Medical school admissions are highly competitive. In fact, an AAMC study found that about 8% of applicants with a GPA of 3.8 did not make it to the medical interview. The medical school admission process involves multiple factors such as your GPA, GAMSAT score and finally, your performance in the medical interview.
Although medical interviews are known to be grilling and exhausting, you can achieve a good interview score with adequate preparation. Amongst other medical interview questions, the medical interviewer may question your strengths and weaknesses.
But how exactly is this medical interview question relevant to medicine?
The first factor to consider is that medical school interviews are super important and their purpose is to test a range of interpersonal skills in each applicant. The second factor is that the format of a medical school interview closely replicates the hospital environment. For instance, the MMI station focuses on various themes such as - ethical scenarios, teamwork, public health stations and acting stations, testing elements that are important for the role of a doctor.
What Are Good Medical Interview Strengths?
1. Reflective Personality
Australian medical schools look for students whose personalities, values, and morals closely align with professional medical practitioners. A person with a reflective personality is someone who extracts more from their life experiences and implementing what they learn into practice.
Many students who wish to pursue medicine are dedicated from a young age, consistently involved in extra-curricular activities. However, it is those people who are reflective in their personality that will be able to use such experiences gained from the community in their medical interview.
For example, rather than merely stating, ‘I have always wanted to be a doctor’, it would be better to talk about a time that particularly inspired you towards a career in medicine. We at Fraser’s believe that your answers can be refined to get the most out of your experiences with sufficient training.
Once you begin active preparation, you can hone your skills in reflection by maintaining a portfolio or a personal note with learnings and areas of improvement. Take a quick recap on your volunteer or internship experiences and address them critically. By attempting multiple mock interviews and adding notes to your portfolio, you can improve the depth of your answers in the medical interview, and have materials for applications to UNDS and UOW. By displaying self-reflection, you are also showing commitment towards medicine to the interviewers.
2. Humble and Confident
There is a thin line between sounding confident and sounding arrogant, something that your interviewers will be highly attuned to. This is where you need to perfect your medical interview tone, as your interview tone is one of the driving factors to determine the type of conversation that you hold.
Doctors need to have the confidence to approach people that they do not know, whether that be meeting new patients, or new colleagues. However, personality types that are overly dominant will be disruptive to the cohesion of the medical team. It is for this reason that during your interview, most interverviewers select for the winning combination of humility and confidence across all panel and MMI stations.
So while answering MMI medical interview questions, try to acknowledge the experiences you have encountered and make it evident that you are grateful for any successes. That being said, you need the confidence to create a genuine connection with the interviewer and this balance can be achieved with adequate preparation.
'Maturity comes with experience, not age'
Amongst other medical interview questions, one of the significant skills interviewers expect students to have is maturity and a sense of ownership. Your ability to be mature develops over time, notably when you have experiences that require you to perform outside of your comfort zone.
Interviewers are interested in your maturity because it will affect how you cope with the demands of medical school and future practice, how you manage relationships with people, and even how you respond to difficult situations.
Your maturity will develop over time as you get older, but there are ways that you can demonstrate your maturity to your interviewers to give you the best chance of success. Talking about experiences and adversities you have faced will display your resilience and wisdom to draw upon and incorporate into the way you conduct yourself as a doctor.
4. Communication skills
Without a doubt, communication is the most important skill that medical schools look for in their prospective students. As a doctor, your day-to-day activities will involve constant communication about potential diagnoses with your peers, and breaking down complex medical issues to the patient. In fact, according to the ACSQ healthcare body, communication errors are the most commonly cited underlying cause for complaints within the Australian healthcare system.
Undeniably, communication is a key skill for every doctor. Hence, this skill is closely evaluated during medical school interviews to ensure that prospective students can deliver information in a clear and concise manner. Medical interviews select for strong communicators by providing scenario-based questions that test medical ethics, knowledge around public health, collaboration in a teamwork activity, and acting-based stations.
All such medical university interview questions require students to possess excellent verbal communication skills, maintain eye contact, and avoid stuttering during a conversation. Also, remember that effective communication is a two-way street, so it is essential to show the interviewer that you are always attentive during the interview by active listening. Try to blend occasional nods during the conversation and show signs of approval while discussing key issues with the medical interviewer.
You can polish your interactive skills by adopting interview prep courses that includes - online mock interviews, or simply requesting your mentor/professor/friends/family to question you with medical interview questions. This can help unravel your true potential and strengthen your answers during the medical interview.
5. Ability to Cope with Failure
The medical field is highly competitive, demanding capable individuals with high attention to detail. As a result people may find it challenging to encounter failures.
It is natural to experience failure, but the important part is embracing it and overcoming such setbacks. You need to develop coping mechanisms to prevent failures from harming your work ethic and overall well being.
But if you take a hard blow with failures, here's a medical interview tip for you - Start off by understanding the cause behind this unsuccessful situation and then move forward to locate a solution about what was lacking in your performance.
It is also important to understand that personal experiences differ from person to person. Hence, when discussing your coping mechanism for failure, try to demonstrate instances where you lacked knowledge and faced failure and subsequently went on to improve and grow from the experience.
Where To From Here?
We hope our article about medical interview strengths was useful, and gave you insight into the skills you should aspire to have for your medical interview. Furthermore, these strengths, though tricky, are not impossible to master. Besides thorough preparation, open mindedness, willingness to learn, and ability to cope with failures are just some of the traits that can prepare you for the medical interview.
At Fraser’s, we follow a problem-based learning approach to tackle various medical-scenarios, discuss ethical issues, and encourage a collaborative workspace to motivate students. Our team of expert tutors constantly give feedback to our students and guide them through various facets of medical interview prep.
These are some potential medical interview tips to reflect upon and use while practicing how to answer medical interview questions. Alternatively, to practice a range of questions before the interview, check out our Multiple Mini Interview medical school sample questions.