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NHS Recruitment - Interview Help!

(48 Posts)
Littlepoppet1 Wed 03-Jun-20 12:57:49

I am preparing for a NHS interview at Bolton Hospital and wondered if anyone has any tips or advice for me? I have been reading about some NHS trusts using values based recruitment but am not sure if Bolton do or not! I am familiarising myself on their values etc but wondered if anyone knows if i should be delving a bit deeper than just knowing what they are? Its a admin based role if that helps! TIA!

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Ginfilledcats Wed 03-Jun-20 13:06:40

Hey, what post and band is it? I'm a manager and have conducted interviews for years for admin from band 2 to band 7.

Definitely look up the values and commit them to memory, it's a popular question to be asked of admin staff. However I'd also think about examples of how I demonstrate those values, that will get you big points rather than just listing them off.

Generally I usually ask a question about why you want this role (make sure your link back to the advert or the JD in your answer).

I ask about strengths and weaknesses (again, have examples to offer, re weaknesses don't do that annoying thing where people try and spin a positive as a negative like "I'm just so hard working I don't know when to stop" - choose a legitimate weakness that you are working on improving and explain how you are trying to improve on that. For the strength link it to the job for example "I have great attention to detail, and I believe that will be key in this role because of the importance of entering key data etc etc"

I usually ask about a time you've worked as a team, what you did personal to achieve the goal. Again, examples and link back to the job if possible.

Depending on your role, and if you'll have interaction with the clinicians I ask about difficult interactions with clinicians (or other members of staff) and how you would handle it.

I often ask about information governance and your understanding of it - looking for understanding of the key buzz words: GDPR, confidentiality, coldicott guardian, and examples of how you would adhere to IG principles.

My biggest advice would be the following:
1) read and re read the JD and person spec, when i go to interviews, I literally go through it and annotate examples of how I would demonstrate that skill or knowledge and learn that.
2) be honest, no one will think poor of you for taking your time to consider your answer before responding.
3) when giving example, use the STAR method: descriptor the Situation, Task, Action you took and Result.

I've managed a number of admin areas so if you let me know what the job is I might be able to help more specifically.

Best of luck

Ginfilledcats Wed 03-Jun-20 13:08:27

Oh It might be worth while going on Bolton's website and looking in their "news page" to see what their recent or upcoming projects are. One might be linked or impact your role, shows good research.

If you're confident to; I have always loved and welcomed it when a candidate has rang to discuss the job. I've done it too for the last 3 jobs I got. You feel a bit like a brown nosing tit at the time but it's really worth while, job dependant

Littlepoppet1 Wed 03-Jun-20 13:17:19

Thank you so much @Ginfilledcats for such a in depth reply! That is really really helpful! Its a band 3 post, don’t want to say the exact job description on here but would it be okay if I PM you? I have just this lunchtime been thinking of examples to show how I meet each of the values but definitely still have a lot more work to do! I have a couple of weeks yet though so plenty of time! Thanks again for all your help and advice!

OP’s posts: |
Ginfilledcats Wed 03-Jun-20 13:44:15

I'm on the app so can't get DMs annoyingly. For some reason Mumsnet won't let me log into the website!!

No worries general admin posts for interviews will be largely the same. Obviously if it's a reception or patient facing (perhaps booking and access or complaints) there will be questions around dealing with those sort of jobs specifically - so clear communication, friendly tone, listening etc.

Definitely work through the JD and think of demonstrable examples so if it says "ability to meet deadlines" think of an example in the STAR context but also think about why that particular skill will be wanted for that job, so if you are booking patients into clinic obviously this has to be done within a certain time frame so medical records can pull the note, the patient gets as much notice as possible (should be 2 weeks), and the clinic is properly utilised. If it's the same skill but for complaints handling for example, there are internal targets set of for complaints to be responded to. Just makes your answers more rounded than just saying "I can meet deadlines" - any one can say it!!

They will also ask you if you have any questions at the end. Try and think of some (don't ask about pay raises, annual leave, progression etc as it just winds us up as all that information is readily available) - FYI if you're full time for the first 5 years you get 27 days annual leave plus bank holidays, pay is on the NHS agenda for change scale (google it if you want to understand more.
I'd consider asking what the team set up is like, what the culture is like within the office/team - is it that people have their own area of responsibility or is that shared/rotated and does that work well, what are the challenges the team/post holder faces at the moment in the current covid climate. They will likely answer honestly, for examples "oh yeah the work is rotated every week" and you can say something like "oh that's great, as much as I love responsibility for a single area I've found that ensuring the whole team are skilled up on all areas helps for continuity and I like to keep refreshed in different areas" it's like a back door way of impressing them further even when the interview is over.

