5 min read

Medical School Interviews During Covid

Published on
May 13, 2024

In 2020, the demand for healthcare workers in Australia increased twofold due to how swiftly the pandemic spread across the nation. A research journal that studied the burden of Covid-19 on Australian healthcare workers found that HCWs were three times more likely to contract the virus than civilians. After all, HCWs were consistently exposed to affected patients. 

Therefore, it is evident that Covid-19 has assuredly changed patient care since last year. Besides medical practice, the pandemic has impacted the medical school application process and the medical interview format.

Medical Interview Objectives

For starters, it is pivotal to understand that the objective behind medical interviews is to evaluate how an applicant confidently tackles medical interview questions and adapts to different types of scenario-based cases as well. An in-person interview allows the medical interviewer to observe an applicant's body language, effective communication skills, confidence, and motivation to pursue medicine. However, since the pandemic struck, most Australian medical schools have switched to virtual medical interviews as an alternative to keep the selection procedure free from health risk. 

Everyone finds medical interviews to be nerve-wracking and an exhausting process. With the current shift to an online medical interview format, there are several pros and cons to this arrangement. So let's get right into how Covid-19 has shaped the med school interview prep and the interview format.

Advantages of virtual medical interviews

1. Attend Med School Interview From The Comfort Of Your Home

As much as travelling and the thrill of exploration excite us, nothing beats the comfort of staying home and spending quality time with loved ones. And since all of us have experienced several months of lockdown, we have become accustomed to the norm of staying home. One of the major pros of a virtual medical school interview format is that you can save enormous transportation costs. Additionally, you can worry less about what to wear to the medical interview and concentrate more on the interview prep. For instance, you can wear a formal shirt but replace your formal skirt/pants with your comfy pyjamas to reduce stress. Although many may find this could also detract from feeling your ‘professional best’ on the day.

Another perk of the online medical interview format is that you can avoid the excruciating MMI circuit that usually requires each applicant to traverse through 6 or more MMI stations, lasting up to 50 minutes or longer. The MMI medicine interview is designed to replicate the functionalities of a hospital setting. Hence, medical interviewers will question you on a wide range of themes concerning the clinical environment. These themes include medical interview questions about ethics, public health, your approach to teamwork and acting-based scenarios

Not only do the MMI interview questions evaluate your comprehension and logical reasoning skills but it also demands you to be quick on your feet as you move from one MMI station to another. However, the physical strain is out of the equation in a virtual medical interview, providing more room to focus on crafting a good response. Remember to utilize the opportunity of a virtual medical school interview to its full potential and familiarize yourself with the array of themes questioned at medical school interviews. Stick a post-it note on the corner of your computer screen to highlight some key learnings and medical interview tips that can boost your confidence. 

Not to forget, panel interviews follow the conventional interview format, where two or more medical interviewers question an applicant on various medical scenarios. This interview format has no significant impact due to Covid and continues to prevail, similar to an in-person interview.

2. More Focus On Medical Interview Preparation

Preparing for a medical school interview can be pretty confusing if you lack the right kind of resources. Unlike the GAMSAT or the UCAT that has specific preparation material with different approaches to tackling a range of questions, a medical interview ultimately boils down to how you generate impactful interaction and create a good impression with the interviewer

Although medical interviews assess your interpersonal skills essential for the role of a doctor, you have to understand how to display your experiences clearly and concisely. At Fraser's, we often recommend students to undertake mock interviews that naturally replicate the ambience of a virtual medical interview. Therefore, attempting multiple mock interview questions may increase your chance of performing well at the medical interview, mainly because you get an overall essence of how to conduct yourself online. Additionally, you can register for one of our easily accessible LIVE interview workshops that includes:

Most interview prep courses focus primarily on one-on-one feedback, and at Fraser's, you are in for a stroke of luck as some of our team members have tackled the MMI stations and panel interviews personally. Once you receive handy medical interview tips, develop strategies to incorporate these learnings into your medical interview answers. In addition, as you attend the online medical interview at home, it provides more scope to prepare yourself mentally and rehearse answers in your head without displaying nervousness, unlike an in-person interview. 

3. Covid 19 Medical School Interview Questions

The year 2020 witnessed a global health pandemic that has transformed our daily life drastically. Most countries faced a severe backlash due to the contagious nature of the virus. Amongst seriously impacted nations, some parts of Australia tackled the virus at an early stage. The states enforced lockdown and social distancing measures to ensure safety amongst civilians. Since COVID-19 has negatively impacted the medical field, you may receive a medical interview question about the nation's public health crisis.

A medical interview question about Covid can work better in your favour as most of us have the prerequisite knowledge about its impact on the human body. Moreover, with exposure to daily news and LIVE updates about Covid, some of us have a broader understanding of its common symptoms and medical diagnoses. Therefore, prepare well in advance to provide a well-researched response and make the most of this medical interview question.

Disadvantages of Virtual Medical Interviews

1. Loss Of Genuine Interview Exposure

Although medical interviews seem intimidating, their purpose is to provide you with the satisfaction of indulging in intellectual conversation and building a rapport with medical interviewers who have accomplished across various domains in life. Therefore, the cons to a virtual medical interview is the inability to grasp the overall experience despite the comprehensive online arrangement. In an online medical interview, you and the medical interviewer are separated by a physical barrier, forbidding you from making a genuine connection. 

Working under extreme stress and maintaining consistency is one of the key qualities deemed important in a doctor, and medical interviews are a great platform to explore that aspect during the early years of medicine. However, an in-person medical school interview provides this realistic experience compared to a virtual medical interview. 

2. Lack of Witnessing the Medical School Campus

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect for a medical student is attending their dream university where you can envision your everyday life for the next few years. However, one definite shortcoming to the virtual medical interview format is the inability to experience your medical school campus. Though Australian medical schools have invested time and effort into creating virtual guided tours and numerous options to simulate the virtual interview format, nothing can beat the experience of the real thing. Hence, the lack of knowledge around the medical school culture and its faculty members can hinder your judgement about whether or not the medical school is in your best interest.

3.  Technical Difficulties During Your Medical Interview

One of the apparent setbacks of an online medical interview format is technical difficulties. It is difficult to predict the internet connectivity, and the bandwidth may become low, affecting your overall performance in the medical interview. In addition, you may have trouble listening to the medical interviewer, or your video may falter, causing disturbance to the consistency of your interview. Though highly unlikely, these minor technical difficulties might influence the interviewers' judgements and decrease your chances of a medical school offer. 

However, these technical difficulties are not tricky to repair; a strong internet connection can ensure uninterrupted flow during the medical interview. Also, remember that you are in control of where you choose to sit at home, therefore pick a spot that makes you feel comfortable as well.

Furthermore, one of the most difficult things to display online is your body language. Try to depict a positive attitude in your tone of voice, this is one of the best ways to prove your sincerity. And finally, the virtual medical interview format has its pros and cons but the key to success in an MMI station or a panel interview format is adequate preparation. So communicate your ideas effectively, have an open mind and ace the interview!

Good luck!