Firstly, Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all spent yesterday nursing (no pun intended!) some absolute stonking hangovers from New Years eve parties and are ready for a fresh start and the new year!
With the new year in mind, this post is aimed particularly at those of you who are applying to study Midwifery at the moment, or are considering it for the near future – the well requested “Interview Hints and Tips”!
The first thing anyone reading this needs to know, and that I think not enough people really understand (people outside of the midwifery/medical world) is that applying to study midwifery is not like applying to uni to study English or History. It is not a case of sending off your UCAS form and if you get the grades you’ll have a place waiting. I have spoken to a few people who are applying at the moment straight from school and they have said that they have found it really hard when their friends have got 5 offers and just have to choose where to “firm” as their first choice and reserve, and they are still going to interviews all over the country and yet to get an offer. It is a HARD and INCREDIBLY competitive process – so don’t compare yourself to others – they are on a completely different track to you, and this works in a completely different way – so try not to let it get to you!
So, now onto a few of my hints and tips for the interview day – these have been drawn from my own experience of applying, and also my experience of helping out on interview days and open days, and discussing with tutors what they think people need to do to tick those seemingly intangible boxes!
- Think about what you are wearing.
They say “dress for the job you want” – now obviously if you turned up in a midwife uniform you would look a complete tit, but really think about what you are going to wear. Don’t turn up with your false eyelashes on and with neon pink nail extensions….it’s a professional interview and as such they are seeing how suited you are to that profession….so go for a neutral-ish makeup look and a smart outfit (some places are particularly picky about leggings but I think its more that they don’t want the whole “leggings as trousers” look….but leggings under a dress or something would be fine!)
And try to have your hair off your face if you can – little fringey bits are fine, but if your hair is falling over your face all day, it limits your communication skills, and it looks messy too….
For my interview, I wore a green dress, thick black tights (think they were 100 denier – just FYI) and a mid-heel pair of ankle boots – with a neutral-ish makeup look and my hair half up so it wasn’t falling everywhere all day. In fact…I took a selfie on the morning of our “pre-course day” – wearing the same dress and hair/makeup look as I wore for my interview.
It’s one of the 6 Cs of the NHS, which I’m sure, if you are interviewing for a course you already know about, so focus on your communication throughout the day. This is the one of the 6 Cs they can really assess to a good level on the day, so even if you are exceptionally quiet and nervous (which is totally ok btw!) make eye contact, smile and don’t look at the floor while you are answering a question or while the lecturer is speaking. I actually witnessed two girls having a little chat in the corner while the lecturer was talking the interviewees through the details of the course…just don’t do it!
- Don’t be late.
Obviously, things happen that can’t be avoided, and the team won’t hold it against you if you are a really good candidate. But just think about the impression it gives… For me, I hate being late for anything and am always really early (yes, even to a 12.5 hour shift!)
Aim to be early. Don’t aim to be on time.
- It’s all about transferrable skills.
Obviously, you aren’t going to be an A* at cannulation when you come for your interview – and they wouldn’t want you to be! They aren’t looking for you to say that you can do everything already. This is a job that you can’t really do proper “work experience” for. Talk about your voluntary work, yes, but don’t worry if you feel inexperienced. At that point, everyone is.
They are looking to see if you are a person they can train to be a great midwife. They aren’t looking for the finished product. So tell the team about the skills that you already have that you think could apply to midwifery – that would help you in your training etc. As an actress, I think I learnt a lot about human empathy and good communication so I talked about that in my interview – it all counts!
Particularly when it comes to the group interview, show respect for others when they are talking. Remember, the group interview is an observed discussion, so make it a conversation worth observing, don’t just use it as an opportunity to show that you know things. Show your knowledge when it is relevant, but it is so much more about how you work as a team and your respect for others too – facts can be taught, respect and team-work is a blooming’ admirable trait that you need to show! (also, don’t just sit there and not say anything – if you don’t contribute at all, they can’t assess you on it….simple as that really!)
- Know your 6 Cs.
Demonstrate your knowledge of the 6Cs wherever possible – at the end of the day, when you get your place, you are going to be working for the NHS; you need to show that you understand their morals.
- They want you to be great.
If you go into the interview room and present yourself as a great candidate, you are making the team’s job easier. They aren’t trying to trip you up. Just answer their questions honestly and don’t question yourself. There are no trick questions. They want you to be great – it makes their job easier! So go in there, be confident, make eye contact, and make their job easy!
- Don’t just fill time. (particularly in the MMIs!)
In the MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews) it can feel a little like you are in the final of The Apprentice, and the pressure is really put on to fill every second of the 4 minutes you have at each interview “station”. All I would say is, don’t feel like you need to fill the time. Answer the question. Make sure you have given all the information you feel you need to and then stop. Don’t babble. It will turn your great and concise answer into a load of waffle. I had a question in one of my MMIs that I answered in about 1.5 mins and then I said “I think that is everything” and the interviewer smiled and then asked me about where I had come from for the day – which mean they got to know me a bit better too! Don’t babble to fill time – it’s much better to sit quietly than to ruin a good answer with waffle.
- Try to enjoy it, and learn from it too!
At the end of the day, you have made the journey to go to the interview, you should get something out of it too, even if you don’t get a place. So make the effort to meet other applicants (you can stay in touch after and support each other through the waiting etc – as I said, not everyone understand how difficult this process is – these people will!) and learn from your experiences of the day. If you don’t get a place, ask for feedback. You deserve to know what you could have done better to improve your chances in the future so you can act on them for further interviews or for next year.
Try to enjoy the day – most places have a current student looking after you on the day too, so ask them the questions you don’t wanna ask the lecturers (there is no such thing as a silly question) and if the current student looking after you is anything like me, they will be more than happy to share their experiences with you!
If you’ve got any specific questions, please do leave me a comment below and I’ll update the post with the answer for you (if I know the answer…..and if I don’t, I’ll ask around for you!) – I think my brain is still a little pickled with prosecco and sausage rolls and I’m sure there are things I’ve missed from this post so do let me know if there’s anything specific you want advice on! 🙂
Back to it this week – full on assessment preparation mode! Bring it on! 🙂
To read last week’s “Midwife Mondays” post, click here