‘So why do you want to do medicine?’
This is the ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’ question of all medical school interviews.
As I speak, universities are sending out interview offers to hopeful candidates. Interviews are scary, especially since you’ve spent the best part of a year applying. On the plus side, this is the final hurdle. So to help you, I have some tips to try and calm some of those pre-interview nerves.
Type of Interview
Know the type of interview before you start preparing. Most universities prefer to use the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process as this is able to test the applicant in many areas during a short period of time. Needless to say, these interviews tend to me more stressful as you have to be able to know a little about everything (a bit like medicine). However, they are short. Most stations are between 5-8 minutes depending on the university.
The other type of interview is the Panel Interview. Panel interviews are generally easier to prepare for and allows the interviewer to gauge an accurate bearing of the applicant. Unlike MMIs, you generally can’t mess up. A mess up in an MMI may affect your score for that station, but there will often be 6/7 more stations to make up for the mistake. Panel’s are slightly less forgiving and a mistake can haunt the interview. If you think you are more of a chatty people person, panel’s tend to be stronger where as MMIs test your ability to be succinct and think on your feet.
Most MMIs for now contain an acting station. This is based around breaking bad news. As part of the GMC guidelines, they have recognised this is something all medical students should be able to do.
My advice here is to be sincere. The actors will often have a basic script which enables them to respond to what you say and your body language. I have known full-blown arguments to break out in this station.
Accept the fault. Don’t try to make an excuse for what happened, this looks bad. Apologise (throughout) and come up with ways in which you can fix this. The scenarios are non-medical (so no knowledge required – you’re applying to do medicine, not doing it already), often a pet which died while you were looking after it or a missed dinner reservation. If you are doing well the actor may accept your resolution or may make the scenario more difficult (e.g. the pet was brought during their kids cancer treatment).
You can move heaven and earth to come to a resolution. This doesn’t mean jump straight to the most erroneous option, but means you can be a bit creative along the way.
Look into the university; what do they offer? what teaching style do they use (PBL or seminars)? what is the structure of the course? how do they teach anatomy? Show them you’ve researched the place at which you want to study, but don’t list reasons, show how this relates to you and your decision.
Ethics. There will always be an ethics question from euthanasia to organ donation to homeopathy. My big tip here: Look up the 4 pillars of ethics and apply these to your answer.
Work experience. Most of your questions will about why you want to do medicine or what drove you to this decision? Whenever using work experience as an answer, reflect on what you learnt and how this affected you.
How much medical knowledge you know will not help you. You’re applying to go to medical school, it’s pointless if you know most of the information before starting!
Finally, DON’T LEARN ANSWERS!!!
Have a template in your head which you can use but it is so obvious when someone has simply recited an answer. Most MMIs now will ask the basic questions in slightly modified way to see if you simply recite or actually answer the question.
Nerves are a big part of any interview. There will always be the person who is relaxed and wants to chat beforehand. There will also be the one boasting about which surgeon they shadowed for experience. The only person who determines the outcome of that interview is you! Take deep breaths, you’ve come this far therefore, on paper, they want you. Most interviews will have a warm up question to get you going.
The interviewers know how stressful the environment is at interview. They will understand if you draw a mind blank, or mess up some words. It shows you’re human and will rarely affect the outcome.
I wish you all the best with interviews. If you have any specific questions regarding interviews, visit the contact page.