Who is the perfect ST Interview candidate?


Are you one of the many doctors applying for ST or CT interview in the near future? If so, you’ll be aware of the high rates of competition for securing your desired Specialty or Core Training post. In 2016, almost 16,000 doctors made applications for less that 9,000 ST1 and CT1 training posts in the UK.  That’s around two applicants for every available position. Competition for ST3 and ST4 posts was similarly high. In a number of cases, there were more than 8 candidates per post. At the highest level, there were a remarkable 17 applicants for each Community Sexual and Reproductive Health vacancy. The specific ratios for each post are prone to change each year and are hard to predict. The desire of each candidate to be successful, however, is constant, year after year after year.

So who is the perfect interview candidate?

A good place to start is to consider what the interview panels are looking for. They seek to answer the following questions:

  • Has you acquired the basis of knowledge, skill and experience required to successfully begin the training programme?
  • Do you have a realistic, proactive and flexible approach to learning required to fulfill your potential?
  • Are you genuinely motivated to take on this specific role and to complete the full journey?

Of course in the real world, perfection is non-existent. Here is a more realistic thought to hold onto. You have no control over the performance of other candidates and perfection is an impossibility.

The best prepared candidates are those who know what to expect and are able to present themselves at their very best.

How do I make sure I present myself at my best?

There is a touch of irony to realise that the ‘perfect’ candidate is well aware of their imperfections – and is proactively working them! Performing to the best of your abilities at interview is directly related to your preparation.

In many ways, you have been preparing for this moment for years. You have been increasing your knowledge, skills and experience on a daily basis throughout your student and foundation years. You may also have taken on different roles and made choices which have contributed to your development. It is essential, however, to set aside some time to reflect on your experiences, skills and opinions in order to know which you want to share with your interviewers. Practicing responding to interview questions and tasks in a structured manner helps you to both build confidence and become more concise in your communication. Ensuring you proactively research the format and purpose of the various interview stations improves your alignment to the interview panel’s interests.

With this in mind, we have fully re-developed and improved both the Oxford Medical ST & CT Medical Interview Guide and the ST & CT Medical Interview Course. We use structured and interactive processes to help you achieve success through:

  1. finding your own words and behaviours which will present you at your very best
  2. identifying and clarifying areas for your personal development

This is how you will optimise your chances of convincing your assessors that you are in fact the perfect candidate for them.

How are you preparing for your interview?

Stephen McGuire – Head of Development