Job interview


For those of you who successfully pass your FCEM exam, the next big hurdle is the consultant interview. 

This page contains advice about the interview, favourite topics and a bit about what to expect, so watch this space!

Much of what you have learned for your management viva is the kind of information you will need to know for the interview, whatever is current and topical especially if it is controversial, such the current Emergency Medicine crisis in the UK.  There a few topics at the bottom of this page.

You cannot predict all possible questions and you do need to be able to think on your feet.

Always visit the hospital over the preceding weeks and meet all the future consultant colleagues and senior nurses you will be working with.   If there any issues peculiar to the department or trust (reconfiguration, foundation status, struggling, losing or gaining a particular service) think about the issues, discuss with the staff and have a considered opinion.

Also arrange to meet the Clinical director, Medical Director, Divisional Director, Divisional Medical Director and Chief Executive if possible. The first time they see you should not be on the interview panel. Find out what makes the place tick, how supportive they may be. It is a two way street, remember that it is as much about what you can offer them as what they can offer you. Be honest with yourself about how much you do or do not want to work in that department and if it is not want you want, give reasonable notice and look elsewhere. After all, you could spend a very long time there so you want to make sure you are going to be happy with the people who work there.

Here is a link to a great website on the topic to get started.

Some general advice: (from Nalin from the above mentioned site)
4-9 minutes
You will know that the research suggests that interviewers decide within the first 4-9 minutes of meeting you whether to seriously consider you for the job and that they rarely move from that initial view - so you need to think about the various factors that might influence this decision.

Then separate that list into factors that you control and factors that you have little or no impact upon.

Please don't waste time worrying about the factors that you can't control - I have met too many trainees worrying about the fact that they haven't got enough research publications or haven't done the "right" jobs or haven't gone on this course or that - it's too late to worry about those issues, so stop doing it.

Now, your approach to the list of factors that you can influence has to be completely different. Remember the Pareto Principle and get a system for quickly getting these factors at least 80% handled.

Here are some of those factors and some ideas that you could execute to keep you in contention when you attend your interview.

British medics are generally conservative. The interview is a place to show how well you will fit in. It is not a fashion show.  So, dress as well as you can afford and as smart as you can.

There are some rules that you might want to think about.

For men:

  • Wear a dark blue or black suit - make sure it fits well (get advice from a tailor, pose as a customer, even if you don't intend to buy a suit and they will gladly share their personalised recommendations with you)
  • Wear a crisply ironed, plain white or blue shirt with a smart and professional tie. Don't wear a cartoon or club motif tie. It may be worth taking a spare tie (just in case you spill coffee on it on the train or something)
  • Polish you shoes
  • Clip your nails
  • Book a haircut
  • Facial hair - get rid of it or at least trim it to be tidy
  • No headwear - unless it's for religious/medical reasons
  • Smell nice but neutral - don't go too heavy on the aftershave, but do use a deodourant or antiperspirant.

For women

  • In general, wear a suit (either trouser or skirt is acceptable) - dark in colour. Choose a colour that matches your skin tone.
  • Be understated with your make up.You want to keep the interview panel focussed on what you are saying and not how you look. I am not going to pretend that I have a clue when it comes to advising you on make up, but you could go to one of those department stores where they offer you consultations and get some professional, personalised advice.
  • Don't flash the flesh - in general, I would say that your face, neck, hands and lower calves should be the most that should be on show.
  • Wear conservative tights (take a spare in case they get snagged).
  • Book a haircut.
  • No headwear - unless it's for religious/medical reasons
  • Keep your jewellery understated - the general rule is that your communication should be the star and not your outfit.
  • Smell nice but neutral - don't go heavy on the perfume, but do use a deodourant or antiperspirant.

Body Language
One thing that you could ask a friend or family member who knows you well, is whether you tend to have any distracting and potentially annoying habits that you do when you are under stress, such as flicking your hair or scrunching your nose - once you become aware of these habits, you can at least start to suppress them.

Remember to have a firm handshake, look at the interview panel members in the eye and to smile - it makes a disproportionate amount of difference to the impact you make compared to the effort involved. 

In general, you should aim to arrive about 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule. This seems to be the optimum time, when you balance the problems of arriving too late (bad impression, you arrived flustered and have drained mental energy) or too early (potential for you to psyche yourself in the waiting area, causing problems to the admin staff who aren't ready for you). 

