The medical school interview is an experience which you will most likely not forget. It can be a defining morning or afternoon which determines your entry to medical school. It also marks the first time during your application to medical school where you are out of your comfort zone. This is because you can control how to prepare your personal statement and for preparatory examinations, such as the UCAT and BMAT. This article is going to look at five things which you can do to help you before your medical school interview.
We have an article about ‘preparing’ for your medical school interview which can be found here.
1. Have some go-to phrases if you become stuck
There are moments in an interview where a question may catch you off guard, or you may be in danger of waffling your answer where a concise sentence or two would have done the trick. Whilst practice is important to help prevent these situations, if you do find yourself in this situation during the interview it can be helpful to have some go-to phrases which you can say with conviction to help you get back on track. Phrases such as “this is important because” or “the bottom line is” can help you regain control of your answers.
2. Summarise your work experience
Whilst you may have kept a log of your work experience and clinical exposure prior to your interview, you will likely not have the time to go into each area in detail. Prior to your interview, go through your log and highlight key instances which you want to convey to your interviewers just in case a work experience question arises. You can potentially summarise your work experience by stating how long you have been doing it for and by highlighting what you have learnt from your experience. Showcasing your ability to summarise and reflect is important as these are two key skills you will need as a medical student.
3. Have some relaxation techniques ready
Medical school interviews are a stressful experience for every applicant but this is to be expected. What is important is how you deal with this stress. There are different types of techniques you can use prior to entering your interview room, such as controlled breathing or those such as a mantra, where you repeat the same word over and over to block interfering thoughts (1). Relaxation techniques will be useful not only for your interview, but also during your medical training, as clinical examinations (OSCEs) are also stressful experiences where these techniques can come in handy!
4. Beware of your body language
Body language can work both for and against you, so it is essential you portray yourself in the best possible light. In a survey of 1000 interviewers, 25% were put off by a poor handshake or lack of eye contact and a further 24% were put off by poor body language (2). You want to portray yourself in the best light possible, so maintain eye contact, open body language, and smile!
5. Watch yourself
This requires a little more preparation but by filming yourself answering questions can help you identify your nuances which come out when you are nervous. It can be beneficial to get used to being filmed whilst you are interviewing as you will be filmed as a part of your communications skills training during medical school and at postgraduate level. It can be very helpful. For example, during my first year communication skills training where I was filmed talking to a patient, it became obvious that I was nervous because whenever the patient answered my questions, I automatically replied with ‘fantastic’!
Hopefully these tips will help you before your big day(s). Remember, being interviewed by a medical school is a privilege in itself so remember to enjoy the day!