Consultant pre-interview visits – what to talk about? | Association of Anaesthetists

Consultant pre-interview visits – what to talk about?

Consultant pre-interview visits – what to talk about?

Data gathered by the Royal College of Anaesthetists indicate that there are, on average, 350 anaesthetic Advisory Appointment Committees (AACs) supported by the College each year. The total number of consultant posts appointed to nationally will be in excess of this as Foundation Trusts are not obliged to seek College representation on their panels. In addition, some AACs cover more than one post. College records indicate that 400-450 anaesthetists enter the Specialist Register each year via training schemes, plus those who achieve ‘equivalence’ or move to the UK from overseas. Supply and demand are, therefore, quite finely balanced so it is important to put yourself in the best position possible to secure the job of your dreams!

An AAC is a legally constituted interview panel that must include five core members or their representatives: a lay member (usually the Chairman of the Trust or other Non- Executive Director); a College Assessor; the Chief Executive of the Trust; the Medical Director; and, a consultant representative from the Trust, usually from the relevant specialty. AACs for posts with research or teaching responsibilities will also have a university representative.

Shortlisting for the post will be determined by your application and sometimes CV. Once you have been shortlisted, you need to put yourself in the best position possible for the day of interview. You should be notified of the names of the panel members when you are sent details of the interview. You should expect to meet, or at the very least, have a telephone conversation with the Chief Executive, Medical Director and specialty consultant. Make contact with the Chairman or Non-Executive Director but don’t be surprised if they decline your offer to visit. The College assessor (there to advise on your training and qualifications) and university representative wouldn’t be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the post, so don’t arrange to meet them.

Pre-interview visits do not form part of the appointment process but the panel will still get an impression of you when they meet, so make sure it’s a good one. Do your homework about the Trust and the department you want to join - there is nothing worse than a candidate who has not researched the place they want to work in for up to 30 years! Find out if the department has had a recent peer review, ACSA visit or if the Trust has had a CQC inspection recently. Get hold of the reports and skim read them for salient points. Go onto the Trust website and read any recent Trust Board papers. You can often pick up topics to discuss with the Chief Executive or Medical Director from those. The Board papers also will give an indication of the Trust’s financial position, operational performance and quality measures.

Pick up clues

Use the pre-interview visit to pick up clues for your interview. When you meet, ask the Chief Executive about the wider Trust strategy and how they see the Department of Anaesthesia helping with that. Ask about their priorities for the organisation and challenges they face. Speak to the Medical Director about clinical matters - quality and safety performance and involvement of the consultant body in quality improvement. The specialty consultant (often the Clinical Director or Lead) is the person to talk to about the job itself. Find out what you need to know about rotas and the proposed job plan. Does it meet your needs and is there anything in particular that they need from the new appointee that you can talk about at interview? Finally, when visiting the Trust, don’t waste the opportunity to call into the department and see if there are any staff available you can talk to, either prospective consultant colleagues or trainees, to help give an insight into the culture of the department.

Julian Berlet
Consultant Anaesthetist
Divisional Medical Director
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust