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Top medical tips for CT/ST interviews 


Certainly, I can offer you medical interview tips and advice for your forthcoming CT/ST interview. Firstly, these are fairly short interviews normally lasting 30-40 minutes and usually comprising of three or four stations that each based on a different theme. Each station is approximately 10-12 mins long. However, one of my top medical interview tips is to be prepared for the unexpected! Do be aware that there may be exceptions to this as some candidates have had interviews in the past that consisted of one single 30-minute station.

The stations may vary depending on your speciality or deanery but in general, you are likely to have three or four stations based on key areas. 

Read on for my medical interview tips and a breakdown of stations typical for a CT/ST interview…. 

Medical interview tips and how to prepare for CT/ST roles 

The following advice and medical interview tips can help you to understand what is expected at your CT/ST interview:-

Clinical station

This normally includes a range of clinical scenarios that you would usually be expected to handle. Some of the scenarios are straightforward, but others may be expecting you to take a good educated guess. 

Practical station

In some specialities, candidates may be asked to demonstrate practical. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to prepare for this station as you will just need to know your clinical skills. Such practical stations tend to be reserved for surgery-related specialities.

General, Motivation & Teaching station

These questions tend to relate to your interest in your chosen specialty and the deanery, together with your career plans and an understanding of how you’ve developed your interest in the specialty. Typically, the general station also deals with teaching skills.

Academic & Clinical Governance station

Most interviews will have an academic station. However, in some interviews, there may actually be two academic stations. For example, one may be specifically on Audit and Research and another one on other topics such as Risk Management or Teaching. Academic stations take the form of a traditional question and answer session. For example, you may be asked to talk about an audit which had a significant impact. The interviewers may then enquire further about the detail of your experience e.g. how you selected the standard, what you role was, what changed as a result. Other questions will include your experience of Research and your understanding of research principles, the importance of it, etc. 

Critical Appraisal station

In many specialities,  candidates have been asked to critically appraise a paper, at all ST levels, including ST1. Preparation time may be variable between 20 and 40 minutes, followed by a 5 – 10 minute presentation. The purpose of this station is for you to demonstrate an understanding of how critical appraisals should be approached. This could include questions of a clinical nature, based on the topic being discussed; it also often includes questions on research or ethical principles such as “What do you consider to be the ethical issues involved in this paper?”  It can be helpful to have some experience of research in order to perform well at this station. However, through attending journal clubs you can start to prepare for this (particularly at the lower ST grades).   

Role Play

Role play may be a requirement in some specialties to test communication skills, particularly around breaking bad news or dealing with ethical issues. For this reason, these stations are similar to those used for the recruitment of GP trainees. Their purpose is to assess your approach towards patients and your ability to demonstrate empathy and showcase your communication and listening skills, ability to summarise information using simple language, build rapport with patients and deal with conflict calmly and rationally. They are not designed to test your clinical skills, therefore the clinical content of the role play section is limited. 

There have been occasions where role-play was introduced unexpectedly in a normal clinical station, or an ethics station which may be a little disconcerting and you should therefore be prepared for the unexpected, even if you have not actually been told that your interview will involve a role play station. 

Group discussion station

The primary reason for group discussions is to test your interaction with others and less so of your clinical knowledge, although having an appreciation of your specialty and its NHS context is clearly important. Interviewers are testing your ability to influence and actively engage with other members of the group and to see how you might find a solution to a given problem within a team environment consisting of different personalities. The groups are divided up into four to six candidates each and the discussion topics could range from dealing with an ethical problem, managing a difficult case, to a current NHS issue.


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