05 January

A basic guide to GP interviews

GP Interviews: Your guide

By David Murphy

Working in GP recruitment there are several anecdotal stories you hear about how interview processes have changed over the years. From walking in for a chat, shaking hands and being offered a partnership to requests for lengthy presentations – beyond the absolute basics – there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of hard and fast rule surrounding etiquette and what to expect.

It doesn’t seem much has changed either. Whilst interview-based presentations seem to be something of a dying breed – heralding the days where GP applicants might have been in the double digits – there is still a significant range from panel-based interviews to casual chats where you come away wondering if it was an interview after all.  Regardless of this there are still core practices which will help prospective GPs get the most out of their meeting with any surgeries; advice we will always discuss and send to candidates ahead of their meeting.

“The reality of primary care GP recruitment is that if you are applying and being invited for meetings with practices for roles you are always going to be qualified for the post.”

In my own work I always suggest treating first stage or ‘informal’ meetings as a bit of a fact-finding mission or something akin to clinical speed dating. The reality of primary care GP recruitment is that if you are applying and being invited for meetings with practices for roles you are always going to be qualified for the post. It’s very black and white when assessing skill sets for these kinds of positions, something which in general recruitment is quite unusual.

This arguably shifts the dynamic of any meetings because the practice isn’t typically looking to assess your qualifications, beyond perhaps some basic clinical scenarios, but rather looking to understand what you as a person are able to offer the practice and whether there is a ‘fit’ in terms of meeting each other’s needs.

Understand what you want out of a role

Understanding what you want out of a role is probably my most important interview tip. This is always something we will talk to you about before hand to try and understand what kind of things you are looking for before discussing suitable practices with you.

By being clear, transparent and concise about what you are looking for from a role allows the practices you meet to ‘buy into’ you as an individual and see how they could not only help address your needs but also understand how you would fit into the practice longer-term.

Do your homework

If you are looking at more than one practice, which is quite likely given the number of vacancies out there, then it is crucial you do your research ahead of any meetings or make notes on the practice details, we discuss with you.

Something we are particularly proud of as an organisation is the level of success we have with practices and the number that choose to come back to us time and time again when they are looking to recruit into additional roles. This leads to some brilliant relationships and a very good understanding of the practices we work with – information we will always impart to you ensuring you are in the best possible position when you attend an interview.

If you are exploring your own options or just want to refresh on the practice you are going to see there is still some useable information available online. Practice websites are a great place to start, they are typically reasonably up-to-date and give a good over-view of the clinical team and number of GPs employed by the practice.


Useful resource

Another site https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/general-practice is also a really useful resource because it will give you information on a practice beyond what you might typically be able to find on practice websites including the list size, age range, demographics and even positive patient experience.

Tying in your understanding the kind of practice you are interviewing with in the context of what you are looking for from a surgery is an effective way of highlighting that you’ve done your research. If you are applying for something like a partnership or more senior clinical role it is also worthwhile having a solid understanding of some core areas such as CQC, ICSs, NHS five year forward, LES & DES and PCN services – to name some of the areas that I’ve experienced coming up previously.

Get the basics right 

In more formal settings it is very possible that you may be interviewed with a more structured interview pro-forma, I find larger practices, which naturally have more ongoing recruitment processes, typically like to standardise their processes. There shouldn’t be any curve balls and the best advice I try to give is to anticipate the obvious questions but don’t over rehearse them – Why us? Why you? Strengths or Weaknesses in clinical scenarios? What development are you looking for? Any questions about the role or practice?

Your Questions 

Try and avoid the typical what’s in it for me questions – Money can sometimes feel like a bit of a taboo subject, if we have put you forward for a role that is because we know your expectations fall within the range the practice has already indicated and this is something we will discuss with both the surgery and a GP beforehand. This way you can always avoid asking questions like ‘how much are you paying’.

If a prospective employer brings up the topic of salary this is typically an appropriate time to discuss your expectations although I would always recommend having a solid understanding of what is ‘market rate’ in a specific location to primarily avoid looking out of touch but also minimise the chances of underselling yourself.

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