4 Tips to be successful in your UK Medicine school interview

A recent study shows that four out of five UK Medicine student applicants have reported being nervous before their interview. In this article I am going to teach you how to be less nervous and more confident so that the university admissions team gets to see the real you. I’m going to walk you through four little exercises that are going to make you feel better about yourself and less nervous.  These are the same exercises that I used myself when I went for interviews and I always felt good, comfortable and I felt confident so I know you will too.

So let’s dive right in so that you feel and become confident in your interview for any UK Medicine university teaching course.

Nervousness

So what is nervousness and why do we feel nervous? I think that nervousness is your friend. It’s your way and it’s your brain’s way of telling you that you need to get prepared. But also, if you don’t feel a little bit of nervousness something might be wrong but too much nervousness gets overwhelming and then it makes us just trip over our words and people don’t really get to see or know the real us which is what we want them to when you attend the UK Medicine school interview.

Confidence

Confidence is just a culmination of all your experiences coming together/ahead to push you through an event. I mean if you don’t have any confidence in your abilities and the things that you do, then you’re probably going to doubt yourself so when the time comes, you’re going to doubt yourself in the interview for UK Medicine school application. And that’s what’s going to make you feel nervous so I’m going to help you push all that stuff aside so you feel good about yourself.

Tip 1: Visualise

So the first thing that I always do before every UK Medicine school interview is visualising myself in the role and that means not just thinking that you have the offer but visualising like you already have it. In this process,  I see what I think about are the things that I’m doing, see the place that I’m going to,  I see the people that will be there and  I see myself interacting with everybody and talking to them and exchanging views. This allows me to be more confident in the interview because I already feel like I attend there, I feel like these are already my peers.  Now the trick to the key to visualising is you can’t just do it once right before the interview but many times over and over so it’s conditioning.

Example: you’ve got an interview next week and let’s just say it’s with QMUL or Cardiff. You want to start the conditioning process immediately.  You want to think about it frequently so you may be in the morning, think about it in the afternoon and think about it before you go to bed.  You want to do this every day just a little so just a few minutes, maybe 3-5 minutes.

Imagine yourself there attending there doing the kinds of things that you want to be doing, contributing and sharing your expertise with them.  You want to do this every day and a great way to condition is that I personally like to do it when I would take walks.  I would take a walk every day and I would just imagine myself in the role and your brain, believe it or not, doesn’t really know the difference between what you put up there in reality or imagined and what is real.  So you just keep thinking over and over and over that I have this UK Medicine school interview in the bag. You keep running this pattern in your mind over and over and over again so you’re going to start to believe it.  You want to do it over and over and it’s repetition and that is what conditioning is. By doing this exercise, you are going to build confidence into your nervous system so that when you sit down for your big day, you’re going to feel good and you’re going to feel like you already have received an offer as the interview will have gone really well.

Tip 2:  Rehearse

When you have to prepare your answers you have to think about the kinds of things that you’re going to say.  You want to be prepared for some of the more common questions like, tell me about yourself, why medicine, why did you apply here, what are your greatest strengths.  You don’t want to just answer those for the first time or you don’t want to think that you’re so confident that you’ll be able to come up with those answers on the spot because you’re already going to be at a slightly heightened sense of nervousness. Rather relying on your subconscious mind to come up with these answers off the cuff is taxing your system and that’s going to make you feel more nervous so the one way I like to prepare my answers is to get in front of a video camera and answer those questions. Dress professionally as if being interviewed in front of the camera and look at them as if they are your interview panel. Pretend that they have asked you the question about yourself, and then just go to answer it. Practice with other questions such as, tell me about your hobbies or your weaknesses or why do you want to study here or tell me what you learnt in your work experience in hospital or any other question that you feel that you are going to be challenged on. The next stage is then I go back and watch that video clip and I see what i look like,  I see how I sound,  I see how long it takes. I mean if some of my answers are three or four minutes that’s way too long. I’m aiming for answers that are 30 to 45 seconds and up a minute unless it is a discussion type of question or scenario. Short on point answers are needed when they ask: Tell me about the ethical pillars or what are NICE guidelines. Importantly, I also listen for all the ums and the ahs and you knows as I am rehearsing and talking to the camera. I try to get that stuff out because if I’m interviewing  in  real life with somebody I don’t want to be saying um uh uh you know i want to be direct I want to deliver an answer that’s on point.

