NHS Interview Experience by Dr Sanaa Moledina

What does the interview of a Trust grade post in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) look like?

Interviews can be really be daunting, however, the interview for your first job in the NHS can be almost nerve-wrecking! There’s a lot that goes through the mind: you fret about yourself and your capabilities; you brood over the unfamiliar panelists and you agonize over the questions that they might ask you; you mentally pit yourself against the other candidates and the list goes on.

I was in the same boat- well, not really but kind of. I had done a few months of clinical attachment at the same Trust, but the interview was still petrifying- to say the least! I, however, managed to clear the interview, and this blog intends to give you a sneak-peak into my first ever interview in the NHS (within CAMHS as a FY3) and tips about how you can prepare yourself for one too.

Before we dive into the interview prep, you should gather a few essentials:

  1. The job description that the Trust has provided to you. It is usually the job advert given on the job’s website.
  2. Your CV or your job profile.
  3. NHS website, NICE guidelines and the BNFc (very handy!)

My interview had 2 general questions and 2 scenario-based questions.

Let the interview begin!

The interview usually starts with a cliché question: It could look like:

  1. Tell us more about yourself and your experience in psychiatry [I got this question]
  2. Take us through your CV and why do you think that you’re a suitable candidate for this job.

The answers of these two questions is the same! You can use the following format to answer the question:

  1. General introduction (name and country of origin)
  2. Education (start from medical school then IELTS and PLAB)
  3. Career (House-job/internship (mention the internship in psychiatry, if applicable) then discuss any clinical experience after it).

TIP: While you talk about your work experience, give a few highlights of what you were expected to do in those roles.

BONUS TIP: Use words like MDT, liaison, pharmacovigilance, safeguarding, risk assessment, crisis management, research, and quality improvement.

  • Audit and Research experience: Talk about both published and unpublished researches. Link your researches to mental health, if possible. Talk about any research or audit related courses that you have attended.
  • Teaching experience: Talk about your formal and informal teaching experiences.
  • Innovation/leadership/bringing change: Talk about how you have tried to bring any change within your medical school, workplace, or the community.

TIP: Your answer to your first question should flow like a story. Try to connect the different themes. Maybe make a mnemonic to remind you the different headings.

The interviewers can then ask you another general question. You can get any of the following questions:

  1. Other than work, what else do you enjoy and why?
  2. What are your weaknesses?

[I got asked: What would be one quality of yours that your colleagues would absolutely hate?]

  • What are your strengths?
  • What can you bring to our team?
  • How do you maintain work-life balance?
  • Why psychiatry and why CAMHS?
  • What makes you a good doctor in psychiatry?
  • Explain to us the roles and responsibilities that might be expected from you as a Trust Grade doctor. 

Sometimes, the general questions can be a bit tacky. You can be asked:

  • Why should we pick you for the job?

For this question, refer to the job description and say all the points in the job description that align with your portfolio. You can talk about all the roles and responsibilities that are expected of a Trust Grade doctor: Talk about your experience in:

  1. Clinical practice- particularly psychiatry.
  2. Working in an MDT setting.
  3. Medications and safeguarding.
  4. Research and audits/QIPs.
  5. Teaching and providing medical education.
  6. Innovation and introduction of change at hospital.
  • Why did you select this job?

For this question, begin by talking about the Trust, the area of the hospital (the hotspots in the area), the timings and the days of the job, about it being a Trust grade job (and not a training job; so that you have some time to familiarize yourself with the system) and the incentives and learning opportunities that the job offers (refer to the job description).

Now let us move to the scenario-based questions.

The hot topics for you to read would be:

  1. Depression and its treatment (learn the drugs and their doses)
  2. ADHD and its treatment [stimulants and non-stimulants]
  3. Autism and its management
  4. Eating disorders, their diagnostic criterion and classification, and their management [the marsipan protocol]
  5. Psychosis and its management
  6. Mental Health Act (criterion and assessment)
  7. Pillars of clinical governance
  8. Rapid tranquilisation protocol
  9. Suicide risk assessment
  10. MSE
  11. Antidepressants (particularly sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram) and their side-effects and monitoring
  12. Antipsychotics and their side-effects

The two clinical scenarios I got were:

  1. You have been called to the Paediatrics ward for a patient who has been medically managed after an attempt on his life. How would your consultation look like?
  2. You are the on-call doctor who has been called to the AnE for a 12-year-old girl who looks emaciated. She is refusing to get weighed. How will you approach the situation?

b) You are convinced that it is an eating disorder, then how will you proceed with the management?

After the four questions, I was asked if I had any questions for the panelists?

My advice would be to always ask questions- this shows your interest in the job. I asked the following:

  1. How the Trust will support me with getting my CREST competencies signed.
  2. Can I shadow the Consultants on-call if I want to learn more?
  3. Will I be provided with an online portfolio?
  4. The online trainings and competences that the Trust makes available to the new doctors.
  5. Presence of pastoral support within the Trust.

A few tips for you:

  1. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. I can’t stress on this enough. Practice with someone and practice alone. Nothing can boost your confidence like practice does.
  2. Be original. Do not rote-learn books and YouTube interview clips etc. Be real. Be yourself. They have a penchant for originality.
  3. Do not stress. Try to relax before the interview.
  4. Smile! It can work wonders.
  5. Print a professional development plan (PDP: Google it). Keep it with you during your interview.
  6. Dress elegantly- goes without saying.
  7. Check the meeting link and internet connection beforehand (DO NOT BE LATE!)

You have passed medical school and PLAB so you can easily triumph over this interview too.

I hope this little guide helped. Good luck xx

Sanaa (moledina.sanaa@gmail.com)

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