1) This is not a marking-scheme/answers-bank. Everyone's interview is unique and simply copying what other people said would not be the best idea. Just make sure whatever you say in the interview is true and really makes your personality shine in front of the interviewer.
2) This post became longer than I had initially expected. But i'm sure this recollection will give you a nice feel of the interview.
3) Always remember: be calm, be prepared, and be confident (like a boss!) [leikin ziada over bhi nahin].
Preparing yourself before the interview is essential. That is in fact, something i learned just a few days before my interview date. Receiving an AKU test score of 85.21%, which was the highest in St. Pats Alhumdulillah, i became a bit over-confident with regards to the interview, almost thinking it doesn't even matter now. Fortunately, one of my seniors took a mock interview of me a few days before the actual event and that REALLY got me down to earth; making me realize i HAVE to PLAN myself.
The night before the interview, i took 2 pieces of paper and started writing. I mapped all the achievements i wanted to talk about during the interview and wrote/thought-out my own answers to the most common questions (like those mentioned in the AKU Interview - Guidelines post). This also made me ready for some of the rather tough questions like 'what are your weaknesses?'.
Dressed in a black pant with black socks and black dress shoes, i contrasted by wearing a striped white shirt with a black tie (oh and the tie had several thin ECG lines forming hearts on the front. Was a funny one indeed. Borrowed it from a senior in 013). Having been lectured several times by my (awesome) teacher Dr. Afshan Latif, to have a GOOD BODY LANGUAGE, i walked my tall figure with a straight back and confident posture to the Sports center where i was to have my first interview.
The interviewer was a male consultant who was rather terse and to the point in his speech. Still dont remember his name though. After a nice handshake we sat down opposite to each other on a small table in an isolated room on the sports center's first floor. In general, my first interview was more interviewer-dominated, where as my second interview was more interviewee-dominated. (PS: since im writing this 1.4 years later, i don't remember everything so ill simply write down what i can recall)
Q. Who are you?
I mentioned my name, school, the fact that i've chose medicine and have applied to AKU and that now that ive passed my AKU test i'm sitting in front of him for the interview. [In retrospect, i think i should have mentioned more because a lot can be and should be said in these open-ended questions. What you say in these first few questions will lead to the interviewer's next questions.]
Q Why medicine?
This question can tend to get a bit personal and is something you honestly want to think about. Medicine is a tough field indeed, studying all those books is not a joke. This answer, if given sincerely, can bring about a feel that tells the interviewer your in the right place. My answer was this: As an Alevel student who has taken the subjects Bio, Physics, Chem, and Math, i had had the option to go in many fields. From engineering to commerce, i had so many opportunities. I even applied to universities in the US for engineering. But i decided on medicine. Why? because 10 years down the road, i don't want to see myself simply stapling papers for my boss or doing a job which will only benefit my company and no one else. I want to do a noble job in which, everyday, i would do something that is of value. Something that benefits the common man on a daily basis. I don't want to die just working for myself, i want my work to benefit whole communities. That's why i've chosen medicine even though no one is a doctor from my immediate family. (these were not the actual words, but i just wanted to give you the general idea of my reply).
Q. Why AKU?
Because AKU is a prestigious university and the best medical university in Pakistan (this fact is even HEC-confirmed). It is a place which will give top quality education such as that imparted in institutions abroad. Recognized at an international level it will also allow me to pursue specialization programs abroad. AKU has an excellent curriculum where all 7 disciplines (physiology, pathology, microbiology, anatomy, histology, biochemistry, and pharmacology) are taught together instead of separately, as is done in some other medical universities. This enables students to cross-link information. This is further enhanced by the modular system and the Problem-based learning sessions. Instead of semesters, there are modules, such as the blood module, cardiovascular module, renal module etc. In each module, everything related to that particular system/organ is studied in depth regardless of what discipline that knowledge belongs to.
Q. What are PBLs?
PBLs are Problem-based learning sessions in which there is a group of 9-10 students along with a facilitator which mediates the discussion and does not 'teach'. The facilitator hands the group a medical case, which has all the terms and blood test reports that a real doctor would understand. We note down everything we don't know form the case and make learning objectives (LOs). We then go home, study the LOs and then come back for the next session to discuss what we all read and learned about the case at hand. Like if there is a case in which a boy has an infection on his arm, we'll make LOs such that by the next session everyone will have studied the relevant anatomy, pathology of the disease, microbiology of the infecting organism, pharmacology of the drugs to be given, even down to the biochemical reactions which are leading to the undesirable effects of the disease. This way, when we find such patients in our future clinics, we would immediately be able to relate all these concepts quickly and in an efficient manner that is best for the patient.
Q .What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths: I mentioned something general.
Weaknesses: This was a bit tough to come up with. But as mentioned before, i mapped it all in my head before the interview. The trick is to somehow make your weaknesses appear as strengths in themselves. My 'weaknesses' were:
1) I procrastinate a lot. But I believe it has helped me work under pressure. Despite the procrastinated work/study piling up just before my exams, i managed to deal with it all and still managed to get straight A's. As a doctor, the ability to work under pressure is essential as he/she has to face many patients and perform several surgeries everyday and in due time.
2) I trust people easily or am too soft to them at times. But i guess that makes me a bit more compassionate towards patients (or something along those lines. Wasn't the best.)
Q. What qualities should a good doctor have? (and "do you have them?" was implied)
This answer i had prepared well for, as i had all my achievements mapped and had linked each to a specific quality/characteristic. So basically, i had backing for everything i said.
1) Teamwork: I know how to work as a team. Ive been in my school's basketball team since 4 years. Basketball involves a lot of passing and constant team involvement. (Hence i can work as a team!)
