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Author: Holly M

4th Year Medical Student

Why Reflection Is Important For Your Medical Journey

Best practice for medical school interviews

Medical school interviews are now in full swing, and they can be a very daunting prospect. There are lots of articles on our website covering different aspects of medical school interviews, and I would really recommend reading through them all. That way, you can get the best idea possible of what it will be like and what could come up.

I would also check out our videos on YouTube with practice interviews, and there are also video interviews where people talk through their experiences. All of which can give you valuable information to help shape your preparation for your interviews.

In this article, we won’t be taking such a ‘deep dive’ into the specifics of the different formats and topics that can come up in an interview. Instead, we will be going through my top 5 dos and 5 don’ts! I would get a pen and paper handy to take notes on anything you think is particularly important or useful.

5 ‘DOs’ for medical school interviews

Do practice interviews

This is really important as if you prepare well and a lot, then you won’t be as stressed when it comes to the big day(s). Your answers are more likely to sound considered and thoughtful – making it more likely you can secure your place at medical school!

There are many different ways you can practice interviews. Don’t underestimate the power of finding interview questions by yourself and then talking through your answers out loud to yourself either at your desk or even in a mirror. If you can find somewhere nice and quiet to do this, this can be a great opportunity for you to have some space to reflect on some tricky topics.

Additionally, make sure you get your friends/family and teachers to practice interview questions with you. Being formally timed and receiving feedback will give you a more accurate idea of how the interview will actually run. They can also give you new ideas on how to answer questions.

Do look after yourself

This point is particularly pertinent in the current climate we are living in, where everything can be so stressful, and it can be really hard to take time for yourself. I would say this is particularly important in the lead up to your interviews as you need to be well-rested to present your best self. So make sure you’re taking time for self-care – whatever that means for you!

Do keep a journal

I go into more detail about these in some of my other articles, but trust me, you will thank yourself later! Write reflections on experiences, volunteering, articles you’ve read etc. when you’ve just done it. This way, when it comes to last-minute prep for your interviews, you can just quickly flick through this and recap on all the great things you’ve done and the insightful reflections you’ve had!

Pro tip: Read this article to find out more about Why Reflection Is Essential on Your Medical Journey

Do keep up with current affairs

This is an easy one to do. Just spending 5 minutes a day scrolling through BBC health and reading some articles that you find interesting will mean you have loads to talk about at interview.

If you come across an article/topic that piques your interest, then be sure to read more about. This will make you seem really engaged and motivated at the interview.

Do ‘keep it real’

By this, I mean, you must be authentic and true to yourself. Don’t say things during your interview that you don’t actually believe to be true.

It’s important that you react genuinely to the questions and content so that you can convey your own thoughts and ideas. The interviewers don’t want to hear something you read on a random chat board, and they will be able to tell if you’re not honest!

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5 ‘DON’Ts’ for medical school interviews

Don’t make things up

This is particularly important when writing your personal statement, as you can be asked questions on it during your interview. During one of mine, my interviewer had highlighted and written notes beforehand on things he wanted to ask me about. If I have lied, this would have quickly fallen apart, and I definitely wouldn’t have got a place in medical school.

Don’t rush

When answering questions during your interview, take your time. Even if you have a really good answer ready to go, by taking your time, you make it seem like you’re really considering the question and generating a thoughtful response.

Don’t stress too much

I can’t overstress the importance of self-care! But this also applies for during the interview itself. If you can’t think of an answer straight away or panic and say something you don’t mean, that’s okay! The interviewers know this is a stressful experience and as long as you can bring it back to create an overall thoughtful commentary and make a good impression, they’re sure to forget one minor blip.

Don’t be too argumentative/one-sided

This can help you understand how different disciplines have had to adapt their practice. It can help perhaps see a difference in the way teams work together. But also understand how, as clinicians, we need to adapt our practices to ensure patient safety, e.g. GP practices using telemedicine appointments.

Don’t ‘wing it’

This one should be obvious, but please please prepare for your interviews! Interview places are very precious and don’t even guarantee a place in medical school. You want to give yourself the best opportunity you can, so practice practice practice.

Keep a reflections journal, read the BBC health news, practice interview questions by yourself and with friends and family. Basically, do the best you can to prepare, so that on the day, you do the best you possibly can.

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