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Medical Interviewer FAQ!

whoartthou

New Member
Hey everyone,

Thought I would start a thread to help potential medical/dental candidates this year. I currently work as a GP and have a passion for teaching (which took me a while to realise). I have personally helped well over 200 students get into medical/dental programs all over Australia and the world.
I have also volunteered as a medical interviewer at an undisclosed university.

I will not give any specific advice to selection or marking criteria of any universities as that is confidential. I will be happy to take questions regarding anything else. I might also be starting a thread with specific scenarios and breaking them down to how to best answer them.

Let the questions begin.
 

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Smelly Boy

Fourth time’s the charm
Hey everyone,

Thought I would start a thread to help potential medical/dental candidates this year. I currently work as a GP and have a passion for teaching (which took me a while to realise). I have personally helped well over 200 students get into medical/dental programs all over Australia and the world.
I have also volunteered as a medical interviewer at an undisclosed university.

I will not give any specific advice to selection or marking criteria of any universities as that is confidential. I will be happy to take questions regarding anything else. I might also be starting a thread with specific scenarios and breaking them down to how to best answer them.

Let the questions begin.
Thanks for offering this! I really wanted to ask this question for a while but didn’t know who to ask but you definitely seem to be the person to ask.

In normal job interviews, there’s advice to never overshare personal stories and hardships you may have experienced in your life even though these hardships may demonstrate beautiful characteristics. In a medical non-mmi interview (non multiple mini interview interview - you get what I mean :p ) e.g. UNSW, does this still apply?

I feel as if I can best demonstrate my character through sharing (which would be considered oversharing in a traditional job interview) hardships I’ve experienced, how I’ve overcome them & how they’ve shaped me to be the best version of myself.

EDIT: the ‘oversharing’ I intend to do is the legit reason I want to be a doctor - without ‘oversharing’ I don’t think I can properly answer why I want to be a doctor.
 
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whoartthou

New Member
Thanks for offering this! I really wanted to ask this question for a while but didn’t know who to ask but you definitely seem to be the person to ask.

In normal job interviews, there’s advice to never overshare personal stories and hardships you may have experienced in your life even though these hardships may demonstrate beautiful characteristics. In a medical non-mmi interview (non multiple mini interview interview - you get what I mean ) e.g. UNSW, does this still apply?

I feel as if I can best demonstrate my character through sharing (which would be considered oversharing in a traditional job interview) hardships I’ve experienced, how I’ve overcome them & how they’ve shaped me to be the best version of myself.

EDIT: the ‘oversharing’ I intend to do is the legit reason I want to be a doctor - without ‘oversharing’ I don’t think I can properly answer why I want to be a doctor.
Good question. It really depends on the type of question asked. So for example UNSW tends to ask a lot of personal questions. In order to back up your response in those circumstances it may be worthwhile to mention your personal experience as it emphasizes your abilities and also gives them validation as opposed to someone not having the experience. Just remember you don't need to include a personal scenario for every single question. It may take experience or guidance to realise when you need to and when you don't.

In scenario questions I do not usually advise students to give personal scenarios as the scenario given is what you should base your response on. Unless the circumstances are quite similar I would not personally delve too much into your own experience as most of the time it doesn't end up answering the question.

"Oversharing" is quite a grey area to discuss. Everyone has their limits on this and some interviewers may prefer more information compared to others. The advice I would give on this would be to concentrate on the positive scenarios (if it is a negative scenario talk about how you overcame the obstacles). A lot of students speak of a negative experience and just leave it at that. In my view it shows a lack of maturity as you are not addressing the issues and there is often a lack of empathy (Do you really understand where the other party is coming from?).
For example if the question is Which subject did you not enjoy in high school the most?
A lot of students place blame on the teacher and state the class was either boring or the teacher was not engaging. If I was to say this I would first be tactful about how I would introduce the negative aspects of the scenario then empathise with the teacher stating this could be due to differences in cultures, stressors in his personal life etc.
 

