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Interviews for Surgical Posts

The interview can be one of most intimidating parts of the application process for a surgical post. Read on for a full overview of what to expect, preparation tips and how to succeed.  

For posts in the training pathway (excluding foundation posts), and other posts such as SAS grades, you are likely to be invited for interview. 

Interview location

For training posts at both Core Surgical Training (CT1) and Specialty Training (ST3) level, interviews for each specialty are likely to be organised centrally and held in a single location, regardless of which region you are applying to. For other posts that are not part of the formal training scheme, you are likely to apply directly to the trust and interviews will be held there. 

Core Surgical Training recruitment is managed centrally by Health Education London and South East, who provide comprehensive information about the application and interview process and format.  

Interview format

Training post interviews normally comprise a number of stations where you will be tested on different skills. 

For Core Surgical Training this is likely to include:

  • a management station 
  • a portfolio station 
  • a clinical scenario station

Detailed information about the interview stations you will have to complete is provided each year in the Applicant Guide and Applicant Handbook

For specialty training interviews (ST3), the stations and topics you will need to prepare for vary by specialty. You can find more information relevant to your specialty from the coordinating deanery and from the HEE website

Interview stations that you may have to complete include:

  • a structured interview in which you discuss hypothetical clinical or management situations
  • a structured interview in which you discuss your commitment to surgery and your behaviour in past relevant situations (eg ‘when have you made a decision under pressure?’)
  • a portfolio review in which you reflect on your skills, competencies and educational needs with evidence examples from your portfolio 
  • a simulated consultation with a patient (who will be played by an actor)
  • a written exercise, such as completing a consultation record and management plan
  • group discussion
  • practical exercise, eg suturing or knot tying, examining a patient

Please note: this list is not exhaustive. You may be asked to complete all or none of these and you may be asked to complete alternative stations.

How to prepare for a surgical post interview

It’s very important to prepare for your interview. Make sure you are familiar with the person specification and the competencies that it requests. Think about how you meet these and prepare examples that demonstrate this. 

You will be provided with information about what else to expect on the day of interview, including how much time you should allow before your interview, what documents you should bring with you and other vital administrative information. Make sure you check this carefully: it is easy to jeopardise your chances of success by missing a relatively simple instruction. 

Check that you are dressed appropriately for the interview - looking smart and professional will help you make a good first impression.

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