Presenting Yourself in Interviews
11 months ago by Rob
You may have started preparing for your medical interview. Practicing how to answer tough personal questions and scenarios are vital. However, one aspect of a medical interview that many people do not focus on is how to present yourself in front of the interviewers. Presentation is just as important as what you say in your medical interview.
Now you might be thinking, ‘there’s no way that’s true’, however, let me put it in perspective for you. Whether it be an MMI or a panel interview, the interviewers are sitting in a room by themselves for an entire day asking many different students the same questions over and over again. Every candidate is undoubtedly intelligent, otherwise they wouldn’t be there and so the answers that the interviewers are receiving won’t be incredibly different to each other.
As someone who went to many interviews, I don’t believe that it was what I said that resulted in me receiving medical offers from my top preferences, instead, I believe it was the impression I made on the interviewers through my presentation.
Making a great first impression is critical! When you enter the room or, if you have an online interview and the session begins, the interviewers will immediately judge whether they can see you as a future doctor. Here’s a couple of things to make sure you do at the start of the interview:
- Stand or sit up straight: This will portray confidence which is a key characteristic that medical interviewers look for in candidates. Slouching does not convey confidence, and they are looking for someone who is going to convey confidence to future patients.
- Have a smile on your face: This will make you come across as friendly and approachable. It may sound strange, but practice introducing yourself, with a smile, in front of the mirror. This will make it seem more familiar in the stressful interview situation.
- For an in-person interview, have a solid handshake: Make it firm and make sure you make eye contact during the handshake.
- Ensure what you are wearing is appropriate: You should be wearing smart-casual clothes.
When answering questions
- Speak clearly: You need to make sure the interviewers can clearly hear you and understand what you’re saying.
- Make direct eye contact with the interviewers: Looking away or not directly making eye contact can come across as rude, showing you have low confidence or are disinterested. For an online interview, you should try to avoid looking at yourself on the computer screen and instead look into the camera. Although you won’t be looking into their eyes, when the interviewers watch you respond it will feel as though you are looking at them.
- Try not to ramble: Going on a tangent and paraphrasing the same things over and over do not convey a good impression. It is acceptable to take a few seconds to structure your answer, before speaking. Sign posting your answer is a good technique. If the question has different elements, you can tell the interviewers how you are going to structure your answer. For example, “First I want to address X issue and then I want to look at the Y and Z consequences”. This will help you to address the question and avoid leaving something out.
- Modulate your voice: Speaking in a monotone voice is boring and the interviewers will lose interest in what you’re saying. Listen to good newsreaders – they don’t speak in a monotone. They emphasise points with their voice. There’s no need to sing your answers – just practice varying your tone.
- Use your hands: Moving your hands when speaking may seem unnatural but it makes you come across as more creative and interesting. Therefore, when practicing answering medical interview questions, try force yourself to move your hands a little bit and eventually it will become natural for you. The point of using your hands is to emphasize your points – so your hands should be in front of you around chest height. Avoid fidgeting with your hands, such as scratching your head, fiddling with your nails, covering your mouth when you speak, etc.
When leaving the interview
- Thank the interviewers: This shows respect to the interviewers and is also a solid way to end the interview
- Make sure you smile: Again, practise before a mirror saying thank you and goodbye with a smile (you want to avoid leaving the interview looking like you’re about to crash – even if that’s how you feel!) This will leave a good last impression in the interviewers’ mind before they score you.
These are all small things which add up to become quite significant in the interview. If you can perfect these little aspects of your interview technique, then you will set yourself up very well for your medical interview.
Written by Vinay a 100th percentile student studying medicine at Monash University.