NHS Interview Questions for Doctors

  • April 10, 2020

NHS doctor interviews require preparation.... 

And familiarising yourself with NHS interview questions & answers will help you make a great impression to a potential employer. This helpful article on NHS interviews for doctors is aimed at helping you prepare for different scenarios as well as questions and answers to create a good impression. 

In this article we look at the following topics: 

Preparing for your NHS doctor interview:

Getting invited to an interview means you’ve passed the first hurdle – your CV must have made a good impression so now it's time to prepare. There are some key questions to consider before you start: 

  • What do you know about the employer? (hospital & trust)
  • What do you know about the service? 
  • What do you know about the job? 
  • What do you know about the team structure?
  • Who will you be reporting to? 
  • What will the interview be like? 
  • Who will be interviewing you?
  • What questions do you need to prepare? 

For doctors, these are just a few of the interview questions that you should now be asking yourself as you start to prepare for your NHS interview. Why? Knowing as much as possible about the vacancy that you are interviewing for will help you answer questions with relevant points, ask questions to spark conversation, sound confident and well researched, overall helping you to make a good impact. 

Where do I start with my research?

Know the trust and department

Firstly, find out about the employer and the job. Speak with your IMG Consultant who knows the hospital or trust well, they can provide you with reading materials & information packs, job descriptions, information on recent developments, trust objectives and values. 

In some circumstances we will be able to arrange an informal chat with someone working in the Trust, or even better an IMG who has recently joined the Trust and has been through the same situation. 

We always recommend taking a broad look at the trust online, use their official website to understand the trust structures, departments and services, as well as recent advances within the department you are applying for and the training programmes offered.

It is important to take the time to learn about their department and organisation. Knowing the job you are applying for will give you a better chance of securing it. 

Know the interview panel

Secondly, discuss with your IMG Connect consultant and find out what the interview will involve, making sure you are prepared. 

Consider who will be on the panel and what their roles are. Do some homework and look up the hospital online, you may be able to find some key information to help you to understand your panel in more detail. Use LinkedIn to connect with panel members, or just to look at their experience and contributions to the trust as a whole. 

What can I do to prepare? 

Think about preparing in the following areas to give yourself the best chance of success in your interview:

Job description & person specification:

Get to know what the trust wants, and work this into your answers, matching to your skills and experience.  Take time to review and analyse the content of your current CV matched to the specifications of the job that you want and the Trust you want to work for. Consider how you will contribute to the service and how you will meet or exceed their standards. 

Trust vision and values:

Look up the trust values, measure yourself against them and consider what you will offer to the service.

Explore the Trust values and policies for best practice and consider how you will meet/achieve these in your daily work as well as in your career. Conduct research on the hospital and familiarise yourself with any recent developments and advances within the team you are applying for. Consider the training programmes offered via the hospital and the structure of department and staffing.

Selling yourself:

Your CV functions as a way of recording all your achievements, skills, and experiences, and your interview is your opportunity to share these and sell them to your prospective employer. You will likely be asked questions regarding your career, so review your CV regularly with a focus on points relevant for the role you are interviewing for. 

Preparing questions and answers for your interview:

You will be asked a range of questions throughout your interview, some short and direct, others more detailed and clinically specific. As such we advise to prepare a wide range of questions and answers to give you a head start in the interview and every chance of success. 

Preparing for the types of interview questions for doctors that you may be asked:

Before we look at each type of NHS interview questions for doctors in detail, it is important to say that you should prepare concise answers. These should of course be full of facts and detail but be succinct – stick to two or three sentences where you can. 


As part of the interview you will likely be asked a few FAQs, these can be hard to predict and can be general in nature. The interview panel will want to know why you are an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer without giving too much, or too little personal information.

These relate to you, your ambition, how you cope in situations, working in the UK, personality traits and so on. Prepare a number of answers you can rely on. We have included some recent examples below: 


Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want to work here? 
Why do you want to work in this specialty?
Where do you see yourself in 3 – 5 years? 
Do you have an interest in… further training? Research? Teaching? Audit? 
Why do you want to work in the NHS? 
What do you know about our service? 
What do you know about us? 
What impact would you like to make here? 
What concerns you about a career in this specialty?
What are the challenges facing this specialty in the next five years?
Is the clinical governance system really necessary?
What are the main issues facing the NHS over the next five years?
If you could change one thing in the NHS what would it be?
Do you think doctors are misrepresented by the media?
What do you want from your career?
Looking over your CV, could you pick two or three achievements which you are most proud of?
If you could go back to your first day of medical school and do all of your training again, what would you do differently?
We are interviewing many high calibre candidates, why should we appoint you?

Clinical questions: 

Undoubtedly you will be asked relevant questions in a clinical context, do your homework on the service and relate this to your own practice. Clincial questions are hard to predict, so prepare a wide range of responses and review your own practice against the trust you are applying for. 

Consider how you deal with certain aspects of your role, including: 

  • Clinical techniques
  • Equipment
  • Prescribing
  • History taking and management planning
  • Clinical judgement
  • Physical examination procedures
  • Knowledge of specialism
  • Ethical dilemmas & practice
  • Professional behaviour
  • Trust policies
  • Communication & team discussions
  • Input from senior colleagues

Remember, interview panels want to feel confident that you will be able to adapt quickly to practice in the UK, so don’t forget you will be working in the NHS and all answers should reflect current practice in the UK.

