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In this post, we are going to help you understand and better prepare for NHS interview questions. Applying for an NHS interview can be a very competitive whether you are applying for a position as a nurse, radiography, Consultant or Manager and knowing some common NHS interview questions can help you prepare better for your interview. Firstly, it is important to know that whilst most NHS Trusts and hospitals run competency based interviews other Trusts and hospitals such as Oxford University Hospital run Value Based Interviewing (VBI). Entry level roles such as those applying on courses in Nursing and Medicine involve a different style of interview called a Mini Multiple Interview. At Interview Skills Clinic, we have a proven one-to-one coaching programme to help clients success at NHS interviews for both clinical and management levels.


Competency Based Interviews

This is based on demonstrating a number of specified NHS common behaviours or competencies such as Relationships and Communications, Planning and Organising, Decision Making, Judgement and Analysis, Improvement and Development with a specific example from your experience at work. Competency based examples need to be structure using the STAR or CARE Acronym which will help you provide more detailed examples.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Actions, and Result

Care stands for Context, Action, Result and Evaluation

You can learn more about preparing for competency based interviews  and download our Free Preparation Guide to Competency Based Interviews.

Value Based Interviews

As well as competency interviews the NHS run Value Based Interviews. Value based interviewing is based on the idea that it is important to recruit people with values which are aligned to the organisation in which they work. Generally, it is believed that a person’s values drive their behaviour. They will be more motivated and engaged, have better performance and re more likely to stay. The NHS have both Service Values and Care Values. For example the Care Values are: Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage, Commitment.

Value based interview questions still require you to answer the question by sharing an example to support the question, using the STAR or CARE Acronym.

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Competency Based Interview Questions

NHS competency questions are evaluated on a desired standard for each behaviour. Let’s discuss each behaviour and question in turn:

Relationships and Communication Questions

  • Support role: What steps do you take to develop good relationships with colleagues?
  • Professional role: Give me an example of a difficult relationship you had to manage?
  • Senior role: How do you measure how effective your relationships are?

Evaluation Criteria

Strong Indicators

  • Identifies and builds relevant relationships required for the role (either internally or externally)
  •  Demonstrates strong ability in relevant stakeholder management; relationship management; influencing or engagement.
  • Understands how effective relationships and communications are; and take steps to evaluate or address adjustments needed.
  • Demonstrates ability to manage difficult stakeholder situations and adapt behaviour to obtain desired solution.

Limiting Indicators

  • Lack of evidence of ability to identify or influence key stakeholders, or adapt style to changing requirements.
  • Evidence suggests that relationships are not managed effectively or maintained sufficiently.

NHS interviews are challenging, Interview Skills Clinic can maximise your opportunity and success. We have an 85% success rate. Contact us today for a mock interview.

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Planning and Organisation Questions

  • Support role: What do you do to support coordination and planning in your team?
  • Professional role: How to you lead and cooperate activities across a team you manage?
  •  Senior role: What do you do to be effective in tracking progress in plans across your team?

Evaluation Criteria

Strong Indicators

  •  Demonstrates strong ability in planning and executing activities.
  •  Evidence of ability to successfully adapt plans to changing organisational requirements, whilst maintaining delivery.
  • Understands organisational priorities and is able to identify and implement appropriate resourcing solutions.

Limiting Indicator

  • Evidence indicates that planning is insufficient or ineffective which impacts on delivery.
  • Evidence suggests that plans are not flexible enough to meet changing requirements, and/or that required are not identified and incorporated.

Leadership Questions

  • Support role: When have you stepped up and done something outside your normal role?
  • Professional role: When have you coached or mentored a colleague?
  • Senior role: What do you do to engage your team in areas of improvement and change?

Evaluation Criteria

Strong Indicator

  • Demonstrates ability to inspire and motivate others to achieve results.
  • Proactively manages performance and development issues, to achieve enhanced performance.
  • Understand impact of personal behaviours and demonstrates ability to maintain professional behaviours regardless of situation.

Limiting Indicator

  • Lack of evidence of required leadership or management skills. Reacts to performance/development issues, or fails to address cause of performance issues.
  • Does not consider impact or importance of personal style and approach.