The key to practicing and rehearsing your answers is that you don’t want to memorise. A better form of learning is how to prepare and learn to speak your answers. The idea is to actually speak to them and not just the same way so when they ask you,” tell me when you had to calm down someone or tell me about your leadership skills”  your answer should be slightly different each time. That means that you’re assembling that answer on the fly and you’re not relying on memorisation to say it exactly because once you start relying on memorisation to say your answer exactly and if you get tripped up for just one second, you’re just going be like a deer in the headlights. Worse still, when you’re going to be stuck, you’re going to be stuck in the middle of an answer and then you’re going to want to start over again which will give the examiners the idea that this is a Medicine Applicant who has just rehearsed all the answers.. you don’t ever want to do that. It looks bad. You want to be able to come up with your answers off the cuff so they sound a little bit different every time but the whole theme of the answer is relatively the same, i.e. they get the same information, it just comes out a different way and that’s the key to preparing your answers. This is what the Medicine application tutor panel are impressed with in students that are likely to receive an offer for a place on their course.

Tip 3: Understand

You must understand the contents of the Medical school prospectus/brochure and don’t read it while it’s on your computer screen but print it out. Then get some highlighters and go over it and what I like to look for are repeating patterns in what they’re looking for. These patterns will assist you in your Medicine interview process.

Tip 4: Smile

One of the best ways to suppress your nervousness in an interview is to smile. When you smile that releases so much tension in your face and it instantly relaxes you and it relaxes the people who are around you. It’s so simple hardly anybody does and when we get into an interview, we just get so uptight we forget about smiling. If you are the type of person who is not used to smiling much, then practice every day by smiling in the mirror.

Specific Interview question tip:

“Tell us about yourself?”

This section now covers the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question. You hate this question, all of my students hate this question, but it’s a question that starts off 99% of UK medicine interviews as an initial icebreaker. We highly recommend spending some time on this question because it’s going and can make a world of difference to your interview performance and your results. Let’s get started. Why does an interviewer ask this question? Along with variations like walk me through your background, tell me more about you, it sounds like a harmless way to start a  UK medicine interview. It’s very open-ended, not particularly difficult; everybody should know a little something about themselves that they can talk about, right? From the interviewer’s perspective, it’s an easy way to get the conversation going. They just want to get you talking and dive into the relevant information. For the candidate, the dread comes from the fact that question is so open-ended. You could answer in so many different ways, and people aren’t quite sure what the best way is. What does this person want to know about me? They stumble, they falter, they talk too much about ancient history, and that’s a terrible way to start an interview– by fumbling around and sounding confused, or worse, boring your interviewer. Instead, we want you to embrace this question, because answering this question well is one of the most effective things you can do in the entire interview. It allows you to set the tone. It gives you some power and autonomy in this interview situation, where you may otherwise feel nervous and at the mercy of your interviewer. By starting strong, you make a great first impression and shape the dialogue that comes next. Take the time to prepare how you want to tell your story and ensure you make a first impression that leads to a Medicine offer. Here’s how you should craft your “tell me about yourself “response. Think about it as an elevator pitch– a focused overview that’s concise enough to deliver during an elevator ride. Your elevator pitch as a potential Medicine School candidate should include your top-selling points for the position. Your top selling points are going to be a little bit different from university to university. You want to give a little bit of your personality and your interest in the opportunity along with your selling points. You want to sound natural and spontaneous while also covering the points that you want to communicate to make the best possible impression. We are going to teach you to outline a standard answer that can also be customised for different opportunities. We recommend a bullet point approach, not a scripted approach. Scripted answers tend to sound stiff and artificial. Interviewers don’t feel like they’re getting to know the real you. Instead, we suggest that you outline the bullet points that you want to cover and leave room for spontaneity in terms of exactly how you deliver the points each time. Then with a little practice, you’ll find that your answers will naturally evolve as you get comfortable with what you want to say. Once you know your key speaking points, you’ll have room to be flexible and deliver differently in every single interview. It’s not unlike how a celebrity prepares with a publicist before hitting the talk show circuit. They want to sound genuine and likable, so they don’t script their remarks, but they do have an idea of the topics they want to cover– promoting the new movie, telling a funny story about their life, you know how it goes.

Let’s get started with outlining your elevator pitch.

We’ve got a great three-step formula for you.

