Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Diary of an interviewee: Part 1

Currently listening to: Why - Elefant

Wow, what a hectic 48 hours it's been, quite possibly the most significant 48 hours of my life actually.

As I've written before, I blog to release stress and feelings. I don't feel like I can cover both the A100 interview and the Warwick/BL selection centre in one post. So Part 2 will come tomorrow once I've had more time to reflect on the experience.

Tuesday 14th Feb 2012 - Interview at Barts and The London for the A100 5 year degree.

09:30: Roused awake by the harsh sounds of my mobile's alarm. Surprisingly I'd had a very good night's sleep. Went to bed at 12, woke up once in the middle of the night and promptly fell asleep again. Feel refreshed, confident and ready to go.

10:30: Wearing my suit and feeling ever so slightly uncomfortable, I leave my flat and begin walking to the Tube station. Listen to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the way to the station.

10:40: Yay, the Tube arrives within a minute and what's more it's on the right branch of the Northern line. Get on and check self in carriage windows. Looking suave and debonair. In my mind anyway. Listening to Coldplay, Eno to the max for epicness.

11:15: Arrive at Whitechapel, breathe in the scent of fried chicken. Feel slightly nauseous. Go to the Garrod Building where I had my Nutrition & Metabolism classes during second year of biomed. Listening to Pink Floyd's A Saucerful of Secrets.

11:20: iPod switched off. Taken upstairs to the old London Hospital Medical College senior common room by a smiley fourth year medical student. Everyone else is there with their parents. Begin wondering if I've done something wrong by turning up by myself. Have a glass of water.

11:35: Taken back down to the Old Library by the same medical student. Sit down on a row of seats with four other applicants, all of whom look worryingly young. Or perhaps I'm just worryingly old.

11:40: I'm the first to be called up. The interview begins. Butterflies in my stomach doesn't even begin to cover it. My interviewers are a clinician and one of the tutors from the med school. And so the questions begin, starting with some fairly obvious ones (I'm not allowed to reveal details - but use your imagination, it can only be about work experience, why you want to do medicine etc, the usual stuff found in guidebooks and so on).

11:43ish: Realise that I'm fumbling my words and being awkward. Interviewers stare at me impassively as I try my best to explain what I'm talking about. Butterflies in stomach are replaced by a vague sense of foreboding and panic. Desperately hope we'll move on.

11:45: We move on, thank Christ. We turn to the article (can now reveal) and I begin discussing it at length. Again, impassiveness from the panel. I conclude my thoughts and the questions begin. Interview slowly begins to turn into an intensive Q&A on my views on public health.

11:50: This is now a full blown debate on public health. Feel seriously out of my depth but continue to attempt to express myself eloquently and clearly. Not sure if attempt is working. Still have the sense I'm coming across as fumbling.

11:55: We move on again onto questions about the medical school. I feel I managed to answer this part well. To be honest it would be pretty disgraceful if I didn't, I was at QMUL for three years and I'm a current Barts and The London student. Interviewers still don't appear impressed. Either this is all part of their interview strategy or I've managed to talk utter cack for the past 15 minutes (more than likely).

11:58ish: A final personal question. Feel like I manage to answer it well, but by this point feel that it won't make up for my earlier weak performance.

11:59: "Any further questions?"..."No, I don't think so, all of my questions have been answered by the prospectus and the current students. Thank you very much for considering me".

12:00: Interviewers smile (or grimace, perhaps, given how rubbish I feel my performance was) and say that that will be all. I shake hands, smile whilst weeping on the inside and leave.

So how did I feel afterwards? Pretty gutted to be honest. I had felt confident on the way to the interview though clearly it hadn't been as much of a pleasant experience as I hoped. I'm particularly disappointed in myself for fumbling the parts to do with my work experience etc, especially since I'd spent a long time reflecting on it. But in the heat of the moment it seemed like my brain just didn't want to cooperate.

I suppose to some extent this is totally natural since I've never had a med school interview before so it was completely new, unfamiliar and nerve wracking. At any rate, I felt glad that if I was to screw up something, I'd screwed up the A100 interview rather than the GEP selection centre (though in all honesty, I'd much rather not screw anything up). Offers/rejections will be given by the end of February (according to the information sheet we were given), though I'm not hopeful of an offer at all.

Tune in tomorrow for Diary of an interviewee: Part 2. I can give away some spoilers right now and reveal that the GEP selection centre was a much more pleasant (and downright fun) experience. So perhaps there's hope for me yet.


  1. Sorry, you felt you messed it up. I really hope you get it and it was just nerves.

    I found Barts to be really friendly, but I know a lot of my fellow Biomeds found their interviews at Barts to be quite painful. Maybe it's a technique they are trying this year?

    Best of luck for both!!

  2. Don't worry mate - some of my friends on my course say that their interviews felt very similar, and think the interviewers purposefully didn't react in order to put stress on them.

    Best of luck with the results