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Interview Technique Lecture
5pm Wednesday 25th July,
Theatre 4, on Level 2 of the Education Centre


Dr Baker is offering individual interview coaching sessions in Early July and Earyy August in preparation for the real interview in mid August and early September, for 2029 hospital jobs.

Please Note:
  • Sessions will last approximately 60 minutes though they sometimes go a little longer.
  • Sessions will be held in Dr Baker's Office on Level 3 of the Education Block (next to the kitchenette in the Simulation center)
  • Ideally, each session will involve two people, meaning that each person gets to experience the interview situation twice, once as an observer and once as a participant
  • This usually works better if you pair up with someone else applying for the same job, though this is not essential
  • Each session will consist of both participants being put through a 15 minute interview and then provided with feedback
  • Dr Baker will advertise session date which you can book into on line
  • These tend to fill up fast, so get in early
  • If you cannot find a partner to do this with - don't despair. Solo interviews are fine
  • If you are at Coffs and don’t want to miss out, a phone interview can be organised – after all that will happen in real life as well
  • If you are at Auburn, a session may be able to be organised on site at Auburn. Ring or e-mail Dr Baker for details

NB: These coaching sessions are appropriate for Hospital interviews only and NOT for General Practice interviews


What to Expect
  • 10-20 minutes duration - usually 15mins
  • 3-5 Questions (all applicants will get the same questions)
  • 3-4 panel members, one of whom is an independent
  • 25-30 people interviewed per day, sometimes over several days
  • Applicants will themselves typically be booked into 3 – 5 separate interviews
  • Interviews will not always run to time

Pre Interview Preparation
  • Talk to or at least email the job owner, and preferably an incumbant
  • Find out about the hospital and the department you are applying to (eg check their website)
  • Read Position Description and Selection Criteria
  • Try to anticipate and prepare answers to questions
  • Practice interviewing each other – repeatedly!
  • Have good clinical vignettes prepared to illustrate each Selection Criteria
  • Scan the web for current issues (etc NSW Health, College Sites, HETI, CEC, ACI, AHPRA)

The Basics
  • Present professionally
  • Smartly dressed (avoid scrubs)
  • Be on time – allow for traffic & parking!
  • Be prepared to be kept waiting
  • Have a copy of all the relevant documents with you
  • Check Website, PD, etc, for any specific requirements (eg identification)
  • Show respect to the panel

Top 5 Tips
  • Listen to the Question
  • Bring Energy to the proceedings (Smile, Make Eye contact, Modulate your voice, enunciate clearly and don't race)
  • Know your top selling points / talking points, and make sure you get them out
  • Use Examples / Clinical Scenarios /Vignettes to illustrate your answers
  • Structure your Responses, or at least have techniques to extend your answer

Tips to Add Structure
It's very tempting to launch into a response with the first thing that pops into your head, but its more impressive if you can produce a structured, logical, sequential response. But this is hard to do in the moment - so here a few techniques that might add some structure. You don't need to apply them all to every question.

  • Repeat back the question at the beginning and summarise your response at the end (eg Closed Loop Communication
  • Try to provide a summary of your response up front and then fill in the details
  • Try to itemise your talking points first and then work through them sequentially

How to break down your answer into major points on the fly

Breaking down an answer into a series of logical chunks is also difficult under pressure, so you might want to construct a series of difference frameworks by which you can analyse the question, breaking it down into smaller chunks
  • Try to think of any overarching principles or policies which might apply to this specific situation
  • Try to think of the response from different perspectives, ie as well as you own perspective, what are the implications for the registrar, the patient, the boss, the other non medical staff, the hospital admin
  • Try to think of the response from different time-frames, immediate, short term, longer term
  • Try to think of the response in terms of the different selection criteria. While the question might seem to obviously apply to one particular criterion, can you talk about the impact on others?

Extending your answer

While is is great to be able to structure your response as described above - often you will just launch into the first thing that comes into your head. But rather than simply running out of steam, you can still use the tips above to extend and expand your answer.

Typical Questions

  • The Icebreaker - "Why have you applied, What qualifies you for the job etc"
  • The Left Field Questions - Not common but turning up in the past few years. A random question to try to put you at ease, like  "What super power would you like to have"
  • The Clinical Question - Usually designed to demonstrate that you are safe (ie know when to ask for help), and aware of the basics
  • The Conflict Question - Common question because its a common feature of the workplace. Think about conflict with staff / patients /family etc
  • The Teamwork Question - Demonstrating you will be a good member of the multidisciplinary team (ie don't forget the nurses)
  • The Communication Question - Often focuses on difficult communication situations eg angry patients/staff, breaking bad news, open disclosure
  • The Ethical Dilemma - Dealing with bullying is a topical issue, but any breach of professional standards might be the basis for a question
  • The Clinical Governance Question - Dealing with improving patient care, quality assurance projects, or error and patient harm

Don't forget, many hospitals will want to know "why this hospital?" and you need to have a convincing answer

Don't forget that questions about a particular topic may be asked directly, or by reference to a specific scenario, and that sometimes a scenario will be provided, but sometimes you are asked to come up with your own example.
To illustrate - a conflict question may present as:
  • "What techniques are important to help diffuse an angry relative ...."
  • "Tell us about a situation where you needed to diffuse an angry relative...:
  • "I want you to imagine you are doing geriatrics and are on the ward when you are approached by an angry relative..."

A couple of things to watch out for with scenarios

  • In situations where you are required to come up with your own scenario - or if you have simply decided to use a scenario to illustrate your answer - make sure you get to the point rapidly. Do not spend too long setting up the clinical context
  • If the question is about one of those non clinical selection criteria (eg communication / teamwork / conflict), make sure you do no focus exclusively on the clinical component
  • Conversely, don't overlook the clinical issues entirely in your rush to address the non clinical selection criteria

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