The medical school interview is one of the most frequently discussed topics amongst students as it is a key stressor. This chapter will go through the following:
Almost all medical students who are currently studying have gone through this process. Interviews are essential for these reasons:
Interviewers do not deliberately select for personality traits nor show bias for gender/races/religion. There is not a “stereotypical” medical student, they come in all shapes, sizes and demeanour! Indeed some schools actively pursue such a mixed and diverse background in their cohort of students.
Researchers who analysed hundreds of American successful medical students’ to see what made them successful in the interview process, showed that being extroverted (as a personality trait) was the key differentiator of those students that scored highly in the interview process compared to those that 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 (as opposed to interviewers thinking that an outgoing medical student will make a good doctor).
In general, different schools (PBL vs traditional) might ask different types of questions, as to gauge the different skillsets that they seek in their students. The traditional school might ask about your academic achievements (including EPQs), More modern courses might want to ask questions that demonstrate your motivation, organisational skills and evidence of self-directed learning. They may wish to find out more about your empathy and communication skill set rather than over 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 your 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!. Providing stories and anecdotes along with solid evidence will provide a good balance and help make you memorable.”