INTERVIEW
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5 Common Mistakes To Avoid in Medical Interviews

Published on
May 13, 2024
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Getting into your ideal medical school is a long and challenging process. From preferencing medical universities that match your interests and passions, to sitting either the UCAT or the GAMSAT, and finally facing medical school interviews

Medical school interviews are arguably the part of the admission process which benefits most from preparation. Adequate preparation, as well as undertaking mock interviews, can give your answers structures and confidence. This means that the only thing you will have to worry about on the day of the interview is the rapport you foster with your interviewer!

To begin your interview preparation journey, the team at Fraser's has put together a list of 5 medical interview red flags to avoid in any type of medical school interview, whether it's an MMI or panel interview.

If you are still a little unfamiliar with the MMI format, take a look at our previous article in this series, about how to tackle MMI scenarios.

Mistakes to Avoid in Any Type of Medical School Interview

1: Never List Qualities Without Providing Specific Personal Examples

Receiving a medical interview offer usually means that there is a reasonable probability that you will be accepted. In the interest of saving time, most medical schools accept most candidates offered an interview. This is because the interview is much more a test to rule out candidates than it is to review their qualities. You can work out how ‘competitive’ a university’s interview is by comparing the number of applicants that are offered an interview to the number of places.

As such, one of the red flag qualities which can result in a poor interview score, is speaking in empty terms, and offering aphorisms. An aphorism is a general truth, which is so obviously correct that it is not worth mentioning. For example, many students state that they “care about people/patients” during the interview, as if this were a standout quality. Not only is this not a standard quality, it is a basic requirement. Therefore, one of the most important things to remember is that when you describe your qualities, show your interviewer how you demonstrate these qualities by tying them to achievements and other significant life experiences. It is not sufficient to make claims about your character, instead describe real life scenarios and evaluate them! The assessor of your medical school interview explicitly requires evidence - otherwise what you are saying could be considered empty claims. You must emphasise the 'You' factor in your answer to stand out from a sea of generic qualities. 

2: Not All Interview Formats Are The Same - Prepare Appropriately!

If you have a genuine fear of failing an MMI Interview or a Panel Interview, it helps to acknowledge their differences first. 

A Multiple Mini Interview or MMI Station comprises 7-8 mini stations, with one interviewer at each station posing a different type of medical interview scenario to the applicant. 

In contrast, a panel interview has 4-5 experienced individuals on the panel posing one question at a time. A panel interview is direct and more in line with other professional interview settings, an MMI station is currently preferred in the medical sector. An important difference is that each interviewer is indifferent towards an applicant's performance in other MMI stations. We get that an applicant is under immense pressure in a panel interview

The panel puts forth a combination of generic and medicine related questions, and the applicant's answer must appeal to each interviewer sitting on the panel. Based on the answers provided, the panel arrives at a collective decision to offer a place to this applicant. 

3: Avoid Unstructured Rambling At All Costs!

While answering medical interview questions, your only goal is to provide legitimate answers to questions. Hence, you hold power in portraying to the interviewer the type of person you are and how appropriate your skills will be during and post-medical school. 

Read further on how to perfect your medical interview tone!

Unprepared answers are a BIG no during a medical interview! 

We strongly advise you to control what you say and how you say it. Therefore, preparing before the interview can enhance your performance and increase your odds of receiving a place in med school. When the interviewer presents a question to you, you can take a few seconds to arrange your thoughts and verbalize your answer to highlight the core matters within the question. This way, you can control the direction of the interview and bring a confident spin to your response. 

Check out our Medical MMI Question Generator! This effective tool provides an unlimited number of MMI questions for you to practice before going to your med interview!

While speaking about preparation, we don't mean the medical research required during a medical interview (read the following section to understand the topic in detail). Most common medical school interview questions expect well-articulated answers; hence, focus on framing an answer around your strengths and weaknesses, personal and professional experiences, and current scenarios related to the question.

4: Do You Research about the Medical School You Are Interviewing At!

If you are wondering how to ace a medical school interview, the first step is preparation. But, preparation comes with an ample amount of background research. A key feature is to practice a strong response that is researched and articulated. 

Consider one of the most common med interview questions: "Why did you apply to this medical school?" This is a common question; however, informed response is crucial. To achieve this, you must conduct thorough medical school research, learn about discoveries and research publications the academic staff has contributed to, specific hospital affiliations, the courses and curriculum that interests you.

Besides the generic research around the medical school, you also ought to be aware of the latest discoveries within medicine, current reforms in the health sector of Australia, and understanding Indigenous and rural health issues. 

In-depth research is critical to explain your understanding of the medical field. It also demonstrates that you are actively interested in gaining new insights into medicine. This directly translates to your passion for succeeding in a medical pathway during and after med school.

Have you enrolled in Fraser’s Application Course yet? Sign up now to receive a Postgraduate Application Atlas!

5. Finally - Never Be Generic!

Most commonly asked med interview questions revolve around, 'What are your weaknesses?', "Why do you want to be a doctor?", "Why should we choose you?". Amongst all this, you must remember to be yourself.

The reason for this is that most of these questions are generic interview questions that test your passion, talent and purpose behind choosing this field. Hence, the answer must reflect your personality and depict your achievements in an honest, open manner, without sounding overly confident.

As much as we advocate preparation before a med school interview, certain elements come across best if they are said spontaneously. Rehearsed answers work better in case of questions that require you to speak from an academic perspective or discuss particular health concerns within a country. However, for common questions about your aspirations to become a doctor, you should have general ideas rather than scripts to let your originality and charisma shine. 

Phrases such as, 'I've always wanted to be a doctor.' or 'I am pursuing Medicine because I wish to dedicate my time helping others' come across as cliches and do not help you stand out from the rest. Starting your answer by stating, 'My prime motivation behind pursuing medicine is..' make for great conversation initiators to lead the your authentic reason for pursuing medicine as a career.

Medical School Interview : Some Final Tips

We hope our Medical School Interview Red Flags are practical and help you refine your responses while going through the gruelling med interview. Remember to stay confident and open-minded while answering all the questions.

Instead of worrying about what a bad medical school interview may look like, direct your focus towards preparation, watching tutorials discussing individuals' experiences in a medical interview, attempting mock exams, and being original throughout the medical interview.

A med school interview is exhausting and overwhelming; however, many students ace the medical school interview each year to begin their medical career.

Good luck!

What To Do Next?

Now that you have read through common medical interview red flags to avoid, check out the Fraser’s Simulation Interview Course

What does it include?

  • Live Interview Workshop
  • 1 x University-specific Mock Interview
  • Money Back Guarantee

Want to know more about what the course offers? Visit our Fraser’s website to access a range of free resources, tools & courses!