Many people find it useful to create a checklist to ensure haven’t missed anything obvious, which they can refer to the final days before their interview. Likewise, it can be useful to have a plan for how you will spend your day before the interview itself. The morning can be very stressful, and managing these emotions can help you win over your interviewers!