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May 22, 2013 by Emedica
If you’ve managed to get an interview, a massive congratulations to you! Just getting to this stage is a big achievement, and not many people do. You’ve shown the admissions tutors through your personal statement that you are something special, now it’s time to prove them right.
There are two kinds of interviews that I’ve experienced: a two-person panel interview and a multi mini interview (MMI) The panel interview is the more traditional kind of interview, however the MMI is becoming increasingly popular.
MMI involves going to different stations for a set period of time. Each station has a set topic (e.g. work experience, data handling, etc). Because you’re moving from station to station, it doesn’t really matter if you mess up on one station if you make up for it at another. The stations all have new people, so essentially, you’re getting a fresh start and the next person has no prejudgements due to how you just answered that last question! It’s usually only around 5 minutes at each station (you only really answer one or two in depth questions, it flies by) and you get a minute break inbetween to get to the next station and read the instructions regarding the new one. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get to shake hands and have a ‘welcoming session’ at the start of each session. As they’re so short, to utilise the time available the interviewers jump straight into the questions.
Panel interviews are probably what you’re more used to. It involves you going into a room and sitting opposite a panel of two or more people for 15+ minutes. These interviews tend to have more of the generic “why do you want to study medicine?” questions giving you the chance to guide the conversation the way you want it to go and get in certain bits of information you want to drop in (like any extra work you’ve done since writing your personal statement) rather than the more specific questions that they ask in MMI. I haven’t encountered any data handling at a panel interview either, thankfully!
As you are probably aware, there are certain things in the interview that are intentionally meant to make you a bit uneasy. One I found at both was the good cop/bad cop routine! One interviewer will purposely be very nice and encouraging whereas the other will look at you like a stern headteacher and will try to twist what you say. Even if you think you’re doing badly, you’re probably not. It’s just a way for them to see how you justify what you’re saying and how you would cope under stress and with difficult people.
There’s no way to know which questions will come up, but make sure you know the answers to the basic ones:
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
- When did you decide?
- Why this university? Make sure you know about their course and things that set their course apart from others (e.g. are they lecture-based or PBL? Do they offer full body dissection? Is it research intensive?)
- What did you learn from your work experience?
- Why a doctor and not a nurse? (N.B. Do not patronise or disregard the role of a nurse! You might even end up with a nurse interviewing you)
Also, even if it’s just a few minutes before you go to bed, skim the headlines in the news on any articles to do with health, but it’d be better to read them fully. The health section on BBC News is great. The articles are short and give you enough detail. The interviewers know that you’re not an expert on these areas, so they don’t expect you to know all the ins and outs and have the solutions, but they need to know that you do have a keen interest in healthcare and you know what’s happening with current affairs. If there’s a significant medical breakthrough the day before your interview that’s all over the news and you don’t know about it, it doesn’t really reflect well on your motivation and interest in staying up to date with medical affairs. Yes, you might not be asked about it, but it’s better to be prepared than a deer in the headlights.
If you can, have a question prepared to ask your interviewers. You should get an opportunity to ask a question at the end. It should be an appropriate one that reflects well on you, and not something like “how much time off do we get?” which will make it seem like you’re more concerned with your free time than with learning!
- Dress appropriately. All the guys I saw were wearing smart trousers, white shirt, tie and blazer with clean, polished shoes. For girls, a trouser/skirt suit with a smart blouse or a suit dress and either flat or low heeled shoes. Minimal makeup and jewellery too – you want to look groomed, not done up for a night out. You want to be remembered for what you said, not how you looked, right?
- Don’t be late. It’s better to be an hour early than ten minutes late. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression!
- Keep calm.
- Be confident, not cocky or arrogant.
- Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you’re not. They’ve read your personal statement and they have an idea of who you are. They expect that person, not someone completely different.
- Know your personal statement inside out – if you’ve said you’ve read something, make sure you have!
- Relate back to your work experience when you can, and what you’ve learned.
Best of luck with your interviews, and well done again for getting this far. Keep going, you’re nearly there!