The admissions interview is the final test before being admitted into medical school. Interview styles are drastically different between schools and thus require different forms of preparation in order to succeed.
Last year I interviewed for both Canadian and International medical schools and there were major differences among them. For the most part, Canadian schools used the interview as a final opportunity to assess my aptitudes for logical reasoning and critical thinking. Meanwhile, medical schools abroad used the interview process to better understand my background and aspirations for becoming a physician. Furthermore, instead of the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) stations used by the majority of Canadian schools, schools abroad often have one interview conducted for approximately 30-45 minutes.
For those of you in the midst of preparing for your upcoming interview, I would like to share some of my tips that will hopefully give you a leg up on the competition for interviewing at international medical school.
What to Expect
Question 1: Tell me about yourself, and
Question 2: Why do you want to become a physician?
These are the two most important and frequently asked questions, in any medical interview. These are typically asked at the beginning and set the tone for the rest of the interview. Remember that these are not the same question! When asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, draw an overall picture of who you are as an individual, and what are your personal interests and values. Don’t feel pressured to talk about why you want to be a doctor in this question! There will be plenty of time for discussing why you want to be a physician during the remainder of the interview.
Question 3: Why do you want to pursue your education abroad?
This is another commonly asked question. Instead of giving a generic answer, take the time to research the school’s curriculum, and opportunities for clinical experience and extracurricular activities. A well-informed answer tells the interviewer you are serious about pursuing your education internationally and will help to set yourself apart from the herd of applicants.
In addition to these staple questions, it is equally important to familiarize yourself with the details of your application. You should be prepared to recall and discuss any aspect of your application, since this is where the interviewers will most likely draw the remainder of their questions.
How to Prepare
Interviewing is a skill and while some individuals will find the experience easier than others, everyone has room for improvement. And the best way to improve is practice! I found it extremely helpful to prepare a script for the most commonly asked questions, and by practicing with it, I was able to feel confident that I could deliver answers that were well structured and well thought out.
However, it is important to not memorize your script! If you do, you will sound rehearsed and unnatural. I also found it effective to end with summarizing statements to highlight the most important points of my answer to the interviewer. This not only helped to clarify my answers, but also allowed me to consider any points I may have forgotten. Lastly, remembering that this interview will last for over 30 minutes, you should work to develop a rapport with your interviewer by engaging them throughout the interview. This will make you more likeable and alluring as a prospective student for their program.