Improving medical students

Some Interviewing Basics

Posted by medliorator on January 12, 2009

Laura Brammar:

Motivation is key in an interview, and failure to show enthusiasm for the role can often lead to rejection. Use the research you have done into the job to convince that this is the role for you. Don’t be afraid to refer back to your motivation for the role as regularly as possible, without sounding too evangelical.

If you’re asked a question which you don’t understand or are unclear about, ask the panel to clarify it before you begin your answer.

  • Structure your answer by “bookending” your response with a review of the question—for example, Q: Why do you want this post? A: I want this post for a variety of reasons, such as X, Y, and Z. In summary, I want this role for the diverse reasons I’ve just outlined. This technique reminds you of the key part of the question, provides a framework to your answer, and, crucially, provides a neat end to what you are saying
  • Include enough information about what you actually did. Use the STAR acronym (situation, task, action, result) to provide further structure and help you to focus on the specific question
  • Don’t undersell yourself; try to use as many first person statements as possible, especially in combination with active verbs—for example, “I coordinated . . .’’or “I liaised with . . .” Avoid using “we” as it is often too vague to highlight effectively your individual input.

It is likely you’ll be asked whether you have any questions at the end of the interview. This is the final impression you will leave on the panel, and therefore rather than provide a monosyllabic “no” [capitalize] on the opportunity to remind them of your enthusiasm for the role—for example, “No thank you. I’ve had the opportunity to clarify any questions I had and I am satisfied that this is exactly the type of role I’m looking for.” While it would not make a good impression to ask a trivial question, it would be useful to have a couple of substantial questions in mind. Either way, don’t forget to thank the panel before you leave the room.

Interview skills [BMJ Careers]


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