Interview season may be a stressful and difficult time for students, as you are nearing the end goal of your applications and are faced with the challenging process of interviews. Online or in-person, panel or MMI, interviews are definitely a stressful thing for students because they are very different from usual exams, you have to face the examiner, you feel put on the spot and time is pressured. Additionally, this might be your first time sitting any sort of interview, which only adds to the stress levels. In this article, I want to give you some ways in which you can take care of your mental health and reduce your anxiety during interview season.
Firstly, I think interview season can be very stressful because there is so much going on at that time: you have classes, university applications, homework and exams, and then other UCAS things as well on the side, and keeping track of everything can be difficult. This is why my first tip that can help you feel more relaxed is to have a clear and organised calendar with all of the important dates and deadlines. I find this quite useful in general, but especially during a period when there are so many things going on. I believe that if I don’t have an organised schedule, I will be worried about missing something and will feel compelled to check my emails or UCAS every five minutes “just in case”. If you have a well-structured calendar with important deadlines marked down, that can really help because you won’t have to worry about missing anything important! The UCAS website has a list of key dates to note that you can put in your calendar to start you off: Find key dates | UCAS. Top tip: use your calendar to schedule your revision time so that you have time set aside for school/university work, interview prep, hobbies and relaxation.
On that note, my second tip is really to keep doing the things that make you happy and help you relax. Although it may seem tempting to spend all of your time revising and juggling all of the studying you need to do, taking some time to unwind is crucial! Whether it is a hobby, a sport, spending time with friends or family, just taking time out to watch or read something or take a hot bath, keep on taking the time to do things for yourself! This time is not time wasted, it is necessary for your rest and recovery, and your brain will thank you for it. Make sure you get enough sleep and eat healthy foods; these are both essential needs for your body. It’s like driving a car, you’ve got to give it fuel and take care of it to keep it going in the long run and at its best pace. There are also some specific activities that you can start to reduce stress levels such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation. There are some apps such as ‘Headspace’ that can guide you through meditation. The NHS website has resources to help you and direct you to the right places for self-help or getting help from professionals as well if you need it: Self-help – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
My third point is something that I find very important: try to not compare yourself to other people. It is honestly so hard to not draw comparisons with people around you: comparing your grades or experiences to other students in your class, then people get interview offers or hear back before you, some people come out feeling like the interview went really well and you don’t… I really want to remind you that everyone is different and comparing yourself to other people is not worth it! Universities release responses at different times so sometimes you just have to wait and see. And if a peer does hear back positively it doesn’t mean that you won’t! Some practical tips to avoid comparison that I want to share here mainly involve setting boundaries with peers such as: “I don’t really want to discuss our grades as I want to keep them personal” or “I am going to focus on my interview revision so I would prefer if we didn’t discuss your offers right now”.
My final tip, which is one of the most important things to keep in mind throughout the entire application process, is: it’s very important to remember that your worth does not lie in those results. Trust me, I understand how it feels when you have worked so hard for something and it doesn’t go your way. It’s so hard. It’s ok to feel all the emotions and give yourself time to recover. But please don’t feel like these results or grades define your worth: they really don’t! And in the same sentiment, I want to tell you with my hindsight (I went through my application cycle 6 years ago now- wow I feel old!): at the time these things seem like they define your life or decide whether your life will be successful or not. This is not the case! Life isn’t so linear and one choice or event is not going to define your whole life. If it doesn’t work out this year, there are so many options for you like trying another degree, taking time out to apply again, do some work experience in another field… Life is a whirlwind of opportunities and things come and go, if one road gets closed for you, the other road you take will lead you to something amazing as well.
That’s about it for my tips today, try to keep them with you throughout the season and remember to take care of yourselves. You should be very proud of where you go already! Keep up the good work! If you feel like you are struggling please reach out to someone and ask for help. There are many people there who will be able to help and support you in what you are going through so please reach out!
Additionally, if you would like to join the inner circle, where you can get regular 1-ON-1 guidance to help you get into your first choice medical school, you can apply here.
Alternatively, you may want to consider our medical school interview course.
Written By Marianne Gazet