Interviews and the X-factor

Posted on: 03/12/2009

By Rebecca Gardiner

I recently had a university interview, which didn’t go according to my plan. As I sat there, clammy handed, trying to impress three strangers and convince them I was a deserving candidate for their course; it seemed ludicrous that they would be able to know my character, strengths, weaknesses and passions in all of 20 minutes. These strangers, who I had only just met, would decide on my future. My life. Great!

The interview process in my eyes now seems extremely dubious. I wrote a personal statement. Good. Can that really give a clear indication of my personality? No. Anyone can fabricate sentences out of thin air, writers do it all the time. Universities spend hours deliberating and discussing candidates over these claims and promises of what they intend to do. Yet we get only 20 minutes with them face to face. If they have built up an image of me from my personal statement, and I don’t fit it, what happens next?

I know medicine is a competitive subject, but asking me questions they expect me to know nothing about is cruel in my eyes. For example, I was asked questions on the structure of the NHS. A topic they teach in the first term of the course. The structure is confusing, complicated and I only knew it in vague. So when the question emerged from the interviewer’s mouth my jaw dropped and I attempted to string some poorly formed words together. Apparently it’s meant to gauge how well you will cope with unexpected situations, but the variables between being on a ward and in an interview room are not that comparable.

The nerves that were running through me remained until the next day. A high stress experience that I hope I will face again. But waiting for the verdict has almost been as agonising as being asked about Thomas Hardy in my medicine interview (another little tactic to scare me, makes an amusing story now though!).

In some strange way this reminds me of X-Factor, a show I think is lacking in ethics and compassion. I agree the X-Factor is good entertainment, but the whole point of the show is to change a life. In the process of this one, life-changing experience countless dreams are broken and ambitions shattered. They are judged not only on their singing on one particular occasion, but on their outfit and personality. If one of these factors is disliked, they’re out. A high stress, no gain, crushing experience. They too are judged on first impressions and three to a million strangers.

From going through this judging process once to fulfill my ambition of becoming a doctor, I don’t think I could cope doing it for someone else’s entertainment.

The interview experience has made me think about all these things, but I have neglected to mention how it has helped me. It has made me more confident, more analytical and has also given me valuable life experience. Just being given the opportunity to prove myself felt empowering, but saying this, if I don’t get the place I will most likely view it only from the negative point of view!

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your future interviews.

Do you agree with Rebecca? What has been your experience? Add your comments below.


2 Responses to "Interviews and the X-factor"

I asume they asked about Thomas Hardy because you wrote you like/study poetry on your personal statement, which is fairly legit unless you have never read any of his poems. Asking about the structure of the NHS was maybe quite cruel seeing as it’s what they teach in the first year and surely if you knew an ample amount about it, why need to study it? I guess they are really making it harder for students to take medicine seeing as it is a very very competative course. Apparently you got accepted from some other university, Well done!

I wrote nothing about Thomas Hardy in my personal statement! They must have seen I studied AS Literature and decided to go on a field day…so medics be ware! But it must have done the trick as I got a place, thanks Chuck Norris!

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