The National Health Service (NHS) is one of the UK’s largest employers with over a hundred thousand staff members working at hospitals, GP surgeries and in the community up and down the United Kingdom. This includes clinical, operational, administrative and management staff members. With this being the case you can naturally understand that every year tens of thousands of interviews take place across NHS Trusts across the country. This therefore means there are thousands of NHS interview questions that are asked, in this blog I’m going to cover the most commonly asked standard NHS interview questions and answers to help you succeed in your upcoming NHS interview preparation.
Top NHS Interview Questions With Sample Answer
1) Why have you decided to apply for this position and what value can you offer to the role?
Usually more NHS Trust interviews start off with an easy ice breaker question. This questions offers two functions. The first to understand your motivation behind applying for the role and the second being an overview of the skills you will bring to the table.
The way to approach answering this question is firstly talking about your motivations and passion for the NHS, the Trust and the opportunity itself. Once you’ve done this you can then pivot and talk about where you can bring value to the role, focus on delivering three mini examples, after which you can reference the Trust values and conclude your answer.
2) Provide an example of when you’ve had to convince a challenging service partner, how did you manage to influence them?
This particular type of NHS job interview questions tends to only come up from band 7, 8a, 8b, 8c and 8d NHS interviews. When you reach these bands whether it’s a clinical, project, strategic or operational role it’s expected that as part of your job there will be a lot of partnership and stakeholder working. In this question they will be looking at how you’re able to apply your emotional intelligence and other soft skills such as listening and empathy to win the other person over. Use key buzzwords such as “actively listening”, “buy-in”, “win win”, “empathised”, “have them onboard” in your example.
Also set the example out like a dialogue so I said XYZ…. Followed by importantly why you said it. Then mention the stakeholders response and your thought process (to their response) i.e. He responded by claiming that he wasn’t told about the XYZ, although I knew this wasn’t true because he had been emailed about it many times, I didn’t react to his claim, rather stayed calm, because by reacting could potentially damage bridges that we were trying to rebuild etc.
3) What are the steps for taking [insert specialist skill]?
Clinical NHS interview questions predominantly come up for roles up to band 7. However the majority will come at band 4, band 5 and band 6. They are there to assess your clinical knowledge but additionally to know that you understand the correct process and procedures to follow. However to receive top marks in an NHS scoring system, you have to ensure that you provide empathy and show emotional intelligence in your answer. For example don’t simply list the process, highlight why it’s important to do it in that particular way and if the question is specific patient profile i.e. elderly show how and why you would tailor your approach in the application of the clinical process to ensure the best possible result for the patient.
4) Provide an example where a staff member was underperforming in their role, how did you deal with this situation?
Management NHS interview questions will come up from band 6 upwards job interview, especially in roles where direct line management is required. Usually there are two angles that may need to be covered depending on the role. If it’s more clinical and the under performance of the staff is linked to care quality, then the way you have to respond in your answer is dependent on the seriousness of the lapse in performance. If it is serious, then you would need to demonstrate your knowledge of formal disciplinary procedures. If it’s not the case or that your role isn’t clinical then approach answering this question with empathy and using key words such as “empowerment, buy-in, accountability, ownership”. Demonstrating through your answer that you’re not coming down hardhandedly on your staff, rather showing that you are going to work with them to support them in getting back on track.
5) Provide an example of your contribution to diversity, inclusivity and equality in the workplace?
This particular NHS interview question has become one of the most consistently asked questions over the last few years. The NHS takes Equality and diversity seriously particularly when it comes to patient care and co-workers. Therefore it is important to ensure that you have an answer ready. I get asked “ I don’t have an example, what should I say?” however there are many cases that you have taken equality and diversity in to consideration and haven’t actually realised, for example, did you provide extra support to a disabled patient or colleague, did you go out of your way to support someone who is hard of hearing or visually impaired? Did you take in to account someone faith (dietary requirements), gender? I’m sure you have, and there you have it, an example you can use.
It’s also important to also show these considerations where possible within your other answers as these will likely align with the trusts values and given a higher weighing to your answers within the NHS interview scoring system.
6) Provide an example of a service or a process which you’ve improved, how did you successfully manage to do it?
This is one of many NHS interview questions which focuses on how you’ve contributed to improving the service. This will usually be asked at a band 6 or band 7. Depending on the seniority of the role, the expectation and magnitude of the improvement would also need to increase. This like the majority of NHS interview questions would need to be answered in the competency and behavioural interview approach using the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result), therefore the demonstration of certain attributes in particular being proactive, innovative, resourceful as well as having a continuous improvement mindset, NHS interview scoring system will score highly within the interview.
7) Provide an example of a key project or program that you’ve led?
At a senior level questions about your leadership and where you’ve led is important. These NHS job interview questions are focused in assessing your ability to plan, manage and lead a multi-disciplinary group of people. This is likely to occur at band 7 all the way to band 8d. This type of question requires the ability to show a range of attributes, in particular your ability to plan and organise, inspire others, overcome difficulties within the programme and be able to adapt. Also it’s important to talk about not only what you do but more importantly why you decided to do it in a particular way, at a more senior level being able to explain the ‘why’ becomes more and more imperative.
NHS interview scoring system example
The NHS interview scoring system can vary from one Trust to another. It also applies to NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). However a 0 to 4 scoring is common. These are then tallied up at the end to give you an overall score. The person that scored the highest generally is the one who is offered the job.
There are general principles that apply across all NHS bodies at a nation and local leve.. Which are ensuring that the values of the Trust (Acute, Mental), CCGs, Ambulance Trusts, NHS England or NHS Scotland are being demonstrated in the response.
How it works
NHS interview scoring system typically ranges from 0 to 4 with 0 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.
- 0 = Fails to meet / Unable to evidence
- 1 = Partially meets requirement
- 2 = Meets requirement (borderline)
- 3 = Meets requirement fully
- 4 = Exceptional
If you were to be asked 10 questions at an interview the interview will be scored out of 40. There is usually a minimum requirement for a person to score to be suitable for the role where you will need to score at least 20 out of 40. If no one meets that minimum criteria, even the highest scoring candidate will not be offered the job. If candidates are above the minimum threshold, the candidate that scored the highest will be offered the job.
Scores details (Minimum to Maximum), how did they score for each question?
For each question there are key points that are required to be covered to achieve a good score. For example the questions: Tell me about a time when you undertook an audit? Key areas they might be looking for could include: Engagement, Planning, Time Management, Collaboration etc. Therefore you will have to ensure that these key areas are covered in your response.
How to get the highest scoring answer?
The scoring criteria is based on extrapolating the Trust Values. For example patient care which is a very common value. You could extrapolate the following from it: empathy, compassion, emotional intelligence. The questions that they ask you to assess the trust values could be in the form of a competency question, value based question open ended question.
When it comes to clinical competence the scoring is really based on your ability to ensure that you follow the CQC best practice so any action that you’re taking is exactly by the book. To get the highest score you’ll need to integrate aspects of the values into your response. It will personalise and add more context to show that you have complete understanding not just theoretical.
Further details about it about the Scoring Criteria
There is no harm in asking about the scoring criteria directly with HR, as mentioned it can vary from one NHS function to another. If they provide some insight then at least you’re able to be more acute in your interview preparation.