What can you do to maximise your chances of a successful interview?

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It is getting increasingly competitive to secure a place at medical school. Once you have bagged an interview, start your preparation immediately!

Background research

Google is a great resource - try to follow student forums where you can find tips about what to expect from interviews, and sometimes even what questions students have been asked. Do some research about the university and make sure you have a thorough knowledge of how the medical course is run at the university. For brownie points, pick out a couple of unique things you like about the way the course is run. For example, try and find out if there is much scope for 'student selected components' or SSCs in the course. If there is, you can talk about how you are excited for this opportunity, provided by the course, to direct your own learning.

Use Google again to find banks of common interview questions and answers. There are also various books available on Amazon that you may wish to purchase. Do not fall into the trap of learning the answers and regurgitating them! Tailor the answers to your experiences. A tip I was given before my interview was to think of at least four different patients or members of staff I had met during my work experience and try to integrate them into my answers where appropriate. Finally, practice speaking your answers out loud. Ask your family or friends to give you a mock interview. If they are too busy, go into an empty room, imagine a panel of interviewers in front of you and speak your answers out loud!

The interview

A few days before you attend your interview, make sure you have double checked all the relevant details about when and where your interview is, how early you need to be there and what documents you need to bring with you. Dress appropriately. The dress code for interviews is always SMART! Ladies, this means no short skirts, low neck blouses or stilettos (even if they are smart stilettos). Try to avoid excessive jewellery. Gentlemen, no black jeans or chinos or black trainers.

Once you have made it to your interview venue with plenty of time to spare, you will most probably be put in a waiting room prior to your interview. Now is the time to make sure your phone is turned off! Take 15 seconds to observe and familiarise yourself with how the interview runs- does someone walk you to the room or does the interviewer collect you themselves? Do you have to follow directions to a specific room number? Is there a designated area to leave bags and coats? Where is the toilet? Whilst these are not pivotal, it may help you feel more in control of the situation.

When you finally enter the room, greet your interviewers with a genuine smile and if appropriate, a firm handshake. Carry a professional but friendly manner about you at all times. Instead of trying to act professional, be your best professional self.

Try not be nervous, the interviewers are not trying to catch you out! They want to know if you are a hard working, clever and respectable individual, so try not to let your nerves bury that side of you! Good luck :)

Akshi K. A Level Human Biology tutor, GCSE Biology tutor, A Level Bio...

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