Interview preparation tips – a guide for overseas doctors

  • April 13, 2020

Your NHS interview is your chance to make a good impression to a potential employer, sell yourself and secure your dream job in the NHS.

Here we take a look at how to prepare for your NHS Skype interview. 

We can’t stress enough how important preparation is to making sure that you have a successful interview. So, we have collected the best tips from our community of IMGs to help you to stand out during your interview and ensure that you always get your point across. In this article we cover the following topics: 

Interview preparation tips: 

1. Know who will be interviewing you

As an overseas doctor it is of course tricky to visit the hospital before interview, so getting to know your interview panel prior to interview is important and will make you stand out - try connecting on LinkedIn or look at their profile. Panels will be made up of a range of senior staff, some will have developed their career within their specialisms, take a look at the Trust website to gather more information.

2. Be up to date. 

Keep up to date with the Trust’s vision and strategy, try to convey how you will fit in with this – consider how you can contribute to help them achieve their vision. For example, if you know they are developing a new department you can talk about your interest in this area and what you could offer.

3. Reflect on the hospital values. 

Your interview should demonstrate that your personal values and behaviours align with the NHS values. In a nutshell these are your motivation and commitment to the NHS and the role, your ability to work in multi-professional teams, the central importance of the patient's experience.

4. Be reflective. 

Responses to questions can show that you have reflected on your experience, that you have learnt from them, and that you have gained expertise you can bring to the role, benefiting the service and wider Trust.  

5. Prepare concise answers. 

When preparing answers for an interview, break these down into key points. It is important that your answers have an impact, so deliver them in 3 or 4 clear sentences. Remember, the interview panel are looking for you to be a clear communicator for the benefit of future patients and colleagues.

6. Practice your answers, but don’t sound robotic. 

We suggest that you rehearse your interview with a colleague, who can ask you follow up questions.  This is a valuable way to gain feedback and to find out how you perform under pressure.

7. Prepare for direct questions. 

Whilst most questions will be broad, be prepared for direct questions, such as “what specifically qualifies you for this position?” or “why do you want this job?”. Take a second to compose your answer and avoid a jumbled response. 

8. Be structured. 

Make your point, provide evidence and explain. 

Have a strong structure to your answers, such as the above. Make 2 or 3 key points at most and give personal or clinical examples, with explanations. 

9. Prepare for behavioural skills questions. 

Be prepared for behavioural skills questions, such as “describe a situation where you disagreed with a colleague and how you reacted?” or “describe a difficult problem you have faced at work, how did you contribute to the solution?”. In your answers, set the context, describe what was required, what you actually did, and how well the situation played out.

10. Use active wording. 

When referring to skills, action words are specific, clarify your contributions, and bring a confident tone to your answers (i.e. championed, supervised, expanded, increased, improved, collaborated, gained, achieved, confident, responsible for…)

When you speak with the active voice, it adds impact. You can even combine your selection of action verbs with quantifiable results. This shows both what you did and the impact it had. For example, “Expanded use of patient feedback, resulting in 20% increase in patient satisfaction.”

11. Prepare to respond to all aspects of your CV.

Remember, an interview will not be solely based on clinical experience. Panel members will be interested in different parts of your CV, such as your management experience, working with others, leadership or ability to improve the quality of services. 

12. Prepare questions to ask the panel. 

You can treat the interview like a conversation. Prepare detailed questions to ask at the end of your interview, you will always be given this chance. Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the whole interview, it can have a positive impact! 

Tips for setting up your Skype interview on the day: 

Now that you have prepared your questions well in advance, don’t let all of your preparation go out of the window by rushing on the day. If you are flustered, you won’t be composed.

We strongly advise making sure that you are set up and ready in advance, consider carefully the following tips to make a success out of your Skype interview: 

1. Add the hospital Skype ID 24 hrs prior to your interview.

Your IMG Consultant will provide you with this in advance.

2. Send a message to the hospital Skype ID, stating your name and the post you are interviewing for. 

This helps check that the ID is correct and is active for the start of your interview. 

3. Run a test call with an IMG Connect consultant.

Just to be sure everything is working; we will run a dummy call with you well in advance of your interview. If there are any issues, we can address them together. 

4. Be ready 30 mins prior to the call. 

It is best to be prepared, with your CV, notes and a glass of water at the ready. 

Don’t forget to relax. 

During the Skype interview:

First impressions are important when wanting to create a lasting good impression. Apply these tips right from the beginning of the interview to make sure you potraying yourself in the manner you want to, from start to finish.

1. Be on time.

Despite the fact that your interview will be held over Skype, it is vital that you set up in plenty time and allow time for things to go wrong. If you do get delayed, make sure you notify your IMG Consultant and the contact within the organisation as soon as possible.

2. Dress appropriately. 

You may be on screen, but that includes trousers too! Dress as you would for any interview, it will also help you to feel confident. 

3. Don’t forget to smile! 

When you answer the call, don’t forget to smile. Greet the panel as you would for any interview (minus the shaking of hands of course).

From start to finish, relax, be yourself and smile. The panel want to know that you cope under pressure, and can be a good member of their team, ultimately improving patient care. Your personality is key to this success! 

4. Make eye contact and engage with all members of the interview panel.

Just like an ordinary interview, try to engage with all members of the panel. You will know in advance who they are, so greet them and address them directly throughout your interview. Oh, and don’t forget to use address the panel using their correct titles! 

5. Sell yourself. 

Give real examples of 'how' you have achieved positive outcomes, specify what these were and the benefits. Be clear about what your personal contribution was. So, don’t be too modest - it can be hard at times, but you are there to highlight your attributes and achievements. 

6. Remember to use 'I' rather than 'we'.

This adds impact to your achievements, and lets the panel know the contributions YOU have made in your career as a doctor so far.

7. Be aware of your body language.

You want to convey that you're enthusiastic, positive and energetic, yet focused… don’t fidget! 

8. Be positive at all times.

It can be hard, especially when you have faced some challenging questions, but keep calm, stay positive and remember to relax! 

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