Interview tips when applying for medical courses

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As a invitation to attend a medical school interview drops through your letterbox, feelings of excitement can very quickly turn to panic, with many students worrying about the prospect of attending a formal interview for often the first time and in a situation that could determine their future career in medicine.

The first thing to bear in mind when attending a medical school interview is to be on time. This may seem obvious, but you may be in a strange town or city and we all know how inaccurate sat navs can be. Suss out the route and if you have to lurk down the road in a coffee shop, fine. Better that than be late.

When you get there, be yourself. If you try to please the interviewers by pretending to be someone you are not, you will trip yourself up for certain and the other side of this coin is that if you have to pretend to be someone other than yourself, then perhaps the course is not for you.

Next, don’t try to be witty or clever. We all know that students are supposed to be whacky, crazy people, don’t we, with medical students the best of the bunch? No. Students are supposed to be hardworking and sensible, so keep the funny cracks for when you have your place, not at the interview.

Be neat in your appearance, in comfortable clothes which are smart and clean. It is not really acceptable to go in jeans and trainers, even if you always wear them. Yes, I know the second paragraph says be yourself, but only if yourself happens to be clean and tidy – make an exception just this once and wear a tie, boys and girls – a nice pressed skirt, please, just for today!

The real golden rule is to be prepared. No one knows what questions you are going to be asked at interview and so you can’t really prepare in that sense, but there are some questions which are bound to come up in some shape or form, so you can be ready in principle. You will be asked why you want to study medicine, obviously. Do give this a lot of thought. Wanting to make the world a better place is very laudable but leave it at that and you will sound like a Miss World wannabe.

Make sure that you read some up to date literature before you attend the interview and if there is a burning new issue in the news, follow that and make an informed comment on it if you can. Stay away from politics; for example, recent NHS changes affect everyone in and out of the medical profession, but you can’t possibly know how your interviewers feel and if you wander into an area about which one feels strongly, you may find yourself in deep water with searching questions you can’t answer. Better to stick to something less contentious and better still something in which you have a genuine interest, then if more questions come from that you will answer well and with genuine knowledge.

Make sure that you read some up to date literature before you attend the interview and if there is a burning new issue in the news, follow that and make an informed comment on it if you can. Stay away from politics; for example, recent NHS changes affect everyone in and out of the medical profession, but you can’t possibly know how your interviewers feel and if you wander into an area about which one feels strongly, you may find yourself in deep water with searching questions you can’t answer. Better to stick to something less contentious and better still something in which you have a genuine interest, then if more questions come from that you will answer well and with genuine knowledge.

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