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Interview Tips and Advice (Part 1)


In preparing for something as mammoth as a medical school interview, there are a lot of things to consider. When preparing you have to understand what type of language the interviewers might use, what to include in your answers and how you can respond both verbally and through your body language.


General advice for medical interviews

• Walk into the room with a big smile.

• Be confident, honest, friendly, understanding, respectful and empathic.

• It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you decide to adopt, take your stance and defend your arguments until the end. Give reasons to justify your actions and argument.

• When faced with a difficult scenario, you can: question motives, assess true and false situations, or seek a 3rd-party opinion and confirmation.

• Use anecdotes and personal experiences whenever possible to provide examples for points being made.

• Use non-technical/plain language, in case there are those without a science/medical background. Explain your answers as much as possible.


Things to consider when discussing scenarios

• In some scenarios, it may be easier to turn a blind eye than to choose confrontation. However, avoiding a problem does not eliminate it at its root.

• Discrimination should only be used to distinguish between something that is genuine and fake; it should not be used against people.

• Consider both sides of the argument. For example, you could say: “It may appear that [present alternate view here], but I believe that [present adopted view here].”

• Try to mention more than one solution to the problem. For example, you could say: “I’ll try my best to [present main action here], but if I can’t then I’ll [present backup action here].”


Keys to Effective Communication: elements of body language/non-verbal communication which are important in medical interviews

• Appearance – being tidy

• Body contact - e.g. shaking hands

• Closeness - e.g. giving space

• Eye movements - e.g. blinking

• Facial expression - e.g. smiling

• Hand movements - e.g. gestures

• Head movements - e.g. nodding

• Posture - e.g. back straight, slightly leaning forward

• Sounds - e.g. ensuring answers are audible

• Ways of talking - e.g. pauses, emphasising certain words


Dialogue used by interviewers in medical interviews

• Open-ended Questions

  - What…

  - When…

  - Why…

  - How…

• Probing Questions

  - Clarifying or checking understanding

  - Could you give me more detail about...?

  - Can you give me an example of...?

  - What happened after...?

  - Could you explain that a bit more?

  - What happened that made you think that?

• Closing

  - The main points are…

  - You said…

  - Did you mean…?


Having difficult conversations in medical interview scenarios

• Define exactly what the issue is

• Prepare for the conversation

• Make time for the conversation

• Communicate the message clearly and simply

• Be prepared to listen to or receive a difficult message

• Revisit the conversation


BET technique for giving positive feedback (useful reflective activity for medical scenarios)

• Behaviour: What is the individual doing that is valuable or you appreciate?

• Effect: Why is the performance important and how does it contribute?

• Thank you: Let the individual know you appreciate their work/effort


BEER technique for giving constructive feedback (useful reflective activity for medical scenarios)

• Behaviour: What is the individual doing or not doing that is a concern or is unacceptable?

• Effect: Why is the behaviour unacceptable, how does it bother others, or affect teamwork?

• Expectation: What do you expect the individual to do or not do to change?

• Result: What will happen if a change occurs? What will happen if it doesn’t?


Improving your reading for UCAT
One on one with a medical school interviewer

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