NHS interview questions and answers – let’s examine them!

When it comes to NHS interview questions and answers, many follow a standard rule. I’ve picked a few more which crop up repeatedly in NHS interviews for doctors and nurses.
Often, I find that candidates struggle more with seemingly straightforward NHS interview questions and answers. Remember, the panel are not there to ‘catch you out,’ they are only seeking the right candidate. So here’s my advice on a few more of some of those NHS interview questions and answers …
1)   Tell us about a conflict you managed at work?
Nearly all of my clients, tell me that they don’t have conflicts at work which I fully understand. Most clinicians don’t tend to be the argumentative types!  And many can work out disagreements between themselves through open and fair discussion. To be honest, that is ALL the interviewers are looking for. They are testing your communication skills including your ability to negotiate, to be flexible, to speak up for yourself or others. They want to know you can address the conflict rather than burying you head in the sand. Colleagues are entitled to a different opinion but you should demonstrate that you can resolve them amicably. At the same time, ensuring you keep a good working relationship within the team.
Do bear in mind that the focus of the answer shouldn’t be the outcome of a clinical scenario. I commonly hear the client running away with the story of what happened to the patient. Yet the most important part should be to focus on how they managed the conflict. That is the critical part of your response so bear that in mind to this common NHS interview question and answer.

2)   Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Who really knows?! A lot can happen in 5 years and not everyone knows where they want their career to end up. However, you should balance your answer with some level of honesty and what the recruiter needs to hear
Depending on the role you’re applying for, you should generally think about developing your clinical leadership/management skills. Or how you would like to develop yourself academically. For example, as an educator/teacher and/or research projects you would like to carry out in the future. However, do be careful that you focus on what the role actually requires. As an example, don’t focus too heavily on research if it’s advertised as a service-driven role.
There’s no right or wrong response but you need to plan carefully for this NHS interview question and answer. Tell the panel how you would like to develop in your career in whichever direction that is authentic for you. And ideally, that you see yourself working in the trust for a number of years to come.

3)   How do you manage pressure?

We know that medical and healthcare professionals have been hugely challenged by working solidly throughout the pandemic. The pressure for all has been enormous
But most people wouldn’t choose a clinical profession if they couldn’t handle at least some pressure. Therefore, it takes a certain kind of person who can generally cope fairly well under challenging circumstances.
In more recent times, the word that is often associated with this competency in NHS interviews questions, is ‘resilience’. This means the ability to ‘bounce back.’ So the best approach to answering this question is to share examples of where you have shown resilience. This may include your ability to stay calm in a crisis, to problem-solve and think creatively around a problem. Or it could demonstrate resourcefulness, communication and delegation skills. It also includes how you offload/share difficult cases in a professional context and ensure your practice remains safe. Ideally, talk about a hobby or outlet that helps you to relax and demonstrates that you are a well-rounded individual.
For more senior healthcare roles, you could also include how you support team members who are working under a lot of pressure.

4)  Do you consider yourself to be a good communicator?

Well, there’s only one answer to this and that’s ‘yes’! Of course, you need to follow through with a few examples, as everything you claim needs to be backed-up. Try to give a broad range of examples. For example, breaking bad news to a patient, receiving excellent feedback from a group of medical students about lectures you’ve delivered. Also, consider your written skills too ie. writing clear and concise medical notes, your ability to resolve disagreements effectively (see above). Include how you build excellent relationships within the department and across wider teams including partners in primary/secondary care.
Talk about how you’re open to constructive criticism and feedback from others (we all have our blind spots and 360 degree feedback can be helpful in recognising our own). Medicine and healthcare involves continuous improvement in all areas including our personal qualities.
For more senior posts, you could also focus on advanced communication skills. Talk about influencing or persuading the board to spend money on developing a new service for patients.

5) What makes a good team player?

Firstly, note the way the question is asked … it doesn’t ask about you directly, but it ALWAYS IS about you! Don’t make the classic mistake of talking about the skills of good team player without talking about yourself and giving relevant examples. It’s easily done and this style of questioning can pop up in other areas too so watch out for it and make sure that every answer is about you. Do this even if the way the interview question has been posed is not so obvious.
There are many different types of examples that you can give to demonstrate your team working skills. Some of the qualities to mention might include flexibility, your proactive teamwork ethic, your support towards your colleagues. Consider team loyalty and commitment, shared learning, how you work collaboratively with others to deliver best patient care. Bring in examples from MDT meetings where you work together with other healthcare professionals.
Working as a medical or healthcare professional can never be a role carried out in isolation. It relies heavily on teamworking, no matter how junior or senior you are. This is a very important competency to convey and it’s best to have a good few examples ready to share. 

6. Provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated equality and diversity at work?

This particular NHS interview question is being increasingly asked. The NHS takes Equality and diversity seriously particularly when it comes to patient care and co-workers. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have planned a couple of good examples. Although it may sound challenging, there will be many cases where you have taken equality and diversity in to consideration and may not actually realised. For example, did you go out of your way to support someone who is hard of hearing or visually impaired? Did you ensure you had an interpreter ready for your consultation with a patient that didn’t speak English? 

It’s also important to also show these considerations where possible within your other answers as well. They will likely align with the trusts values and be given a higher weighing to your answers within the NHS interview scoring system.

If you would like support with your upcoming interview and how best to answer NHS interview questions, please do get in contact to book one or more medical interview coaching sessions.
More advice on applications and NHS interview questions and answers can be offered here at NHS Jobs. Or you can gain a strong understanding of competency questions through HEE.