How do I pass my NHS interview first time? | NHS interview question and answers!

Hi guys and welcome to today's episode of the vlog series. Today we're going to talk to you about how to pass your NHS clinical interview. We've g...

Hi guys and welcome to today's episode of the vlog series. Today we're going to talk to you about how to pass your NHS clinical interview. We've got a whole host of questions that we're going to give example answers to and we've also got an abundance of resources available at BDI Resourcing if you want us to send you over a document that's got all of the possible questions that could come up in an NHS interview for various specialities and different grades then just email - It's a really helpful resource for people who've got NHS interviews coming up so feel free to email us and we'll send that back to you. If you'd like to hit the subscribe button as well you'll get all the rest of our content coming through from YouTube.

Okay so the very first section of most NHS interviews, whether these are clinical interviews for doctors or for nurses or anyone else, will be a biographical type of question. Usually a pretty easy question to get you started and it will be something telling them about your previous experience and your work history to date. If you're asked the question “tell us about your experience” there is an acronym that you can use to vaguely cover off all of the main points and that's camp c-a-m-p.

The ‘c’ is for clinical - talk about your clinical experiences to date, the types of hospital you've worked in, types of departments you've worked in and all those kinds of things. The ‘a’ is for academics so cover off your Royal College qualifications, your primary medical qualifications, your English language exams, any home country training that you've got as well. ‘M’ is for management - really important, particularly if you're more senior in your capacity, that you talk to them about any additional work that you've tasked yourself with as a manager and a leader. If you've dealt with any educational work for junior doctors or anything along those lines. Then ‘p’ is for personal - so personal might be your current motivations. So your motivation might be to come and work in the NHS for example.

We're going to put an example question and answer up on the screen just now. The question itself is talk me through your experiences to date and for the ideal answer we've used an acute medicine doctor:

“So I am currently working in a major tertiary hospital as an acute medicine specialist. This is equivalent to registrar level in the UK”

So really important there that you clarify where that is equivalent to if you are coming internationally…

“the hospital's got a thousand beds and I work on a busy inpatient ward seeing a variety of acute medicine cases. I also work a one in seven on call frequency where I'm the doctor in charge of the hospital overnight”

So again that that pretty much sums up the type of hospital you're working in, the type of role you're doing and the type of rota that you're working in as well. The second paragraph here…

“I recently completed my royal college of physicians examinations as well as doing my OET, leading me to my GMC registration”

So you're talking about your most recent and most senior qualifications that's the one they're going be most interested in.

“Further to this I've completed my specialist training in my home country”

That might be a secondary thing and perhaps less important to an NHS employer but equally does show that you've done some specialist training in your home country so very important.

“I'm currently educational supervisor to a number of junior doctors in the department and have three years of leadership experience in this capacity”

So covering up the management aspect there and then the personal

“My current goal is to pursue a career as an acute medicine registrar in the NHS”

Note that we've brought them up to date that we've not gone any further forward as the question was tell us about your experiences to date rather than your motivations for the future.

So the next type of question that you're likely to be asked is a clinical scenario. There's a whole host of these and we have got a full list depending on which specialism you work in that we can send over to you the email address is - if you'd like us to send those resources out to you in answering a clinical scenario. It's going to be specific to your speciality so they're the type of questions that you're likely to have been asked in the clinical elements of your royal college examinations or, if you're more junior, the clinical part of your PLAB exams too.

The most important thing here really is to answer safely. They're looking for answers that fall in line with patient safety guidelines so just make sure you're not trying to be a hero or save anyone. If you're unsure of the answer you could even be that you refer it to a more senior doctor or to a specialist who deals with that field. We've got an example up on the screen right now.

