So, you’ve got through the application process and completed the MSRA. I know it feels like a long process, but you are nearly there. Next up is the interview. And unfortunately, again preparation is key. In this article, I hope to talk you through the interview process as well as give you some tips about how I prepared for my interview.
The interview structure
Firstly, let’s look at how it’s set out this year. Over the last few years as a result of the pandemic, the process has changed, with last year being the first-year online interviews were conducted. This year’s online interview structure is as follows. It will be a 30-minute interview with 3 assessors (2 if the pandemic gets worse), each giving you a score out of 50. The first 15 minutes will be on a clinical scenario and the second 15 minutes will be a general interview.
You will be scored on various domains in each section.
The clinical section will score you on
- decision making
- team working
- working under pressure
The general interview will score you on
- Commitment to specialty
- Qualifications & experience
- Involvement in either teaching, QI, Audit and research.
It is really important to have these domains at the forefront of your mind when preparing for and conducting the interview. You can max out in one domain and neglect another leading to less overall points.
So how did I prepare for my interview last year? The first thing I’d recommend is to start early but gently. You can really burn yourself out with interview preparation and start to overthink your answers.
Plan your answers
The first thing I did was learn how to structure my answers. The best book for this is the ISC medical interviews textbook with chapter one giving you excellent frameworks and structures to help you design your answers.
What I did was write down some answers using these frameworks to common expected interview questions (e.g., Why do you want to do anaesthetics/ why you think you’d be a good anaesthetic trainee etc.).
The second thing is to have personal clinical experiences that could easily be drawn upon if needed. I’d recommend preparing these examples in such a way that they are quick to explain and target the scoring domains.
Practise your answers
Once you have planned for your interview, the next thing is to practice. Personally, I found it very difficult practising on my own in a mirror, so I recruited lots of people to help me out. I aimed to have 2 or 3 practice interviews with senior clinicians each week for the few weeks leading up to the interview. It is helpful having anaesthetic SHOs, registrars and consultants but it is not essential for all of your practices to be with these kinds of doctors. Most senior doctors will have been through an interview process so will know how to approach a medical interview. It’s better to ask earlier as clinicians are notorious to be tied down. As your interview is online, I’d recommend doing your practices online.
Learn from mistakes and feedback
Now for the worst bit. I’d strongly recommend timing and recording yourself. It really helps improve your answer’s structure and your overall flow. I know it’s hard. I listened to hours and hours of my monotonous tones explain why I want to be an anaesthetist. It’s not fun but it helps. Don’t forget to record the feedback as well. This is often where I got the best learning points from.
When it gets to the interview day, it’s really all about doing the basics well. Smile, look into the camera, answer the questions they ask you (not the ones you wish they’d asked you) and have the domains in the back of your mind. The difference between candidates is so narrow so don’t be disheartened if nothing comes of it. On a different day, you could have given the exact same answers and got more points. I’d recommend requesting your feedback even if you get an offer, as this may highlight some areas you can improve.
I hope this article helps you prepare for your anaesthetic interview. If you’d like to know more about the recruitment process or building an anaesthetic portfolio, I’d recommend reading my other articles! And if you’d like more information about the anaesthetic interviews, go to the ANRO website and read the person specification, scoring sheet and application guidance.