If you are reading this article, then perhaps you are feeling nervous about your upcoming medical school interview. On the other hand, maybe you are not currently nervous before your medical school interview, but you are worried that you will struggle with nervousness during your Medicine interview.

Perhaps you have struggled with nerves and anxiety in previous interviews and are worried that this interview nervousness will repeat itself. Alternatively, maybe you do not have a lot of previous interview experience and are not sure if nervousness during your Medicine interview will be an issue for you.

This article will give you an insight into why you feel nervous before your Medicine interview and why you feel nervous during your Medicine interview. Most importantly, this article gives you five tips on how to overcome your medical school interview nervousness and anxiety.

Tip 1 – Understand and accept why you feel nervous before your Medicine Interview and during it

Your emotions are part of your overall intelligence. They work in a different way to the more logical part of your mind and tell you slightly different things. To not utilise your emotions or to try and suppress them is to ignore an entire channel of your intelligence. This would be like blocking out your eye’s ability to see colour vision and seeing only in black and white instead. You would be limiting the tools that you have. This is why you have emotions – they are another tool at your disposal. They send signals and information to your brain which can then make decisions based on combining the input from your emotions, logic, habits, previous memories, previous experiences and other things.

It is easy to think why you have positive emotions, but even negative emotions and feelings are useful. There is an extremely rare medical condition called CIPA, where people cannot feel any physical pain (as well as other things such as heat or cold). You may think this is a great thing, but it actually has devastating consequences. These people constantly injure themselves and do not notice. They struggle to know the limits of how far they can move their joints, or push their bodies. These are things that healthy people who can feel pain instinctively learn. People with CIPA acquire many serious injuries and deformities throughout their life as a result typically have shorter lives. Pain is a vital form of sensory feedback and to not be able to experience it is a major disadvantage.

Physical pain is not the same thing as emotional pain, but there are similarities – they are a type sensory signal deemed to be unpleasant. You do not want to be oblivious to the information that physical pain or negative emotions provide you, but you do want some control. If you did not experience fear, then you would not always have a healthy sense of avoiding danger, e.g. not to touch fire, avoiding confrontations, or being careful when crossing the road. Most of the time your logical mind will tell you not to do these things anyway, but it is not fool proof, especially if you are tired, distracted or bored.

Where emotions become a problem is when they become excessive or inappropriate or if people try to suppress them excessively. For example, a few nerves before an interview or public speaking will help you to take it seriously, prepare well, concentrate during the event and avoid saying or doing anything to embarrass yourself. However, excessive fear will hinder your performance and can even lead to freezing, rambling or in extreme cases panic attacks. A phobia is another example of an inappropriate/excessive fear response.

So how does this relate to feeling nervous before your medical school interview and how will this information help you overcome your Medical school interview nerves?

These feelings about your Medicine interview are signals, and you should listen to what they are saying. Your mind knows that your medicine interview is something that is very important and it is trying to get you to take action. It is normal to feel a little nervous, or anxious before your medical school interview. These feelings are trying to get you to access your deepest inner resources. This is the purpose of fear as an emotion. Fear feels so uncomfortable as it is unfamiliar. Just knowing this can go along way to calming down your nerves before your Medicine interview as you know that your feelings of nervousness are not something wrong.

In fact, a small amount of nerves is good for you. Athletes, try to reach a level of “eustress,” i.e. not such little stress that they feel passive or do not care about their training and the actual event, e.g. a race, but not so much that it hinders their performance. Eustress is what you should aim for in preparing for your Medicine interview.

In summary: Fear, anxiety, nerves are all normal feelings before your Medicine interview. They are signals trying to tell you that this is an important event and you need to prepare for it and access your deepest inner resources. For this reason, they are useful emotions, so your goal does not need to be to eliminate these feelings – just to keep them under control. Understanding that they are normal and even helpful will go some way in helping you to do this. Listening to them, which we discuss in the next tip below, also helps. This is because if you do not listen to your emotions, then they can keep getting stronger and stronger as this is their way of trying to get you to acknowledge them.

Tip 2 – Take action on your emotions – in this case, your interview nervousness

In our last tip, we talked about how feelings of nervousness about your Medicine interview are a signal for your mind and your body that you need to access your inner resources and prepare for your Medicine interview. Tip 2 is simple – act on these feelings by preparing for your Medicine interview as best as you can! This is a smart use of your emotions in this case and can be applied to other emotions and different scenarios also. A healthy way of dealing with your emotions is to acknowledge what emotion you feel – do not try to block them; think about why you feel them and then use your logical mind and your emotional intelligence to interpret this information and take some action. Notice if your action is working or not. If your feelings have not changed after some time and the necessary action, then you should think whether there is something else going on or another message you may not have understood.

Tip 3 – Don’t make yourself feel even worse by beating yourself up that you feel nervous!