Decision Making, Judgement and Analytical Questions

  • Support role: Tell us about a complex problem you were asked to resolve in work?
  • Professional role: What types of decisions do you consult with others on and why?
  • Senior role: How do you anticipate issues and predict risks?

Evaluation Criteria

Strong Indicators

  • Shows understanding and ability to address required key decisions.
  • Demonstrates ability to weigh up pieces of information and make an appropriate judgement call, including when information is missing or when time is tight.

Limiting Indicators

  • Either fails or delays decisions due to pressurising factors.
  • Does not consider all relevant pieces of information when making decisions.
  • Shows limited ability to identify and analyse appropriate source of information to support decision making.

Improvement and Development Questions

  • Support role: How do you identify your personal development areas? What work have you done on these?
  • Professional role: How do you ensure your team are identifying opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • Senior role: How have you inspired your team to drive continuous improvement? How do you measure success?

Evaluation Criteria

Strong Indicators

  •  Demonstrates improvement is a focus in day to day work.
  •  Evidence of initiating or contributing to improvements, which have enhanced delivery or service or function.
  •  Is proactive around personal development, and has demonstrated ability to learn and improve.

Limiting Indicators

  • Does not consider improvement in day to day work.
  • Focuses on delivering the status quo.
  • Resists change.
  • Reactive around learning.
  • Does not prioritise learning.

Value Based Interview Questions

Below we are going to address some typical value based interview questions around the NHS Care Values:  Compassion, Collaboration, Competence, Commitment, Courage, Commitment and Communication.

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Compassion Questions

  • Some situations with patients require us to express ideas or opinions in a very tactful and careful way. Tell me about a time when you were successful with this particular skill?
  • Some situations with patients (or customers) require us to express ideas or opinions in a very tactful and careful way. Tell me about a time when you were successful with this particular skill?

Assessment Criteria

  • Taking time to listen.
  • Observation of non-verbal cures..
  • Observation of parents’ needs.
  • Going the extra mile to make a difference.
  • Linking job duties with patient experience.

Collaboration Questions

  • Tell me/us about a time when you perceived friction or resistance from a co-worker, supervisor, or patient and you immediately addressed this issue to enhance your working relationship.
  • Can you give me/us a recent example of how you displayed loyalty or commitment to your team?

Competence Questions

  • Tell me/us about a time when you had to make a split second decision. What skills did you use?
  • Tell me/us about a time when you had to deal with an uncomfortable situation at work.

Commitment Questions

  • Tell me/us about a time when you have to deliver on a commitment what was difficult for you?
  • Tell me/us about a situation where you had to remain calm when dealing with a hostile patient?

Courage Questions

  • What has been the most difficult challenge that you have faced personally in working cooperatively with another person who does not share your values?
  • Tell me about a time when you found yourself on unfamiliar territory or a new situation at work outside your comfort zone?

Care Questions

  • Tell me/us how you manage your daily work schedule to meet quality and safety needs?
  • Give me an example when you identified a potential quality concern and addressed it personally before it became an issue?

Communication Questions

  • Tell us about a time when you had to communicate with a co-worker or supervisor who you felt was making a mistake?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate sensitively to a patient?

Typical Follow-up Questions

  • Describe what you did.
  • What was the impact for you? For the patient?
  • How did it turn out?
  • How has this helped you in your job?
  • What was the result?
  • Would you have done anything differently?

Technical Interview Questions

Additionally, the majority of NHS interviews will include some technical questions to assess the candidate’s ability to do the job. Technical questions can be ‘how to questions’ or scenario based questions.  For example: at an interview for a Radiographer you could be asked:

  • What does the acronym ALARA stand for?
  • As a radiographer how can you meet this principle. You have a palliative patient on the bed who is in a lot of pain and unable to stay lying still for long, the post FSD is out of tolerance by 0.5cm what would you do?

If you have an interview coming up in the NHS you should find the bank of competency and value based interview questions very useful. Be careful not to be over prepared as it’s important to prepare flexibly so that you can adapt your experience and answers to different questions. Maximise your opportunity and success, we provide both preparation and mock interview coaching sessions.

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