Basically in this one you're given a 26 year old female normally fit and well presenting with a six day history of gradually worsening headache and vomiting. Various symptoms there with the question of what do you do. So the answer

“Classify the headache types”

You're basically doing some history taking some further questioning at this stage screening for red flags causes of the secondary headache. There's six different parts to this in potential questions that you could ask. How much of this you go into it is entirely up to you but obviously the more detail you can the better so you may choose to answer the question by bringing in some of the questions. That’s what we’ve put up on the screen here and how many different headache types do they experience? how long have they been experiencing these? how frequent are they? is it temporal pattern? how long do they last? Character questions like the intensity of the pain? the nature of it? the spread of it? where is it? Cause questions to where and what's predisposing and what's triggering what's aggravating - could be anything along those lines and so you're really doing a bit of a history take and a question. Exploratory questions for this one and then the final part the patients who present with headaches and red flags potential secondary headaches and should be referred to a specialist appropriate for their symptoms for further assessment so again makes the point there that you don't necessarily need to cure this patient. It may be that on asking the further questions you do need to refer them to a specialist who can deal with the scenario more appropriately and so look for a safe answer in which you do as much work as you can to ascertain the depth of the problem.


Okay so the third section of the interview will be an ethical scenario, and these don't always come up. You might get two clinical scenarios; you might get two ethical scenarios but there's usually some amalgamation of both. You'll be given a scenario based question. Again, expect to come up with an answer that's logical and safe in much the same way as the clinical scenarios. Keep in mind patient safety guidelines, keep in mind GMC guidelines here as well and you might want to read GMC's good practice handbooks and familiarize yourself with all those bits and pieces.

We're going to put up an example on the screen just now of the type of question you may get asked. So, this one says

“You are due to a cardiac tomorrow and your father has been rushed into hospital in another city. He's going to have emergency surgery and your mother would like you to be there during this upsetting time. What do you do?

Well as it says there are frequent scenarios for doctors where they've committed to patient responsibilities and personal life becomes a conflict between the two. Patients need to be able to trust that NHS doctors will save lives and their well-being is always a priority. It’s important if you can refer back to these GMC guidelines which state that you must take care of the patient and that's your first concern.

It would therefore not be fair to abandon your cardiac catheter list as you break GMC code. You could however ask an experienced colleague to substitute in for you or if you're unable to get cover to come, your HR department might organize locum cover to ensure patient care is not jeopardized at any point. The GMC also states that a doctor must act quickly to protect patients from risk if you have good reason to believe you may not be fit to practice therefore if you're very stressed or upset about the situation in a difficult time with your father taken into hospital you should declare that you're unfit to practice at that point. So again reflecting back on all that and you're looking for a safe answer that comes in line with GMC patient safety guidelines

Okay so the next section of your NHS interview is likely to be something around audit and clinical governance and this is one that can slip up some doctors particularly coming in from overseas as audit and clinical governance isn't always something that's high on the agenda in different healthcare systems. That said, in the NHS it is absolutely imperative and there's a really key core framework that the NHS work to, to strive for continual improvement in all their services.

We're going to put this one up on the screen with the seven pillars of clinical governance. So one question you may get asked is can you describe the seven pillars of clinical governance. We've got a blog article which explains this in full and each element of the pillars of clinical governance so really important to go and take a look at that. We'll put a link up to it as well. The seven sections clinical effectiveness and research audits risk management education and training patient and public involvement information i.t and staff management. As I say it's well worth having a good read up on those because a question is likely to come up in your interview regarding one of those sections at the very least. If not the question can you describe all seven in which you may just need to learn them and reflect back on them in your interview.


Okay so one of the final sections of your NHS interview is likely to be around your future goals and, particularly if you're coming from overseas, NHS employers really want to know that you're highly motivated to come and work in the department that you've chosen, in the hospital you've chosen, the location you've chosen and in the NHS as a whole.

So this is really the section where you have the opportunity to prove to your employer that you're highly motivated to come and work for them and also to sell yourself a little bit. So the question that you're likely to be asked is why would you like to work in the NHS. Why would you like to work in that particular hospital?

We've given them the more broad question here so why do you want to work in the NHS and the answer that we've put up…

“It's always been a long term goal to practice medicine in the NHS. I've spent the last two years preparing for my Royal College examinations while studying for my English language examinations”

I guess that very much shows them that you've put a lot of time and thought into your decision to move to the NHS.

“The NHS system is highly specialized and I'm particularly interested in benefiting from the wealth of training and support available to doctors who wish to become consultants in the future”

You're doing two things in that sentence – first you're telling them that you know a lot about the NHS - you know it's a highly specialized system. And Second, you're really motivated to have a long-term career which is obviously something your employer will want to hear.

