HOW a DOCTOR’S, exam prep TIPS can HELP you
Imagine you’re a trainee doctor, about to get grilled in an oral examination, or as it is called in the medical field, a viva.
Below are tips given to trainee doctors on how to prepare for their vivas – that you can adapt. My comments on the respective tips are in brackets. The tips are from a stellar article, Twelve tips for performing well in vivas, by Rob Selzer, Steven Ellen, Laila Rotstein and Robert Roseby.
#1 Behave professionally. The posture when seated should be erect and comfortable. Slouching, leaning back, leaning across the table, do not reflect professionalism in our view.
(Research from Adam Galinsky reveals that those who walk around with their heads held high not only get the respect of others, they seem also to respect themselves. Good posture will also make you braver).
#2 Appearance should be professional.
(In our world of Zoom conferences, I’m still surprised how ‘sloppy’ many executives appear in their dress and manner).
#3 Make eye contact. Maintaining eye contact makes one appear more credible and attractive (Burgoon et al 1985)
#4 A positive affect has a positive effect. Candidates might think to themselves. “I studied hard. I’ve passed the written exam. I deserve to pass!”
(A technique that my clients find valuable is this. A moment before the start of an important presentation, they say to themselves, ‘You’ve got this!’
#5 Speak like a new-reader.
Anxiety tends to increase speech rate, but a moderate speech rate should be the aim.
(If you are perceived as rushing, that is junior behaviour. If you’re perceived as ‘owning’ time, that is senior behaviour).
#6 Punctuate and emphasise speech. We encourage candidates to think of a written word in bold or italics and then pronounce it with emphasis.
(Another way to emphasise a word or phrase is to write a ‘stretched’ word in your speaking notes. For example, ‘O-w-n-i-n-g’ time).
#7 Remember to breathe. Candidates might run out of breath and hurry to finish making a point.
(I point out to my clients that,
speaking is not a race.
Allow a lengthen pause before you close a parcel of speech).
#8 Thoughts should be logical. Candidates might consider a handful of elegant phrases that set them apart. For example “His impaired renal function *brings in to sharp focus the importance of medical adherence.
(My view is that elegant phrases are all well and good if they are not repeated frequently or inserted ad hoc into sentences).
#9 Difficult questions are an opportunity. Questions on decision-making are often open-ended. When responding….It is useful to organise responses into a time frame: for example, immediate, short and long term.
(One counter-intuitive technique, when you’re asked a difficult question is to say. and have the attitude of – Thanks for the opportunity to share my view’).
#10 Demonstrate sophistication and maturity. Examiners will be evaluating a candidate’s capacity for reflection and synthesis.
(A mantra to remember is this one: You don’t get marked down for being thoughtful).
#11 Make the examiners’ job easy. In employment interviews behaviours identified as critical to success are: responding with concise and comprehensive answers, keeping to the subject at hand and stating personal opinions when relevant. The viva interview is similar.
(My view is that not all questions need comprehensive answers. I suggest to my clients, When in doubt, strike it out).
#12 Video practice vivas.
(Top performers realise that talent is over-rated. Talent will only get you so far. The top performers in any field of endeavour love feedback – from a video, audio device and from other people.
They don’t make people wrong for giving them feedback, and they’re eager to try out the feedback and see how it works).
Own the Conversation
From the above tips, choose one to reflect on, and take action on in the next seven days.
- Choose one interaction where you could be more thoughtful.
- Choose to ‘Speak like a news reader’ in a stand-up huddle.
- Put emphasis on holding eye contact when speaking to your boss in your One-on-One catchup.
p.s. Here is a message from a top performer and long-time business friend of mine, Ross Clennett:
I help owners of small recruitment agencies grow their business profitably. I do this through building a leadership framework and developing the coaching skills of leaders.
You can browse over 600 blogs (updated weekly) on recruitment, leadership, and employment issues at https://rossclennett.com/