1. Be yourself and bring your personality
Many of the interviewers have been sat in the same room for several hours listening to (mostly) the same answers to the same questions. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and your personality (as long as it’s nothing too controversial!). Whether you’re into fashion and want to wear that slightly eccentric shirt, you have a very unusual hobby or you have an absolute love for a certain type of music, don’t be afraid to share it! Don’t try and be someone you’re not, that’s boring, you are you for a reason. You will most likely be remembered for your alternative approach and be a breath of fresh air for the examiners.
2. Listen carefully
We all know this is a stressful environment and we are not expecting you to be able to fly through the process without even the smallest bead of sweat running down your back. If you try and do one thing then please, please listen. Listen to the question that you are being asked - what does the interviewer want from you? The mark sheet will have specific requirements for certain marks. For example, if you don’t give TWO examples when they asked for TWO, you will not get the marks you need. If you’re struggling, take a moment, ask them to repeat the question and LISTEN to any cues that the interviewer may provide.
3. Share your qualities and achievements appropriately
You have a limited amount of time to get across to the interviewer who you are, where you’re from, what experience you have and your achievements. I know you want to try and get as much of this across as possible but please don’t just randomly give irrelevant examples of these irrespective of the question being asked. In most interviews there are questions targeted at gaining this information from candidates so go ahead and share this when required. However, when I’ve asked you for your opinion on the ethics involved in a situation, I do not need to know that you can bake like Mary Berry, have completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award, are a sporting legend that can play the flute with one finger whilst doing a headstand on a tight-rope. We can only give you the marks if you answer the specific question being asked. Know what you want to share with the interviewer but don’t share it inappropriately.
4. Do your research
Being a Doctor may sound good but, like any profession, there are both positives and negatives. Before you come for your interview, make sure you understand what those positives and negatives are and what it actually means to be a Doctor. What’s the best way to do this? Good, old-fashioned work experience! When you get the opportunity to be in a healthcare setting - TALK. Talk to the Doctors you meet - what’s their everyday life like? What do they find challenging? What would they say to their former 17 year old self about their current career? Having a good insight into exactly what the role involves will shine through in your interview. Also understand the structure of the medical degrees you have applied for and why you think they would suit you. Wanting to be a doctor is all well and good, by why did you apply to that particular institute?
You can write down the answers to typical interview questions 5000 times over but saying them out loud, in front of another human being is much MUCH harder. Get your friends, parents, teachers to ask you questions but PLEASE don’t memorise your lines! Having to think about a question before you answer it is much more genuine than coming out with a spiel you generated at home. Trying to remember everything by heart will stop you from doing one of the important things I’ve discussed above - listening. Make sure you have a good idea of examples and concepts that you can draw upon to demonstrate your capabilities but don’t recite them. Memorising will only make you sound like a robot. And you’re not a robot, you’re a young, intelligent, well-rounded, confident human being - so show it!
Author: Senior medical school interviewer in the North West