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The Medical School Interview
by Sayinthen Vivekanantham The interview aspect of your Medical School application is often perceived as daunting and unpredictable, with applicants not entirely sure how to prepare. However, having gone through the process of applying to Medical School recently, I am sure that thorough preparation and practise of interview skills can significantly aid you in making a good impression at interview. When did you start revising for it? It is important to start reading about medical issues as early as possible. Although the content of this research may not necessarily come up in the interview, the topics that you read about will provide you with a bank of examples that you can use to back up your responses in the interview. I would strongly recommend using a ring binder or folder to keep copies of articles from the various sources, so that you can look back at it before your interview, and select a few issues to know about in detail. Other forms of general preparation are to looking into interview skills, medical law/ ethics or just reading up about areas of medicine that you are particularly interested in. There is no finite list of everything you must read before interview, but the more you read (or make notes on) and get familiarised with, the more confident you’re going to feel and come across when going into the interview. Approximately a month before your interview, you should start looking back at previous articles, common questions and that all important personal statement. Questions would often be centred on your personal statement, so it is beneficial to read deeper into any topics you have mentioned and be able to justify anything that you have written. What topics did you cover and which additional topics do you wish you had covered more thoroughly. There is often not enough time to cover all the topics that are potentially going to come up in your interview in detail. For this reason it is important to prioritise which topics to cover in detail, and which to lightly read about. It is important to research further (and possibly make further notes) on topics that you have included in your personal statement and a few medical developments in recent months. However, also try and target your research specific to the university/ interviewer’s field (if you know who is interviewing you).

it is .’ Resources you used for the Interview and your opinion of them. nevertheless. and finding out what type of questions to expect from different sources. ‘This shows the importance of tailoring your research specific to the institution where you are applying to. which included Parkinson’s disease and some surgical procedures that I had seen on work experience. However.-2This will help you come across as enthusiastic about the institution. however it is difficult to cover everything given the wide range of questions that you could be asked. The two main resources that I had used before my interviews were the Ace Medicine Interview course & notes and various websites on the internet. for example. However. for example before my interview at Imperial College London (ICL). I also looked into recent research that had taken place at each of the institutions. my interview was comprised of personality based questions which I wasn’t entirely prepared for. There are always going to be questions and topics that you walk out of an interview wishing that you had looked at. talking to students at the university on open days. whilst also being ready for questions from the interviewer. Although it is not necessary to know everything in the course back to front. with numerous books and courses available. Before my interviews. The Ace Medicine course & notes were very useful in making me aware what some of the main issues within medicine. This shows the importance of tailoring your research specific to the institution where you are applying to. it is no substitute for the detailed research of different topics and verbal practice of potential interview questions. for example. talking to students at the university on open days. and finding out what type of questions to expect from different sources. There are a number of resources available that you can use to help you prepare. for example medical law. I looked into some of the work of Lord Ara Darzi. Attending a course or taking on board what is said in a book can speed up the preparation process significantly. I undertook detailed research on the topics that I had included in my personal statement. whilst also giving me a comprehensive guide to medical ethics and the considerations one has to make when answering ethics based questions. Before my interview at Barts and The London. ethics and did detailed research on items I had mentioned in my personal statement. I cannot stress enough that simply attending one the courses or just reading a book is enough to get you through the interview. who is a leading surgeon at ICL. I had focused my preparation on common medical topics.

however. A lot of information can be accessed on the internet. for example:  Why would you like to do medicine?  Why would you like to come to this institution?  Have you got any questions you would like to ask us? It is important to try and have answers prepared for questions of this type. and other common questions that are likely to come up. experienced interviewers will be able to easily pick up whether you are just reciting a standard response that you have learnt. I genuinely would have chosen ICL.’ Questions you were asked at Interview. the sources are often very lengthy and all information is not always necessary. Despite how good you may think you are at sounding unrehearsed in your response. but don’t let these panic you. you are very likely to be asked a few common questions. I thought the broad range of potential medical school specific questions and mock interview was most useful. You may get a few nasty questions especially if your being interviewed by an institution which is highly respected. I was asked which offer would I take if I had offers from both Oxford and ICL. The reasons I gave to support my answer. For example. and think about what they are looking for you to say. which would also help you take in the information more efficiently. unlike course notes. ‘The Ace Medicine course & notes were very useful in making me aware what some of the main issues within medicine. you write a few bullet points about what you would like to include in your answer. Although there is a wide range of questions that can be asked in your interview. this does not mean you should recite a prewritten answer over and over again when you are asked that type of question. Above all. however. For this reason.-3interesting and useful to read in so far as getting you into an interview frame of mind. whilst also giving me a comprehensive guide to medical ethics and the considerations one has to make when answering ethics based questions. To avoid this I would suggest for each potential question. I would recommend paraphrasing information into smaller and more concise forms. but I think merely stating this would not have been enough. and eventually try and produce a response without looking. which . Practise forming a complete response verbally looking at these bullet points. just try and give a rational answer. in my interview at ICL.

