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Consultant Interview Tips

Consultant Interview Preparation?
Can you tell me about the Consultant Interview application process and how to prepare?

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Consultant Interview
Preparation for your encounter with the AAC panel and your consultant medical interview is crucial for your success. During your consultant interview you will need to be up to speed with various topics and display many characteristics required for a consultant. Due to the current nature of medical training candidates exit fully clinically trained; however, tend to struggle on many non-clinical aspects of the interview process. Oxford Medical has produced a comprehensive consultant interview guide and also runs regular consultant interview skills courses to help you prepare and do yourself justice during your interview. During this article we will introduce you to the consultant interview process and ease some of the nerves that undoubtedly you will have on the day. Here are some top tips to help you learn about the structure of the consultant interview process and also give you some ideas about how to prepare for your consultant interview.

Preparation for your Consultant Interview

You must prepare!! Others will. Not only will it improve your performance on the day but it will also give you the reassurance that you have prepared fully and can attend your interview with the knowledge that the AAC panel is unlikely to pick holes in your application but rather concentrate on the unique selling points of you and your application. As there is normally very little that separates the top candidates, attention to detail and focused preparation will give you every chance to succeed on your big day.

The AAC panel. The consultant panel is likely to include up to 8 members. Each has a specific role, and questions from each of them typically look at specific areas of your application. These areas are highly predictable, so if you are well prepared you will know the roles and typical areas of questioning from the following AAC panel members:

  • Chair of the Trust
  • Chief Executive
  • Medical Director
  • Clinical Director
  • External College Representative
  • Lead clinician/colleague
  • University representative (for academic appointments)
  • Human resources representative


Interview preparation can be a daunting process. You not only need to know about yourself but also the institution and the environment that you work in.Generally, important areas can be broken down into:

1) Knowing about yourself
2) Knowing about the job/hospital/area that is offering the job
3) Knowing about the institution i.e. the NHS

When you get asked a question on any of these three areas there are two pieces of information which are vitally important;

  1. Firstly you must know the facts
  2. Secondly you must use these facts to convey your opinion

These are very much like building blocks, they go hand in hand, and are structurally related to each other. An effective answer conveys the correct factual information, that is then used to convey a reasonable opinion.
Poor answers fail to follow this simple principle.  They either contain factually incorrect information, or lack one, or both, of the components.  In order to develop an opinion you need to fully understand both sides or views on a particular topic. Only then can you give a weighted opinion on the topic.

Opinions that are not based on factual information are ineffective. Don't forget that the interviewer is looking for a set of attributes or a particular skill. You need to demonstrate that you have the correct factual information, and that you use it constructively to form a reasonable opinion.

Knowing about yourself

This is a critical area that many candidates forget to look at. The institution is looking for a good safe doctor, who is highly motivated working within a team, with the number one aim of promoting and providing the highest level of patient care possible. What makes each of the candidates different is their personality and attributes. Some of these attributes and personal characteristics can be assessed by your previous achievements, however, many personal characteristics are assessed subjectively by the panel. Enthusiasm, drive, insight, motivation, team working, respect, authority and many more can be assessed by your communication skills and content of your responses to many questions. The panel will ask themselves:

1) What does this candidate have to offer us?
2) Can they do the job?
3) Would I like this person on my team?


What you want to create is the situation where your application is irresistible. You want the Chief executive to think he/she is getting the offer of a lifetime by being in a position to appoint one of the most promising young consultants in the UK. To do this you will need plenty of unique selling points, a track record of achievement, be able to do the job well and give the impression that you would be the best person to fit into their institution, and the team.

Much of this is subjective however similarly to a corporate technique known as "product placement". You will need to identify exactly what you have to offer, and then seed your answers with this information. Without self analysis you will not only know your strengths (to be disclosed in every response), but also weaknesses (not to be disclosed to the panel). Keeping your responses personal, seeded with positive personality characteristics backed up with examples is the key.

