Getting through the interview. Before.

Picture1Congrats! You got shortlisted for the interview!

Now all you have to do is get through the process so that if, on the day, you are the best person, you are able to appear at your best, and you stand a good chance of getting appointed.

This begins with the pre-interview visits … you need to visit if are short listed, even if you are the local candidate.  In fact, especially if you are the local candidate. 

The purpose of the pre interview visits

  • To discuss the post with people who hold a stake in the post you are applying for. Usually you will not have had the opportunity to question relevant consultants and managers about the post and the development of the specialty as a potential future colleague.
  • Senior managers and consultants in your specialty like to meet the people with whom they could be working for the rest of their careers.
  • To look around the department, Trust and locality.
  • To leave a copy of your CV with various people, which can say more about you than the application form.

Who should you see?

In short, you should see everyone on the interview panel, except the lay chair, college advisor, university and human resources representatives.   In addition, if they aren’t on the panel, you should also see:

  • The chief executive
  • The medical director
  • The clinical director
  • Consultant colleagues
    • In the department in which you will be working
    • Who will be affected significantly by your appointment
  • The business manager for your area; ask the clinical director who this should be.

Be aware that you’ll often be met by a lot of people you are not going to be interviewed by – for example, the senior secretary or charge nurse – and it may be that your attitude there influences the way folk feel about you.

How do you arrange visits?

  • Some trusts will arrange visits for you on a set day.
  • Otherwise, obtain the relevant contact numbers from the personnel department and contact secretaries individually.

Preparation before the visit

Find out as much as you can about the trust so that you can ask relevant questions. Ask the personnel department, the chief executive’s office or the press office for:

  • The annual report
  • Promotional material e.g. newsletters

Check the trust’s website and get reports from regulatory bodies.  Talk to specialists in the field of paediatrics you will be applying for, and to consultants and trainees who work there or refer to the hospital if you don’t know it.  One of the authors rang a hospital he was applying to and asked to be put through to the paediatric registrar, and made arrangements to chat to them when convenient as to what the department was like – “if you were applying for jobs, would you want to work there?”

What to ask

There’s no ideal list of questions to ask. But be realistic.  Think ahead about what that person has responsibilities for, and recognise that if you ask the chief executive “what is your vision for my specialty?” you may look a bit daft.   With over 40 specialties, most CEOs will look to their consultants for their vision for their area. The CEO will want to talk more generally about their vision and plans for the hospital.

Take copies of your CV and be prepared to leave them with individuals.

This is your chance to interview them.  Ask about:

  • The long term aims, organisation and development of your specialty.
  • The development of your specialty
  • What opportunities will you have?
  • Chances for professional development
  • What are they looking for in the post holder?
  • Discuss any queries you have about the job itself.  You might want to get some of the nitty gritty – what sort of support you will have including secretarial time, office space, how your colleagues will integrate you into the team, what the rota looks like, and so on.

This means that at the end of this pre-interview work, you may have decided that you may not want the job after all. Be honest with yiourself and the people you have met. This is a decade – or so – of your life you’re likely to be committing to. Don’t do it lightly.

  • Ian Wacogne, Vin Diwakar, Helen Jenkinson

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