014phalo

New Member
Great to hear about your passion for teaching. From my (limited) understanding, it's an inherent trait that can build on a doctors ability to communicate with patients, improve quality and safety of care, and build rapport. I love teaching too. However, I've recognised that I tend to micro-manage rather than teaching/coaching in certain scenarios. Always something further to learn for self-development 🙂 (growth mindset FTW 😁).

Do you have any insight as to the MMI specific questions for the University of Auckland? If so, perhaps you know if/how the interview questions and expected response may differentiate between first year applicants and graduate applicants (I'm the latter)?

Thanks for offering to help!
 

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leez

New Member
hi there! thank you for offering your time and advice to help us out! i was wondering whether you had any general advice for MMI style interviews eg. what types of scenarios do they ask, how we're expected to respond especially since there's a strict time limit and it doesn't seem as if you can get to know the interviewer on a more 'personal' level
 

whoartthou

New Member
Great to hear about your passion for teaching. From my (limited) understanding, it's an inherent trait that can build on a doctors ability to communicate with patients, improve quality and safety of care, and build rapport. I love teaching too. However, I've recognised that I tend to micro-manage rather than teaching/coaching in certain scenarios. Always something further to learn for self-development (growth mindset FTW ).

Do you have any insight as to the MMI specific questions for the University of Auckland? If so, perhaps you know if/how the interview questions and expected response may differentiate between first year applicants and graduate applicants (I'm the latter)?

Thanks for offering to help!
Definitely growth mindset! I've also recently given up on social media because we as humans like to compare. Unfortunately, people only post "great" moments on social media so when you scroll through it you start to feel your life is inadequate.
I have also decided to adopt minimalism. That way I appreciate what I have and do not consume to feel whole. Still learning and I'm almost 30.

Unfortunately I don't think I've had any students go to the University of Auckland. You can't really differentiate first year applicants and graduate applicants based on the interview. However, graduate applicants tend to perform better due to the interview being about soft skills which are usually developed through experience and leadership positions. Some people will naturally be better than others but you can still improve on these skills as they are skills after all. There have been a few cases where coaching would not have benefited the student I was coaching due to their lack of experience and personality. There are some personality traits which are detrimental to being a doctor and unless the person has the insight to address them there is very little I can do.
 

whoartthou

New Member
hi there! thank you for offering your time and advice to help us out! i was wondering whether you had any general advice for MMI style interviews eg. what types of scenarios do they ask, how we're expected to respond especially since there's a strict time limit and it doesn't seem as if you can get to know the interviewer on a more 'personal' level
I would love to go through all the possible scenarios with you but there are many. There may be personal, ethical scenarios, analytical, video, role playing, interpreting pictures, puzzles and the list goes on depending on the university.
I am hoping to create a course in the future to go through each category individually but even within each category there are questions which may require different ways of approaching it.

The main issue with most responses is sometimes student miss the main issues or they continue to repeat their points over and over again instead of progressing their discussion.
Other common issues is lack of confidence, pretending to be the candidate they think the interviewer wants and not answering the question (I am sure there is more).
 

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whoartthou

New Member
common unintentional "mistakes" interviewees make?
thanks
Unintentionally insulting the actor/parties in the scenario (I have failed candidates based on this). This can be due to the choice of words and this is especially compounded when students are under pressure. I can understand this but it's unacceptable because you don't know whether the student is doing this unintentionally.
Body language - slumping in the chair, over use of hand gestures, being too confrontational
Speaking too fast/slow, quiet/loud, monotony
Talking around the question and not answering the question
Repeating multiple points over and over again. (If I can't follow your flow of thoughts I cannot mark you.)
Giving short responses which doesn't showcase the discussion process (if you don't say it the interviewer thinks you didn't think of it).
Being overly inclusive with information that doesn't answer the question or doesn't add extra value about you as a person.

I wouldn't say this is common but disparaging or very biased remarks. This rarely happens but it's an automatic failure in my books.