Knowing the job

It is essential that you find out about the job for which you are applying.  When consultant jobs are advertised a job description and person specification are published.  The job description gives all the key information about the job and Trust.  It should outline the job plan and timetable, giving details on any direct clinical care programmed activities, and also supporting programmed activities.  A weekly timetable should also be present which gives information on regular and flexible sessioned activities on each day of the week.  It should also describe what clinical services are present within the Trust and give a Trust profile including geographical demographics and details of the management structure of the Trust. The duties and responsibilities of the post will detail exactly what additional activities are required.  This will include education, teaching, research and management responsibilities of the post.  An example of a job plan is shown below:  






No.of PAs

















07.30 - 17.30

Including clinical administration

Main Hospital


Direct Clinical Care








08.00 - 12.30

Including clinical administration

As per rota


Direct Clinical Care























07.30 - 17.30

Including clinical administration

Satellite Hospital

Ward Round

Direct Clinical Care

























Additional agreed activity to be work flexibly


On-site, at home

Administration,audit, research & teaching

Supporting Professional Activities


Predictable emergency on-call work

As per rota

Weekday evenings and Weekend all day

Mail Hospital

Emergency List

Direct clinical care


Unpredictable emergency on-call work


On-site, at home on the telephone and traveling to and from site

General Duties

Direct clinical care





Programmed activity



Direct clinical care (including unpredictable on-call)



Supporting professional activities



Other NHS responsibilities



External duties








It can be seen above the time, location and type of work for each day of the week. Direct clinical care activities and supporting professional activities are also detailed.

The person specification for the job is one of the most important documents that you need to have. An example of a person specification for a consultant job is shown below:






Entry on Specialist Register (or entry expected within 3 months)

ALS, ATLS, PALS provider status.

Success in Intercollegiate Specialty Examination or overseas equivalent

Postgraduate research degree

Clinical Experience

Clinical training and experience equivalent to  that required for gaining UK CCST in the speciality

Ability to offer an independent and expert clinical opinion within the specialty

Ability to take full and independent responsibility for clinical care of patients within the speciality

Proven expertise in the management of xxxxxx

Member of the xxxx Society

Proven expertise in xxxxxx surgery

Management and Administrative Experience

Ability to advise on and run an efficient, smooth specialist service

Ability to organise clinical and management priorities.

Ability to manage and lead specialist unit, directorate and working parties as appropriate

Experience of audit management

Teaching Experience

Ability to teach clinical skills

Experience of teaching clinical skills to undergraduates and postgraduates

Ability to supervise postgraduate research

Research Experience

Ability to apply research outcomes to clinical problems

Demonstrate evidence of previous or ongoing relevant research

Publications in refereed journals

Personal Attributes

Ability to work in a team

Enquiring, critical approach to work

Ability to communicate effectively with patients, relatives, GPs, nurses and other agencies

Commitmentto Education

Willingness to undertake additional professional responsibilities at local regional or national levels

As can be seen above, the general categories of the person specification include:

  • Qualifications
  • Clinical experience
  • Management and administrative experience
  • Teaching experience
  • Research experience
  • Personal attributes
  • Any other requirements


The categories are also divided into "essential" and "desirable" characteristics.  All of the essential criteria should be displayed in order for a candidate to be eligible to be invited for interview.  Whilst its not essential to have all the desirable credentials most candidates will have the majority of these.  During the interview process the panel will need to confirm the presence of all the essential criteria and elaborate on the degree of desirable characteristics present in each candidate

If you can't play this video on the consultant interview process it is probably being blocked by the NHS servers.Please try at home. This video covers the application process from the day the advert is published to the day that hopefully you get appointed to your consultant post.



Knowing the NHS/Organisation that you will be working in:

The NHS has undergone a phenomenal amount of legislation and change over the past 10 years. Some of it has worked and some of it hasn't. Some of the areas of change are openly criticised for short comings and others are held in high esteem. You will need to develop your own opinion on the NHS and major areas of change and current developments. The list below is not exhaustive. In order to give a credible answer you will firstly need to know some correct factual information and secondly have some sensible opinions of the subject matter. Areas for further reading are:

  • NHS Plan
  • Department of Health
  • Care Quality Commission
  • National service framework
  • Patient-led NHS
  • Payment by results or activity
  • European Working Time Directive
  • Patient-led service
  • Modernising Medical Careers
  • Hospital at night
  • Foundation trusts
  • Primary care trust
  • Strategic health authority
  • NHS Direct
  • National Project for Information Technology
  • Choose and book
  • Electronic patient records

When preparing these topics it is easy to get bogged down with the detail. Many of these NHS reports run into several hundred pages so try and download the summary reports and gleen the most important information. If you want to save time we have summarised in a single A4 format each of the above topics and more in our consultant interview guide which can be purchased online or you can pick up a free copy on every interview skills course.


The consultant interview usually starts with the college representative (after the chair welcomes you and performs the introductions) who will go through your medical CV and effectively prove to the panel that you are appointable. They will be looking for consistency in sub-speciality areas of expertise and overall training. Questions for this part of the medical interview are fairly predictable. See our free medical interview questions resource page for more information
The rest of the consultant interview can be a bit more difficult with particular troublesome areas coming from the university representative which can include medical education topics and research questions. It is wise to prepare for this section of your consultant interview in detail. Other difficult areas are the clinical lead who will be looking at managing difficult colleagues, the medical director who will ask clinical governance related questions and the chief executive who really can ask anything he/she wants.
Preparation is mandatory for a successful candidate. Find out about the trust in detail and evaluate your strengths. You will after all be trying to demonstrate a higher added value to the trust than other candidates. Remember preparation is vital and the interview starts at the pre-interview visit. Forget this at your peril.

The Consultant Interview: what about the application process?

After submitting your application the short-listing process occurs. During this process each candidate is assessed according to the person specification that was published with the job advert.  Essential and desired criteria are awarded points with varying degrees of importance. Each application is therefore scored in each of the areas looking for your skills, knowledge and attributes.  The score is allocated by each member of the appointments advisory committee and averaged so that the candidates may be ranked.  This process is used so that the cream of the applicants can be separated from the rest. These candidates form the short list and are invited for interview.

This process normally takes in the region of 3 to 4 weeks.  You will be informed by the Human Resources department of your invitation to attend interview by either telephone, email or post.

Candidates must be aware that there is normally very little time between the publication of the short-list and the interview process itself. Normally it is released a week before the interview which gives candidates approximately 10 days to prepare for the interview itself.  Don't forget that during this 10 day period you will also have to make appointments to see the Chief Executive, Medical Director and Clinical Director and also provide your normal clinical duties at work.  This leaves very little time to prepare for your interview.  Ideally this preparation should have been done prior to being invited for interview.

The Pre-short listing visit

Within the job advert itself candidates will be invited to contact a member of the department to find out a bit more about the job. If you have never worked in the hospital or department before it makes sense to find out a bit about both and therefore you can arrange to have a look around the department during a "pre-short listing visit".

You will need to arrange this appointment before you plan your journey. It is common to have many applicants for an advertised job and it may impact of the department to have 50 applicants wondering around the department on the same day. The department will make a decision which is usually an all or none decision about whether to allow candidates to visit before the short listing process.

The main aim of the pre-short listing visit is to assess whether you would like to apply for the job.The interview itself does not formally start at this point however impressions made by you during your visit will stay with you if you decide to apply. It is sensible to have done some basic reading about the hospital and job before you meet the clinical director. Generally speaking you should approach this visit with a similar attitude to the pre-interview visit.

Some departments have unwritten rules that they will not consider an application for short listing unless they have made a pre short listing visit.

The Pre-interview visit

The pre interview visit is an essential part of the job application process. The trust and department will be employing the successful candidate for an estimated 30 years and the dynamics of the department could be damaged if they do not select someone who will fit into the job and department. Nearly every department across the UK has at some point appointed the wrong person who has at a later date caused problems within the trust or created conflict at some level. It is very difficult to remove a consultant once appointed and therefore they will want to meet you to assess how you might fit in. Personality and your opinions are difficult to assess on a CV however these are easily assessed on a face to face basis. The interview process formally starts during the pre-interview visit. The main aim for the pre interview visit is to answer the question:

Do I want to apply for this job?

Feel free to ask questions about the job, trust and area. Try not to show off or sell yourself too aggressively as they make an opinion of you at this early stage that you may struggle to shake off. Try and avoid asking questions about private practice. There will normally be a well intentioned member of the department who may give you a brief run down on this area.

You will have a short period of time once invited to interview and the actual day itself and will need to be switched on in order to arrange to see the many people who you need to see during the pre interview visit. It is therefore wise that you prepare for this visit with the same degree of effort as you would for your AAC panel interview. Details of how to prepare, dress, communicate and more are discussed in detail within the consultant medical interview guide which can be purchased from this site.

You should make appointments to see the clinical director, medical director and chief executive and whilst you are there it will do you no harm to say hello to as many prospective consultant colleagues as you can. As these managers diaries are already busy and will become full with other candidates visiting you may need to visit the hospital more than once. Once you receive your invitation to interview it is not a bad idea to get straight on the phone and arrange these visits for hopefully the same day. This will save you having to make multiple visits.

There are some who advocate making appointments as late as possible so that you are one of the last candidates to see these managers. The theory is that you will be fresh in the minds of those whom you see however this is not an approach that we would recommend.

Please dress with a suit (male) or smart attire (female). Some say wear your second best suit and save the best suit for the interview itself however I would just go with the best that you have for both the pre-interview visit and the interview. Take several copies of your CV (3-4) on good quality paper as it is common that these managers will see you between meetings or clinical commitments and may not have your CV to hand. Do not attempt to contact the chairman, the royal college representative or the university representative before the interview as this is considered canvassing and is not allowed by the AAC panel. Your application can be thrown out if the panel decides that you have been canvassing external members of the panel. I would suggest doing your home work on these individuals by doing a literature based search to find out the areas of expertise of each of them.

The Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC)

The Advisory Appointments Committee is a statutory instrument laid down in the National Health Service regulations published in 1996.  Its function is transparent and is to assess, equally, each of the invited candidates. Legally, it represents the Trust but also external interests.  Membership of the AAC includes the following people:

  • The Chief Executive
  • Medical Director
  • Royal College representative
  • Chairperson (a lay member, usually the Non Executive Director)
  • Clinical Director
  • Consultant colleague
  • University Representative (usually if there is a teaching or research component to the job which most advertised consultants posts have)

Each member of the panel will follow a structured process whereby they ask questions for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.  The questions will have been decided before the interview and should be put to every candidate.  This should be the foundation for a level playing field.  If you look at the dynamics of the AAC there are normally two external members.  One being the Royal College representative who is normally a consultant in the speciality that the advertised job is for and secondly the university representative who may not be from the department.  There will also be dynamics between the management appointments (Chief Executive and Medical Director) and the department which is represented by the Clinical Director and the consultant colleague. On a simple note the department will be trying to impress the management, who in turn will be trying to display the Trust in a positive light to the two external representatives.

This is where the consultant interview becomes a difficult process. If the candidate does not understand the dynamics of the committee they may not answer the questions appropriately in order to keep the general body of the AAC panel happy. Commonly, there is a conflict between management and clinicians.  Management may be interested in cost effectiveness and turnover which naturally is not compatible with the clinicians vision for delivering a high quality service.  Therefore, candidates should balance their answers so that they are aware of this potential conflict in order to keep both sides of the equation happy.

