Consultant interviews – a new consultant’s perspective
Once you approach the end of training the daunting
prospect of the consultant interview is upon you.
Hopefully you will have an idea of where you want
to work – choosing a department that offers you not
only the clinical and non-clinical opportunities that
you want, but also one with colleagues that you would
like to spend the next potentially 30 years of your life
working alongside. After you have painstakingly filled
out the job application (and this always takes longer
than you think) and have been shortlisted, the fun
really begins. Just remember that you need to prepare
for it like anything else, with lots of practice, which for
me involved a lot of background reading, an interview
course and a lot of grilling from friends and colleagues!
It’s not just the interview itself that you need to prepare for,
part of the preparation also involves meeting people,
preparing your CV and making sure you are ready to look
the part. There is always the challenge of who to meet prior
to the interview. Department Leads, the College Tutor, if you
are applying for a subspecialty role (paediatrics, neuro, pain,
or a combined ICM job, for example) then their leads too.
Don’t forget theatre managers and hospital management; ask
for advice from colleagues as everywhere is different. These
meetings can vary from someone telling you all about their
vision for the department or hospital (with very little space for
you to talk), through to you being grilled as though this was
your interview, so be prepared for any eventuality. Do I give
people a copy of my CV? You will never make everyone happy
with your CV, some will want a full CV, some a précis on two
pages, a hard copy or an emailed PDF. The most important
thing is that you are comfortable with what you are giving them,
after all it represents you.
Finally, the interview. This may or may not involve a
presentation. If it does, have several formats of your slides
available just in case there is an IT failure on the day, ask to see
the room in advance so you know the equipment and layout.
The interview panel may appear like a firing squad – the panel
sitting around a very large table and all looking directly at you!
The panel will be diverse – from the College representative to a
lay chair, several members of the anaesthetic department and
maybe an academic or manager. Be confident – smile!
Remember it’s not the same as a viva, there is not necessarily
a right or wrong answer to many of the questions, it should be
a conversation between you and the panel members, so be
yourself. We often find it really difficult to talk about ourselves
– this is not the time to be shy, you need to be able to sell
yourself and all your accomplishments. The one thing you can
be guaranteed to be asked about is yourself!
After my own interview someone said to me that appointing a
substantive consultant, seeing that culmination of many years
of hard work, for it to come down to that one last hurdle, and
to then tell that candidate they are successful – well there is
nothing quite like it.
Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust