Author: Holly M
4th Year Medical Student
Medical schools online interviews
Interviews for applications to medical schools are upon us, and this year will be a significantly different interview experience to previous years. However, it’s important to remember that; if you work hard and take the time to prepare well, you should be just as prepared for medical school interviews as you would be if it was going to be in person.
In this article, I will discuss some of the preparation and practical side to having an online interview. Then also some of the topics likely to come up. As with all articles, I would really recommend keeping a pen and paper handy. That way, you can take notes as you go along on anything you find particularly relevant or useful.
In this part of the article, we will look at some of the basic things to think about before an online interview. This includes your internet, setting and background and what you’re wearing. Some of it might sound a bit silly, but you want to try and create the best impression that you can, just so that there is no chance of any unfair bias towards you.
If possible, you really want to be somewhere that has a stable internet connection. You don’t want to be cutting out or glitching during your interview. The interviewers will have to be doing this all day, and it will really create a headache and add to their stress – putting them in a bad mood!
If you know that your internet connection at home is bad for whatever reason, contact your school. You could ask your school if it would be possible for you to be set up somewhere to have your online interview.
Setting and background
Again, this might seem really obvious or trivial. Still, you want to be making sure that you are in the best environment that you can be for your interview. This means taking several things into account.
First and foremost, you want to be doing your interview somewhere that you feel comfortable and able to talk freely and perform at your best in front of the interviewers. Additionally, you want to make sure that you’re sat somewhere relatively quiet and peaceful. Somewhere where you won’t be disturbed so that the interviewers can hear what you are saying and vice versa.
In terms of your background, you want to make sure that it looks as professional as possible. A blank wall, for example, is completely fine, as is a bookshelf. If the background is of your bedroom, take the time to tidy it up a bit and make the bed! I would just make sure there isn’t anything you would be embarrassed by, or think could appear unprofessional in the camera field of view.
If you are going to sit in front of a window, sit facing the window. If the light is coming from behind you, your face can appear very dark, and the interviewers may not see you properly. A lot of laptop webcams may even blur your face if there is a lot of light coming from behind you.
Are you ready for your interview?
What to wear
I think this is the easiest part to prepare for in some ways, as it hasn’t changed from other years. There’s loads of advice online about what is acceptable to wear at (medical school) interviews.
The two main things are that you have to wear something that you feel comfortable and confident in. Also, something that looks smart and professional, as you would do for any kind of interview usually.
Topics that could come up in the interview
I think that COVID-19 will definitely come up in some medical school interviews this year. There are so many different aspects to the pandemic which could come up, but if I were you, I would not focus so much on things such as the virology and pathophysiology. Focus more on the public health aspect and also the human aspect.
- vaccination programmes and prioritising who will receive vaccines,
- asymptomatic screening programmes and why they are/are not a good idea,
- the impact of shielding on people’s mental and physical health,
- the mental health crisis that has arisen out of the pandemic and lockdown,
- conversations around DNACPR (Do Not Allow CPR, which is a document about not trying to resuscitate someone if their heart stops)
- and the ethics surrounding the provision of scarce resources.
These are all topics which I think could come up, and you could have a really engaging conversation with your interviewer about them.
Preparing for the interview
In order to prepare for the interviews, there are several different things I would do.
Keeping a journal
Make sure you are keeping a journal /log of significant experiences and articles/news programmes you have seen etc. It is important to do this as you can read through it to jog your memory before the interview.
It’s really important that you don’t just write down what happened, but how it affected you, what it made you reflect on, and any extra reading and things you might have done following it.
Practice practice practice! The best thing you can do before an interview is to talk things through as many times as you can. You can do this by yourself in your room in front of a mirror, but also try doing it with friends/family/teachers. You will receive feedback on how you are doing, and they might also have some extra ideas you can add to your response next time!
Don’t focus only on COVID-19
Even though I have written a section on the COVID-19 pandemic above, make sure you don’t get completely sidetracked by the recent pandemic. There are other topics you have to think about.
Questions about why you want to study medicine, your work experience and volunteering and other more “traditional” stations are still likely to come up. It’s fine to link COVID-19 pandemic into these responses, but just make sure you have thought about questions other than those directly linked to the pandemic!
There are loads of really good resources online. Ranging from web pages with lots of interview questions on that you can practice, as well as YouTube videos simulating them, and people talking about their own interview experiences. I would recommend reading through these so you have a good understanding of the format and the types of questions that might come up.
More interviews-related resources from Medical Projects
Ward Round Live – The UK’s only virtual hospital ward experience
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