Much like in any traditional interviewing scenario, it is important to do your research into the clerkship and overall program that you are applying for.
However, for students which English is not their native language, it becomes even more paramount for ESL students to be even more prepared before entering a potential clerkship or residency interview.
There are a few simple tips that can assist in making you feel better prepared for the experience; yet it all comes down to being confident in yourself and your abilities. Typically, understanding what kind of candidate the program is looking for and assuring the interviewer how easily you can fill that role is how most clinical clerkships are obtained.
Check Your Motives
It cannot be stressed enough how essential it is to understand the history and dynamics of the program you are interviewing at, as well as what role in your own personal growth that program will have. Ask yourself two simple question: “Am I applying to this program because it will help me advance in the field in which I want practice medicine in? Or am I applying to this program because it is easier to get into?” These questions can be applied to any interview you participate in. If the program isn’t going to help hone your skills in an area which you want to work in, then don’t interview at that program.
Do Your Research
One of the most common mistakes students applying for a clinical rotation make, is not being prepared for the interview process, as well as not researching the background on the program they are interviewing with.
Look into the program’s details, the hierarchy of the program and the different high-ranking officials and their roles; and if possible, do some research on the person who will be interviewing you.
When they ask the question “do you have any questions for me?” at the end of the interview, make sure that you have at least one or two questions for the proctors of the interview. By asking questions at the end, it suggests you’re well-versed in their program and have considered your own role within it. Some sample questions consist of:
What qualities are you looking for in a candidate for your program?
When attending your program, what would an average day look like for me?
Brush Up On Your Terminology
With English not being a candidate’s first language, it is highly suggested to brush up on different medical terminology that will be used in day-to-day interactions with fellow students and mentors. Make sure that you have a working understanding of medical terminology and basic conversation; though there’s no need to worry too much about the interview. Stressing too much will only serve to make you nervous, so it is better to prepare without fixating.
When interviewing for an abroad clerkship, the interviewers will most likely take into account the fact English is your second language, and therefore will not hold it against you during the interview. However, practicing enunciation, diction, and proper verb-tense usage, will only add to an overall positive experience while interviewing.
Establish a Two-Minute Pitch
Talking too much (rambling) is often a sign of nerves or perceived as a lack of preparation. In order to avoid this, it is suggested to establish a two-minute pitch, broken into four sections, to talk about yourself and your goals.
Here is a breakdown of what this pitch should look like:
- Typically it is advised for the first fifteen to thirty seconds to be about yourself, where you’re from, what you’re like, etc.
- The next thirty seconds should be dedicated to your educational background and accomplishments.
- The next thirty seconds is suggested to be devoted to discussions involving skills gained in medical school, leaderships qualities and attributes, and special skills that could be an asset to their program if you are chosen for their clinical clerkship.
- The final fifteen to thirty seconds should be specifically dedicated to reasons why the clerkship would be something you’d be a good fit for and why you were attracted to the program in the first place.
A nice touch when ending your two-minute pitch is to ask the interviewer to tell you more specifics about the clerkship, bringing the conversation naturally back to the interviewer.
Participate in a Mock Interview
Have a trusted friend or family member conduct a mock interview with you, asking you typical interview questions and grading your responses, as well as your public speaking skills. This will help you feel better prepared when going into the real interview, and it helps reduce unnecessary stress and worry.
However, make sure not to sound overtly practiced by having canned answers. Memorizing slogans and tight soundbites has a tendency to make the interviewer feel uncomfortable or unsure in your capabilities and talents. The reason behind this is because by over practicing, it shows an unwillingness to learn from one’s mistakes, as well as a lack of self-confidence because you felt you had to memorize answers, instead of speaking extemporaneously.
Like in most aspects of life, confidence is key. Sometimes just projecting confidence and assurance that you’re the best candidate for the job and reflecting that attitude in your interview will help to ensure that the interviewer walks away feeling that you are a capable and worthwhile candidate for the medical school rotation or clinical clerkship.
Make sure to check back often because we are always updating our blog with new content that pique your interest and that is geared towards helping you become successful when applying to a residency or clerkship program.