Be prepared to arrive on time. Download any maps that you might need in advance. You might want to do a dummy run to the interview centre to work out what the difficulties are and where the delays might arise. If you haven't got time to do an actual dummy run, then you might want to do a mental journey and, in the same way, try to imagine what could cause you a problem and figure out what your plan B will be.


  • Be polite and professional to everyone you meet.
  • Turn your mobile phone off (not even on vibrate).
  • Remember to say thank you to everyone. 
  • Don't forget to hand back any visitor's passes that you may have been given.

Next steps

  1. Make your list of the factors that may affect the interview panels instant view of you.
  2. Decide which of those are under your control.
  3. Do whatever you can to ensure that you will inevitably control those factors as well as you can.

Curriculum vitae
Update your curriculum vitae and make sure you know it well. Be prepare to explain any gaps in employment histotory. Most interviews open with a discussion around  your cv-this should be the easy bit!   Make sure it is laid out clearly and spaced out nicely. Use commonly used fonts and don’t make it too wordy (boring). Print it out on good quality paper. It goes with saying, but obviously NEVER ever exaggerate (lie) in a cv, not only could you lose your job if you do get it, but the GMC might be very interested!

You should cover the following subheadings:

  • Personal Details
  • Undergraduate education, awards and electives undertaken
  • Post Graduate Qualifications
  • Courses (ATLS, ALS, APLS etc)
  • Current Employment with dates
  • Previous Employment with dates (use a table, no need to have a write up on each, by this stage in your career it would make the cv huge!) & other work experience if relevant
  • Audits
  • Presentations
  • Research and Publications
  • Teaching Experience
  • Management Experience
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Referees


Interview Questions

Consultant Interview Question Samples 1
Consultant Interview Question Samples 2
Key Questions
Interview Skills
Top 5 Mistakes


Example Questions from recent Interviews

Chief Exec

Take us through your CV. 
What is the best way to teach in an Emergency Department – what different methods of teaching are there? 
What do you understand by professionalism? What makes a professional? 
Tell us about Mentoring for new consultants? 
What is your vision for the department for the future? 
How can the Trust improve safeguarding of children? 
What are the indicators of a successful Emergency Department service? 
Why do patients come here rather than other places?

College Rep/assessor
Tell me about your training in Emergency Medicine?
Take me through your placements since you started as an ST3?
What can you add to this department?
Is there regular ST teaching? Do you get to attend? Does it cover Management?
What about the acute medicine placement?

How are you going to help with the development of the department?
What issues/pressures are affecting us at the moment?
A question regarding the cost of an admission – I wasn’t too sure what the bottom line of this Q was

ED Consultant
Tell us about your teaching experience/training.
How would you improve the educational quality of our ED?
How do you relax and what other interests do you have?

Deputy MD/Medical Director
How would we know that you are a good doctor?
Tell me about your experience in Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults?

How would you manage a delay in getting a head CT?
What do you think/your opinion on primary care taking care of A&E patients?


Some Interesting Topics to think about

10 priorities for resolving the A&E crisis

The Consultant Contract and Job Planning for Emergency Medicine Consultants

The Role of the Consultant on Call

Complaints Procedure for England: Introduction,  Local resolution,  Writing a response, & The Ombudsman  

Complaints Procedure for Scotland

Complaints Procedure for Wales

Clinical Governance

4-hour wait exceptions

A Quick Guide to Customer Care

A Guide to Better Customer Care

Dealing with Serious Complaints

Joint Working on Complaints

Investigating Complaints

CNST Summary (Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts)

CNST Guidelines

Lord Darzi's Preliminary Report 'Our NHS, Our Future', and Summary

Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review Final Report, and summary document

Healthier Horizons for the North West

CEM response to Darzi Report

Seven Myths about the ED from CEM

Emergency Care 2015, CEM

The Reorganisation of Emergency Services, CEM

CEM The Way Ahead 2008-2012      


In the news

One-fifth of patients 'admit to misusing A&E units' BBC News 4/3/14
On the NHS frontline: 'being a doctor in A&E is like being a medic in a war zone  The Guardian 5/3/14
Should patients be charged £10 for non-urgent A&E treatment? Nursing Times 13/3/14
Appointment scheme at Bromsgrove GPs' cuts A&E admissions Bromsgrove Standard 13/3/14
A&E: Some patients visit units 50 times a year  BBC News 7/1/14
Sharp rise in spending on A&E locum doctors BBC News 14/1/14
Are we missing a trick on A&E? BBC News 10/1/14
NHS spending on temporary locum doctors in A&E up 60%, says Labour The Guardian 14/1/14