For example, a candidate who continually refers to providing a high quality clinical service which under no circumstances is negotiable may satisfy the clinicians assessment however will fail on the managerial assessment. Likewise a candidate who disregards quality of clinical services  and would rather put forward a more cost effective approach to his or her work will get approval from the management staff but not the clinical staff.
It is therefore important, that when answering questions, candidates are aware of the dynamics of the committee and tailor their answers accordingly. Not all interviews will be the same; however they will follow the same structure.  The panels purpose is to find the right person for the job and, therefore, it is in their interest to initially welcome you and make you feel comfortable.  This initial ‘friendly section of the interview will then lead into the main section where different approaches may be used by each of the AAC members.
It is important that the candidate remembers that the opening, friendly section is to attempt to help the candidate shrug off initial nerves so that they become more fluid with their answers.  Do not forget that this is still an assessment. Drop your guard because the interview starts in a nice, friendly manner and you could make a fatal mistake for your application.
During the final stages of the interview the Chair will give you the opportunity to ask Questions, dont, after which you will be told how the committees decision will be conveyed.

The Consultant Medical Interview involves some of the most senior clinical and management staff of theTrust.  Unlike other medical interviews the interview is highly structured. There are various representatives present on the panel who have separate roles.  Fortunately these roles are well known.  When you prepare for your interview you should sit down and practice questions that may be asked by each of the categories above. Each of the representatives, their role and the type of questions that they ask are discussed in detail below.

The Chairman's role

The Chairman is normally one of the non NHS executives or the Chairman of the Trust.  They are lay people, ie not medically trained, however they have been appointed to sit on the Executive Board of the Trust and help in the strategic planning for the Trust as well as the day today running.  The function of the Chairman is to chair the AAC panel.

They will sit down before the interview process on the morning of the interview and introduce all of the representatives to each other.  They will also be responsible for determining the order in which the representatives interview the candidates.  Before the interview starts questions that are to be asked by each individual member will be discussed in order to prevent the same question being asked twice.

When you enter the interview room you'll be greeted by the Chairman. They will introduce themselves and also the other members of the panel and indicate what each of their roles are. After this introduction the chairman will hand you over to the first member of the panel and the interview will start.  Normally the first member of the panel to interview the candidate is the Royal College representative. The chairman also asks questions at the end of the interview. These are discussed later in our consultant interview guide.

The Royal College representatives role

Historically, a representative from the relevant Royal College is invited by the Trust to attend the interview panel.  Recently, with the formation of Foundation Trusts, Trusts are no longer required to have a Royal College representative present.  However this has not been enforced by any Trust and the time natured presence of the College representative continues.

The College representative will be a consultant in the same field as the applicant.  They may however have a different sub speciality interest.  The representative will have seen the CVs previously, as they would have been involved in the short listing process.  The main role of the Royal College representative is to run through the training aspect of each applicant and to determine, from the College perspective, whether the candidate has the training for the job.  Generally speaking, candidates who have been invited for the interview have the appropriate training and the skills to do the job.  It is essentially a formality that the College representative runs through the training of each candidate to clarify that this is the case.

This is normally the first part of the interview. It is generally quite relaxed and involves a general chit-chat about where and when you have done your training.  They will also be interested to explore any additional professional training that you may have done, for example, a BSc, MSc or PhD.  If you are applying for a sub-specialised field they will also be interested in the length of training in this field and will also want to find out about what specialist societies you are a member of.

Basically, they are there to rubber stamp your training and also go into detail, how much interest and what duration of interest you have in this particular sub-speciality field.  Questions that they may ask you include:

  • Tell me about your training
  • Tell me about yourself
  • What was your training program like?
  • How do you know you are fully trained?
  • How do you know that you can do the job?
  • Are there any aspects of the job that you feel uncomfortable with?
  • Are there any aspects that you wish youÙd receive more training on?
  • Tell me about your Bachelor of Science degree
  • Tell me about your PhD. What was your thesis on?
  • Why have you done all your training in London?
  • Why did you move training programmes?
  • Did you enjoy working in X hospital?
  • Tell me which societies you are a member of.
  • Why are you not a member of Society X?
  • Why have you not been to any of their annual meetings?
  • Do you think that the EWTD has affected your training?
  • Do you feel ready for a consultant job? How do you know?
  • When is your CCT due?
  • Are you on the Specialist Register?
  • Are there any cases that you might be unhappy with as a consultant?
  • Talk me through our CV.
  • Tell me about your training.


