Miss Giulia Bankov • February 6th, 2020
Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Amsterdam.
While the entire selection process for medical school, from personal statement to interview, is incredibly stressful, there is something very nerve-racking about the latter. Having next to no time to think before answering a question and having to think on your feet when asked an unexpected question can be very challenging, and students often find themselves in a corner, unsure how to approach the situation. In particular, there are some answers that you should strictly avoid and we have broken them down here for you to make sure you don’t make those frequent mistakes.
This seems like a fairly mild question to answer at first glance that can often be asked at the start of an interview to set the tone and ease you into the interview, if you know how to answer it. Far too many students misinterpret this question and start, quite literally, talking about themselves, their childhood, their family members, or any other personal details they can think of in that moment. This is a type of answer that you should avoid, however, and just like with all other common questions that you can anticipate, you should consider carefully what points you would like to cover here, before you go in.
While it may seem like the interviewer is taking a genuine interest in you in that moment, never lose track of your setting and your purpose there. You are at a medical school interview and as such, you will be largely expected to answer medical school interview questions.This one is no exception, so consider ways in which you can answer it by staying relevant to the tone of the interview. What has your academic past been so far? Has your passion for biology and chemistry led you to start your own club or project or perhaps won an award? Did you do another degree before that led you to rediscover your passion for pursuing medicine? Did you take a gap year in which you worked in the healthcare system, giving you some insight into the world of medicine that ultimately led you to choose medicine?
While this questionis asking about you and focusing on you and your interests, it is still your responsibility to keep it relevant and use this as an opportunity to show why you would be such a good fit for their med school and why you should be given a spot.
As we have mentioned before, this interview is your one shot to impress the admissions panel and show all your strengths and qualities that you know will make you a fantastic medical student. For that reason, a lot of students fall into the trap of trying to cram as much information as possible in their answers, trying to mention anything vaguely relevant to a career in medicine. This is frequently seen in questions of the type “What qualities make a good doctor?” or “What qualities do you possess that make you fit for a career in medicine?”
Often times students end up making an exhaustive list of every single trait they can imagine, thinking the longer the list, the better. But remember one golden rule - quality above quantity. You should do your best to resist the temptation of providing a comprehensive list and instead focus on two or three core qualities. Yes, they might be slightly different than the qualities the candidates before and after you listed, but that doesn’t matter.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question and you can pick any qualities you wish, as long as you back up your answer with reflection intowhy they are important, how are they used in your everyday life as a healthcare professional andwhen did you exhibit these qualities, giving the interviewers evidence that should you be accepted to medical school, you will indeed fit well there.
Even though the questions “What is your greatest strength?” and “What is your greatest weakness?” are fairly similar in the way they need to be approached and answered, by far students tend to answer the former exponentially better than the latter. This is not necessarily surprising, as it’s fairly intuitive that you would want to show yourself in the best light possible and avoid answering a question that might not make a good impression. This is not a trick question though, and interviewers really are asking you to describe a moment or a trait that you might not be proud of.
The reason for this question is to assess whether you are honest and whether you possess self-awareness, two extremely crucial qualities of a good doctor. It can also give interviewers some insight into how reflective you are and whether you have been able to evaluating your mistakes and/or weaknesses and have considered ways in which to improve. So even though it might be quite uncomfortable at first, spend some time really assessing yourself and dig deep, and you will be able to really ace this question.
We hope you found this information helpful in preparing for your upcoming interview! If you have any other questions or concerns about the interview or any other part of the admissions process, don’t hesitate to contact us at our email firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
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