Medical School Interview: Structuring Medicine Interview Preparation
(Research -> Knowledge -> Practice)
You should research both the field and where you choose to apply. To research the field of Medicine, you should rely on both real-world experience and reading around the subject. Look at the GMC’s website and guidance, study the recent history of Medicine, and read any books that you find interesting about the subject or its specialties. Research interviews styles, typical questions, and how to approach these types of questions. Be confident on the difference between MMIs, structured panel interviews, or a wholly traditional interview.
Then research each university that you are applying to thoroughly – learn about the manner in which it teaches its course, and an overview of how its course is structured. Consider what sets the course apart from others. Investigate whether it offers dissection or prosection, whether it focuses on lectures, PBL, seminars or a combination thereof, when you will first be able to experience patient contact, where and when electives are offered, and whether you will have the chance to intercalate – and in what. Ideally you should attend open days as far as is possible, and try to speak to current or previous students of the university, in order to gain a real insight into where you will hopefully be studying.
Consider the ethos of each university – some are far more focused on science and producing future academics or ‘clinician-scientists’ whilst others focus more on those with great people skills who will focus on treating their patients holistically.
You should also research Medicine through your experience – volunteering, and seeking out placements at hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes. This form of research will bestow an actual understanding of the day-to-day life of a doctor or healthcare worker – and is invaluable when applying to university. Take the time to reflect as you learn, and to note what you learn down for future reference.
Your knowledge should extend to the sciences that you will be expected to draw upon in your first years of university – whilst not normally a topic at interviews, you may still be faced with questions on the sciences at traditional style interviews.
Lastly, you must practice. You need to become comfortable talking about your life so far, and linking it to Medicine. Therefore think about each question that you are likely to face, and generate a series of situations that you can draw upon as examples at interviews. For each, you should be clear on your role and how you were instrumental in the success (or perseverance) of your team or task. You should have reflections that show that you learn from both success and failure. Ensure that you are able to talk about accomplishments without shame, but also avoiding sounding arrogant. Practice delivering these situations to other people, to receive feedback.
Reflect on your own personal attributes and how they might apply to Medicine, and the attributes of a doctor, and then practice describing these to other people in a mock-interview format.
Organise as many mock interviews as you can, with as broad a range of people as is possible. Ideally, you should have mock interviews with friends and family at the outset, and then use teachers or relative strangers as you move forward. The most worth though will come from organising mock interviews with doctors or those in the healthcare field, as they are most able to judge your responses. Try to structure the mock interview in the same way that your real interview will be structured – so if it is a panel interview, having two interviewers will be of the most benefit. If you are expecting an MMI, try to set up a few different stations with different ‘assessors’ to most accurately replicate the experience.
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