if your marks at AS aren’t very strong.-4included better clinical facilities and an integrated course. Advice you wish you were given before you started preparing for the Interview Lots of preparation is important. when others applying to read other courses have already had all their offers. I became unwell and was not able to attend my interview. helped me build a better rapport with the interviewers. Leading into my interview. However. for example going out. Due to the tight interview schedule at Cambridge. Before my Cambridge Interview. then it is important to give just as much care and attention to your school work. Fitting in the interview and admissions test preparation with school work is often difficult and requires a high level of organisation and motivation. UKCAT and Interview preparation? Unlike other degrees. as the time pressure at A2 is a lot harder. So it is important to work as hard as you can at AS. and ideally you don’t want to be doing resits. keep a good diet and don’t compromise on sleep whilst preparing for an interview! How did you plan your time with regards to juggling AS/ A-level alongside the UCAS. securing high AS grades and marks meant that I could afford to devote more time towards my medicine application. and you may have to make other sacrifices in order to find the time. This may have been the reason why I had become ill. whilst having a buffer of marks available at A2 in order to achieve the necessary grades for my offer. . but it is also important for you to remain fit and healthy and not overwork yourself. I was not able to have an interview until after the first round of offers had been sent. so I would advise you all to have some balance in your work. the admissions process to enter medicine is both long and requires a lot of extra work. You will find that you will be waiting for interviews. I was working late into the night trying to become fully prepared and was generally over-working myself. In my experience.

However. and the prospect of the interview often scares applicants. Also remember that medicine is a very challenging course.-5Applying to medicine is a very demanding process both physically and emotionally. interviewers are usually very nice and are only trying to get an idea whether you genuinely want to study medicine. so admission tutors are also looking to see whether you can cope with the academic pressures. and whether you are going to be a good representative of their university. Good luck! .

I believe. time management is of the essence. It was only after my first interview that I understood what Alice James meant by “One has a greater sense of intellectual degradation after an interview with a doctor than from any human experience”. peers and family earlier. I did this by reading broadsheet newspapers from the local library and the BBC news website at home. I stepped up my efforts after the UCAS form was sent off. Having done my UKCAT earlier on in the summer. during breakfast or talking in tutorials to my teachers induced ideas for the interview. even doing some further reading in the bus. The BMAT was done in November and that was the phase I got restless about when I would finally be called for interview. I kept abreast myself with the medical news in the media and all of the ethical issues that were making the headlines such as euthanasia in the Swiss private clinics.-6- The Medical School Interview by Zehra Imam I sent my UCAS form off in early October and embraced the long waiting period before I was summoned to any interviews. However. The best way to prepare for the interview is to read as widely as you can about what you have written in your personal statement and stay up to date with the medical news in the media and scientific magazines. I had to keep on top of my school work and use any free lessons that I was showered with for my interview preparation. had I started practicing my interview with teachers at school. the nerves on the day would not have been a major issue. the anxious interim period up to the interviews was a blessing in disguise. In terms of juggling work alongside the interview preparations. Even though I’d already been doing that. Since I had mentioned autism in my personal statement relating to my work experience. in this period one can do nothing but prepare for the interview itself. After every stage it felt as if one hurdle was crossed and another one was on the horizon. Both resources were easily accessible and quite straightforward to understand since their audience is the layman. Understandably. But alas. it was hard to find spare time amidst the several extracurricular activities I was already involved with. for example editing the yearbook and arranging the leaver’s hoodie. as chair of Leaver’s Committee. I read more around the disorder and also read “The Curious Case of the .

