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Interview advice

We have adapted these notes and questions from some guidance we found on the British Embassy in Berlin website on preparing for AAC interviews. An AAC interview is that used for consultants who are applying for substantive posts in the NHS in the UK. (Unfortunately, the original information is no longer available on line). Although originally written for senior doctors, the guidance should be helpful for all levels of doctor.

Please note that this is general advice and tries to cover all eventualities. Some interviews will be quite short and just a chat about the area and what it’s like to work there. These notes are for when it’s much more of a formal interview and when it feels like there’s a lot more at stake!

Plus, we know there’s not a “one size fits all” when it comes to interviewing, so some of these notes will seem obvious or not relevant to you – just pick and choose the bits you want

This is a brief summary of the typical questions you may be asked:

As an applicant from another country you should be prepared to answer questions about differences between your own country’s health system and the country you are planning to go to. The interviewer is unlikely to know much about the health system in other countries.

Language skill can be key issue for some interviews and if this is likely to be the case for you, then a lot of the questioning will be directed at establishing how good your language skills are in a clinical setting.

It is important to prepare as much as possible prior to the interview (reading and considering all aspects of the job description, gaining further insight through the internet about the area you’ll be working in and above all finding out as much as possible about your prospective employer).

Interview preparation:

1)            Clinical knowledge. This is down to you, I’m afraid! Remember that you have already been screened to get this far so the hospital / clinic believes that you have sufficient clinical knowledge to be a suitable applicant for the post. They may well give you a case study (scenario) and then ask you to comment on a particular type of treatment or what you would do in certain circumstances. Alternatively, they may ask you to summarise one or two of the (clinically) important cases that you’ve been involved in with your current job.

Some of their questions may well be to check your interpersonal relationship skills (ie how well you deal with patients & other professionals). You may want to look at this link: (I know it is from a nursing website but the same points apply to doctors): http://nursinglink.monster.com/training/articles/1279-good-bedside-manners-make-a-difference


2)            Knowledge of the [country’s] medical system and what the medical establishment expects of its doctors:

  1. You should be aware of what makes good medical practice in the the the country you are going to work in. The country’s registration authority should have guidance on this
  2. Show understanding of what clinical skills will be expected of you in this post
  3. Show understanding of the patient pathway – how the patient got access to you and where he / she needs to go to next (if needed)
  4. Describe any management skills you may be able to bring to the organisation
  5. Describe any “audit” experience you have
  6. Describe any teaching experienceStart with these links, (these are links from the UK but they will help if there is nothing easily available in the country you are planning to go to)

(Good Medical Practice – issued by the GMC and available in full on their website) http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/index.asp

You should also read the appropriate web site for your speciality – please check the appropriate section on “professional standards” or “Practising as a GP” or “Guidelines” etc. These are links for the UK organisations but there are usually others in the country you’re planning to work in – please contact us for more details

  1.                                                i.     GPs: http://www.rcgp.org.uk/
  2.                                               ii.     Surgeons: http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/
  3.                                             iii.     Gynaecology: http://www.rcog.org.uk/
  4.                                             iv.     Anaesthesia: http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/
  5.                                               v.     Ophthalmology: http://www.rcophth.ac.uk/
  6.                                             vi.     Physicians: http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/Pages/index.aspx

3)            Questions and answers. Although most questions will be related to the two main topics above, it is possible the interviewer will ask you a number of more general questions such as:

  1. What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of the job?
    Areas to consider for your answer:
  1. Understanding which other clinical professionals  have an involvement in the care of your patients and then managing those relationships.  ie ensuring good communications with whoever referred the patient to your department and, if necessary, the specialist or health professional that you need to refer the patient onto.
  2. Ensuring that the correct care pathway is followed for each patient, even though they may present with varied clinical symptoms or complaints.
  3. Understanding how, and being able, to find treatment for patients who have presented with one issue but who, in your opinion, have other, perhaps unrelated clinical symptoms such as mental health issues (which you hadn’t being asked to treat
  4. how you are to liaise with the different departments in the hospital (transferring patients from one department to another or calling in a specialist from another area
  5. Ensuring that appropriate follow up is provided by others (eg physiotherapy).
  6. how treatment protocols differ (drug / equipment differences and general way of doing things)
  7. what are the responsibilities of other healthcare professionals (eg nurses) and how that differs from what happens in your country

4)         “Why have you chosen [Location] as a place to work and live?”

As well as looking up the tourist information, it is worth checking Wikipedia for information: http://www.wikipedia.org/

You might also want to explain about the good opportunities that the client offers in terms of career / clinical experience / training.

5)            “What have you found out about the hospital or clinic (ie your prospective employer) and / or the local area?” You should be knowledgeable about the employer – how big it is, where the hospitals are located, how it fits in with rest of the health service in that country etc

6)            “Why do you want to come and live / work in the [country]?” The usual answers are: better opportunities for clinical development; chance to develop knowledge and skills within another country which I can then use if I return to my home country; better financial prospects (don’t worry about saying this, it is perfectly OK to want to earn some more money).

7)            The interview itself may be quite short. Do not worry about this – it can be quite normal for that employer. However, they’ll expect you to ask them questions about the job – what kind of rota, how many other doctors in the rota, how big is the hospital / clinic, what type of theatre work, what type of admissions they have, when does the job start etc? You should have a range of questions ready to ask them and you should make clear to the interviewer that you have questions that you’d like to ask. (ie they won’t necessarily say to you: “ Do you have any questions?”. Rather, they expect you to say “Please may I ask a question?”)

If these notes raise more questions than answers, please feel free to contact me on paul@euhealthstaff.eu or +44 1483 763102 for more information or a general discussion.


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