So, this week saw the first med school interview, at King’s College in London and all I can say is a fairly non-committal “It could have gone better”. Things started badly with a delayed arrival in England thanks to the Krakow fog, meaning I arrived in London at 2.30 on the morning of the interview. Whoever decided to build the airport out there in Balice wants shooting really, barely a day goes by that there are no delays because of the ever reliable fog early in the morning and/or in the late evening. But anyway, I did at least make it to London so not the biggest disaster ever.
At King’s they use a fairly new-fangled interview system known as Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI), a kind of cross between a regular interview and speed dating where you spend 5 minutes in a booth discussing one question with an member of staff from the university then, at the sound of a buzzer, say goodbye and move along to the next booth, have a short break outside for a minute or so and then go in to face the next question and so on until you have answered all 8 of the questions used to determine who they want. Candidates are not at liberty to reveal the questions so I can’t go into much detail on that front, but I was a little surprised by the traditional nature of the questions asked.
One benefit of the MMI system for the candidate is that it eliminates what is known as the ‘halo effect’, a phenomenon shown to affect the vast majority of interviewers. Essentially it means that, barring very unusual or extreme events/behaviour, the interviewer’s overall opinion of a candidate’s performance at interview is based almost entirely on the first few minutes, regardless of how long the interview is. If you start badly, its very difficult to leave the interviewer with a positive feeling about you even if you give excellent answers to the remaining questions. In MMI, if you answer one question poorly, it has no bearing at all on the other seven parts because they are all separate.
I was sort of lucky in that my lousiest performance came in the very last booth so I didn’t have it hanging over me while trying to concentrate on other questions, although it did mean I left feeling quite negative about the interview as a whole and focusing a lot more on what I either did wrong, or simply did not do or say at all, than on the things I was happy with. I don’t really expect to be chosen as the competition is very stiff and others must have done better than me but it certainly served as good practice for next week, when I am back in London for another MMI session. This time I’m flying outside of the usual foggy spells so arriving on time is much more likely, and I amy actually get some proper sleep before the interview this time and maybe that will help me do myself justice. Watch this space…