Interviews - NHS Scientists Training Programme

The National School of Healthcare Science has been busy shortlisting candidates for the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). You should hear by mid-March whether or not you’ve been selected for interview.

If you are one of the lucky ones and get called for interview, make sure you are as well prepared as possible. There’s lots of information already out there about the interview process so I’m not going to repeat it all in this blog. Take a look at the NSHCS website for an overview of the process and links to more detailed information: 

Job interview 0001The interview process is a bit like speed dating – you get a few minutes to impress two interviewers at an interview ‘station’ before moving on to the next two interviewers at their ‘station’. One of last year’s candidates told us that once the bell rang after the allotted 10 minutes they weren’t even allowed to finish their sentence, so make sure you practice being concise!

There are four stations in total. Expect at least one question about a current news topic/scientific development in the field that you are applying to. Make sure you have at least one story ready to discuss in detail and give your professional opinion about – there’s usually lots of info out there on the web and in specialist journals. You can also keep up to date with what’s happening in the NHS more broadly via the Health Service Journal.

You’ll also be asked a technical question relating to your field so brush up on your basic knowledge of all the types of technical procedures or tests you might be expected to carry out in the role as well as the types of results you might find. Make sure you know what the aims of the job are as well as why that sort of role appeals to you.

The STP recruitment process hopes to discover future managers so be prepared to show your leadership potential. Natalie, a STP trainee now in her first year, found that using examples of leadership that didn't relate to her scientific career gave a better picture of her personality, so try reflecting on your previous work experiences, hobbies and interests as well. If it helps, think about people you believe are good leaders – maybe someone famous, maybe someone you know personally -  what makes them a good leader? Do you share any of their attributes?

Remember that interviewers will be looking for people who really want to work in the NHS and share NHS values. Understand the basics of the NHS constitution ( and always think about how you could help put the patient first in your role whilst bearing in mind financial and other constraints that the NHS is under.

Finally, your communication skills will be tested throughout the interview. Remember that it isn’t just what you say but how you say it so try to keep an upbeat, enthusiastic tone in your voice and try to make good eye contact. A nice smile and confident handshake might also help you make a good first impression. When she was interviewed, Natalie found that the interviewers were generally friendly and wanted to have as much of a dynamic conversation as possible. Others have reported that some interviewers had excellent poker-faces, so don't be put off by the responses (or rather non response) of some interviewers! Dress smart for the interview, you need to look and act like a professional from the moment you arrive at the interview centre.

I’ll leave you with Natalie’s best piece of advice “Remember that the interviewers at different stations do not discuss your interview so treat each one as a new start and don't get too hung up if one doesn't go exactly as you planned”

Fingers crossed for those interviews!!

Alison (Careers Adviser)

PS: There’s a bit more info on our information sheet, too:  If you’ve got an NHS STP interview coming up that you’d like to discuss with a Careers Adviser, feel free to book an appointment with us at the Careers Service – tel 0114 222 0910.
Careers Service

Careers Service

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