The interview process for any medical degree is wrapped in a veil of mystery and intrigue. For many interviewees, it feels like the most important day of their lives as it’s the first step on the path to becoming a medical professional. Masumah Janah, who has now been a medical student at the University of Manchester for six months, talks us through the interview process and gives a couple of tips for those facing interviews in the coming months…
My medicine interview seems like such a long time ago now looking back at it. So many huge and great things have happened since then so it’s all a little bit hazy now. But for this post I’m going to dig deep into my mind and re-tell the story of the day that eventually lead to happy ending, or should I say a happy new beginning…
The journey up
I can start off by truthfully saying that I was a complete nervous wreck before the interview and that was for two reasons. Firstly, because Manchester was my first choice so I knew that I really couldn’t afford to mess this day up and also because it was my very first interview. I was driven the whole way and all I remember is just feeling myself getting more and more buried under the blanket of nerves as the destination edged nearer. I set out really early, so by the time I arrived I still had another 45 minutes or so before my interview even started. I’m glad I went so early because if there were any holdups on the journey and I hadn’t left so much time as a safety net I would have definitely panicked. Plus, this time was useful in helping me to calm down before going in.
I distinctly remember walking up the stairs of the Stopford Building, I was physically shaking walking up them. The interview seemed like the biggest deal then, and of course it was, but now there are so many things I wish I had known beforehand! First and foremost, just simply the fact that everyone else would be just as nervous as me. The moment I took a seat in the foyer area, I looked at everyone else’s faces and I realised that they were all feeling exactly the same way! I suppose here it’s important to remember that nerves are completely normal so if you have your interview coming up, accept that it’s fine to feel them and then try not to let them consume you!
So there was some waiting there, with my mum who was there to whisper words of support into my ear and then it was time to go in. We were given labels with our names and group numbers and then collected by 2 medical students who took us to the CSLC (Consultation Skills Learning Centre). We had quite a bit of time waiting in our groups where we could talk to the medical students and ask questions (none about the interview though, mind you). Even if you’re feeling tense and worried, really do try to talk to the other students around you. It does help to sit in the interview environment for some time before getting into it and talking to others definitely does relax you and put you at ease. Soon enough you’ll feel the nerves floating away!
Not long after that, we were given a short brief about the interview. The important rule of not being allowed to share any of the interview content was reinforced again and we were suddenly stood outside our stations ready to begin. The first bell meant we were allowed to read the scenario, and the second that we were allowed to enter the station.
My first station didn’t go as brilliantly as I would have hoped, but the great thing is that Manchester uses the MMI format…so one station will never be the be all and end all. Go into your interview with the intention to improve through it. Your second station will always be better than your first and your penultimate possibly better than your last. When you leave a station make sure you leave all the happenings of it behind too, and be prepared to start afresh and do even better in the next one!
Nothing to worry about after all
And here’s when I talk about another thing I wish I had known beforehand: just how friendly and relaxed the interviewers are. I really don’t think I would have been so worried if I truly knew that they would be so nice! At the end of the day the interview really isn’t designed to trip you up, but just for you to be able to show a different side of yourself that can’t quite be captured on paper. And once you’re in the circuit, the experience will absolutely whiz by like one huge blur and you’ll be walking out smiling and breathing huge breaths of relief; telling everyone that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it’d be!
To see how Masumah is finding her first year as a medical student at the University of Manchester, take a look at her blog – https://lifeofamedic.com/. Look out for her interview checklist for further tips!