When people feel a negative emotion such as fear, anxiety, stress, depression etc. – often they feel bad or criticise themselves for feeling that emotion in the first place. “why do I always get so worked up about everything?” “why can’t I handle these nerves?” “What’s wrong with me?” This makes them feel even worse. This cycle continues, as now they start to feel bad that they are feeling so bad! What started as a simple emotion such as feeling nervous or anxious about your medical school interview has now turned into feelings of frustration, guilt and inadequacy. In this way, people tie themselves up into “emotional knots” and it is difficult to unravel what initially caused all these mixed emotions and feelings in the first place.

In tip one we explained some reasons why you would feel nervous about your Medicine interview. We said they are signals and that you should listen to them. In tip two we said how you could use this to your advantage and use it as leverage to practice. Now you know these two things – don’t beat yourself up for feeling nervous before your Medicine interview. It is entirely normal, and as you now know, some nerves before and during your Medicine interview will actually help you.

Tip 4 – Avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy

This is a very important tip. From now on only think about your interview positively and picture yourself acing your interview. If every time you think about your medicine interview or while preparing for it, you feel nervous, anxious or even scared, and you always picture yourself stumbling or freezing, then the likelihood of your anxieties coming true in your real Medicine interview increase. Not to mention that this causes you to link negative thoughts and feelings with your Medicine interview and perhaps interviews in general in the future. It will also just make the whole process of preparing for your interview worrisome, unpleasant and not something you enjoy.

Instead, you can completely reverse this psychology. Your brain is like a computer, and you are in control of the images you see and the thoughts you feel. You are probably just not used to thinking of your brain being so controllable in this way. Most people simply react to their environment and follow established habit patterns. From now on every time you think about your interview, picture yourself acing it. Imagine the scenes as vividly and as brightly as you can – imagine yourself powerfully and articulately explaining yourself. Picture yourself being confident and charming and the day going smoothly. Imagine yourself being empathetic and reassuring. You can even go into the future and start to think of receiving your offers, telling family and friends etc. Make the pictures brighter and more vivid. You could even lie down and spend a few minutes visualising this every day. Your brain treats vivid visualisation very similarly to real events. The same parts of your brain are used and the same neurotransmitters and hormones are released. Imagine how confident you would be if you had already passed many Medicine interviews. Using visualisation techniques like this, you can experience the same feelings as if you had already achieved this.

It is important that you do not just vividly visualise, but you really experience the feelings you would get in these scenarios. Every time you think of your interview instead of feeling anxious, scared etc. start to feel excited about how well you are going to do. If you do these two things, i.e. change the way you picture the medical school interview and change the way you feel about it, every time you think about your medicine interview you will feel good. You will probably even learn to look forward to your medicine interview and will associate positive feelings towards your interview every time you think about it. This is entirely a world away from your previous feelings of nervousness and anxiety every time you thought about your medical school interview!

Tip 5 – Practice in ways that are similar to your Medical school interview

In tip two we mentioned how you should use feelings of interview nervousness and interview anxiety to your advantage by giving yourself the urge to prepare well and practice. The more practice you put in for your Medicine interview, the more prepared you will feel and the less uncertain about your interview you will feel. Solid preparation and practice should help to calm down any feelings of nervousness and anxiety about your Medicine interview.

Tip five is ensuring that your practice is effective and realistic. You would not practice for your driving test just by reading books on driving – you would get out there and practice. You would also take mock exams, so the real exam is less unfamiliar to you when you take it, and so you have an idea of what to expect and of your current level. Similarly, don’t just read about Medicine interview questions or write notes about answering them – actually say your answers out loud. Ask friends and family to ask you questions and answer them. If you do not have anyone around you could always speak to an object in your room or record yourself. You could put a list of questions in a hat and pick them out or just pick from a list. On our website, under resources, we have a completely free database of real examples of Medicine interview questions, with examples of effective answers which you could use.

Prepare for your Interview with Medicine Answered

As part of your preparation, you could attend a Medicine interview course like the ones that Medicine Answered offer. You certainly do not need to attend a medical school interview course to prepare for your Medicine interview or to help settle your nerves! Many people get offers to study Medicine without attending these courses. You can prepare yourself and with other people. Additionally, we have a wealth of completely free resources on our website which can help you as we do not think cost should be a barrier to study Medicine. However, our interview courses are an excellent resource to help you prepare for your Medicine interview and offer real value. They are unique in that they are only delivered by doctors who passed all four of their medical school interviews and received all four UCAS offers to study Medicine. Overcoming nerves and making sure you can perform to the best of your ability on the day of your interview is an important part of getting into medical school and something that these doctors did exceptionally well in order to get four offers. For this reason, it is something we cover in our courses in detail as well as in our free articles throughout our site.