Due to the COVID-19 context, some medical schools, including the University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide have implemented online interviews. It is possible that more medical schools may consider implementing online interviews which were usually only for international students. Here, we provide some top tips for preparing and sitting an online interview.
Before you go ahead, make sure to check our COVID-19 live updates page to find out any recent changes related to medical school admissions in Australia and New Zealand.
In essence, an online interview is intended to serve the same purpose as a face-to face interview: to identify applicants who possess personal and professional attributes to successfully complete medical education and become competent medical practitioners.
The only difference is that instead of physically being on-site to interact with the interviewers, your interview will be held over Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing platform. This will be an unfamiliar experience for most applicants, therefore, we will go over some preparation strategies, common pitfalls and a list of things to check before an online interview.
As with a face-to-face interview, you need to develop specific skills, traits and understanding desired by medical schools. A detailed list of these items as well as tips to get you started preparing for medical school interviews can be found in the article Planning Ahead For Medical School Admission: Year 10 & 11 Students.
It is also very important that you practice being interviewed online. Many inexperienced interviewees tend to look at the screen during an online interview, as they are inclined to look at the interviewer directly as to make eye contact.
Instead, practice looking directly at your webcam while speaking and listening, to show that you are engaged and interested. Without practice, this may be awkward for many applicants.
Ask a family member or friends to help you get some practice for online interviews. They can provide feedback on your answers, and on your online presence, such as display of any undesirable habits (e.g. fidgeting) or what you can do better (e.g. make more hand gestures to emphasize your message). You can record your practice sessions to review them at your own pace.
You may think that an online interview would be ‘easier’ if you have some keynotes stuck on your screen or somewhere unnoticeable to the interviewers. We do not recommend this as it is very easy for the interviewers to notice your eyes rolling around. Plus, if there’s something you feel is worthy of making a note, you should’ve practiced enough times to know them off by heart.
Although an online interview is held in the comfort of your home or another chosen location, you should avoid dressing too casually. Dressing smartly and professionally not only leaves a good first impression on the interviewers, but helps you psychologically to be in the right mindset. It will help you to be more alert and maintain a healthy level of tension to help you focused on the interview.
There are several things that you should check before an online interview. First, make sure that you will have access to a quiet, clean, well-illuminated and private space, with a reliable and fast internet connection. You should ask your family and anyone else living at the same house to limit the use of the internet during your interview time and to keep noise levels to a minimum.
If your home is not suitable, you should consider reserving a room at your school or a nearby library. If this is not possible due to the COVID-19 context or other reasons, you can ask your relatives or friends who might be able to help out.
You should install and test out that the required program (e.g. Skype, Zoom) on your device well in advance. Double-checking your interview details (e.g. time, interview link) would be a great idea too.
Finally, you should have a back-up plan. What if my laptop crashes? What if my internet suddenly cuts off? These can be mitigated by borrowing a second computer and having your mobile phone handy (but on silent mode) to provide hotspot internet access if needed. With a sound back-up plan, you will be able to focus on your interview without worrying about possible glitches.