It’s getting colder outside and with the decreasing temperatures comes interview season. Being more stressful than Christmas but with none of the presents it’s no wonder that for the majority of vet applicants it is the most dreaded part of the application process. But there’s no need to panic! A lot of the fear comes from the unknown so hopefully I can help with this. Here are some basic tips that apply to all vet school interviews:
- Know what’s going on in the vet world at the moment. For example, any diseases that are a particular worry or any developments in the profession. To give you an idea of the types of things you need to know about, check out the ‘Veterinary Current Affairs’ page of my website.
- Know the standard injections given to cats and dogs. They know that you will, most likely, have spent time at a small animal practice so they can use this information to check that you have been paying attention and taking an interest.s
- Know your personal statement inside-out. If you have mentioned something that you have seen or that interests you, do some extra research into the subject.
- Think about why you want to be a vet and why you want to go to that university (but don’t practice the answers so much as you want them to sound natural). Try and think of something different, not just the usual “I’ve wanted to be a vet ever since i can remember, i just love animals”. Even if that is true, give it a twist or turn it around by talking about something you saw during work experience that cemented your wish to do veterinary.
- Have a question ready to ask them so it shows you are actually interested.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them. They will try and steer you in the right direction and are often just trying to find out how your mind works.
- Most importantly – DON’T PANIC!! They are NOT trying to catch you out and they do genuinely want you to succeed.
All of the university interviews have a slightly different setup so here’s what to expect:Bristol has traditionally been a pretty standard interview setup and I’ve heard no talk that this year will be any different. In most cases there will be two interviewers and you in the room. The questions tend to be straightforward but they do like to throw in a more difficult one just to see how you cope. If this happens, don’t get flustered. Just tell them that you don’t know but you’d be interested to find out.I’m afraid I can give very little information about Cambridge or Dublin. Cambridge seems to stick to the usual template for interviews adopting a two interviewers per applicant template. The interviews are known to be quite difficult and differ slightly between colleges. The reason I can’t give you much information about Dublin is simply because I haven’t met anyone who got an interview there and didn’t go and I can’t get in touch with their application department. Sorry.
Glasgow also tend to have two interviewers per student. The overwhelming majority of people I have spoken to have said that these were their favourite interviews, probably because they are fairly straightforward. The interviewers tend to ask the usual questions of why veterinary and why their university before turning their attention to the personal statement. Having asked a few questions about this, presumably to put the applicant at ease by talking about something they know about, they move onto questions that are designed to test the way your mind works. They don’t necessarily want you to know the right answer so if you don’t know they will help steer you in the right direction. For example, I once got asked how I would look after my pet polar bear and what I’d have to consider!
Edinburgh and Liverpool adopt a format that can only be compared to speed dating. You have a limited amount of time at each station and each has a different theme. There tend to be two ‘rest’ stations at Liverpool where you can sit and collect your thoughts. At one there might be information to study which will then be discussed at the station and at the second there are current Liverpool vet students for you to talk to. There are normally one or two ethics stations which you don’t tend to be able to prepare for. One or two stations will be discussing current issues but don’t worry; you are not expected to know everything. At another station you will be expected to analyse some data, normally a graph, and draw conclusions form the information given. In the past there has always been a station where you were expected to talk about why you want to be a vet. Traditionally this has been mentioned in the interview invitation letter so that you could prepare but last year there was no warning given so this may be something worth considering. London tends to use 3 interviewers, each with a different job. One will ask about your academic achievements, the second about the other information, such as extracurricular activities, included on your personal statement and another about veterinary such as current affairs or ethics. Make sure you are able to provide information about veterinary current affairs and the subjects mentioned in your personal statement. The Nottingham interviews have three distinct parts: an interview, a teamwork exercise and a practical skills assessment. The interview and practical skills assessment are done alone but the teamwork session will be carried out with other applicants. There are normally two interviewers and a dog in the interview room. Remember to greet the dog. Your reaction to him will be judged. Other than this, the interviews follow the usual format. The practical assessment can include a variety of things. Normally there is a maths based problem to solve and a couple of other activities such as handling tissue samples and describing how they felt and weighing a dog teddy that was too large to fit on the scales provided. (Weigh yourself then weigh you holding the dog. Subtract the first from the second.) The teamwork session requires you to work with 3 or 4 others and work through a situation given to you. I should point out at this point that I can only give you the information I have been given by the vet schools or current students. I apologise for any deviation from the information I’ve given you but these templates rarely change.
I hope this information takes some of the fear out of interviews but if there is anything else you would like to know, please feel free to contact me.