I always wanted to do a teaching fellow year, so I took the first opportunity I had after completing my foundation training. After filling out the application form, I received interviews within a couple of weeks of the application deadline. The interview window was a couple of weeks after that. Read my other article about the application process here.
How long did it take to prepare for the interviews?
Depending on various factors such as your learning style, whether you’ve had any other post-graduate interviews amongst others, the preparation time could vary. It took me around two weeks, an hour each evening, after work. This did not include the work I put into the application form etc.
What is the interview format?
All interviews I had involved a panel of Undergraduate Academy Dean, the office manager or administrator and sometimes one of the current clinical teaching fellows. The interviews would last between 10 to 20 minutes. They were all online using Microsoft Teams. But this is likely to change and become in-person.
Step 1: Research the course
Each job is different. Find out exactly what the course is like (lecture-based vs Cased based learning). I cannot emphasise this enough! The most important question (according to one of my current employers who interviewed me) was my knowledge of the structure of the undergraduate curriculum. Use the University’s website as a starting point. Another thing I did was contact the job advertiser in advance. I asked them to put me in touch with one of the current teaching fellows. You can get the ins and outs of what it is exactly like to do that job, the format of teaching and the structure of the course. This will also come across really well if you can mention it in your interview as it shows preparedness and confidence that you know what you are signing yourself up for.
Step 2: Know the Job structure
You need to know about the job in advance. There is a range of teaching jobs ranging from 80/20 (four days a week of teaching, one day a week clinical), a 50/50 (alternative teaching and clinical weeks), etc. Again speaking to one of the current CTFs is invaluable.
Step 3: Particular tasks to prepare before the interview
- Prioritise these tasks in the order of urgency
- Student coming to the office crying
- One of the teachers has called in sick, but you are delivering a teaching session yourself
- Student consistently missing sessions
- A note from the manager saying call the primary care lead as they want to discuss a project with you
This was given to me as a pre-interview task, which I had to number in order of priority and explain the rationale behind my prioritisation. It goes without saying that the student’s welfare is priority number one. This has become a big part of the role of a teaching fellow, so make sure you mention this multiple times throughout your interview.
- Teach us a non-clinical topic for 5 mins
Sometimes you are expected to do a 5-minute teaching session on a topic of your choice (usually non-clinical). However, this only came up in one out of my four interviews, and I was not given an advanced warning for it. So I recommend having something ready to present if you were asked to do so on the spot. Make it fun! I taught them how to make the perfect poached egg. I recommend not going for a clinical topic, as they might find that boring, especially if you are the 10th candidate of the day.
Step 4: Other example questions
- Tell us a bit about yourself:
- The university you went to
- Your previous jobs
- What you are planning on doing further down the line (CST training)
2. Why do you want to become a CTF at this point in your career?
- Mention your teaching experiences
- Mention you want to get training in teaching (PG cert in teaching)
- Teaching is something I want to take forward with me throughout my career
3. What are you planning on doing after your CTF year?
4. Why do you want to become a teaching fellow?
5. Tell us about your teaching experience.
- Don’t make a list, or if you do get through it quickly before focusing on one or two bigger teaching experiences you have had
- mention what you learned from it
6. What are some of the challenges you might face when teaching?
- Deadlines for projects/PGCert
- Students being late/not engaging
7. Why this hospital and not others?
8. How would you deal with a crying student?
- Always prioritise this. Like most difficult encounter scenarios, I applied a SPIES framework as below:
- Seek information: Take them to a nice quiet room. If you have other commitments, let them know that you are delaying them by at least 10 or 15 mins. Explore their concerns. Empathise with the student
- Patient safety (not relevant)
- Initiative: offer solutions if can think of any, e.g. helping them to find clinical practice skills one to one or facilitating them taking time off due to stress
- Escalate: ask the student whether they want you to discuss this with the Dean or undergraduate manager at your hospital.
- Support: signpost them to welfare services such as BMA helpline, their GP, university welfare lead.
9. What is your understanding of our curriculum?
10. What is your understanding of the PGCert in Medical Education that you are expected to do
11. Give us an example of a project that you are proud of?
12. Give us an example of when you had to deal with someone’s feeling low and how you supported them.
- Apply the SPIES framework as above
13. If there is an element of clinical rotation, they will give you an acutely unwell patient and ask you to assess them (using A-E approach)?
- Septic patient post-op: talk through and A to E. Always escalate
14. Give us an example of an audit or quality improvement project you were a part of.
- This caught me off guard, but luckily had done one, so I was able to talk about it.
I have enjoyed my year as a teaching fellow. It is a very rewarding job with a completely different set of challenges to that of a clinical job. They have become very competitive recently as a lot of post-graduate training pathways reward experience and training in teaching, both of which are possible through this job. I hope you have found this article useful, and I wish you all the best for your interview.