Congratulations on your interview offer! Now the last stages of your application process is coming up, and you could be feeling very nervous. I know I was. I was absolutely terrified for my interviews, especially with them being online for the very first time. So here are a few tips and tricks I found that worked for me and helped me power through that dreaded interview day.
First and foremost, practise answering some questions. This is the most important part of your interview preparation. There are endless question banks online for this specifically. Now I’m not saying that you should go through all of them, but go through some, this will allow you to practise formulating answers in a short period of time. However, sometimes answering questions alone will not always be beneficial, you need someone there to listen to your answers and give you their feedback. This person could be a family member, a friend, your university guidance counsellor, or even someone you meet online! I, personally, found someone online who was also applying to Edinburgh and we decided to do mock interviews with each other via Skype. I received far more constructive feedback from her as we both knew what was going to be expected of us during the interviews. Also a bonus is that you get to make new friends! She is one of my closest friends now here in Edinburgh.
Other than that, researching topics on veterinary medicine is important. Again, this doesn’t have to be very extensive but knowing some of the relevant news in the veterinary community can help you during your interview. It might even get you some brownie points with the interviewer. This could really be on anything you are interested in. For example, when I was doing my interview, it was around the peak of the pandemic so I chose to focus on the effects of the pandemic on the mink industry and I also focused on the wet market debate. However, these are really niche topics. Broader topics, such as euthanasia, tail docking, shock collars, etc. are also important to research and to form your own opinions on.
Another tip that I have, that I bet you will hear countless times, is to reread your personal statement and to recall your work experience. It will have been a while since you’ve last looked at your personal statement, reread it at least once. As for your work experience, it’s very likely that you will bring this up in your interview so look back at your work experience. What did you do and what did you learn from it? Was there anything specifically that caught your eye? For example, when I did my work experience at a veterinary clinic, I realised the importance of business in the veterinary profession. One of the dogs, who was an overnight patient, escaped and we had to run to catch the dog but this was troubling because it insinuates to other clients that their dog is not safe here, so what did the clinic do? How did they tackle it? Do you think what they did was okay? These are all questions that you should ask yourself. In my case nothing was changed, but I believe that they would benefit from putting a sign on the door when a dog is roaming around the garden area without a leash to warn others.
Now to the last few hours before the interview. I find that an important aspect that gets overlooked quite easily is your table set-up for this interview. Especially since this is online, you will be in your own room perhaps and there may be a lot of distractions. Try to rearrange your desk so that you have minimal distractions. I also found that switching from a chair that can swivel to a chair that can’t can help prevent fidgeting. I also found it hard to maintain eye contact during the interview because you are just looking at your computer screen, it might help to put a sticker or a post-it right next to your webcam so you have something to focus on. Once you have a distraction free space, the last minute interview jitters will have settled in. Do not fret, the most important thing now for you to do is to calm yourself down. This is different for everybody but I personally find that listening to music helps soothe my nerves, some meditation could also help. And most importantly, remember that this interview is about you and who knows you better than yourself? Take your time and be proud, no matter the outcome.
Wishing you all luck on your interviews and application journey and I hope that some of these tips can help!