I was hoping to be called for an interview at Oxford and for that I familiarized myself with the A2 course well in advance. however it wasn’t high enough to secure me an interview at Oxford. the Economist and the New Scientist. Universities are looking for this reading habit because once you are doing your degree you would be expected to read massive text books. Friedland M. On top of that I re-read the other books and magazine issues that I had mentioned in my personal statement.’ I had my first interview at University College London (UCL) in early December. .’ By attending the Intensive Training Course held by Ace Medicine last November. if you can’t do this now then it would be a huge effort later on. ‘By attending the Intensive Course held by Ace Medicine. Looking back. the Economist and the New Scientist. I felt I was greatly helped and found myself in a better position than other students who hadn’t attended it. such as the Student BMJ. such as the Student BMJ.-7Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon. ‘On top of that I re-read the other books and magazine issues that I had mentioned in my personal statement. I hadn’t done a single mock interview before that because I was worried I might seem very robotic before the interview panel.D. the confidence that I gained from attending the lecture was invaluable. Reading such issues is beneficial since their contents are appropriate for future Medics. Meyer Friedman M. My BMAT score confirmed me an interview at UCL. The book gave me great insight into how an autistic mind could work. Complementary Medicine in the NHS and the in-depth information about the Medical Ethics and Laws. These include mental capacity. The interview was a great learning experience. I continued making trips to Central London to attend lectures at the Hunterian Museum and other such medical related events. I think only students who had doctors as parents or really close friends doing Medicine would have had the capacity to research and know about the hot topics that the course informed me about. On top of this. I felt I was greatly helped and found myself in a better position than other students who hadn’t attended it. By making frequent trips to the library I came across some really interesting books such as Medicine’s 10 greatest discoveries by Dr. Reading the current issues was vital. otherwise I’d have appeared as if I only read certain material for the sake of the personal statement.D. the development of the NHS. and Gerald W. just in case I was asked academic questions in the interviews.

I was absolutely petrified of doing a mock interview with my friends or even my sister. since the nerves made me deliver my answers in a very mechanical manner. There were no butterflies in my stomach. I believe if I had done a mock interview. I have no regrets for what happened. I believe I may have also come across as a bit opinionated when talking about media’s representation of the health services. made me a better and more mature interviewee at St. Interviewers can take anything out of the hat. and prior practise may have corrected this. rather ironically. George’s. Also. I felt I had a goal to work towards again. Even if people say that I am a brilliant conversationalist and that I have superb public speaking skills. I was sitting up straight.-8However. I was all smiles and confident on the sunny day. I was upset when I got the unfortunate letter informing me that I hadn’t been offered a place at the UCL. Despite the fact I’d already done my interview at UCL I felt I still didn’t have the answer to that universal question. it was the link between the MMR jabs and autism that let me down. I did pluck up the courage to look across the table to my friends and have a constructive mock interview. I learnt a great deal from it. I was relieved. I came across “as very robotic in my interview” (that was the feedback from the UCL). combined with the feedback I had received. thinking before I spoke and conducting myself in a really mature manner. Discussing ideas with family and friends made me ready and more comfortable for the interview. I’m one of those people who at an interview are shy in front of familiar faces but bold in front of strangers. I wouldn’t have thrown the opportunity away like I did. My mistakes and experience from my UCL interview. Eventually. Naturally. I realised that one can never be totally ready for an interview. My interview at UCL was a great experience. in my case. I was asked the routine questions and then a few general questions that I answered fluently thanks . I made some great friends in the waiting room. “Why medicine?”. be it with my mum or a friend. Later on in the year I got an interview offer from St George’s University of London. at the interview room. If I didn’t have the false confidence that I could do it without a mock interview. I felt I still had a chance. I would have come across better at the UCL interview. But I wouldn’t deny the fact that I let myself down in the preparation for it. I should have still done mock interviews. enjoyed the exotic food and drank plenty of orange juice! Even in the interview room I was really happy. Having said that.

I spoke about both sides of anything they asked me and gave my opinion of the topic too. Most fortunately for me. Have a mock interview done so that you have real confidence and faith in your abilities. Can you cope with the pressures that doctors face every day? Do you justify yourself by knowing what you’ve written in your personal statement and reading widely regarding the topics you’ve mentioned? Good luck with your interview! . Steer clear of false confidence. I was asked about Medical discoveries! Equipped with how to answer such questions from the Ace Medicine course and the huge encyclopaedia of knowledge I had researched. I entertained my interviewers by telling them all I knew. confidence and appearance. You will be amazed by your performance! You are at the interview because they already like you. I wish I had accepted help from my teachers sooner rather than later. and just want to confirm that you are the same person they have on paper.-9to the extensive reading I had done in preparation for the interview. My only regret was the interview finished too quickly! My advice to all the Medics would be to have a mock interview. testing your enthusiasm.

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