Published June 26, 2023
Well done! You’ve been invited to your first job interview in the NHS. What does it involve and can you prepare? Let us guide you through this crucial step in your journey toward securing a position in the UK. Having gone through the process ourselves, we understand the significance of this process and the unique challenges you may face.
What is the structure of an NHS interview?
All NHS interviews follow a typical structured format. This makes it more or less predictable and therefore easier to prepare for. Understanding the structure will help you organise and present yourself in the best possible way.
The interview usually begins with introductions from the panel members. This is your chance to make a positive first impression. Greet each interviewer individually and aim to demonstrate enthusiasm for the opportunity.
Overview of Yourself
After introductions, you will be asked to provide an overview of your background, employment history, and career goals. This is an important step to make a good impression and set the tone of the interview. We’ll discuss how to format your answer further below.
Expect questions related to your chosen medical specialty. The panel may ask about your motivation for pursuing the specialty, your relevant experience, and your future goals. Be honest, for example don’t say you’re preparing for a postgraduate exam if you’re not.
Keeping Up to Date
Interviewers are interested in how you maintain good practice. Be prepared to discuss your commitment to continuous learning, staying up-to-date with guidelines and best practices, and engaging in professional development activities.
Training and Teaching Experience
If you have training or teaching experience, expect questions in this area. Discuss your involvement in medical education, whether it’s through teaching medical students, mentoring colleagues, or leading educational programmes. You can include any experience back home as well.
Your experience in management or leadership roles may also be explored during the interview. Highlight instances where you have demonstrated effective leadership, managed teams, or made critical decisions. Discuss your ability to adapt to changing environments, work collaboratively, and motivate others.
Clinical scenarios are often included as standard in NHS interviews. You will be presented with patient details and asked to make a diagnosis or develop a treatment plan. The panel usually asks about how you would manage an emergency situation in your specialty. Apply your clinical knowledge, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving abilities to analyse the scenario. Consider patient safety, evidence-based practice, and effective communication.
NHS and Ethical Scenarios
The panel may ask you questions to find out whether you are aligned with NHS practice and values. For example they may quiz you about audits or complaints procedures. They may also give you an ethical scenario to work through to see how you would manage it. It’s important to be familiar with the common ethical dilemmas and how to resolve them.
Questions for the Interview Panel
Towards the end of the interview, it will be your turn to ask questions. Never say you don’t have any questions. Remember, you also want to find out whether this is an IMG-friendly hospital and to gain further insight into the hospital, department, or role. Prepare thoughtful and relevant questions such as asking about team dynamics, professional development opportunities, or support for entry into training or CESR.
How should you prepare for an NHS interview as an IMG?
To excel in your NHS interview, thorough preparation is key. Here are essential steps to help you get ready:
Research the Hospital
If you’re attending an in-person interview, review the hospital map and identify where the interview will take place. Visit their website to familiarise yourself with their services, values, recent achievements, and future goals. This knowledge will impress the interviewers and show your genuine interest in joining their team.
Research the Interviewers
If you know the panel members beforehand, take the time to research them individually. Understand their roles, specialties, and contributions to the healthcare field. This information will help you establish a connection during the interview and tailor your responses accordingly. If you don’t know who will be interviewing you, have a look at the Consultants in the department on the hospital website and read through their profiles for a general idea.
Review and Update Your CV
Carefully review your CV and ensure it accurately reflects your qualifications, experiences, and achievements. Be ready to discuss any aspect of your resume during the interview. Update it with recent accomplishments, certifications, or training that further enhance your application.
Prove Your Suitability for the Role
Revisit the job description and identify the key skills, competencies, and experiences the hospital is looking for. Align your experiences and achievements with the requirements of the role. Prepare specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your suitability.
Practise Interview Techniques
Familiarise yourself with the common interview questions and practise your responses. Reflect on your experiences, accomplishments, and challenges you have overcome. Hold mock interviews with a trusted colleague or mentor to refine your communication and presentation skills. Remember to pay attention to your body language, tone of voice, and clarity of expression. Practising in front of a mirror or videoing yourself might feel uncomfortable but we’ve always found it useful!
Remember, you are capable, qualified, and deserving of this opportunity. You just need to make sure that your dedication and hard work will shine through during the interview process!
How to answer common NHS doctor interview questions
There are lots of common interview questions that come out in almost every interview. Here are the most common ones. Don’t enter any interview without having a response prepared for these!
“Tell us about yourself.”
This question is often asked at the beginning of the interview and provides an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and highlight relevant aspects of your background, experiences, and abilities.
Do not tell your life story!
Organise your answer using the CAMP structure: Clinical, Academic, Management, and Personal. Begin with a brief introduction about yourself and then highlight your clinical experience, academic achievements, management or leadership skills, and personal interests or hobbies relevant to the position. Keep your response concise, focusing on key points that showcase your suitability for the position.
Always tailor your response to align with the job requirements and emphasise aspects of your experience that show how you would excel in the role. You mostly likely need slightly a different answer here for each interview you attend.
“Why do you want to work in this trust?”
The interviewers want to understand your motivations for choosing their trust. To be honest, many IMGs are just looking to get their foot in the door – any door. But still, aim to prepare a sincere answer here.
Research the trust beforehand and identify specific aspects that resonate with you, such as their values, reputation, or specialised services. Make your response personal by relating it to your own values, career aspirations, and aspirations. Share how working in this trust aligns with your long-term plans and how it offers a platform to contribute meaningfully to patient care and make a difference in your chosen specialty. Be sincere and genuine in expressing your interest and enthusiasm.
“Describe a situation where you faced a challenge and how you overcame it.”
This question is meant to assess your problem-solving and resilience skills. Choose a relevant and recent example where you encountered a challenge in a professional or academic setting. Clearly explain the situation, the actions you took to address the challenge, and the positive outcome or lesson learned.
“How would you manage this clinical scenario?”
When presented with a clinical scenario, use the STAR approach: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Begin by describing the context of the situation, outlining the task or challenge you faced, explaining the actions you took to address the issue, and highlighting the positive outcome or lessons learned.
Throughout your response, emphasise patient care and safety as your primary concern. Discuss how you collaborated with the healthcare team, made evidence-based decisions, and ensured effective communication. Showcase your ability to think critically, prioritise tasks, and manage resources effectively in a challenging clinical scenario.
By preparing thoughtful and well-structured responses to common interview questions, you can effectively demonstrate your suitability for the position and leave a lasting positive impression.
Let’s recap the key points discussed:
- Familiarise yourself with the structure of an NHS interview, including introductions, overview of yourself, specialty-related questions, maintaining good practice, training and teaching experience, management experience, clinical scenarios, and questions for the panel.
- Take the time to research the hospital and the interviewers, update your CV, and practice interview techniques.
- Be prepared to answer common questions such as “Tell us about yourself” and “Why do you want to work in this trust?”
- Handle clinical scenarios effectively, showcasing your problem-solving skills and patient-centred approach.
- Plan thoughtful questions to ask the interview panel, showcasing your genuine interest in the position and the hospital.
Navigating the NHS interview process as an IMG is definitely challenging, but it is important to stay motivated and focused on your goals. Remember that your unique competencies, experiences, and perspectives can greatly contribute to the UK healthcare system.
Stay dedicated to your preparation, seek support and guidance from mentors and peers, and use available resources such as books and online materials to enhance your knowledge and skills. Embrace the learning opportunities that the interview process presents and view each experience as a stepping stone toward achieving your career aspirations.