The basic position that you should adopt is that you are the "finished article". You have been trained to a high standard, one set by your Royal College. You are competent in every aspect that is required for the job. There are no holes and no areas which require more training. Whilst there are naturally going to be areas that you might be unhappy with, do not express this to the panel unless it is simply a case that you dont have the training for it. For example, a paediatric anaesthetist would not be expected to perform an on-pump valve transplant in a 70 year old. They would simply not have the training.

The University Representatives role

If the advertised job has a teaching or research component to it then a representative of the attached university will normally be invited to the interview.  This is someone who is trained with an interest in medical education and research.  They will hold formal medical education degrees and may be a professor of an academic department.  Usually the university representative is a practising consultant who has an honorary clinical lectureship or professorship with the university.  They may or may not be from the same field. The function of the university representative is two fold.  Firstly, they can ask questions on a research related area and secondly, they can ask questions based on medical education. Most prospective consultants fail to prepare for this part of the interview adequately. A detailed section on medical educational theory and teaching techniques is included in this guide for this purpose.

The rest of the panel including: The Chief Executive: The Medical Director: The clinical director

There is not really a clear cut distinction between what these individuals can ask. The clinical director can ask both clinical and non clinical questions, the medical director (responsible for clinical governance within the trust) normally asks questions on clinical governance and the chief executive can ask anything as long as the same questions are posed to each candidate. Recent NHS topics, governance and management are the norm and these sections are described in detail in the A-Z of hot topics which can be found in our consultant interview guide.

Consultant medical interview guides: To read more about the consultant medical interview process feel free to purchase our consultant medical interview guide

Consultant medical interview courses Visit us at one of our consultant interview courses and receive our consultant medical interview guide, DVD of your mock interview and receive NHS consultant led video recorded mock interview sessions and hot topic workshops. It's all we do and it's why we are the best provider in the UK of this service. Why book a lecture based course or receive training from a communication consultant when you can have fully qualified and appropriate training.

Oxford Medical run regular weekly consultant interview courses. We are regarded as the best course that money can buy and focus on what you want. A high quality course. All our clients receive free access to our post course training facilities on this website including forums, video interview training, interview guides and more. No one else provides such a detailed service. 


Why not visit our medical interview courses held in Oxford and London to gain professional training Small group training. Video interview feedback. Free post course training.



This video gives you an idea of how we run our small group Oxford and London based Consultant Interview Courses and includes testimonials from previous doctors who have attended our interview skills courses



What about Medical Presentations during the Consultant Interview?

It is common during the consultant selection process that you are given ten minutes to deliver a short presentation typically using PowerPoint. 

The details on the topic, time and audio-visual facilities should be given to you in writing with the letter inviting you to interview. If you have any questions phone the medical Personnel Manager who is coordinating the interview and ask for more details or clarification. Here are some tips when preparing your presentation:

Maintain an introduction, main body and a conclusion.  To begin with, introduce yourself and the topic that you will be talking about.This will then lead on to the main section.  Here you'll need to provide all the background factual knowledge concerning the topic that you are talking about.Make sure that you are concise and that you provide the information in a hierarchical structure so that the most important facts are delivered first.  No doubt you will be trying to answer some particular question.  It is very important that you answer this question during your presentation.  Once again stick to factual information then deliver your opinion, with one slide covering conclusions.  Following this, questions are normally put to you about your presentation in an attempt to go into more depth about actual content and opinions that you have voiced.

What are the main problems and main pitfalls of delivering medical presentations?

We have found that the most common pitfalls are as follows:

  • Not answering the question that has been asked
  • Exceeding the time limit for the presentation
  • Not using effective communication skills, such as talking too quickly
  • Not engaging the audience
  • Using slides with too many words
  • Using a template that is difficult to read
  • Using abbreviations that may not be apparent to everyone else
  • Not having done research into the area when given time to prepare
  • Not being able to answer questions afterwards on the topic matter


Do you have any top tips for my application?

