Aceing an interview

A Simple Guide To… Aceing An Interview

Throughout your medical career, you will have multiple interviews. Regardless of the post you’re applying for – people want to KNOW who they’re going to be working with.

Below we’ve written, from experience the Top 10 things we’d recommend to ensure you walk out of that interview room with an accomplished sigh of relief and your head held high!

1. Be Prepared

2. Plan your time

3. Know your audience

4. Structure your answers

5. Be mindful of your body language

6. Turn off your phone

7. Honesty is key

8. Dress the part

9. Ensure you are rested

And last but not least…..10. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

1. Be Prepared

Preparation is everything when it comes to performing well in an interview. A little research beforehand can avoid a lot of embarrassment and anxiety later on!

With lots of interviews moving online, it’s important to be in an area with a stable internet connection. Download the platform (often Zoom or MS Teams) and test it out beforehand with a friend/family member when the pressure is off. Familiarise yourself with the general layout so that on the day there are no surprises.

N.B. There’s no guarantee that the Interviewer’s internet will be stable. If they have any issues, this will never be held against you. It just might mean rescheduling.

Sometimes interviews can be via phone – this, like with all interviews can have pros and cons. As the interviewer is not able to see you – often it helps to have common answers to interview questions written down so you can be prompted if need be!

Plan your time: If your interview is face to face, how long is it going to take to get there? Are there likely to be any unexpected delays?

It’s always best to arrive 30 minutes before your start time.

That way you’ve left time for any potential last minute issues and if you are early, you can get yourself a drink beforehand.

Research your job role – know what you’re applying for and what it entails. If you’re going for a foundation programme – what is it that foundation trainees do? What’s expected of them? It’s important to know for your own sake but these also may be questions in the interview. Interviewers will want to know you’ve researched the job and what it entails.

Speak to previous interviewees – if you happen to know someone who’s done the interview/a similar interview before, it can take an enormous amount of pressure off as they will have first-hand experience!

This way you can find out the layout (stations, panel etc), the general format of questions and their experience of it all.

If you don’t know anyone who’s sat an interview, there are plenty of online forums which can often help!

2. Plan your time

This is probably one of the most challenging things to do, as interviews can naturally be quite daunting. In spite of preparation and practising over and over again, it can often be hard to rid yourself of the nerves.

The ideal situation to be in is being calm and collected enough to think clearly and systematically answer questions.

The “STOPP” technique has been advised by many councillors and therapists to aid with mindfulness.

S – Stop whatever you’re doing

T – Take a breath

O – Observe; what am I thinking? what am I feeling?

P – Pull back – how would someone else see this situation

P – Practice what works – what’s the best thing to do for me in this situation

Other things to help you stay calm could involve taking a walk beforehand and planning a nice treat to look forward to afterwards. Remember at the end of the day, it’s just a conversation!

3. Know your audience

It’s so important to know who will be interviewing you, mainly so that you can have an idea about the kind of things they’ll be asking, but also it shows you’ve done your research.

This information isn’t always available but often you have a vague idea. From our experience, when you apply nationally through Oriel for a GMC approved training post – you are often interviewed by consultants of that specialty/various specialties (depending on the post you’re applying for).

In contrast, non-training posts may include a mixed panel, you may have one or two consultants and someone from Human Resources etc.

For more information on training vs non training posts, check out our ‘A simple guide to… Application Routes’

4. Structure your answers

When asked any question, it’s always good to have a structure in your mind before answering. It shows a methodical way of processing information and sets a good impression that you are collected and organised as an individual.

For Example:

Q. Why do you want to work here?

A. I would like to work here for 3 main reasons:

1. I have a friend who did their core training here and really enjoyed it and I have heard from other colleagues that this department is really supportive of junior doctors.

2. I have researched that there are a lot of teaching opportunities and I really enjoy teaching. (You could use this to expand on something you’ve done recently e.g. local teaching/presentation etc.)

3. I have an interest in Tennis and I’ve seen that the city has an international tennis centre. (Remember not everything has to be about medicine, sometimes it can be refreshing to hear something different!)

5. Be mindful of your body language

Your posture and body language can speak volumes before you’ve even opened your mouth. It’s important to be self-aware and often this can be overlooked.

A slouched posture, crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact can often give the impression you’re guarded and not serious.

When you’re practising, try speaking in front of a mirror, or with someone specifically concentrating on your body language. You’ll be surprised at what you might do without realising!

6. Turn off your phone

This seems obvious but is often forgotten until we’re in the interview room and getting a call from a friend who decides that’s the moment they need to have a ‘catch up’.

Interviews on average are 30-45 minutes long, and although most of us these days are glued to our devices, switching off our phone for this short period of time should be manageable.

If for whatever reason, you’re expecting an urgent call, you can either leave your phone with a receptionist (if there is one) who can call you out if need be or inform the interviewers at the beginning that you may have to take an urgent call so they are prepared.

7. Honesty is key

Interviews can be high pressure scenarios and there is a need to impress the panel. As such, sometimes it can be tempting to ‘exaggerate’ our achievements however we must emphasise this is NEVER a good idea. There’s nothing wrong if you haven’t checked every single box on their

person specification, that’s why you’re there; to learn and to grow and hopefully gain those experiences.

Fabricating – whether it’s in the interview or on your CV will only end up back-firing at some stage.

8. Dress the part

This only applies to a face to face or video interview but it’s still your time to set a visual impression.

Simple things like making sure your clothes have been ironed, your shoes are clean, you’ve brushed your hair etc. can give the impression that you are organised and value the importance of this interview.

9. Ensure you are rested

Rest is something which is never really focused on but is incredibly important.

Fatigue often shows on your face and although interviews are always nerve-racking, adequate sleep the night before makes all the difference. Not only will you look rested, but you’ll also have a clear mind to answer the questions.


Practicing can help structure your answers, reduce stress and anxiety and allow for feedback.

There are plenty of resources, be that online interview books or question bank where you can practice questions. (See Recommended Reading)

As with everything, practice makes perfect and an interview is no exception!

Still not convinced and needing a bit more guidance? Get in touch via email or sign up to our weekend webinar where we’ll be covering Interviews and much more!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

More To Explore


Let's have a chat