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Consultant interview tips

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i. The emphasis of the interview is:

  • What is good about you?
  • What have you achieved?
  • Where does your potential lie?
  • How can you integrate?
  • Why are you better than the other candidates?

ii. What are your objectives?

  • To gain the initiative
  • To present yourself in the best possible light
  • To make known your talents and expertise

iii. What are the interviewer’s objectives?

  • To find the most suitable person
  • To encourage you to express yourself fully
  • To look for specific skills and achievements
  • To sell the job and the organisation
  • To assess your initial impact and social fit
  • To appoint the right person

iv. Tips

You want to convince the panel that you will bring enhanced benefits to the organisation. Candidates will be remembered if they are distinctive, have something interesting to say and can make a unique contribution. Therefore, consider what you have got that makes you special and what makes you fit in.

Review the job description and identify how you would fulfil each of the key tasks outlined. Watch that you are not seen as overconfident. Your initial impact is vital.

When you enter the interview room, remember to close the door behind you, walk forward confidently, respond to offered handshakes, wait until you are asked to sit and remain quiet but alert for the opening question.

Remember to dress smartly and appear well groomed.

Use positive body language - e.g. rest hands on your lap; be comfortable and relaxed; keep head raised and listening; make constant eye contact and smile. The overall demeanour should be "confident humility".

Avoid negative body language - fidgeting; biting nails; crossing arms; clasping chair; getting distracted; tapping feet, etc.

Remember to project yourself confidently in a clear, controlled and steady voice that can be easily understood. Use a range of tones, pause before speaking and speak slightly slower than normal.

v. When answering questions:


Listen carefully to the question. Don’t make them ask it more than once.

Make eye contact with the interviewer before speaking. Address the person who asked the question. However, glance around to engage the whole panel.

Adopt a relaxed posture; sit squarely in the chair.

Keep to the point; aim to be precise; give a full answer and do not waffle. Give a framework - "Three aspects to this; one, ..."

Structure your answer; it should be logical and clearly understood.

It is fine to say "I don’t know".

Avoid using jargon.

Speak confidently, so that you can be heard.

Do not speak too quickly or slowly.

Be enthusiastic and positive.

Give evidence of what you say - use your track record of success; don't be too modest but don’t make it up. Give plenty of work-related examples.

At the end of the interview, take your leave as smoothly and politely as possible. Do not add any afterthoughts, and thank the panel for their time through the Chairman.

Top tips

Remember, performance, and ultimately your success, is a result of thorough preparation. Take time to practise. Practice develops performance in all things; interviews are no exception.
Get a colleague to give you a mock interview.

Preparing for the interview
Be prepared to do at least 10-20 hours of reading.

There are hundreds of possible questions, but they all boil down to 10-15 themes (discussed later). It is vitally important that you spend some time brainstorming your ideas on each of these topics. Take four or five questions from each theme (teaching, research, difficult colleague etc.) and brainstorm them. Then see how you can structure your answer using three or four bullet points. This will help recall on the day of the interview. Don’t try to write down all your answers word by word - there is a real risk that you will sound rehearsed and, worse, may forget the content of your answers.

Don’t try to memorise answers.

Remember, interviewers generally allow up to 2-3 minutes per question. So you should aim for 1.5-2 minutes for your answers, allowing time for the question to be asked and supplementary questions.

Formulating your answers

Answers should be 1.5-2 minutes long

A good answer generally has three to four key points.

Good answers should be your bullet points and then expansion statements. Provide your message at the beginning of the answer, if possible. You can substantiate the message in the later part of your answer. For example: I am a really valued member of the team because….

Provide objective examples to substantiate your statements. This is very important. For example, it is no good saying that you are a team player unless you provide examples to back up your statement. An appropriate answer would be: I am a good team player. In my last 360 degree appraisal I was rated very highly as a team player. Further, my consultants often praise me for being a great team player.
In every answer you give, look for the opportunity to show the panel just how much wider reading you have done

Are interview courses any good?


Attending a course helps, in that it allows mock interview. You can achieve the same objective if a consultant or senior colleague is willing to help you with mock interviews.

If you were to attend an interview course, attend one with a small group. Small groups allow you to discuss good and bad answers and obtain personal feedback on your own technique.

If you are attending a course, attend it only after you have done the basic preparations yourself.
Interview courses can only fine-tune your preparation. They aren't designed to organise your preparative thinking from the bottom up.

Dressing the part

  • Men could wear a conventional pinstripe suit and white shirt.
  • Women could wear a simple black dress (skirt/trousers)
  • Hair should be clean and dry. Fingernails should be clean or painted with a pale colour.
  • Glasses should be freshly polished

 AAGBI article 'Preparing for the consultant interview'

AnaesthesiaUK would like to thank consultantmedicalinterview.com for allowing us to reproduce their material.

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