IMT interview guide: how to prepare and tips for success
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Internal medicine training (IMT) is a three-year programme that prepares doctors to be medical registrars and equips them with the skills they require to manage patients with numerous general medical conditions. If you've applied for IMT and passed the application, the next critical step is the interview. Following an IMT interview guide can help you maximise your interview score. In this article, we explain how to prepare for an IMT interview, provide tips for passing the interview and explore various IMT interview questions you can expect.
IMT interview guide: how to prepare
Use the steps in this IMT interview guide to prepare for your interview:
1. Prepare your portfolio
Your portfolio plays a part in your overall score for the interview. It can shape the questions and thoughts of the interviewers, so it's vital to know everything you write in it. More so, crafting a portfolio can help you structure answers about your suitability more clearly, allowing you to review your experiences, awards and presentations. The following are tips for preparing an exceptional portfolio:
Make it concise. The interviewers may only get a few minutes to review your portfolio. Ensure it's well organised and only include relevant details to keep it brief.
Make it memorable. Include examples of achievements in your career or anything that sets you apart from other candidates. That way, you increase the chances of the interviewer remembering you.
Nurture it. Take time preparing it, as it may be the same portfolio you use for the rest of your training career. Be sure to include all the relevant information and review it thoroughly before sending it.
2. Practise with a friend
Practising with a friend is a great way to prepare for your IMT interview. You can find a colleague who's also applying to join IMT and ask them to practise with you. You may also practise with a friend with no medical background if you have a set of questions from a book or question bank. Practising with a friend allows you to rehearse answers out loud. You may also examine someone else's application or portfolio and ask them how they handled different questions.
3. Consider a medical interview course
A medical interview course can help you learn directly from experts on how to prepare for the interview. Most courses require you to pay a fee. Completing this course may not be necessary if you're confident in your skills and experiences.
4. Prepare your documents
In most cases, the only documentation the interviewers require is proof of your identity. This can be your passport or other photographic identification. If you don't have a passport, a photo-card driving licence might be helpful. It's essential to check the public health services' website to know exactly what is necessary to ensure you have everything you require to attend the interview.
5. Consider technical requirements and the interview environment
If the IMT interview is virtual, it's essential that you have an excellent technical setup. An environment free from distractions is also essential to help you focus. Here are things to consider:
Internet connectivity: Ensure that your interview takes place where there's a good and stable connection. Be sure to check the place earlier to test the connection.
Microphone and camera: Set your camera and microphone in a good position. Ensure they're working and present you clearly to your interviewers.
Background: Consider using a background that's not distracting. You can use the blur background function if necessary.
Environment: Given that it's a virtual interview, find a place that's quiet and free of interruptions. A well-lit area can also help set a good atmosphere.
IMT interview questions to expect
The format for the IMT interview questions may vary, but you can expect a question on clinical scenarios, ethics, suitability and commitment and application and training. Here are some of the things to expect, including sample questions and answers:
You may read a clinical scenario a few minutes before the interview begins. The scenario is likely to be short and on common medical conditions. Use the time available to discuss the following:
Diagnosis: After reading the scenario, the interviewer may ask you to discuss what you've read and what you think are the differential diagnoses. Focus on the most likely diagnosis and explain why you think it's correct.
Potential treatments: You may not know what treatment plan to offer until you confirm the diagnosis, but it's essential to let the interviewer know that you'd start the treatment plan as early as possible. The interviewer wants to know that your management and treatment plan is appropriate and safe.
Management of the patient: Demonstrate to the interviewer how you communicate with relatives and the patient to explain your diagnosis or ask further questions about the patient's conditions. Demonstrate patience and empathy when communicating with the patient.
Handover: The interviewer may ask you to demonstrate how you'd hand over a patient to another colleague, so it's essential that you practise this beforehand. Be sure to give clear and accurate information on the patient, such as their age, condition and symptoms, medication and treatment and any other medical history.
Example question: 'William Smith is a 60-year-old man with COPD hospitalised with shortness of breath. What diagnosis and recommendation would you give?'
Example answer: 'The patient has been struggling with a wheeze, cough with green sputum and shortness of breath for five days. The general doctor prescribed a course of prednisolone and doxycycline, but the symptoms are still persistent. His COPD is stable, and he only manages it with a salbutamol inhaler.
On examination, we noticed crepitation in the left zone of his chest, and his arterial blood gas indicates a respiratory failure, which is why I have requested a chest x-ray and a blood test. My diagnosis includes pneumonia and COPD exacerbation, but I'd like to review the tests before giving a conclusive diagnosis. I'd suggest providing oral steroids, VTE prophylaxis and antibiotics according to the clinic's guidelines.'
The ethical question is shorter than the clinical scenario and may or may not relate to that scenario. The interviewer wants to see your moral and ethical considerations around various scenarios. Some ethical scenarios to expect include handling patient confidentiality, mental capacity, conflicts with colleagues, patients and relatives and legal issues, including discharging against medical advice and sectioning.
Example question: 'What would you do if a 13-year-old patient revealed that they're sexually active? Would you inform the parents or offer treatment?'
Example answer: 'In this situation, the patient is engaging in illegal underage activity and thus can be at risk. But, the patient trusts that I can maintain doctor-patient confidentiality. I'd encourage the patient to inform their parents or legal guardian if they feel safe doing so. I'd also offer sexual health advice to the patient, and if the patient is at risk, I'd inform the authorities or the guardians to ensure the patient's safety.'
Suitability and commitment
The interviewers may ask questions about your skills, passions and values to see if you're a good fit. Take this time to explain to the interviewers why you're the right candidate and committed to undertaking the training. Back up your answers with examples and evidence. You may also talk about your passions outside medicine.
Example question: 'What makes you suitable for the training?'
Example answer: 'I am passionate about general surgery and believe that acquiring this training can help me move closer to becoming a general surgeon. I shadow general surgeons in my hospital whenever I am available. I believe I have gained valuable skills when working with these specialists, such as attention to detail, excellent communication skills and quick decision-making. I also enjoy volunteering in my local community at a free clinic that offers medical services to needy persons.'
Application and training
After the suitability and commitment questions, the interviewers may ask for more information about your previous training. They may ask you to explain what you've learned from your experiences and training and what achievements you've made so far. This is an excellent opportunity to present your values, skills and career goals. Let the interviewing panel understand why it's essential for you to undertake the IMT.
Example question: 'How has your previous training helped you in your career?'
Example answer: 'In my training as a medical student, I learnt to work in a team. I also learned to be attentive to detail and responsible for my actions. These skills have helped me in my career as a doctor as most of the time I work along a team of different specialists and any decision I make can have adverse effects, training me to be attentive to detail and be a good decision maker.'
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