Interview Advice

Preparing For Interview Nerves!

Thursday, 14 Mar, 2024

How to battle those medical interview nerves and prepare with confidence

Walking into an interview conjures up a lot of images immediately, doesn’t it? You’ve taken time to prepare, time to organise your answers, thoughts, and examples – putting yourself together in a way that’s both appealing to the interviewers and showcases all of your hard work.

Cue the nerves kicking in! And it’s no wonder with all of the above taken into account! That’s the tip of the iceberg too, if we’re being really honest with ourselves. Because sitting at the bottom of it all is the thought of failure. Oof! A bit heavy, but a reality for so many people.

Doctors are, by nature, detailed thinkers. So it makes sense to me to think of problem-solving  when it comes to dealing with the nerves – practical ways to tackle this unavoidable problem.

Remember, before we dive in: nerves are normal, and everyone gets nervous in interview situations. 

So let’s do something about it, starting with these simple and practical tips that we can all use. Not everything will feel right to you, so take what you can and leave the rest – the important thing is to feel a sense of control over the situation (which is more than possible to achieve!).

Preparation

Yep, we’re starting here! We’re heading in well-prepared and you can do this in a structured and systematic way.

We’re not starting with practising potential questions – it’s far too early for that. Effective interview preparation starts with these key fundamentals. 

Key Strengths

Begin by identifying your strengths and how you’ll stand out from the other candidates. I know it can feel uncomfortable to think of selling yourself as a package, but that’s what you need to do! This is about making a positive impression and confidently communicating what strengths make you unique from other candidates.

Knowing your strengths is an important piece in the confidence puzzle! Success starts by believing in yourself and showing this belief to the interviewers. Everyone has strengths and unique talents that can make them stand out and be memorable during the interview process.

Work on your content

Now you can get to the questions! Think about what you’re likely to be asked; what content do you need to be familiar with? Prepare for questions on leadership, teamwork and communication; get your examples ready and clear in your mind. 

Your specialty and your level of seniority also come into play here; think of content like policies, college, specialty guidelines, clinical questions and scenarios. 

Practice

Get comfortable with your content and pre-prepared answers by practising with as many relevant people as possible. Grab opportunities to ask consultants to run through a question or two with you if you can, especially if they’re involved with recruitment. Get your colleagues on board and use them regularly!

The goal? To get comfortable presenting to a range of people, gather feedback from their particular perspective, sift through the comments and use what’s useful. 

Your answers should feel natural and comfortable for you, which is something we go over together during interview coaching. 

Speaking of getting comfortable with yourself…practise in front of the mirror and try recording yourself. It might feel awkward at first, but the more you practise, the more natural and authentic your answers will feel.

Pro tip

Aside from being prepared, my favourite tip is to watch this TED talk by Amy Cuddy. Amy is a social psychologist from Harvard who’s studied the influence of body language on performance and interviews.

Her approach is so simple and so effective, and the TED talk is only 20 minutes long – worth a watch!

Read More: 5 Fundamentals For Interview Prep

Nerves affect performance

So let’s find ways to deal with them! I’ve been both the interviewer and the interviewee – the latter was very anxiety-inducing for me so I absolutely get it! The good news is I can also offer the view from the other side. Interviewers expect people to be nervous, so it’s about managing your nerves and leaning into the idea of having a conversation with your interviewers.

Mindfulness and sports psychology techniques 

Different things resonate with different people but these have been proven to be effective for many of the clients I’ve worked with. They’re also two of the techniques I wish I’d known about when I was attending interviews myself.

Mindfulness

Let’s acknowledge straight off the bat that this might not be for everyone, but I find mindfulness to be an incredibly useful tool to have in your toolkit. It’s most definitely worth giving a go! It’s incredibly helpful in identifying feelings of anxiety, and a simple way of dealing with them – that’s a win in my books.

Breathing techniques are particularly helpful and there are a range of apps that I think are a great place to start. Try Headspace, Smiling Mind, Calm, and Insight Timer. 

Sports Psychology

Warm up! Your voice, your mind – there are lots of exercises you can use to psychologically stretch and get ready (you can even use voice exercises to stretch your actual voice!). 

Finally, visualise the situation you’re about to walk into (another powerful tool sports people use). You can imagine yourself in the interview, calm and confident, or even opening the email offering you the position.

Battling interview nerves and building confidence before you step into that room takes practice and preparation. It takes work. The good news is, it’s work that you can do, and I can help you get there – it’s possible to take control and tackle those nerves head-on. 

If you want to read more about battling nerves and building confidence during interviews, I’ve created a FREE guide just for that very purpose!  Take a look: Unlock Your Medical Interview Potential

BACK TO ALL ARTICLES

Freebie guide to job applications
A LITTLE BONUS FOR YOU

Job Applications & Interviews

Everything you need to know to give yourself the best chance of success in your application and interview.

.