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Demonstrating Competencies in Your Application

There are likely to be two main types of trainee post you apply to: Core Surgical Training (CT1) and Specialty Surgical Training (ST3). For both of these, there are three main points at which you should display all of the competencies you have gained from your experiences:

  • in your application
  • in your portfolio and CV
  • at the selection centre or interview


For core surgical training posts and ST3 posts in many specialties, applications are made online through the ORIEL Recruitment Portal. The application is open for a fixed window, which will be advertised in advance on the recruitment office web pages. You will be guided through the application, and guidance for applicants is published each year to help you ensure you complete the form correctly. 

Applications for both CT and ST3 posts will require you to provide information about your training and experience so far. You will be asked to provide examples of specific competencies and how you have demonstrated these. 

You should draft answers to questions before completing the application form. To hone your responses, try answering the following: 

  • Describe a time when you have had to make a decision under pressure
  • What experience of delivering teaching do you have?
  • Describe a recent example from your surgical experience of a time when you found it difficult to make an effective judgement in a challenging situation. How did you overcome this difficulty and how has this experience informed your subsequent practice?

How well you do in your application depends on how closely you meet the requirements set out in the person specification. Make sure you read it carefully, and ensure your answers are directly relevant. Use examples from your portfolio. 

Remember: if you do not provide suitable evidence of your competencies on your application form, it will not be clear that you meet the entry or selection criteria. Therefore, you may not be longlisted/shortlisted/invited to interview.


It is now unlikely that you would be asked to apply for a training post via a CV, but a copy of your CV should always be included in your portfolio.

A logical, concise and clearly presented CV helps assessors (at interview or before) understand quickly how you are suitable for the role. You should regularly set aside time to review and update your CV as your career progresses.

What to include in your CV

A good CV should summarise your portfolio, and provide enough relevant detail , with clear examples, to demonstrate how you meet the key competencies required. 

Qualifications, professional and personal experience should be clearly stated so the reader can immediately recognise that you meet the basic requirements of the post. 

A summary of clinical experience is vital. You should also indicate how you are suited to the wider roles of a surgeon: 

  • emergencies;
  • outpatient clinics;
  • day care;
  • work in the ward;
  • and work in the operating theatre. 

Include your experiences in peri-operative patient care along with the list of operations you’ve performed.

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