What are medical school interviews looking for?

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You've spent ages writing your personal statement, working hard on your A Levels/IB, and tackling entrance exams - and it's all paid off, because you've got yourself an interview at a medical school! Whilst this should be the time when you give yourself a big pat on the back, instead, you can be left with the question, “what do I do now?" or "how do I prepare?"

Medical school interviews are not intended to trip you up, or grill you until you break down! They are just meant to assess if you have some key attributes. From my personal experience of interview for medical school, and having worked as an interviewer myself, these consistently seem to be:

·        Communication skills – can be assessed by scenario stations at interviews. For example, you may be asked to step into the shoes of GP and advise a patient about how to lose weight. In a more traditional interview, you may be asked for examples of when you have used communication skills, such as part-time work in a shop.

·        Empathy – again this may be assessed by a scenario station. An example would be, “break the news to your neighbour that you have run over their cat.” The personal statement is also a great place for interviewers to ask you about this.

·        Team work – may be simply phrased as “tell me when you have demonstrated team working skills”, or in a group interview, you may be observed working as part of a team.

·        Appreciation of the nature of the course – usually assessed by questions such as “why medicine?” or “why this university?” Assessors want to see that your reasons for wanting to study medicine are well-founded (don’t feel the need to make up anything particularly unusual!) and that you are well-informed about the course. After all, you will be studying it for 5 years.

·        Leadership – again, likely to be assessed in the same way as teamwork. Try and draw on examples from your personal statement for evidence.

These are the main attributes that most medical interviews are trying to tease out. Above all, try your best to appear self-confident, relaxed and friendly (even if you really don’t feel it!). Don’t be afraid to defend yourself if some interviewers get a little fierce – they’ll only push you if they think you’re good enough to handle it!

Rebecca S. Mentoring -Personal Statements- tutor, A Level Extended Pr...

About the author

is an online Mentoring -Medical School Preparation- tutor with MyTutor studying at Bristol University

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