Tips for a successful interview

What to expect in the interview process of each medical college.

What are the interviews?

Both medical colleges (ACRRM and RACGP) have different interview processes. The interview is conducted in the region you have applied to train in. The interview process assesses your suitability for general practice.”

The interviews of both colleges are designed to help you show your ability to:

  • think logically
  • communicate effectively
  • show why you want to be a GP.

Many do not realise the interviews are different to OSCEs, which many of you may have sat during your university years, and do not require ‘specialist’ general practice knowledge as this is something you gain during training.

ACRRM’s interviews are called Multi Mini Interview (MMIs). According to the ACRRM website:

“The MMI is behavioural-based assessment consisting of six short interviews in which you have two minutes to read a scenario and eight minutes to respond. Questions are designed to allow you to display your ability to think logically about a topic and communicate your response and ideas effectively.”

You can prepare for the interviews by reading ACRRM’s selection criteria and thinking about how it relates to your own experiences. You will not know the questions in advance. College and representative/s will be present.

The format of RACGP’s interview process is at the discretion of the college and can either be in an MMI format or a singular interview format. The format is conveyed to each candidate prior to the interview. According to the RACGP website:

“Interviews will consist of five common questions in either multiple mini interview or a single interview format. Interviewers have the opportunity to ask an additional three questions specific to their region.”

Candidates are notified of the interview outcome by way of a RACGP letter. Candidates will be required to respond to any placement offers in writing.

How do I prepare?

Both ACRRM and RACGP’s interviews may cover a variety of themes of situations where you will have to respond to demonstrate your abilities as a doctor. Common themes to prepare for at the interview stations may include:

  • demonstrating leadership
  • ethical scenarios
  • cultural competency
  • conflict resolutions
  • clinical scenarios
  • working in teams
  • managing difficult patients
  • communication skills (breaking bad news to patients).

Be prepared with examples of when you have displayed successful application of these themes and challenges in similar circumstances. This may include:

  • memorising some examples from your work experience
  • being aware of the cultural sensitivities of different patient cohorts (for examples, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders)
  • articulating why you want to be a GP above any other specialty, what it means to be a good GP, and the experiences you have had which made you decide to pursue general practice training
  • discussing the skills and experience you have which will help you be a good GP
  • if applying for the rural pathway, think about why you are passionate about rural general practice and think about how you may demonstrate this through examples.

Do not be arrogant – admit your shortfalls and identify when you may need the assistance of a GP supervisor, however, be aware that you will still demonstrate a level of clinical independence appropriate to your level of training and skills.

Practical advice includes:

  • dress professionally
  • read through each question carefully
  • practise questions with friends and family members so you can get a sense of timing.

Advice for those applying for the rural generalist pathway

Be familiar with the training pathway – requirements, assessment, process, Advanced Skills Training (AST) options, curriculum.

Have an idea of a ‘training end-point’. In other words, where do you want to work and why? This is important for choosing an advanced skill, for example, there is no point in doing obstetrics for the AST if you’re not planning on working in a confining hospital, or are going to be in a larger centre that already has specialists in that field.

Have a good understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, culture and inequalities.

Think about health in a rural context. How does practice in a rural environment differ from the city, e.g. referrals, lack of access, need to arrange urgent retrievals through the flying doctors, social isolation, importance of confidentiality and lack of services.
Have a good understanding of health inequalities in rural areas (CVD, T2DM, suicide, depression, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific, etc).

Why do you want to be a rural GP? What do you think the role involves? How will your family fit in with your goals?

There is usually some sort of ethical question in most medical interviews, (e.g. how to manage a drunk colleague, drug abuse, bullying / harassment).

Have a strategy for breaking bad news to a patient.

Think about a sick ‘medical’ or ‘trauma’ patient, how would you manage—by yourself—in a rural context. Discuss teamwork, early notification to retrievals, advice from specialists, lack of resources, involving other members of the team such as nurses and paramedics. Throughout, think about patient disposition.