How to prepare for your CaRMS interviews

December 13, 2019 Dr. Alex Trevatt

CaRMS interview season

It’s nearly CaRMS interview season―a stressful time for medical students across Canada. How you perform in your interview could determine your speciality and where you will be living for the next 2-5 years, so being well prepared is essential. I’ve compiled four helpful tips below to try and make the whole process easier.

 

1) Start early

The same key questions tend to come up each year. Find out what they could be and know how you will answer them.

Make sure you know your application back to front, and that you can talk about any aspect of it. You cannot predict which bit of your application your interviewer will find interesting, so be prepared to answer those questions―even on the minor stuff.

Practice answering questions with both your peers and any senior colleagues you know. Many applicants fall into the trap of preparing alone or with just one other person. Although this can help you polish the questions you have anticipated, it also means you’re more likely to be caught answering a question you haven’t prepared for. By preparing with different people, you can also expect to get more varied feedback to help you improve your overall performance.

 

2) Know your specialty and why you want to pursue it

There is no doubt you will be asked some variation of ‘why do you want to be a [insert specialty here]’. It can be difficult to answer this question well, so give it some thought. Are there any specific aspects of your personality or previous experience that make you a good fit for the specialty? Which aspects of the specialty appeal to you most?

Bear in mind the interviewers are looking for applicants with a realistic understanding of the speciality they have applied to. Implying you love all aspects of the specialty could make you seem naïve and have interviewers concerned that you would drop out once reality sets in. Therefore it’s important to have considered the specialty’s drawbacks too as well as how you will manage them.

 

3) Prepare examples that show how you embody those key qualities

The interviewers will be assessing whether you possess certain key qualities that are important for the specialty. This is just another reason why it’s imperative to know your specialty well.

In addition to qualities specific to your speciality, prepare examples where you demonstrated leadership, team working skills, the ability to work under pressure, etc.

Make sure your examples are short and get to the point quickly―this will only come with practice. Get as much feedback as possible on how they come across so you can tweak or change them. If you spend too long on a certain example, the interviewers could lose interest which could affect your score.

 

4) Speak to people who have already done the interview

Whenever possible, speak to people who have already been through the same interview. They can give you valuable insight into the process and what they did to stand out. This isn’t always possible, but you should still aim to get advice from senior colleagues―even if they aren’t from the school you’re interviewing with.

 

Preparation is key for any medical interview. Leaving it to the last minute can cause unnecessary stress and could mean you don’t get into the school of your choice. Those who score highest will have already started preparing―so what are you waiting for?

If you have questions or have your own tips to share, please send them to jouleinquiries@cma.ca and they will be relayed back to me.

Good luck!

Did you know?

The CMA holds CaRMS training sessions at every medical school city in Canada. In 2019, they helped 1,100+ medical students prepare for their interviews – leveraging the experience of 130+ resident physicians who worked as coaches and hosts. Secure your spot

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This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The opinions stated by the authors are made in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries including Joule.  Feel passionate about physician-led innovation? Please connect with us at jouleinquiries@cma.ca.

About the author

Dr. Alex Trevatt

Dr. Alex Trevatt is a Plastic Surgery Resident in London, UK. He has a special interest in medical education and founded Medibuddy to address the huge lack of educational resources available online for doctors and medical students applying for medical training jobs. In his spare time, Dr. Trevatt is an avid cyclist and football fan.

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