Over the past couple of weeks I’ve examined a few stations on 8 mock MMI circuits and essentially assessed 80-or-so students; so I thought why not give you all the view from the other side of the interview table so you can take away some tips based on what a lot of students tended not to do so well and what I thought made a difference between students I was interviewing….
1. Explain every point with an example (if possible).
Very few students were evidencing their points with examples. Use every point you make try and use it as a cue to see if you can link it back to. Especially examples from work experience/volunteering work, they’re gold mines, so use them! Try to slip one in every station (where possible). And if you don’t have to prompted but come up with examples yourself – you’ll really look amazing! Use the same example for every station if you want (I know I re-used experiences through multiple stations in my MMIs) and even in the same station, don’t think it’s “bad” to go back and use an example again – as long as it’s in context, it’s absolutely fine!
2. Don’t waffle!
Entering the MMI station, don’t come in with the mentality that you need to keep going for as long as possible. Yes, it’s good to explain your points evidence them, but make sure you’re still staying on track and have on the topic. And once you’ve finsihed making your point, just stop, don’t go back and repeat yourself. Quite often the interviewer will have follow up questions that they want to ask you, so don’t attempt to fill the entire time – you’re not expected to!
3. Stay on topic!
This is kind of linked to my above point – it isn’t about filling the time and just talking about anything to do with Medicine. Remember each station has been designed for a particular purpose and the interviewer’s marking sheets will reflect different aspects of that topic, If you go on a complete tangent, the time you spend taking about something different won’t be valuable as you won’t be hitting the things the examiner is looking for. Ask for the question to be repeated if you need it to be, but don’t ramble on about something irrelevant.
4. Don’t be shaken by the interviewer challenging you.
MMIs can be considered to be like little debates or discussions about various different topics. Quite often the examiner may challenge the point you’ve put forward, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong, so don’t get flustered. An MMI station will very rarely have a clear cut right/wrong answer, so the examiner asking you to re-consider something doesn’t mean you were wrong. They just want to hear you justify your views and show that you can explain them. Listen to the points the examiner puts forwards and show an appreciation for it. The points put forward may make you change your original points or you may decide to stick with them – either way, it’s fine, but as long as you’re able to explain your reasoning.
5. Read the GMC Guidelines!
Good Medical Practice is the main one that you should be looking at before your interviews. If something comes up about professionalism etc. don’t be afraid to drop the words “GMC Guidelines” in there. You don’t need to memorise the document, but it definitely will be helpful if you are aware of them.
6. Keep your answers focussed on skills required of a doctor.
This is more for the more personal questions. If you’re finding it difficult to structure your answer, this would be a good step in the right direction. Remember your suitability for Medicine is being tested, so if you are able to show knowledge of the qualities a good doctor and then are able to show you possess those qualities, that would be ideal. Before your interview make a list of the key qualities required of a doctor (good listener, good communicator, teamworking ability, leadership ability, empathy) and list a couple of examples that you saw on your placements and couple of examples showing you have the quality. You can then keep those at the back of your mind so you can pull them out when necessary.
7. Make sure you’re reflecting on yourself!
When you’re asked about work experience (or if you decide to mention work experience), yes, it is good to talk about what you saw and what you did there, but it is the reflection afterwards that is key. Make sure that you always mention what you learnt about yourself – in essence, this is the same advice you would have received when writing your personal statement. Questions you may want to think about in your head to prompt you: What did that make me learn about myself? Did this change my perception of medicine at all?
8. Use and name the ethical principles!
Especially applies when you are answering a question about ethics. Make sure you make reference to Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence and Justice and sometimes, Capacity might play into it. There’s a reason why there’s a lot of reference to these principles before you apply, so make sure you d actually use them. A lot of people I interviewed made some reference to some of the principles, and used other words for them such as saying it was the patient’s “choice” or that it was in their ” best interests”. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, students who actually named the principles did really stand out and their answers appaered much better organised. Go through each principle systematically – that will not only help you, but will also help the interviewer to follow what you’re saying more easily.
9. Make sure all your arguments are balanced!
Talking about ethics or anything controversial that’s brought to you, do not jump in with a decision. Even if you are asked a direct question (i.e. if you were asked which person you would prioritise for an organ transplant from a list; or whether euthanasia should be legalised etc.), make sure you show that you can appreciate both sides of the argument and give both sides! This so important – in all ethics stations, your answers must be kept completely balanced. For every point for you give, make sure you say however and are able to give a counter arguement. If you are told you need to make a decision, then after discussing boths ides of the arguement, give your decison, but make sure you show awareness of the arguements against your decison. It’s a tricky one, but whatever you do, do not be one-sided in an ethics sation and do not give a decsion before you’ve disvcussed both sides.
10. Talk about the challenges of Medicine!
There seems to be a little bit of apprehension when doing this. Even when directly asked, some students would try to avert the question. I’m guessing there’s an idea where students feel as though they must present Medicine to be the ideal, perfect, fault-free career in order to prove their motivation. But it is quite the opposite. Medicine does have drawbacks, there is no denying that, so your best bet is to acknowledge them – afterall the interviewers want to assess that you have a realistic insight into what Medicine will involve. If you try to avoid talking about some of the negatives, you’re giving the impression that you believe there aren’t any and ultimately that you haven’t looked into the career properly. If you’re talking about motivation or what you like about Medicine, try and give the other side too (if appropriate) – that will show you have really explored the carrer and will actually strengthen your motivation. If you’re asked about the challenges/negatives of Medicine, definitely give something – it’s not a trick question, trust me. But of course, if you do mention a challenge, always make sure you say how you’d overcome it and perhaps even how you’ve overcome similar challenges already.