Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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Life in Medschool: The Interviews

By  Ahmad Ibn Hajiri     February 17, 2014    Labels:,,,,, 
By Ahmad ibn Hajiri, UP College of Medicine Class 2017

It was February of 2012 when I came to Manila for the UPCM Applicants interview. I came all the way from Sulu just to attend the 2 sets of interviews in a day, and I can still remember then how anxious and nervous I was not knowing what to do... For me, the interviews in fact are among the hardest parts of the application to any medschool (well, aside from the NMAT). It’s the last bridge that will bring you to the doorsteps of your dream school or not. Alhamdulillah, upon receiving the white envelope containing my final acceptance as an official student of UPCM, it was indeed a one exhilarating kind of happiness! I still can’t believe that I passed and now here I am trying as much to learn and be a better doctor each day, in sha Allah.

Two years since then, some friends who are eyeing for the 140 slots in the college for the next roll of medstudents are asking me for advises and tips on how to nail the interviews. And so I made this “helpful” guide on passing the interviews in Medschool. The following guidelines are applicable (most of it, I hope) to all aspiring medstudents applying either for the Intarmed/direct or regular/lateral entrance or the Regionalization Program (RP) entrance; or even in any medschool they wanted to apply in.

The following were based on personal experiences of the author and some infos gathered after asking some random classmates about what they did during the interviews. They may or may not be applicable to your situation (so please don’t blame me if it didn’t work, hehe). And don’t hesitate to share this post, it might save some lives out there. Haha.

Rule #1: Smile

This is a general rule. Even how nervous you are upon entering the room, smile at your interviewer/s. Shake their hands and be courteous. At least a simple, “Good morning, sir” with a touch of your natural smile will make the start of your interview smoother. Don’t let them notice how terribly nervous you are that you could almost wet your underpants! Just Smile, there.

Rule # 2: Be confident but not arrogant

The best way to impress your interviewers is to let them know that you know the words you are saying; that you are confident that you can do this job. That you believe in your own capabilities. Speak fluently and confidently on your answers. Don’t hesitate, just go and say them (but of course with careful choices of words). But there’s always a limit to everything, so do not be too over-confident about yourself and your “achievements” in life that you become more arrogant without you noticing it. Just be cool yet humble. They want to know how much you believe in yourself, not on how much awards you had in your past life.

Rule # 3: Be honest in every way

Do not be surprised if they will ask you seemingly random, non-medical questions about you. A question as “Have you ever cheated at school?” and “Do you know any programs of the DOH?” might get you on a big dilemma. Should you tell them that you did cheat in school or impress them that you have never done such grievous crime? Should you try to impress them that you know what the DOH is doing just to be safe when in fact you really don’t?

The answer is simple: tell the truth! If you don’t know anything, say you don’t. If you did know something but just a little part of it, then say so. Don’t go beyond what you cannot defend. Surely, they will ask you to talk more about it, and the best way to avoid being trapped on your own lies is never to make one.  Be honest, it’s the best policy they say.

Rule # 4: Know yourself, in and out

A friend of mine said that the interview’s main purpose was to “gage how much the applicant knows about him or herself; It’s a game of Psychology, they want to know what you know about your own strengths and as well as your weaknesses.” And who knows more about yourself than (your right!) your good, old, buddy “self”? 

Know where you are really good at. Find out where you are still in need of improvements. Know your past mistakes and accept them as your own. Remember all the things that you learned in your life be it in your family or at school. How did you cope up with the stresses and problems that you met along the way? How did you deal with failures? And how do you see yourself in the future? These are just some questions they may ask about you. Again, be honest and tell them. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you once failed in class and tell them what you did that made you continue the fight. Tell what you learned after all those years that made you who you are today.  

Keep in mind that these people are not looking for persons with superhuman powers. They are looking for a strong-willed person who knows his/her strengths and weaknesses as well, someone who is willing to accept his/her own shortcomings but is willing to grow and be better. They want to know that you are capable of surviving the stressful, life-draining ordeals you are about to face in medschool.

Rule # 5: Know why you want to be a Doctor.

Of course, you can never, ever avoid the question of why are you there sitting in front of them, trying your best of ways to enter a life full of hardship, sleepless nights, uncertainties and stress? Why do you want to waste your life? Why go for more years of studying when you can already have a job and start your own family? Why not be a businessman and become a millionaire some day? Why be a doctor? Why?!?!?

I cannot assure you that a good, time-tested, copy-paste script of “because I want to save the humanity” answer is not the right one. It’s not even a wrong answer! All I can say is: look for the answer inside of your heart (naks). Just follow Rule #s 3 and 4: Be honest and know yourself and you will know why you are there in front of them. If you really have no answer than “to save a life”, then that’s great, tell them that! If you say you want to be “richer” (which does not happen all the time), then do so. If it was actually your parents who wanted you to become a doctor (which apparently many of us do), then tell them that, too. Just be honest. End of story.

Rule # 6: Pray. Pray. Pray.

Of course, there are things that are way beyond our control, and so we have to ask and seek help to the One who had control over all things. And so my last advice, and perhaps the most important one, is to Pray, pray, pray.

Pray before you enter the interviewing room. Say a prayer before you speak (for Muslims pls see the supplications below). Of course always start with "BISMILLAH!" And Pray after the interviews. Pray to Allah that He will give you what is best for you. That you can pass this interview if this will be good and be best for you, and if not then ask that He give you something better. A lot of things can be changed by a simple prayer :)

For Muslims, you can read the following supplications before you go for an interview (if you know a little Arabic I suggest you read the Arabic text):

“Bismillahir rahmaanir rahiym. Rabbiy Ishrahliy Sadriy, wa yassirliy amriy, wahlul ukdatam millisaaniy, yafqahuwna, qawliy.
Bismillahir rahmaanir rahiym. Rabbiy zidniy ilman, warzukniy fahman. Subhanaka laa ilma lana illa ma ‘allamtanaa, innaka antal aliymul hakiym.”

I hope this simple “guide” will you help you pass the interviews and reach your dream. Or at least be a little more confident in facing any interviews. It worked for me, and most of my classmates, so it might work for you, too. :) God bless on your interviews!!!

Salam kasilasa!
-Ahmad a.k.a Anak Iluh

Pls visit my blog: Anak iluh, MD at www.anakiluh.blogspot.com; also you like my page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anakiluh-Publications   you can PM me on my Page (anak iluh) if you have more questions J

About Ahmad Ibn Hajiri

Ahmad is a young Tausug Physician now serving as one of the Doctor to the Barrios (DTTB). He is a free spirit. He loves coffee. And fish.


  1. Hi! I'm not from UP. Stumbled upon your blog lang. Are you from Jolo, Sulu? My father is from there, we might be related! :)

    -Izza Lim

    1. Hi Izza! I am glad that of all the odds of stumbling on a random blog, you end up here hahaha

      Yes I was born and raised in Jolo (Oh I miss that place so bad @_@)
      Maybe we are, maybe we are not related LOL. Like, there're so many people in there okay. Happy to meet you here thanks for dropping a comment ^_^

      see you around!


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