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Virtual Medical Interviews: Tips For Success

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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some changes to medical school admissions. A significant change has been the move from in-person medical interviews to virtual interviews at some universities.

A virtual interview in an interview that uses technology such as video conferencing software such as Zoom, or other online communication platforms. Several medical schools have already confirmed that medical interviews this year will take place virtually, including:

  • Monash University
  • The University of New South Wales
  • Adelaide University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • The University of Queensland
  • Auckland University

A virtual interview is very different from an in-person one and requires an understanding of how to best present yourself.

Here are some tips for success:

Before the interview

1.  Familiarise yourself with the technology

The university will provide you with details as to which teleconferencing platform they will use to conduct the medical interviews (for example, last year Monash University used Zoom). It is therefore important that you familiarise yourself with the platform and understand its functions – including how to mute/unmute yourself and enable webcam sharing. The last thing you want to be doing in an important medical interview is fumbling with the computer! Familiarising yourself with the platform will help you come across as confident and relaxed.

2. Set the scene

Carefully consider how the environment behind you will appear to the interviewers.  Try to avoid anything that would be distracting and that would take the focus off you. Ensure there is sufficient lighting in front of you so that you won’t appear as a silhouette or have distracting shadows over your face.

3. Practice

Check how you will appear by asking ask a family member or friend to interview you, or record yourself and watch it back. Are you easily seen and heard? Do you need to upgrade your headset or webcam? Ask for feedback on body language, facial expression, structure and content of answers and your manner.

MedEntry mock interviews will allow you to be interviewed by several experts. Mock interviews are tailored to the university to which you are applying, allowing you to practice in a simulated environment. It will be just like the real interview, but with the added benefit of obtaining valuable feedback on how you can improve!

On the day of the interview

1. Limit distractions

Remove anything that could be a distraction, for example, pets, phones or loud family members. Ensure you have a quiet, private space to conduct your interview. Turn off any notifications on your computer or mobile phone that might ping or pop-up.

2. Optimise internet speed

Check your internet speed and connection. To make sure your internet is working optimally, ask anyone who may be using the internet to stream videos or content to avoid doing so during your interview.

3. Dress smartly

Just because you’re conducting the interview from home does not mean you can dress casually!  An online interview is still an important, formal occasion. You should dress smartly – the same as you would in a face-to-face interview. This will also help you get into the right mindset for the interview.

During the interview

1. Breathe!

It is likely that you will feel nervous during the interview. When people are nervous, they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths. Taking deep breaths is one of the best ways to lower stress. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. So, just before you begin your interview, take some deep breaths!

2.  Pause often

In a virtual interview, it can be difficult to judge if and when the interviewer has stopped talking. A pause can feel like an eternity, and you may be tempted to fill the gaps by speaking. Avoid this urge and allow extra time to ensure that the interviewer has finished their question before you respond. Instead, take the time to formulate your answer so you can deliver an insightful and structured response.

3.  Engage with the interviewers

It is even more important in a virtual interview to engage with the interviewers, given there is physical distance between you. It can be difficult for interviewers to appreciate your enthusiasm and passion via a screen, so make sure you are even more expressive. You can use appropriate gestures (ensuring they are visible to the interviewers), ensure you smile often, and exude an energetic persona. Make sure to look into the webcam so that you appear to be making eye contact with the interviewers.

Want more tips? All students who are enrolled in MedEntry’s Medical Interview Training will receive a detailed interview guide which includes strategies for success in interviews, including how to succeed in virtual interviews.

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