I am sure there are more but these are quite common.
 

wobblepong

New Member
Love what you’re doing with this thread, I and many others I’m sure are incredibly appreciative!
I must ask, is it a turn off if applicants express incredibly strong desires to pursue any one specialty, or would you rather they say they are keeping their interests broad? There are certainly pathways that I’d love to take but I understand they are highly subject to change. I’m hoping I wouldn’t sound too forward by perhaps mentioning they’re “somewhat of interest to me” at this point?
Cheers for any help or tips :)
 

014phalo

New Member
Definitely growth mindset! I've also recently given up on social media because we as humans like to compare. Unfortunately, people only post "great" moments on social media so when you scroll through it you start to feel your life is inadequate.
I have also decided to adopt minimalism. That way I appreciate what I have and do not consume to feel whole. Still learning and I'm almost 30.

Unfortunately I don't think I've had any students go to the University of Auckland. You can't really differentiate first year applicants and graduate applicants based on the interview. However, graduate applicants tend to perform better due to the interview being about soft skills which are usually developed through experience and leadership positions. Some people will naturally be better than others but you can still improve on these skills as they are skills after all. There have been a few cases where coaching would not have benefited the student I was coaching due to their lack of experience and personality. There are some personality traits which are detrimental to being a doctor and unless the person has the insight to address them there is very little I can do.
Social media does certainly have its issues, particularly for youth. However, it can also bolster self-esteem and improve mental health by providing social support (I explored this briefly during my Masters). I'm in my early 30s (another birthday just around the corner 😅), and I'm looking forward to hopefully 50 years of learning in the future.

Thanks for that. Another question, what examples of leadership experiences/positions have you encountered?
 

whoartthou

New Member
Love what you’re doing with this thread, I and many others I’m sure are incredibly appreciative!
I must ask, is it a turn off if applicants express incredibly strong desires to pursue any one specialty, or would you rather they say they are keeping their interests broad? There are certainly pathways that I’d love to take but I understand they are highly subject to change. I’m hoping I wouldn’t sound too forward by perhaps mentioning they’re “somewhat of interest to me” at this point?
Cheers for any help or tips :)
I think it's great that you have an idea of what specialty you may want to pursue. Again don't insert this randomly into your answers but if the question asks for it or implies it then please mention it.
My pet peeve are people who mention their specialties of interest and go on to present the wrong information. I would not take this mistake kindly as I would assume you are making things up or did not do your research properly.
 

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whoartthou

New Member
Social media does certainly have its issues, particularly for youth. However, it can also bolster self-esteem and improve mental health by providing social support (I explored this briefly during my Masters). I'm in my early 30s (another birthday just around the corner 😅), and I'm looking forward to hopefully 50 years of learning in the future.

Thanks for that. Another question, what examples of leadership experiences/positions have you encountered?
Definitely agree but just don't compare yourself too much to others.

Leadership experiences and positions vary greatly from successful business owners, research scientists leading a team, PHD candidates and state competition finalists (in olympiads, sports) being one of the most impressive. Graduate interviewees will definitely have more experience and better positions however, this doesn't translate to a better interview performance.
Most people are either sports captains, leaders of certain projects/event coordinators. However, this being said my favourite answer to "Your greatest achievement" was that a student said she helped her dad quit smoking. So it doesn't have to be grandiose to make an impact. It will be how you word it, how you deliver it and how moved the interviewer will be from that.

A lot of Asian students undersell themselves because they want to appear humble and not arrogant. I learnt this the hard way as well until I built more confidence in myself. Embellish but do not make up your responses. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
 

TKAO

crossed fingers for ATAR
Gold star winner
Thanks for helping out a community like this one! I've got a question as well: Have you seen any of the 'prep courses' for interviews, and if so, how would you judge their quality and usefulness compared to your experience? Do you believe that they do have some merit, or have you seen some pretty egregious misunderstandings in these materials?
 

whoartthou

New Member
Thanks for helping out a community like this one! I've got a question as well: Have you seen any of the 'prep courses' for interviews, and if so, how would you judge their quality and usefulness compared to your experience? Do you believe that they do have some merit, or have you seen some pretty egregious misunderstandings in these materials?
Great question. I have seen some material from certain courses but I won't mention which ones specifically.
On the most part I think they can be useful to a certain degree. The issue is that they don't make their material intuitive for the average student. They don't break down the questions so students can understand how to answer them. They usually offer very generic information and are run by students or those with minimal experience (or "doctors" that have entirely quit medicine *cough *cough not mentioning names). They give very little individualised advice.

