I am finally back with another blog post all about my advice on how to prepare for medical school interviews. I know I have been M.I.A. for a while (and a little lazy on the blog posts), but I am finally back and here to offer my best advice to you guys!
Interviews are a bit nerve-wracking as this is the point that can either make or break your chances of getting into medical school. Obviously, your goal as an applicant is to impress your interviewers but you also don’t want to come across as too rehearsed. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be well prepared, but it does mean that you need to feel relaxed and be yourself when answering questions. In this post, I am going to share five tips with you on how to prepare for your interviews without coming across as rehearsed or robotic when answering!
1. Practice as Many Questions as Possible (Out Loud)!!
Obviously, the best way to prepare is to go over as many question as you can. This is the best way to feel confident in your answer since you have seen the question before and have practiced answering it. However, it’s one thing to read through the different questions and a whole other thing to actually practice saying your answer out loud. Trust me… the first time you answer a question, it is not going to be smooth, concise, and well-thought out. It is going to be all over the place, and you might find yourself rambling. This is why it is so important to practice answering questions out loud! You will be able refine your answer based on your mistakes, and be able to tailor your answer so that it answers the question effectively. Another tip I would suggest is to also practice with someone so that they can provide you with feedback. This will also help you improve your answers so that they are concise and thoughtful.
Also, practicing many questions will also help you figure out the types of themes and topics medical school interviewers tend to ask. This will allow you to pick up on the various themes and allow you to formulate answers that correspond to those various themes. For example, there are many questions that ask about your personal characteristics, experiences working in teams/groups, clinical experiences, reasons why you want to pursue medicine, and your approach on how to deal with certain ethical dilemmas. Practicing as many questions as possible will force you to come up with examples of your experiences that correspond to all of these themes, and help you answer any question asked during your interview.
Links to practice questions (these are some of the questions I practiced preparing for my interviews):
2. Know the CanMEDS Framework
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada website describes the CanMEDS framework as:
“a framework that identifies and describes the abilities physicians require to effectively meet the health care needs of the people they serve. These abilities are grouped thematically under seven roles. A competent physician seamlessly integrates the competencies of all seven CanMEDS Roles.”
Basically, these roles are what the “perfect” physician should embody and, as an applicant, it is important that you show your interviewers that you have at least some of these characteristics. However, I do not suggest using the exact words of “health advocate,” “collaborator,” “scholar,” and “communicator” in your answers, but use synonyms for these characteristics instead. This way, you are showing the interviewers that you have these qualities but you’re not going to look “too rehearsed” or “fake” in your responses. I would suggest going through the website linked above and reviewing the role definitions, descriptions, and key concepts. Also, think back and find key examples/experiences where you showed certain CanMEDS roles to use in your answers.
3. You Don’t Have to Answer Ethical Questions on Your Own
No one is an ethicist by nature, and the medical school interviewers know that. They are not expecting you to be able to give the perfect answer to every ethical dilemma they ask you about and, in my opinion, there is no “perfect” solution for any ethical situation you will be asked about. However, instead of sitting at home and trying to conjure up the perfect answer, you should use some resources to help you navigate ethics questions.
Two of the resources I used were:
- Course Grinder – This is a YouTube video series aimed to help students conquer ethical dilemmas that can be asked about during medial school interviews. This video series provides students with an amazing framework on how to approach and answer ethical questions, and can used to deal with almost any ethical dilemma. The tutor walks through his complete thought process on how to deal with the situation he is faced with, and provides you with a comprehensive step-by-step approach.
- Doing Right – This book is pretty much the “premed bible,” and is something that most of you have probably already read. However, I do believe that it is a great resource to flip through when preparing for medical school interview questions on ethics. This book contains many case examples that are worked through by author and physician Dr. Philip C. Hebert. It offers its readers an amazing approach on how to handle ethical situations, which is very helpful when preparing for interviews.
4. Show the Interviewers that Medicine Isn’t All You’re Made For
You know all those amazing hobbies and talents that you have outside of medicine? Well, tell your interviewers all about them! You’ve made it to the interview portion, so the medical school you’re interviewing at already knows that you’re smart and have a killer application. I am not saying that you should ignore these things about yourself, but sharing your other passions help to show the interviewers that you are well-rounded and unique! Share some interesting facts about yourself, and show the committee that not only do you have all the academic/medical characteristics but you’re also creative, athletic, adventurous, etc.
Before your interview, take the time to prepare a couple of interesting things about yourself, activities you take part in outside of academics, or some hidden talents you may have. Prepping these facts about yourself in advance will help you be able to integrate them into appropriate questions smoothly and naturally. Again, you should only share these facts about yourself when appropriate, and not when it is completely irrelevant. An easy time to bring up your hidden talents and hobbies is when the interviewers ask you about yourself, your qualities/characteristics, and even questions related to how you handle stress.
5. Be Yourself on Interview Day
This is so important!! Being yourself will show the panel that you are genuine, and will ensure that you are not sending off any “fake” vibes to your interviewers. I know this is something that is hard to practice, but the best thing you can do to help calm your nerves and be yourself is to take part in mock interviews. Mock interviews are a great way to practice your answers to the questions you have practiced, get a feel for the interview environment, and help you learn how to act natural. If you take mock interviews very seriously, it is one of the best ways to prepare for the real thing.
Many medical schools offer mock interviews to students who have received interviews to their school, and many university career centres will also offer mock interviews to their students. When I was in undergrad, my university offered mock interviews for many different types of interviews that students may need assistance preparing for. I did two mock interviews, one before each interview I had, and I did these the day before my actual interview! I found it extremely helpful because it is the closest thing to the real deal!
So, there you have it! These are my five tips to help you prepare for your medical school interviews! Since I went through all of this only a year ago, I definitely know the rollercoaster of emotions you all are going through. This is an amazing time in your premed journey, and you should feel so so proud of all of your accomplishments thus far! Good luck to everyone interviewing this cycle. I wish you all the best!
If you like this post and want to see more posts like this, comment below!
The Girly MD (to be)