I love conducting interviews, find it so fascinating how different people prepare (or don't) and love being impressed by people.

You have plenty of time, practise answering some questions out loud, be smiley and confident and you'll smash it. And if you're not confident, fake it til you make it - but don't lie! Xx

tass1960 Wed 03-Jun-20 13:56:40

This is great. I am about to apply for a job as a medical secretary and this has been so helpful. Thanks

Ginfilledcats Wed 03-Jun-20 14:05:16

Good luck @tass1960 - definitely the question about dealing with a difficult consultant will apply to you then haha! Don't be put off by that, the vast vast majority are wonderful and really care for their secretaries (they tend to get great Christmas presents off the docs).
And definitely the confidentiality stuff too x

Littlepoppet1 Wed 03-Jun-20 15:01:49

Thanks so much @Ginfilledcats you have been so helpful! Feeling really motivated now and excited to get myself as prepared as possible! Thanks again! Xx

OP’s posts: |
tass1960 Wed 03-Jun-20 18:36:45

Good luck *@tass1960 - definitely the question about dealing with a difficult consultant will apply to you then haha! Don't be put off by that, the vast vast majority are wonderful and really care for their secretaries (they tend to get great Christmas presents off the docs).
And definitely the confidentiality stuff too x*

Thank you - all of your information will help with polishing up my application.

I have worked for lawyers for a million years - I can handle doctors. Need to get to the interview stage first and could do with getting my hair "fixed" before anyone sets eyes on me

Coldinhere Wed 03-Jun-20 19:45:54

Thanks @Ginfilledcats, brilliant advice, I've just applied for a band 4 secretarial job and although I'm not holding my breath for an interview, that's really good to know just in case. I haven't had an interview for 20+ years (Been at same company) so the prospect is scaring me to death!

Ginfilledcats Wed 03-Jun-20 19:50:33

Best of luck @coldinhere xxx

Tanfastic Wed 03-Jun-20 20:06:26

Depends what kind of admin post but I work in admin in NHS band 3. I'm community based though.

I wasn't asked about trust values although I did look them up and memorised them just in case. I also wasn't asked about information governance and was told by everyone this would certainly come up in interview confused.

I was asked questions in relation to the job description pretty much so I think that is where your answer lies.

Mine was about 8 set questions but there appeared to be at least three parts to each question which made it feel like many more than 8! For eg

"Can you tell us what you know about our service, what we aim to achieve and what you can bring to our service."

"How do you feel about change and can you give us an example of how you adapted to change".

"If a patient's relative telephoned to ask about the results of an assessment how would you deal with that phone call".

"How do you deal with conflicting deadlines and can you give us an example of a time when you had to prioritise your workload"

I was also asked about how my colleagues would describe me, my career history to date, what computer programs I had used.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

It was a panel of three people interviewing me, consisting of my line manager, a colleague and the service manager.

I never got the job.....but I did second time I applied as I only missed out on a couple of points so was asked to reapply.

Good luck 😉

Littlepoppet1 Wed 03-Jun-20 21:04:45

Thanks @Tanfastic that’s really helpful! It is a band 3 post too but not community based. Thanks for sharing some of the questions, some of them definitely relate to parts of the spec/JD so definitely worth me preparing answers for! How does the point system work? Do you get points for using specific buzz words etc?

OP’s posts: |
Tanfastic Wed 03-Jun-20 22:48:49

I don't know the ins and outs but I think what happens is each member of the panel score you on each question.

tass1960 Thu 04-Jun-20 00:01:22

Thanks @Ginfilledcats, brilliant advice, I've just applied for a band 4 secretarial job and although I'm not holding my breath for an interview, that's really good to know just in case. I haven't had an interview for 20+ years (Been at same company) so the prospect is scaring me to death!

I hope you're not after my job smile

Ginfilledcats Thu 04-Jun-20 06:19:43

So regarding scoring, each question is scored usually out of 5 or 10, and is scored individually by each member of the panel. I might give you 5 for an answer whereas someone else may give you 3. The scores are added up at the end and the highest score is usually offered the job.

Not necessarily scored for hitting buzz words, and people do it differently. I mark on the relevance of the example, or understanding of the question and correct answer.

For example if the question was: "what does confidentiality mean to you" and your answer was "not discussing patient details" whilst being correct, that answer might only get you a 1 (from me) however an answer closer to 5 might be something along the lines of "to me confidentiality is paramount in this post, I understand the importance of not sharing confidential information about patients or staff unless the individual I'm speaking to is directly involved, for example, I would not discuss a patients condition with x doctor if she was not the treating physician. I know not to discuss patients results on the phone, or discuss patient details with relatives unless given direct permission to do so from the patient. I always lock my computer screen when I leave my desk, I dispose of any confidential information appropriately by deleting or throwing paperwork away in the confidential waste bin."