1) Do not submit your standard CV to every job. Every job is different and needs separate attention to detail within your CV.

2) Spend time on your CV to get it perfect. Your CV is your 1-2-1 marketing document. This just gets you a place at the AAC table, the rest is assessed during your interview.

3) Cut and paste the headings in the person specification for the advertised job into your CV. This will make sure that you don't miss anything obvious and make it easier to assess during the short listing process.

4) Always arrange a pre interview visit. This can be a mandatory visit even if it isn't in black and white in the job advert.

5) Prepare factual information about the NHS well in advance of the interview. There isn't much time to get the factual information and form opinions in the time available once you have been short listed.

6) Learn from previous applications. Get feedback. Why was I not appointed and how can I resolve these issues?

7) Do not think the internal candidate will always get the job. They don't.

8) Get help. You are reading this because you want to prepare. There are professional providers such as Oxford Medical for interview skills training. Many candidates attend such training and it can make the difference between success and failure. A clever investment for your career.

9) Practice the types of medical interview questions that you may be asked.

10) Concentrate on management, leadership and medical education topics. From our vast experience these are the areas that normally discriminate successful and unsuccessful candidates.

11) Self analysis: Sit down and answer the following questions:

  • a. What have I got to offer?
  • b. What are my main strengths?
  • c. How can I sell these strengths, with examples?
  • d. What areas is my application weak in? and can I temporarily attempt to rectify these issues?
  • e. Why this job, trust and geographical area?


Top 5 advanced tips for Consultant interviews

  • 1: Structure your answers

Many candidates underperform simply because they don't know how to structure their answers appropriately. If you don't have a structure you answer /content may be sprayed around. You'll look as if you can't prioritise information (a simple task that is very important for our daily jobs). You may fall into the trap of giving your opinion before any factual information. You need to convince the assessor that you are the person for the job you have the right sets of skills and attributes that they are looking for. Giving a response in a wishy-washy unstructured manor is the best way not to do your self justice.

  • 2: Limit your content

A very good research paper published in 1968 looked at communication skills. 7% of what you communicate is actually your content. That's not to say that it's not important. It is vitally important. If I asked you a question I would expect you to respond for approximately 60 to 90 seconds. You are welcome to respond for 7 minutes if you wish. You may score the full three points that we are looking for however you won't get to answer any remaining questions during your 10 minutes and as a result you won't score very highly.

You need to limit your content and deliver it in a hierarchical structure. Tell me the most important point first. Tell me the second most important piece of factual information next. In order to deliver your content in this manner you will naturally have had to think about it beforehand. Thinking on your feet during the heat of your interview is not the time to be developing the thought process on which piece of information is more important than the other. Therefore preparation is vitally important. Once again processing information is a key skill that we take for granted but actively looked for during your interview.

  • 3: Work on your communication skills

What does it take for me to decide that I want you to work for me? Well it is very subjective and ultimately comes down to the rapport that we make during our interview. Naturally this is a very subjective area and simple things such as being able to communicate well, smile, for a rapport, make me feel comfortable that you will do the best things for my patients all comes into account.

  • 4: Don't start poorly

When we interview within 90 seconds we have a very good idea of how we are going to score you. This decision is often sub-conscious and we will often then spend the rest of the interview trying to prove that this initial assessment is correct.

Make sure that you start well. Brush all the cob webs off prior to the interview. When did you ever see a pro golfer hit his first shot of the day off the first tee and when did you see a sprinter have his first run during the actual race? Attention to detail helps.

  • 5: Handling pressure?

The whole interview process is about ranking the candidates and separating the very best from the rest. Each deanery and each consultant wants the very best doctors working for them and their patients. They will interview more people than they have positions.

It may be the case that during your interview that you are pushed and placed under pressure. This is a simple process that is not personal. It simply means that you are being pressed to the limits of your abilities so that the interviewer can get an opinion of where you are in the field of candidates.


Want to improve your medical education section on your CV? Check out our Teach the Teacher Courses run in Oxford and London

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