Applying for a consultant post
Choosing the right job
It is important that you take some time to consider your priorities and try to match potential jobs to what you would like to achieve in your career.
If you see a job advertisement that catches your eye, it might be useful to contact the Trust to arrange a preliminary visit. There are many factors to consider and such a visit might help you to find out:
- Locality and travel times
- Likely workload and on-call commitments
- Clinical resources and facilities
- The Trust's approach to team-working
- Opportunities for research or teaching
You might also be able to arrange informal discussions with existing consultants, which would provide some background on Trust and the unit.
Preparing your CV and Application Form
By this stage in your career, you will already have created a good CV. You should ensure that this is up to date and you have made explicit the link between your skills and those required in the job you are applying for. This is also true for application forms, though be careful not to repeat yourself too much. If you did visit the Trust, use what you learnt there and make reference to this.
Consultant interviews are quite different from interviews you will have had for your trainee posts. Because of this you may find that preparation takes longer.
It is possible to be over-prepared for example if you practice every possible question until your answers are word perfect, you will miss nuances in the questions you are actually asked and come across as a bad listener. However, it is more likely that you will not prepare enough, or prepare in the wrong way. Re-visit your CV, consider your skills, think about questions you may be asked and think about and how you would fit into the team. Practice!
You may be asked any of a wide variety of questions, you cannot expect to have thought about or practiced all of them. Instead, think broadly about topic areas including:
- Your CV
- Your skills (clinical, interpersonal and managerial)
- NHS issues and politics
- Your development and your potential role in the team
If at all possible, you should try to give examples from your own experience when answering each question; demonstrate how you can fulfil the role.
The Appointment Process
The appointments process of consultants is laid down in statute (except in the case of Foundation Trusts, who may follow slightly different processes). Once a consultant vacancy is identified the Trust must compile a job description and person specification and advertise the post in at least two medical journals.
Candidates are invited for interview and have to sit before an Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC). An AAC usually comprises:
- a lay member;
- an external Royal College assessor;
- Trust Chief Executive
- Trust Medical Director
- a Consultant who works in the specialty
The College representative, along with other members of the AAC, must ensure that the best candidate for the job is appointed and that the process is fair and open within current legislation and employment practice.
College Assessors are trained in fair and non-discriminatory interviewing and selection techniques, complying with appropriate legislation. They are established consultants or honorary consultants, practising a minimum of six sessions in the NHS. They must have a minimum of five year’s experience in active practice. Consultants must be recognised as trainers and their units must be recognised for training in the appropriate specialty.