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By The Next Step

What you need to know for specialty interviews

3 min
Young male being interviewed by female professional

Once you’ve successfully completed foundation training, your next career step is choosing and applying for specialty training. Your foundation years provide exactly that – a foundation of general clinical and soft skills that prepare you for specialised clinical cases.

Interviews can be challenging, and this will be the first experience of an interview for many FY2s, so we’ve created this blog to help you prepare for your medical specialty interviews when the time comes around.

Getting ahead…

To prepare for specialty interviews and assessments, you should do the following:

  • Check your Oriel account regularly for interview notifications
  • Be aware of any interview booking deadlines
  • Find out what the interview stations will be and the competences they will be assessing
  • Take all required documents
  • Ensure your portfolio is appropriately organised 

The big day

On a specialty training selection day, you can expect multiple assessments to take place in different rooms.

Assessments and interviews that might be used on your selection day include:

  • Portfolio interview

During your interview, you will be asked to talk through your portfolio to show how you have developed both clinical and professional skills. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your medical skills and organisation, so make sure it’s structured well.

It’s worth noting that interviewers have access to your portfolio beforehand, so familiarise yourself with where everything is and how you’re going to talk them through it. It might be useful to get a friend or family member to pose as an interviewer and practise with them.

  • Presentation

You will be given a choice of topics and 15 minutes to prepare a five-minute talk, so keep calm and focus on the activity that’s taking place to ensure you perform your best. It’s also worthwhile remembering that this section of the interview process gives you an opportunity to show interviewers your communication skills and your ability to work under pressure.

  • Structured interview

This interview has a time limit and set questions about you, your chosen specialty and healthcare in general.

You can expect questions like:

  • Why do you want to train in this specialty?
  • How have you dealt with a difficult clinical scenario?
  • What strategies do you use to plan your work effectively?

Find out more about the questions you're likely to be asked in the structured interview

  • Clinical scenario

During this stage, you’ll be presented with a clinical case, given some time to think about it and then asked questions on it. 

You’ll be required to demonstrate your approach to patients, diagnosis, prioritising key information and your ability to confidently recommend a course of action. To prepare, think about the process you have used in your foundation training and how you would apply this to cases you’re likely to encounter in your specialty.

  • Mock patient consultation

You will receive patient notes and then have a consultation with the ‘patient’. Interviewers want to see that you communicate well with patients, can explain medical terminology in a simple way and express empathy throughout. 

Depending on your chosen specialty, you won’t have to take part in all the assessments. It might be worth trying to find out some more information about interview questions - for example, by contacting the deanery you’ve applied to.

Try not to let interviews worry you too much. They are an important step in your career, but thorough preparation and being confident in your ability will help you to be successful at specialty interviews.