I remember my very first interview for medical school was at Leicester and it was not a pleasant experience. Leicester do MMI style interviews which stands for multiple mini-interviews, it’s basically a speed dating style interview where there are various stations all with different questions, scenarios or tasks that you have to tackle.
My interview at Leicester was horrible and I absolutely hated it. My strengths lie in building a good friendly rapport with people. With MMI interviews I had a few minutes at each station and more than half the stations were tasks or scenarios as opposed to the traditional medical school style interview questions. At the time I hated it, after I came out of the interview I knew it was bad and when I didn’t get an offer it confirmed my suspicions. Now looking back, with the luxury of hindsight, I can honestly say that I REALLY hated it. Having said that though I can understand why it’s a good method of finding good candidates.
At one of the stations I encountered a man (definitely an actor) who told me that he was considering carrying out suicide. I had never encountered a situation like this ever before in my life and I doubt that many 17 year-old students have ever dealt with a situation like this before (at least I hope that they have never had to deal with something like this). I had to hold back the inner urge to laugh out loud. Not because I found the situation funny, suicide is a serious issue and not something to be laughed about. I’m the kind of person that when I am put in awkward situations I tend to make a joke of it and laugh, something that can be both a weakness and a strength. This was definitely not the time to be making light of a serious situation, even if it was a role play.
I honestly froze, I didn’t know what to say or do. After what felt like an age of siting there, I finally thought: “Maybe he wants to talk about it, a problem shared is a problem halved”. I only recently did my psychiatry placement where I learnt about how doctors deal with people contemplating suicide. Even having seen doctors deal with this in real life I definitely could not confidently deal with someone telling me something so serious by myself. So how on Earth Leicester medical school felt it was fair to put a 17-year-old in that situation I honestly don’t know. I guess it’s good at seeing how someone deals with a high pressured situation and if they are a sympathetic/empathetic person. I still feel that it is a little mean to put someone through that.
All the other interviews I attended were straightforward, traditional style, panel interviews where 2-3 people just asked me questions for 10-15 minutes. I much prefer panel interviews to MMI’s. MMI is however become much more common in the medical school application process as there is evidence to show that it is better at distinguishing between good and bad candidates. That makes sense since in an MMI you have lots of independent individuals making a judgement on each candidate as opposed to 2-3 people who are working together.
What makes interviews so daunting?
For me it’s the following things:
- You’re being interviewed for something that you want, a lot. That adds loads of pressure.
- The people interviewing you are people who have gone through this process (or something similar) themselves and they’re usually experts in that field. One day you may even aspire to be in their shoes. That’s definitely nerve wracking.
- It’s an interview, so the interviewers are making a judgement on you in the limited time they have spent with you. You may feel that the short amount of time you spend with them is not an accurate portrayal of how you are in real life. And the prospect of rejection can be painful, especially if you’re like me, then you will end up taking it personally.
I am a right chatterbox and I always have been. This would make you think that I would ace the interviews since it’s only talking to a few people, so naturally I should have been good at that. The first time around when I did the interviews I completely messed them all up and ended up with no offers. I put this down to nerves, I don’t know where the saying “butterfly’s in your stomach” comes from but these nerves that I felt were debilitating and felt more like killer bees than butterfly’s. Getting rejected from the medical schools sucked but I’m actually really glad that this happened. Having flopped my interviews the first time around, the second time that I tackled interviews I went with the mind-set of “What’s the worst that can happen. I’ve got nothing to lose”. This made me feel much more comfortable and I was just my natural self (as opposed to the nervous wreck I had previously been). This worked for me because here I am at medical school now.
Failing at all my initial interviews taught me a really valuable lesson which was that I wasn’t actually nervous for the interview, I was afraid of getting a rejection and not getting an offer for medical school. But having already experienced rejection from medical schools I was no longer afraid of that. Having taken that fear away and I felt much more at ease with being interviewed. This experience made me into a more confident person when talking to people, whether that’s in a formal interview or casual social setting.
Take home message of the blog:
“You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it.”
– Daneille LaPorte