Overseas Medical Interview Preparation
This page is designed to provide some basic guidance on interview preparation. There are plenty of tips, courses etc etc available on the internet which you can research to complement your knowledge.
One may ask whether having an interview for an overseas post bears much difference from having one locally.
In a nutshell it depends on several factors, and in the greater scheme of things;
THE KEY IS PREPARATION.
THINGS TO REALISE WHEN YOU’RE OFFERED AN INTERVIEW OVERSEAS
- Your CV illustrates that there is a possibility you match with their requirements
- You have a (very) good chance of getting the post; it is likely they have already exhausted local possibilities first.
- They won’t expect you to know the ins and outs of their local culture, however they do expect you to have a great command of your medical specialty (at senior / registrar level), and/or demonstration that you can work safely.
- Its highly likely they appoint overseas trained doctors regularly. They will be used to delays with the medical registration process and visa applications and likely to accommodate you if there are any problems during your move.
LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEW COMPARISON
In summary, the differences are few, hence treat it like any other interview.
When attending video-interviews, dress as you would a face to face interview and ensure your environment (what is visible on the screen) is relatively neutral and tidy (ie, controversial pictures, washing, an open wardrobe etc)
Please note, in some situations, you may be given a job offer without an interview.
TOP TIPS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL INTERVIEW
These are a few tips that we’ve compiled and feel free to let us know if there are any you would like to contribute. Most are general interview tips which are relevant for wherever you apply.
1. KNOW YOUR INTERVIEW PANEL
Do your homework before the interview. Who will be interviewing you? Try and research their backgrounds (ie. education history, specialist interest, personal hobbies). This can be found on places like LinkedIn, Facebook, or even by contacting them beforehand (the latter of which is best done during the application process). This is your opportunity to find some common ground and provide a platform for asking reasonable questions about your desired post.
2. KNOW YOUR CV
It sounds obvious, but it is essential and sometimes overlooked. Be prepared to talk about anything on your CV, however minor you may think it is. Ask a colleague or friend to look through it to see if they can pick out interesting bits that may require further exploration. You may even have to explain what is not on your CV such as employment gaps, or a lack of experience, skills, research, or audit in certain areas. Critically assess your own CV as if you were the interview panel. With every answer, be positively honest.
3. KNOW THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND THE HOSPITAL
Hopefully by now you have a good idea of the job, what it entails and who you may be working with. Look through the literature that you should have already received on this, do some Googling, hopefully you may have already spoken to staff in your desired post and others throughout the department. If you have any further questions on the post, it is best to ask at the end of the interview. This shows initiative and genuine interest.
4. PRACTICE TYPICAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
There will be plenty of sample interview questions for your specialty which you can Google. Make notes on each one (rather than rehearse an answer by rote!) In this manner, your answer will be natural. The most important ones you should prepare for include why you applied for this post, and why at this hospital. Don’t forget that this is an opportunity for flattering your interview panel. It would be wise to include what you can offer to the hospital.
When faced with a question ‘ tell me about yourself’, follow the ‘CAMP acronym – Clinical skills, Academic achievements, Management skills and Personal achievements and hobbies’. Most people will go on a chronological journey, which can be fairly dull unless the panel have specifically asked for this (remember this information is visible on your CV already). Usually the important skills you have are the most recent, hence try to focus on this first.
5. HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT QUESTIONS
Prepare these – such as “Mistakes you have made and how have you managed them?”, “why is X not on your CV?”, “What are your weaknesses?”. The key is
- Answer in a structured fashion. Using the acronym ‘STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result’ is an example on how to manage this.
- Be positive about any negatives, ie. I have not attended X courses recently as I was concentrating on Y academia where I achieved several achievements. I have booked X course in the near future in addition to Z course which I believe will complement my clinical skills enabling me to be further of an asset to your department”
- Have in your mind any examples of difficult scenarios you have dealt with and how you managed them, and especially, learned from them.
6. BE CULTURALLY SENSITIVE
It is likely you will be managing a wide range of unfamiliar presentations including learning about cultural priorities and attitudes towards healthcare. Research the basics of the healthcare system in the country you are applying to and consider the implications it has on the service you will provide to your patients. Simply being aware of the common issues will make place you in good light with the panel.
7. FOCUS ON YOUR BEST ACHIEVEMENTS / SKILLS RELEVANT TO THE POST
They may ask you about this. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to slip it in to an answer, as long as its relevant.
8. DON’T BLAG
Nobody likes a blagger, unless you’re a professional at this. Most blaggers are either noticed or eventually get found out. If you don’t know the answer, be honest, otherwise risk of digging yourself a big hole!
9. BE YOURSELF
Sounds obvious? Take into consideration, it is likely that at interview stage, you have all the skills / qualifications they want for the post. Now they need to decide;
- whether they would like to work with you
- are you are a safe practitioner?
For training posts or fellowships, you will be a potential investment, so indicate that you are flexible and possibly willing to stay on if things go well. If you’re guaranteed to leave after a period of time whilst in a training post, it may count against you. If you are in this position, you are perhaps better off applying for a stand-alone post.
If you don’t like your Interview Panel, there’s a good chance they may not like you, and you’ve probably saved yourself months or years of misery! Hence why being yourself is essential!