The format of consultant interviews is constantly evolving and varies from Trust to Trust, and sometimes between specialties within the same Trust. Whilst all Trusts use the traditional panel-based interview process, some complement it with other stations. On this page you will find a summary of the main stations that you may encounter in the course of the consultant recruitment process.
Candidates applying to substantive posts traditionally face a panel of between 6 and 14 people depending the Trust, with 8 being the most common number. Panel-based interviews typically last 45 minutes, during which candidates may expect to be asked between 10 and 20 questions relating to their motivation for the post, their interpersonal skills, management, clinical governance and current issues. Find out more about the consultant interview panel and consultant interview questions.
Over 60% of consultant interviews include a presentation. Typically, a presentation must be delivered in 10 minutes (very occasionally 5 minutes only) and is followed by a 10-minute questions-and-answers session during which your understanding of the topic is probed further. Presentations topics usually relate to current issues affecting the candidate's specialty. Here are examples of topics which have been given in recent months:
Psychometric testing is increasingly used as part of the consultant interview process to help pinpoint more accurately the key personality traits of the various candidates and help determine how closely they are likely to fit within the team.
The tests consist of a series of questions which are usually answered on a computer and then analysed by an occupational psychologist. In some cases, the results of the tests are validated by that psychologist in an one-to-one discussion with each candidate.
At the end of the psychometric testing process, the Trust is given a report on each candidate. Although in many cases, that report is used simply as an additional tool to inform the recruitment process, in other cases it can be used to dictate which questions should be asked to the different candidates.
Many candidates assume that since they have reached CCT level, they won't be asked any clinical questions at interview. Unfortunately some Trusts have previously recruited CCT holders which were not quite up to standard and have consequently introduced clinical questions as part of the consultant recruitment process. These generally revolve around the management of acute emergencies and are often asked as part of the normal panel-based interview. Be reassured though that this is not a frequent occurence, but you should not assume that it cannot happen. Some of the worst examples include:
In addition some candidates have also been asked to demonstrate practical skills (e.g. intubation in anaesthetics) or perform role plays (particularly in paediatrics and O&G).
Group exercises are playing an increasing role in consultant interviews, and are now fairly commonly used in specialities such as paediatrics, psychiatry, GU Medicine, Diabetes and many others. There are two possible types of group exercises used in consultant interviews:
Click here for more information on group exercises, what is being tested and how to ensure you perform well.
This refers to a situation where all candidates are invited, either individually, or most often together, to socialise with members of the panel and/or members of the team they are trying to join over a drink or dinner. Such invitations can be awkward for candidates who are uncomfortable in general social events or who can't stand the idea of chit chat, preferring instead the comfort of one-to-one discussions. They can also give candidates a false sense of security which may cause them to act in ways they did not intend.
Improve your chances of succeeding in your consultant interview by attending our one-day highly interactive medical consultant interview course. With a maximum of only 6 participants per course, places fill up very quickly so to avoid disappointment book your consultant interview course now!
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