Are pre courses better than nothing? Probably
Are they usually worth the money? Probably not. If you had money to spare it doesn't hurt to attend them.

From what I observed from tutoring students in the past is that I would always recommend a follow up session. A lot of students that don't do well only attend for 1 session and don't get the follow up feedback that is necessary to make sure they stay on track.
I don't like to take credit for my work because most of the work is done by the student. You need to have the insight to know what you are doing wrong (or not doing as well) and continue practising without my guidance to improve on those elements making sure you don't stray from the path. I have had few students whom I had said you are good to go after 1 session (Just remember they are a rare breed).

If you look around the internet there are plenty of "interview" tutors for other professionals for high stake jobs. I even found one for doctors applying to specialty programs. Interviews will be an important part of your career. You will be required to sit multiple interviews even as a doctor. My friend recently sat his interview for the plastics/reconstructive surgery program and didn't perform well. He did not get on and will be working another year before trying again. That is a whole year of potential consultant salary gone if you want to think of it from a financial perspective which equates to probably to at least $500k (as a plastics surgeon). A few thousand dollars now seems like a pretty minor investment to me if it will get you on the career path you want this year compared to next year.
 

whoartthou

New Member
I forgot to mention my friend (plastics surgeon candidate) was reflecting on why he didn't do as well. He said exactly the same things I would tell my students which hopefully shows I have been giving the right advice.
 

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TKAO

crossed fingers for ATAR
Gold star winner
I forgot to mention my friend (plastics surgeon candidate) was reflecting on why he didn't do as well. He said exactly the same things I would tell my students which hopefully shows I have been giving the right advice.
If you are willing, what pieces of advise would you give to your students? I understand that giving away all your 'trade secrets' might be detrimental for your business so it's ok if you don't want to share them.
 

whoartthou

New Member
If you are willing, what pieces of advise would you give to your students? I understand that giving away all your 'trade secrets' might be detrimental for your business so it's ok if you don't want to share them.
There are no trade secrets to be completely honest. Knowing doesn't mean you will actually do it so it's always good to have an experienced person guide you.

I am not actively seeking new students at this stage and I am not currently running a business. I may do this in the future but have decided to take a break from it all to concentrate on a few other things in life.

You should prepare a list of scenarios which show case your abilities. These may include but are not limited to resolving a dispute, interacting in a culturally sensitive matter, consoling a friend etc. Have a solid list of at least 5 anecdotes if not more before the interview. During the interview you may be too nervous to think on the spot or give an anecdote which may not answer the question well.

Be confident in your answer. If you want the position you need to show it. You need to convince the interviewer that you are ready for the challenge and deserving of the spot. If you are not confident and do not believe in yourself you will come across as "faking it". Some students may fake confidence or facade and this becomes quite obvious. Go into the interview room with a sense of excitement. I am actually thinking of incorporating CBT into my teaching in the future. Many self-development books actually do this and I approached my interviews with this mindset and it helped immensely.
 

failedlobster

worlds biggest procrastinator
Talking around the question and not answering the question
do you feel this is done intentionally? is there a type of question that "traps" interveiwees or is it on them.

Giving short responses which doesn't showcase the discussion process (if you don't say it the interviewer thinks you didn't think of it).
can you give me an example of a response? is it yes/no, or a very brief response?


thank you so much : )
 

whoartthou

New Member
do you feel this is done intentionally? is there a type of question that "traps" interveiwees or is it on them.


can you give me an example of a response? is it yes/no, or a very brief response?


thank you so much : )
There is no question that is there to trap interviewees. It is usually due to their inexperience and lack of practice. Sometimes it may be due to the fact that they cannot think of anything more to say, in that case I would just stop my response.

Question: What if you don't get an offer this year?
I would try again next year.

This response would be too brief and doesn't answer the underlying question. The question isn't just asking about your intentions. It's asking about your insight as well.
 

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