The medical school interview is one of the most frequently discussed topics among students as it is a key stressor. This section will cover:
Almost all medical students who are currently studying have gone through an interview. Interviews are essential for these following reasons:
Interviewers do not deliberately select for personality traits and nor do they show bias on the grounds of gender, race or religion. There is no ‘stereotypical’ medical student; they come in all shapes, sizes and demeanours. Indeed, some schools actively seek to include mixed and diverse backgrounds in their cohort of students.
Researchers analysed hundreds of successful American medical students to see what made them successful in the interview process. Their research showed that being extroverted as a personality trait was the key differentiator of those students who scored highly at interview compared to those who scored badly and did not receive an offer. It may be that more outgoing applicants make a much better impression on interviewers compared to shy, silent types, rather than interviewers thinking that an outgoing medical student will make a good doctor.
In general, different schools, PBL versus traditional, might ask different types of questions to gauge the different skillsets that they seek in their students. A traditional school might ask about your academic achievements, including EPQs, whereas more modern schools might ask questions to reveal your motivation, organisational skills and evidence of self-directed learning. They may wish to find out more about your empathy and communication skillset rather than your academic history.
Medical schools have different ways of interviewing applicants.
Since each medical school has their unique style of interviews you do not want to discover any nasty surprises on the day.
Phoebe – Swansea University
‘I had one awful interview during my first application, then four really enjoyable interviews on my re-application which were followed by four offers. If the interview goes badly, don’t give up; sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned for whatever reason. It may seem tricky because they are trying to challenge you, or it maybe because that medical school isn’t really suited to you and your personality or learning style. Generally, the interviewers want to get the very best out of you and aren’t there to trip you up or make you feel uncomfortable.’
Justin – University of Leicester
‘Be prepared by knowing your personal statement inside out. This can be done by brainstorming possible questions which could be asked and how best to answer. It is worth reading up about current medical issues and being aware about any specific information pertaining to that medical school. Above all, know why you want to be a doctor and show the interviewers your enthusiasm, maturity and understanding of what is involved. Any statements you mention about yourself should be justified with evidence like any good scientist would. Take your interviews seriously and remember that is your 10–20 minutes to shine. Provide stories and anecdotes along with solid evidence; this will show a good balance and help make you memorable.’
Edinburgh is one of the few universities which doesn't always interview (only in undecided cases). This is because their selection criteria are already very stringent.
Interviews can start in November and run into March.
Some medical schools let you know if you’ve been successful within a couple of weeks of your interview, while others will hold off until the deadline in March.
Succeed in your Medical School interview
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