Understanding how to prepare for a medical school interview is one of the scariest and hardest parts of moving into a career in medicine. Many candidates don’t know where to start, whereas others are simply overwhelmed with the prospect of being tested in an interview and put on the spot.
Although the main cause of worry varies, all potential interviewees are looking for the same thing – guiding medicine interview tips.
Studies have found that the average medical school acceptance rates are 5.5%; with an increasing number of medical school applicants every year, acceptance rates continue to decrease especially at the more prestigious and desired academies. This has led to greater angst and worry amongst prospective students who feel that their chances of getting accepted are diminishing.
That’s why we’ve put together this article helping you to find the top 10 medicine interview tips and how best to use them. Keep reading to find out all about what you need to do, when you should do it and how you can benefit from these tips.
#1 Prepare Effectively
Understanding what is required of you in an interview for medicine is the greatest deciding factor between your success and failure in getting a place. You should make sure that you understand the structure of the interview, the topics that may be discussed and any technical fields that may be brought up in depth beforehand to give you the greatest edge against other candidates.
Preparing effectively can help you to come across as calm and collected in an interview, which is exactly what interviewers will be looking for in potential medicine students. By having answers and facts prepared beforehand you’ll spend less time thinking of an answer and more time engaging with your interviewer, which can also help you to come across as likeable and sociable, both important qualities of a medicine student.
#2 Research Your Field
When going into an interview, it can be all too easy to focus on planning the actual question side of the interview and forget about the topics that you will be asked about.
Forgetting to revise and research your chosen field ahead of the interview can lead to a lack of knowledge which may prevent you from answering some of the questions effectively, or to the standard that you would normally be able to.
On top of this, it can make you seem underqualified or uncaring for the role, which would make the interviewers look upon your application negatively. You should always aim to show traits and characteristics that would help you in your role as a student and a medical professional, and neglecting the knowledge side of your field can do the adverse instead.
#3 Re-Read Your Personal Statement
It is more than likely that during an interview your personal statement will be brought up or referenced. Whether the interviewers themselves have read it, or whether they have the key points taken from your application before them, it’s important for you to know exactly what you said so that you can respond to their questions properly and with authority.
It is imperative that you know your personal statement inside out for a range of reasons, the most important being credibility. Interviewers understand that it is all too easy to say that you understand the role you are applying for through text, so they choose to ask you questions in regards to what you have written to establish credibility and knowledge.
Being able to answer questions quickly and effortlessly regarding your personal statement demonstrates knowledge and confidence to any prospective interviewers. This can help to make your application seem stronger than the next candidates, making your chances of getting a spot much higher.
#4 Practise Your Interview Technique
It may seem obvious, but the more practice you do before your interview, the better chance you have of performing well. You probably would not have had an interview this extreme before, and chances are that you would not have had to deal with difficult patients, or break bad news, the likes of which will be asked of you in the interview.
For the most effective preparation for your medicine interview, you should hold mock interviews with you and your friends where you are tested on questions that they have prepared for you in advance. This way, you can get a feel for what it would be like being put on the spot and having to answer difficult questions quickly.
#5 Calm Down And Relax
It’s much easier to say than do, but it’s always best to relax yourself when you’re in the interview and calm down after questioning. With all of the tips in this article you should have no problem once you’re in there, so it would be best for you and your answers to take a quick breather.
Studies have found that more than half of all candidates are rejected at the first interview stage. So, if you’ve made it beyond that, you have a very good chance of succeeding. This should help to calm you down and collect yourself to avoid ruining your interview.
There are a range of subtle ways to calm down that your interviewers won’t notice. For example, focusing on your rhythm of breathing can help to stabilise your pulse and get you thinking more clearly, which will help you to answer the questions easier and have answers come to you much quicker. Furthermore, being calm can help to present a more confident body language to the interviewers, which can help them look more favourably upon your application.
#6 Have Proper Etiquette
First impressions mean everything in an interview – it gives the interviewers a basis for which they can observe you and get a feel for your way of thinking and acting. When you’re under a high-pressure environment such as an interview, it can be all too easy to forget the basics of etiquette, leading to many poor first impressions by candidates.
Research suggests that 69% of people form a first impression of someone before they’ve even had a chance to speak, making body language, punctuality and hygiene that much more important.
Be polite and use the correct language and tone for a formal situation. Similarly, your attire should be formal and somewhat smart to project an air of confidence and cleanliness, both of which are important for a medical profession.
#7 Be Punctual
Being on time to the interview helps you to appear organised, which is a key skill that interviewers will be looking for. Although it may sound like basic etiquette, a surprising amount of people turn up late to interviews and immediately put themselves on the back foot.
Recent surveys have found that 15% to 20% of the US population are “consistently late”, especially when it comes to work. Employers, and interviewers, will be looking for candidates who are on time and committed so that they do not have to deal with lateness at the workplace, which is all the more important in a medical setting.
Being late can also be interpreted as rudeness to some, showing a lack of commitment and care for the job or role that you are applying for. It may make the interviewers feel that you are routinely late to important things, and they could see you as inconsiderate for wasting their time. Unless you have a genuine reason for being late, it’s best to avoid it.
#8 Engage With The Interview
When you’re nervous and afraid, you can accidentally mentally withdraw from the interview, making it harder for people interviewing you to connect and understand who you are.
Engaging with the interview is the perfect way for you to show the interviewers who you are and what qualities you possess to make you qualified for the role. Smiling, talking, laughing and chatting all help to make you more likeable whilst making the interview feel more personal and in-depth into your character. As well as making the interviewers like you, it can help with showing what kind of medical professional you will be.
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin, whilst also encouraging the same responses in others. By being friendly in your interview, you can have a better chance of leaving it successful.
#9 Bring Copies Of Your CV
It can never hurt to come to an interview armed with experience. One of the best ways for you to do this is to bring case studies and examples of your past achievements, such as a CV, which can all help you to show off your skills.
Studies have found that 95% of CVs today never get read, which may seem disheartening to those putting together theirs for an interview. However, it’s better to be prepared for that 5% than not, and the difference could cost you the placement.
As well as showing what you’re capable of, it helps to show the interviewers a little about you; organised, confident, qualified and ambitious are all traits that you help to portray by coming to an interview with preparations such as this. This is highly beneficial especially for a medicine interview as it shows what kind of student and professional you will be, which helps others to make a judgement on whether or not to accept you onto the course.
#10 Ask Questions
Once the interview has concluded, the interviewer may give you a chance to ask a few follow-up questions to anything that they have asked. You should always have a question in the back of your head to show that you’ve been listening and engaged with the interview.
Whether you ask them a personal opinion on the topic or whether you ask about the facility you are being interviewed in, it’s important to ask a question back because it shows that you are engaged. Showing the interviewer that you are present, aware and interested can favour your application massively, and is one of the best possible medicine interview tips that you can follow.