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How to prepare for medical school interview

How to prepare for medical school interview

How to prepare for medical school interviews
How to prepare for medical school interviews
Marianne N. Gazet
5-th Year Medical Student at Imperial College London Medical School (Instagram: @mariannedoesmedicine)
October 15, 2021

Interviews are a crucial point in the application journey to medical school. After going through all the hard work of UCAS applications, entrance exams and schoolwork, this final selection stage can appear daunting and especially stressful for many applicants. In this article, we will break down interview preparation into manageable tasks and provide lots of tips on how to best prepare for the day. Read more to find out how to prepare for a medical school interview.

Note: This article will focus on preparation for interviews- if you are not sure what medical school interviews are like or how they are structured, please read our previous article on the topic. It will help you understand this article a lot better!

How to prepare for medical school interview – Summary

  • Make a lot of notes
  • Practice common questions
  • Don’t memorise your answers
  • Practice with family and friends

When do I start preparing for my medical school interview?

First, let’s break this down into indirect and direct preparation. 

Indirect preparation

Indirect preparation is something you do throughout the UCAS application process, to be honest! As you are doing work experience, writing your personal statement, revising for the BMAT ethics section you are actually indirectly preparing yourself for the interviews as well! For example, when you are brainstorming for your personal statement on the question “why do you want to do medicine” this is excellent brainstorming for interviews as well- it’s a common interview question! 

Direct preparation

Direct preparation will start a bit later, usually when other UCAS steps have been completed, typically after students sit their BMAT. Indeed beforehand, it is more interesting and productive to focus on entrance exams and not stress about the interview just yet. So I would say give yourself some well-deserved rest after the BMAT and then start your interview preparation. Importantly, the final stages of preparation will take place when you get interview invitations and you know which universities are interviewing you and the mode of interview. That will be useful to really focus your preparation. But do not leave it completely until then!

How can I best prepare for my interviews?

Let’s start with some little things you can do for your indirect preparation. I think it is a good idea to actively be thinking about interviews in advance during your preparation. For example, you can create a notebook or folder on your computer as early as you can and just jot down things related to the interviews in this dedicated space. Some people refer to this as a reflection diary. 

Make lots of notes

For example, if you are reading a Medicine-related book over the summer, write down your thoughts about the book straight away in the notebook so that a few months later, when interviews come, you will have those notes ready. Another example is when you are on your work experience, you will be seeing a lot of things day to day and jotting down what you saw and actively reflecting on the day will be really helpful, again to look back into it a few months down the line!

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Look up common questions

Then for your direct preparation, I suggest looking up common questions and brainstorming each of them. Sit down and go through questions and think about what answer you want to give, and build your answer. Use your reflection notebook, draw from things you have read and experiences you have had.

Have a look at our list of common Medicine interview questions.

Practice answering the questions

After this preparation, you move on to the practice stage: practising saying your answers out loud! Get used to voicing out your thoughts and turning written paragraphs into a spoken answers. 

Try to practice the following

  • Finding the right sentence structure.
  • Making your answer flow but also organise.
  • Having the right length to your answer, not too long and not too short

It is also very important to practice your speaking. Speaking clearly and calmly, having the right pace of speech, using good vocabulary and avoid familiar words. I know all these things seem like a lot but don’t worry, all these things come with practice!

Don’t memorise your answers

Important side-note, I don’t think you should be learning answers off by heart, this will not be useful for many reasons: you will not seem natural, and it will look very rehearsed, there are too many potential questions you can’t learn all of them and if they ask you a question that is slightly different you will be thrown off and not able to adapt your answer. Instead, practice quick thinking and building a nice answer to an unknown question on the spot.

Who should I practice with?

For this active practice, I suggest you start by yourself in your room at the beginning and then move on to practising with your friends and family first and then a teacher or admissions tutor or someone you don’t know as well. Ask everyone for their honest feedback as you go! The aim of this is to get progressively more difficult and stressful so you slowly get used to it and ultimately can manage to answer the interviewers’ questions on the day. You can also film yourself answering questions and watch back to analyse your own performance.

Resources to use

A very important place to start with is the universities’ official websites. There is the only official place where you are sure the information is accurate and up to date. They will explain the structure of interviews and give some common questions or topics that can be asked during the interview. Make sure you look thoroughly at these website pages for each university you have an interview with.

Another interesting place you can look at are blogs or forums where students share what questions they got asked. However, this comes with a warning, as said above, these may not be accurate and up to date- people can make up things, and no one verifies them, so always be cautious! In a similar fashion, I would suggest reaching out to current medical students- they have recently been through interviews, and if they are happy, to can share what questions they got asked! They can give you invaluable advice! If you do not know where to look for them, ask around you, ask your school as they may know some older students who can help you, and also ask at open days where there will be some helpful student volunteers. 

The day before and the morning of the interview

The night before the interview, it’s all about reducing stress and getting in the right mindset. You can do some light revision like rereading your notes but do not overthink it or tire yourself out. Then get some good sleep, eat some good food, take a relaxing bath or shower and read something unrelated to medicine. Similarly in the morning do something relaxing like going for a walk, listening to some happy music. It may also be useful to repeat some motivational sentences, remind yourself of all your achievements so far or read some motivational quotes! 

Remember to minimise stress on the day by planning your outfit and your bag, so it’s all ready, planning the route and getting to the interview location early. If the interview is held in another city, consider getting there the night before, especially if the interview is in the morning, to reduce the potential risk of delay on the road or on the train. Or ask for an afternoon interview if this is not accessible to you. Make sure you have all the paperwork you need to bring if relevant. If you are sitting the interview online, choose the place where you want to sit your interview: ideally, a quiet room with good Wi-Fi reception. Check your laptop, microphone, and headphones are working well and that you have all the details and links to the meeting platform and know who to contact in case of a technical issue.

Remember you can do it and – even though of course it is extremely important to you- it is not a matter of life or death even though it may seem like it!

PRESENT THE BEST YOU AT THE INTERVIEW

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