So after a whole year of bragging to your friends and family that you are applying to study medicine, D- day has finally arrived, but you’re now scared that actually your bravado might not be able to carry you through your interview. That’s certainly how I felt when I was about to subject myself to med school interviews, in which I would without a doubt be exposed for the fraud that I really was. The truth is simple: even the most modest preparation goes a long way, and there are several things you can do to make your interview experience almost enjoyable. Firstly, without a doubt a passion for the subject you study should come through. Make sure you know a little about some of the recent developments in medicine. Granted, the scope of your knowledge maybe limited, and you might lack any insight beyond the front page of BBC health, but you will show that you are interested in your subject and know what is actually happening in it. Next, it is essential to have an opinion. Have an opinion on the NHS, have an opinion on complex ethical issues, and have an opinion on whether modal scales are necessary in jazz improvisation (joking on the last one). The NHS is looking for leaders, and so it is important to show that you can think about complex issues and are able to come to your own conclusions, because unfortunately medicine cannot all be done by reading a textbook. Thirdly, you need to know about where you’re applying to. You wouldn’t go to a job interview knowing nothing about the company, so why would you go to a medical school interview knowing nothing about the medical school? Go on forums and find out what distinguishes the medical school you’re applying to from the rest. At each one, let your interviewers know that their medical school is the greatest in the world (even though you’ll find yourself having awarded this position several times in the space of months).
One thing you will certainly need to recall is what exactly you wrote on your personal statement! Scrutinise it line by line, to remember, and hopefully not regret some of those ambitious claims you made in slightly younger days, and be prepared to defend them. I assure you it will not look favourable when you either can’t remember something that you wrote, or that you are unable to defend yourself when questioned about it.
During the actual interview, if you find yourself completely stumped and unable to decipher the most baffling questions, you should take your time to answer them. It is better to take 5 seconds to organise your thoughts than to blurt the first bit nonsense that comes straight to mind and find yourself contradicting that seconds later. Better yet, think out loud! It is better that the interviewers can follow your trail of thought and correct you where necessary, than to just have no answer, and give them the impression that you are unable to comprehend the question. You can sound infinitely cleverer if you reason your thinking when asked the most impossible questions even if it is flawed, than if you sit there in silence not uttering a word. A lot of the interview is about confidence. Medical Schools want to know that they are admitting competent students who are brave enough to accept the challenge that medicine is, and so it is better to appear calm and confident in your manner even if you haven’t the faintest idea what is going on around you.
To summarise, to pass your medical school interview you need to make sure you have the bases described above covered. A genuine passion, combined with adequate preparation will go a long way and will certainly show no matter how tough that interview is! Good luck guys!
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What I wish I had Known for My Medicine Interview was written by a Medical Student at UCL and a Tavistock Tutor
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