Competency-based questions (typically clinical questions):

Many clinical questions will ask you to explain what you would do, often these require detailed answers, with several variables. Competency-based questions are focused on actual experiences and ask specific questions that require you to give examples from past experiences.

Reflect on your practice, how you deal with situations, and how you work with your multidisciplinary team to ensure the best care and outcomes for the patient.

The STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a useful model for describing your capability and competency. When preparing answers these should be in depth, a lack of depth means your answer lacks impact. The STAR technique will ensure your answers are structured, don’t talk in broad terms – give specific examples. 

Briefly describe:

  • S - the background to the specific situation
  • T - the task being undertaken, specifically describe your responsibility
  • A - what action you took 
  • R - describe the result of your actions

Example competency-based questions:

  • Give an example of a time when someone has complained about your work or when you’ve known that someone wasn’t pleased with your work?
  • Give an example of a time you had to work with a group of people on a project or another job?
  • Describe a recent patient interaction which shows your ability to create trust and what steps would you take to develop an effective relationship with your patient.
  • Can you please detail a time when a new and different approach to your patient proved beneficial? What did you do and what was the outcome?

Direct questions:

Whilst most questions will be broad, be prepared for direct questions, such as: 

  • What specifically qualifies you for this position?
  • What do you know about us? 
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3 years?

Take a second to compose your answer and avoid a jumbled response. 

Behavioural skills questions:

These cover a wide range of behavioural skills necessary to be successful in your NHS role, i.e. communication, problem solving, teamwork, managing others, organisation, empathy and so on. As these can be hugely varied in nature, we have included a table of examples: 

Communication Skills

Describe a situation where your communication skills had a positive effect upon patient care.
How do you know that you are a good communicator?
How would you like to develop your skills further?
Give an example of how your communication skills have enabled you to develop effective relationships with your colleagues.
Describe a time when you found it difficult to communicate with a colleague or patient. What did you do and how did you feel?

Problem Solving and Decision Making

Describe a difficult problem you have faced at work. How did you contribute to the solution?
Give an example of a difficult decision you have made recently. How did you decide what to do?
Describe a time when you felt that you made the wrong decision. How did you feel and what has happened as a result?
What is your strategy dealing with difficult problems at work?
Do you always know the right thing to do in any given situation?

Managing Others and Team Involvement

Describe a time when you have led a team successfully.
Describe a time when you have supported a colleague with a work related issue.
Outline a situation where you have had to motivate work colleagues to do something that they did not agree with.
Which do you prefer, leading a team, or being a team member?

Empathy and Sensitivity

Why is it important for doctors to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity?
Describe a situation where your sensitivity to a patient's perspective altered the way that you managed their care?
Describe a situation where you have demonstrated sensitivity or empathy towards one of your colleagues.
Do you really need to show sensitivity and empathy to be a good doctor or are clinical skills and knowledge more important?

Organisation and Planning

How do you keep yourself organised at work?
What strategies do you use to plan your work effectively?
How do you cope when unexpected and unplanned work is added to your workload?
What advice would you give to an FY1 doctor on their first day, about being organised at work?
How have your planning skills had a positive impact upon those around you?

Vigilance and Situational Awareness

Describe an example of when your awareness of a developing situation at work, enabled you to avoid a problem or difficulty.
What impact has clinical governance had on your work to date?
Why is vigilance an important attribute to have for this specialty?
Describe a situation where you lacked awareness of a developing situation, resulting in difficulty for you, your colleagues, or a patient.

Coping with Pressure

How do you cope with pressure?
Describe a situation where you found yourself under conflicting pressures. What did you do to resolve them to the satisfaction of everyone involved?
What do you do when you can no longer cope with the pressures of your workload?
What strategies do you have in place to manage your workload and the pressure that you are under?
How have you used your initiative to manage your work effectively, and reduce the pressure that you are under?

Professional Integrity

Give an example of a clinical scenario where you made a mistake. What did you do about it?
What do you understand by the term 'professional integrity' and can you give an example where you have shown professional integrity at work?
Why is it important for doctors to demonstrate integrity in all elements of their work?
Is it ever justifiable to bend or break the rules at work? Have you ever done so?
What would you do if you overheard a senior colleague making an inappropriate remark to a patient?
How would you respond if one of your patients asked you out on a date?

Clinical Knowledge and Expertise

Describe a difficult clinical scenario you have been involved in. How did you contribute?
Describe the most interesting case you have been involved in recently. How did you contribute to the management of the case?
Describe a situation where management of a patient did not go as planned. What happened and what did you learn?
You may also be asked a range of questions about particular clinical scenarios relevant to your specialty.

Research Skills

Why is research important?
Describe your last audit.
Is it important for all doctors to undertake research?
Which is more important - research or teaching? Which do you prefer?
Tell us about your publications.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewers: 

“Do you have any questions?”

This is almost always asked at the end of an interview. Asking some questions can show you are interested and have done your research. Topics can include training, department structure and staffing, recent advances in the service, technology, equipment and clinical procedures.  

Try to treat your NHS interview like a conversation, with well-prepared questions that are based on the job description, service structure and patient care delivery, as well as the vision of the trust as a whole. 

For more articles on making a success of your NHS interview, including preparing for interview questons for doctors, take a look at these articles

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