Alex | Founder of Medfully
31 Dec 4 min read

5 Common MISTAKES To AVOID When Preparing for Medical School Interviews

While it's necessary to know how to prepare for your medical school interview, it's helpful to know how NOT to do it:

1. Starting to prepare only after getting an interview invitation

A mistake that unfortunately many candidates do and regret afterwards is they leave interview preparation until they get an interview invitation from a medical school. But, I'll keep on stressing ad infinitum on this blog that it's really important to start preparing before you get interview invites, as early as November. Why?

Most medical schools send interview invitations 1-2 weeks in advance, which as you'll learn, is very little time to prepare to do yourself justice. Acquiring all the knowledge about medical ethics, the NHS and all the other interview topics, getting into the right mindset and gaining confidence all take a lot of time.

To do all that, it's far better if you commit a couple of minutes to interview preparation every day for a couple of weeks or months, than if you were to cram non-stop for a week (something that's actually supported by scientific studies). So start preparing early, so that you can feel confident and prepared the day you get your interview invitation.

2. Too much theory, not enough practice

Preparing for your interviews is a bit like a driving test - you won't be able to drive a car well after only passing the theory test. While it's essential to get a good foundation of knowledge first, practice is equally important.

And by practice, I don't mean full-timed mocks with a tutor. Just practice speaking your answers out loud - ask yourself questions and record your answers with a webcam or convince your family members to ask you a few questions and give you feedback - there are multiple ways to go about it.

At Medfully you can practice using 5 interview simulations (incl. 3 MMIs and 2 Panel Interviews) or flashcards made automatically from your notes!

3. Drafting responses in continuous text

Overall, drafting your answers to the more common questions is good practice as it helps you better structure your answers and avoid forgetting the key points you wanted to include. But writing down your responses in the continuous text will take you an awful lot of time and won't help you to prepare well:

In your interviews, you have to be able to think on your feet, as it's impossible to predict every single question. Compressing your answers to bullet points can help you achieve that skill - it's much easier and faster to recall short bullet points than entire paragraphs.

4. Memorising entire answers

Many candidates think that memorising entire responses, especially to the most common questions like why medicine or why not nursing, will help them come across as confident and give a sophisticated, impressive answer.

Unfortunately, the admission officers have a different opinion. It's very easy to spot when one is giving a memorised answer - they use vocabulary and grammar that doesn't suit their speaking style, they sound robotic and inauthentic, something you want to avoid at all costs.

Even when you are practising the same question for the second, third, fifth time, try to give your answer a twist, try phrasing the same points differently to avoid learning it by heart.

5. Forgetting to practice how you come across

The way you present yourself in your medical school interview is as important as the content of your answers and is very often directly assessed by medical schools as a part of the so-called non-verbal communication. Having great non-verbal communication doesn't come naturally to most people, and is especially tough to get right on the first-ever interview.

That's why, whenever you practice for your interviews you should think about all the non-verbal aspects of your answers; whether you lean towards the interviewer in a welcoming position or look withdrawn with your arms crossed, if you are constantly keeping eye contact with the interviewer, if you are smiling when talking about pleasant things, if you are using hand gestures to engage the person you are speaking to.

Once you realise any bad habits you may have (e.g. constantly looking away or constantly correcting your glasses) you can quickly eliminate them by paying enough attention.

Hope that helps!