Step 1:

who you are. The first key component is a confident, compelling statement of who you are professionally. The most common mistake we see is a candidate starting this answer by going back to the beginning of the Personal Statement as submitted to UCAS and walking through their experience chronologically and often in way too much detail. This approach is weak because it leads with out-of-date and irrelevant information instead of leading with what’s most impressive about you right now. For most candidates, this includes a reference to their current position, as well as an overview of the breadth and depth of their related experience. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to give you a sense of what I’m talking about here. So here’s our first candidate. Who are you? “Well, I’m an A Level student with a strong background in the 3 sciences.” This puts the emphasis on their academic ability. Here’s another approach from a different candidate. ‘I have just finished work experience at Glasgow hospital experienced and have a good understanding into how the NHS delivers holistic care.”This is a nice big picture, high-level introduction for someone who has a same skill set to the previous one. It concisely summarises a diverse background and understanding in what it means to be a doctor. Now let’s look at a not-so-good example. ‘Well, I grew up in Barnsley. As a child, I originally wanted to be a fireman, and then later became quite interested in dinosaurs. I excelled in the sciences from early on, placing first in my grade science fair. You know, funny story about that–“OK, way TMI. Sadly, the interviewer does not really care. And I realise this is an exaggerated example, but, trust me, I have heard a lot of people go the TMI route. The idea here is to start strong and grab their attention before getting into the details. Tell them how you want them to see you.

Step 2:

Why you’re suitable. Step two is kind of like the meat in the sandwich of your “tell me about you” answer. The idea here is to plan in advance which details to share that are most likely to knock the socks off of this interviewer. Remember, your interviewer doesn’t have endless amounts of time. Focus on two to four, maybe five, points that you’d like to make. The goal is to keep it under two minute’s total, so think about it. What are those two to four points? There will be more time for detail later, so focus on the biggest selling points– the stuff that you think– if you were the interviewer– would make you perk up your ears and say, ah, this is interesting. This could be a classic reverse chronological overview of your last few positions or it could be a list of key accomplishments tailored to the university requirements. So let’s look at an example here of how you might present that middle piece of the answer.”Medicine requires good communication skills and I spent the last six months developing my skills as a customer service manager for Mega Biscuits Ltd where I was nominated twice for employee of the month and I’ve been promoted twice. I love working in teams and solving customer problems.”This is a very concise example, and yours can certainly have a bit more detail. Just keep in mind that the overall answer should be no longer than two minutes. What’s good about this answer? Well, the emphasis is on relevant experience, and not just that, but proof of performance. It’s not a summary of job duties. A lot of people make that mistake– both on the Personal Statement and in the interview. When asked about what you somewhere did, you’re not just going to rattle off the duties that any human would have done in the position. You’re going to focus on what you did that was above and beyond– accomplishments, competencies, all of it tailored to what’s relevant for the application description.

Step 3:

Why do you want to study medicine. This is your chance to express enthusiasm for the position in a few sentences. Keep it short and sweet here. Here’s an example of one way to do this. You can use a general approach but if you can, make it a bit more specific which is even better, but something along these lines will work well. You’ll have time to get into more detail later– to show that you researched the course, to show why you’re a great fit for the role. The goal in this moment is to wrap up your pitch in a concise, confident manner to show your enthusiasm. Once you’ve got bullet points for each of the three steps, it’s time to put them all together into a polished, powerful elevator pitch. The key is to practice a bit and find your rhythm, find your flow. You can practice a time or two with your notes handy. Then once you’ve internalised the general outline, it’s going to feel more natural, and your personality is going to come through. To give you an idea of how it can all come together, I want to share an example answer. Here’s a candidate with their version of the answer to “tell me about you.” This is not a medicine answer but the example gives you an idea…”I have more than five years of experience as a technical project manager at top companies. Most recently, I helped develop an award-winning new trading platform. I’m a person who thrives in a fast-paced environment, so right now; I’m looking for an opportunity to apply my technology expertise, along with my creative problem-solving skills, at an innovative software company.”Your version will be even stronger, but more detailed, tailored for the particular type of opportunity which is medicine in your case. Now that you know what you need to do to ace this answer, it’s time to outline your own bullet points for each of the three parts and start practicing. University Expert has more sample answers and a fantastic practice tool to help you make the best possible first impression with “tells me about yourself.”

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