Congratulations! You have been called for interview. So what actually happens, what are they looking for and how can you prepare?

  • What are they looking for?

    Essentially the panel will be looking for evidence that you meet the person specification for the post that you have applied for. They may also look for further evidence of your commitment to your chosen specialty so you could consider other aspects of your experience that you feel makes you a strong candidate.

  • What happens at the interview? - Specialty

    Also known as selection or assessment centres, there is a difference between the Specialty (hospital based) and GP selection centre/interview.

    Specialty:

    There will be variations between different Deaneries and Royal Colleges on the exact process for interview however you should expect a minimum of three ten minute interviews.

    Some Deaneries and Royal Colleges may use four or five stations; however you will be made aware of this prior to your interview.

    Each section or station throughout the process will be held in a separate room or private confidential area, will be strictly timed and a bell may be sounded once your time is up. The interview could include sections or stations that will be assessing:

    • Clinical skills
    • Portfolio
    • Presentation skills
    • Management/ethical scenario
    • Interaction with patients
    • Interpersonal skills
  • What happens at the interview? - GP

    Also known as selection or assessment centres, there is a difference between the Specialty (hospital based) and GP selection centre/interview.

    GP:

    The process is the same across all deaneries: 3 different situations each one lasting 10 minutes: a consultation with a patient; a consultation with a relative or carer and a consultation with a non-medical colleague.

    They do not involve a physical examination and clinical expertise is not specifically assessed. There is also a written exercise which involves prioritisation of issues and a justification of your responses: the time allowed is 10 minutes.

  • Preparation and Practice

    Usually you will be told to bring specific documents with you: don’t leave these at home and do check you have them as soon as you receive an invitation to interview.

    Practice:

    Answering questions, responding to scenarios and supplementary questions in 10 minutes can be challenging at first as you may say too little or too much. Consider structuring your answers e.g. using the STAR model and use the resources available. The national medical careers website has hints and tips and also has some video clips from last year's successful trainees.

    Your postgraduate centre/academy/learning centre should also have a copy of the following books which may be available on a short term loan:

    • ‘Medical Interviews: a comprehensive guide to CT, ST and Registrar Interview Skills’  by Olivier Picard, Dan wood and Sebastien Yuen
    • ‘How to get a specialty training post: the insider’s guide’ by Danny Lim
  • Portfolio Preparation

    The portfolio station is the one station you can prepare for. In this station, you can talk through your portfolio and how it has helped you to develop your skills and professionalism. Your portfolio should be laid out as a professional document and you should know where to find information quickly: it is helpful to know your portfolio inside out as well as upside down!

    • Think carefully about the presentation of your portfolio as this will give the interview panel an impression of you.
    • Include a contents page and divide sections of your portfolio in a clear and logical order. It is good practice to have a copy of your CV at the front of the portfolio
    • Ensure you can find relevant sections of your portfolio quickly. It is useful to use tags to do this but whichever method you choose it should be one that enables you to navigate your portfolio effectively.
    • Re-read person specifications / job descriptions. This will give you an awareness of what you may be assessed against. Can you evidence these skills and qualities from your portfolio?
    • Do check for any instructions about your portfolio e.g. structure, content, specific documents to be included. Some Deaneries and Colleges do specify the format of a portfolio.

    Your portfolio should clearly demonstrate the skills and experience that you can bring to the role for which you are applying. Remember, you want to demonstrate commitment to your chosen specialty.

    It is vital that your portfolio can demonstrate and evidence the guidelines laid out in the GMC guide to good medical practice.

    You could consider dividing your portfolio into sections which evidence:

    • Good clinical care
    • Maintaining good medical practice
    • Teaching and training, appraising and assessing
    • Relationships with patients (if you have any, include feedback from patients, relatives etc.)
    • Working with colleagues
    • Probity
    • Research activities
    • Reflective practice

    In addition, consider two or three strong points about your portfolio that you would like to bring to the attention of the panel. You need to be prepared for questions about your portfolio and, as these may be quite general, try to incorporate your strong points into your answers and how you have learned from specific experiences.

    You may also be asked about weak points or “gaps” in your portfolio so do consider this in advance. Practice talking through your portfolio with your supervisor or more senior trainees.