I basically always look for more than once sentence answer which usually includes an example (if appropriate) of where you have demonstrated that skill.
Ie if the question was "tell me about your main strength and weakness" a poor answer would be "my strength is organisation and my weakness is I'm too much of a perfectionist"
In my opinion and experience, A better answer would be "I think my main strength is my organisational skills. I use to do lists with deadlines to prioritise my work load to ensure I achieve everything I need to do in a good time frame. This skill will be particularly beneficial in this role because of the high demands of the post and the varied duties that might be asked of me with short notice. My weakness is that I have a really high standard for myself and occasionally spend too long making sure something is perfect which can impact deadlines or cause me to focus on one area rather than another. However I am working on this by ensuring I have a clear dialogue with my managers to ensure we're on the same page as to what is the minimum standard accepted, having better time management skills and prioritising my work load whilst not compromising the quality of the work. This is something I would continue to do and improve on in this role"

Values questions tend to be something like "do you know the values of x trust" or "which value do you most identify with and why" but previous poster is right, not always asked but I would have answers prepared anyway as it's easy points to score.

Other questions to think about may be: team work, working to deadlines, tell us about a time where something didn't go quite to plan - how did you handle that, why do you want this role, what is your understanding of this role, what do you expect to be the biggest challenge in this role/that you'll personally face in this role.

Good luck all x

Username19 Thu 04-Jun-20 06:32:16

I would say all of the above is excellent advice. Make sure you sell yourself to the panel, they want to find out if you're right for the job so make sure they know you are and why. Good luck thanks

Coldinhere Thu 04-Jun-20 08:17:06

Unlikely @tass1960, but best of luck to you! Having read comments here I'm not sure my application was really complete enough in hindsight, it was really just testing the waters anyway so live and learn! Good luck to everyone and I'm really interested to hear how you all get on and how the interviews go!

Babyroobs Fri 05-Jun-20 23:33:09

Not in Bolton but at my last NHS interview I was asked "If you were one of the trust's values which one would you be". The question really threw me to be honest !

Littlepoppet1 Sat 06-Jun-20 07:42:05

Thanks @Babyroobs I’ll make sure I have a answer ready for that one! Good luck to everyone else going for interview too!! I’ll come back and let you know how it went!!

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IKEA888 Sat 06-Jun-20 07:46:51

great advice but bear in mind NHS admin jobs tend to be earmarked internally or in my trust given Rona realtive ofnsomeome who is in HR or management. But then I work in a particularly bad trust.
Best of luck

TheProvincialLady Sat 06-Jun-20 08:01:47

I have interviewed for many NHS admin roles and not one of them was ever earmarked for someone so don’t worry that all workplaces are like that experiences by the PP. If anything I have sometimes been annoyed that the ‘fair process’ we have to follow sometimes means that you can’t offer a job to someone you know to be already good at it and gets on very well with people etc, because they weren’t the highest scoring applicant on the day.

I think the previous advice given has been excellent and would only add that smiling and being polite and friendly to everyone you meet from the receptionist onward is hugely important. If there is a choice between two equally scoring applicants then the one who comes across as pleasant to work with is going to win the day most of the time.

Ginfilledcats Sat 06-Jun-20 14:19:54

Yeah I must have done 50 interviews for variety of roles and never ever ear mark them. Often I've found internal candidates get beaten by "outsiders" as they assume they are a certain choice and don't work as hard. I had one member of my team who was in the temp position apply for the permanent position. He could do the job ok, but rocked up with no ID (take ID!!!), a creased shirt with no tie or any effort made, one sentence answers of "well yeah you know I do that all the time". Yeah I do know what he does, but the other interviewer doesn't and it goes on answers to questions. He was dreadful and obviously didn't get the post. And I had to have a talk with him after about his attitude.

Definitely agree with smile and be polite to everyone you meet.


Littlepoppet1 Sat 06-Jun-20 19:59:16

Just doing some prep tonight and I have noticed it only names one person on the interview panel, I was expecting there to be 2 or 3 people interviewing me! Possibly due to COVID and social distancing maybe 🤷‍♀️
Also just ordered myself a face covering since the news update yesterday that all visitors to hospitals are now expected to wear one I assume this will also apply to me going for a interview! Tbh I was planning on getting one anyway now I’m venturing out a bit more, will feel very odd to have to wear one in a interview though!!

OP’s posts: |
Ginfilledcats Sat 06-Jun-20 20:27:57

Is the interview still going on face to face and not via video? Good idea re the mask if it is face to face too!! There will be at least 2 on the panel, they probably just haven't confirmed who the other person will be!

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