2) Leadership: Was a school prefect (member of the student council). [If you feel you lack a qualification which shows that you are a good leader, tell them that you are proactive and willing to take charge of scenarios when need be. Give a simple example of this. I remember mentioning that i have a large family and often find myself being a leader when playing games or doing other activities with them. yea.. i said that. It worked i believe.]
3) Compassion: Listed a number of community service activities i had done.
4) Can work under pressure + Hardworking: As mentioned before, I can work under pressure and my straight A's easily testify to this.
So in effect, i proved to him that i deserve to be a doctor because i've got what it takes, and more. Its all about planning your answer before the interview. But more than that, its about spending the past 2-3 years gathering the diverse set of extra-curricular activities that will allow you to say that.
Q. Some more about extra-cirriculars.
I mentioned that I was into debating and was a board member of the debating society + the ICT society + was a prefect. I talked further about debating by telling him that i've done MUN's (Zabmun and Lumun 2010) and although i didn't win, they developed in me a sense of awareness about whats going on in the world, such as the Arab spring. I told him i'm interested in current affairs - and there you go; he got a lead. His immediate next question was what is the Arab spring? I replied saying its a series of revolts occurring in several Arab countries throughout the world, where people are trying to overthrow their dictators. He then asked what started the Arab spring? I told him a man named Mohammad Boazizi in Tunisia set himself on fire in protest and that started the whole Arab spring. He further questioned me by saying 'Why did he immolate himself?'. I said he burnt himself because he was protesting against the social, economic, and political issues of the country. (Phew! that was the end of it)
What i want you all to remember (and Lubaina mentioned this as well) is that the interview will go where you take it. Make sure you never lie. The interviewer may just ask 3-4 more questions just on that one statement. If you said Quaid-e-Azam is your role model, make sure you know a lot about him and are actually serious (a friend of mine struggled on this very point). Naturally, if someone knows who your role-model is, all they have to do to get to know more about you, is to ask about that role-model. So basically, when i mentioned i was interested about the Arab spring, i was quite sure I had the knowledge to answer his questions.
Q. If you were an invigilator and found a student cheating on the exam, what action would you take against him?
(First of all, for the readers, I don't cheat. Not since Olevels. Honestly.)
I knew they'd ask something about cheating and my seniors told me that if you are asked 'what would you do if your friend is cheating on an exam, and he wasn't able to study and needs a lot of help, etc etc', reply by saying 'i would report him'. So my reply to the interviewer was quite similar. I realized he wanted a more detailed answer, as in this case, I was the invigilator. I said ill deduct 10 marks form the exam and give him a warning. 'What if he does it a second time?'. Well ill deduct 20 marks this time and give him a suspension. 'What if he does it a third time?' Ill cancel his paper and give him a long suspension with a warning for expulsion.
With a stern face, the interviewer asked, "Do you know what AKU's policy is on cheating?". I replied "no..". He said "AKU has a zero-tolerance policy. Anyone caught cheating will be expelled on their very first attempt."
Booooooommmm, that smacked me in my face. I was kinda apologetic and said, "ehh, yea! that's a better strategy. Should be no tolerance to cheating indeed." lol. I believe i thoroughly messed up this question. So for all the readers here, you should know AKU has a zero-tolerance policy towards cheating (and so should you). Period.
Q Any questions?
Well, seniors told me it would be good to ask a nice question in the end to show you really are interested to join AKU. I asked some lame question like "How do you like the AKU work environment here? Is it good?". He replied saying "This probably does not concern you as I am a a consultant. As far as the student life is concerned, i don't know much. You should go and ask more from your seniors". Yeaaaa..... that wasn't the best of questions on my part. So in the end i asked his name, and guess what, i forgot it the minute i left the room!
After leaving the room of the first interview, i suddenly felt pumped and really happy. I had this rush of confidence because i realized my interview wasn't that bad after all. And given my good test score, all i needed was an 'average' interview. Was much better than i expected. Alhumdulillah.
I was transported in a car to one of the admin seminar rooms on the first floor of the dean's office where i met Dr. Narjis, my second interviewer. She is a psychologist and a person who will listen to you very attentively and happily. By this time i had fully realized that the interviewer just wants to know more about you. So when they start with an open ended question, just keep blabbering!
This time i was thoroughly ready. She asked "Who are you?" and I said all the stuff i had said before and more. I also added stuff about my family and kept talking until she asked me another question.
Many of her questions were similar or same as the first interviewer's questions (like why medicine, why aku, etc). Some of her extra question were "What kind of friends do you have?" "Tell me something about the current health situation in the country"(at that time there was a measles outbreak and students at AKU had just been vaccinated against it, so i told her all that i knew. Thankfully, my seniors told me about this).
Basically, this interview was like a piece of cake. I got the hang of how to give an interview from my first interview experience and basically repeated most of the stuff in a better manner. She was just happily listening, smiling at occasional humor in my replies, and writing down notes on some AKU interview form. That was it.
Alhumdulillah, the whole experience was very satisfying rather than depressing. It got me a bit concerned because seniors told me that a lot of people who thought their interviews went good did not actually get admission. So you never know. Just make a lot of dua. a LOT of dua. Tell your father, mother, brother, sister, khalu, khala, mamu, mami, chacha, chachi, phuppa, phupphi, friends, driver,.. everyone to make dua. InshaAllah at least one of them will have their duas accepted (given you've done the best on your part ofcourse). So here I am, in AKU's Batch of 2017, Alhumdulillah!
If you have any questions or queries, please write them down in the comments box below!