“My long-term goal is to settle into a full career in the NHS and work towards becoming a specialist in acute medicine. The idea of a healthcare system that's free at the point of use all citizens is particularly appealing to me and part of the reason I became a doctor in the first place.”

Again you're very much validating the fact that you've done your research, you've done your homework and you are highly motivated and your values fit with the NHS as well.

“I also have friends in the UK and very much enjoyed spending time there when visiting”

Again that may reassure an employer that you have been to the UK, you know what you're getting yourself in for and so all those things are showing that you're very motivated to come and work in the NHS and that's your opportunity to kind of sell yourself a little bit.

Okay so as one final point here, all NHS interviews should be done with what's called value-based recruitment in mind as the NHS have a set of core values that they choose to work to and they expect all of their staff to follow as well so it's well worth learning these and reflecting upon them throughout your interview. You may even be asked specifically to talk about those values and to have them learn so we're going to put them up on the screen just now. Just as an example question “what's your understanding of the NHS values” and in your answer you might want to reflect on these six points so working together for patients, patients come first in everything you do, respect and dignity, valuing every person patient, family, carers, staff, individuals, respect, admiration, aspirations and commitments in life and seek to understand priorities needs abilities and limits.

Commitment to quality of care earning the trust placed in you by insisting on quality striving to get the basis of quality care safety effectiveness and patient experience right every time. Compassion ensuring the compassion is central to the care you provide and responding with humanity and kindness to each person's pain, distress, anxiety or need. Improving lives striving to improve health and well-being and people's experiences of the NHS. Then finally everyone counts maximizing resources for the benefit of the whole community and making sure that no one is excluded discriminated against.

You can see from those values that it would be very easy to weave those into any of the previous answers so you might want to reflect on commitment to quality of care or compassion in a clinical scenario or an ethical scenario for example or you might want to talk about the values that you hold in your motivation question about the future. So lots of ways that you can weave those values in and the more you do that the higher you will score in an NHS interview. You may be asked about them specifically so it's probably worth learning them and definitely worth trying to understand them and how they impact on how everyone works in the NHS.

Okay so the very final section is going to be over to you to ask any questions that you have about anything you want to know. At this stage, this is arguably a more important section than a lot of people give it credit for so please don't get to the end of your interview and say “no I don't have any further questions”.

Always have two or three questions prepared - it shows your interest, it shows your motivation, it shows your enthusiasm and it shows you care about the job you're applying for. So, questions to ask - talk to them about the department, ask about them as individuals, the staff in the department, the type of patients they see. It might be something about the local area, it might be something you've seen on a CQC report or some information you wanted to ask more clarity on and it may even be something more technical about the type of equipment they use or the procedures they do. Anything along those lines - but make sure you've got two or three questions prepared and to hand.

We have got as part of our resources a whole host of questions as examples that you could use again. If you want the full list please email us and we'll send that back across to you.

We're going to put three up on the screen just now just as examples and but you may find that there's more that are appropriate according to the job you're applying for. So just some more general ones here “can you tell me what a normal day in the department will look like?”

So you might want to know about the type of patients they see how busy it is that kind of thing or just the type of duties in the rota that you'll be partaking in.

“What kind of training and support will i be given?” That's a really good one because it shows that you're interested in training, you're interested in progressing in your career, becoming a consultant perhaps and she could mention that that's important to you and then the final one picking something up from the CQC report and asking for details. I think that's a really good way of showing that you've done your homework, you've done your research. It may be that they've got something that requires improvement on the CQC report that you wanted to ask how's that being improved or maybe there's something incredible on the CQC report that you want to ask how did they achieve that. So that's three examples but, as I say, we have got a whole host of resources available if you wanted to email and we'll get those sent across to you.

Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the vlog series and I hope it's been helpful and wish you all the best of luck in your NHS interviews. If you would like the resources that we've got available with all of the questions and examples please do email across, hit subscribe and you'll get access to all the rest of our videos as well thanks so much for listening we'll see you next time.