Questions you should be well prepared for

Questions you should be well prepared for

  1. Take me through your CV (or a variation on this!)

 a)Here you can apply the CAMP structure:

i. Clinical: brief overview of what jobs you have done, what skills and knowledge you have acquired, and how they influenced/prepared you for ST3 training in respiratory medicine. Have you stepped up to a registrar level during your CMT/IMT years before you had to?

ii. Academic: Research, audits, presentations, publications, teaching, courses, extra degrees. Your time to shine with all that you have done extra to your 9-5 job.

iii. Management: Roles you have had within the hospital or within external organisations. Did you manage the rota? Student rep or junior doctor rep? Did you implement some change within the hospital? Maybe you introduced a proforma as a result of an audit. Organised social events, teaching courses. Have you managed an acute take?

iv. Personal: Your personal strengths and hobbies

2. Why did you choose respiratory: Crucial answer. Don’t say something that could be applied to any medical specialty, such as “I like the mix of acute and chronic patients” or “I like to manage critically unwell patients”. This answer needs to be unique to you and to your experience. Here you can apply the CAMP structure but below are some points to act as pointers for you to come up with your reasons for wanting to do this. You will have your reasons, otherwise you wouldn’t be spending money on this website to do well in your interviews, but sometimes the hardest thing is to put them into a nice list and describe them in a compelling way.

Think about:

  • Do you like practical procedures?
  • Do you like endoscopic procedures?
  • Did you work on a respiratory ward at any point? What did you like most (and possibly even the least)?
  • Did you do a fellowship/locum in respiratory medicine? Why did you do it, What did you learn? Did it spark an interest in a subspecialty? Did you work with someone inspiring?
  • Respiratory medicine involves a lot of very difficult to manage patients with diseases that can be frustrating to treat (COPD, asthma, OSA). How would you face treating these patients for the rest of your life?
  • Respiratory medicine requires versatile doctors with multiple skills that are required in few other specialties at the same time – endoscopic, pleural/practical, radiology, as well as the usual examination, communication, managerial etc. Do you have an interest in learning these skills?
  • There is a close working relationship with multiple specialties (oncology, radiology, rheumatology, nephrology, palliative care, cardiology) and allied health professionals (physiotherapy, speech and language, specialist nurses). Do you like this aspect?
  • Do you have a particular subspecialist interest? Have you worked in a tertiary centre that made you want to be a subspecialist? It might be too early to know but some people know they want to do Asthma when they CCT. Most people will not have a subspecialist interest by this time, and many will work as general respiratory physicians without a subspecialist interest, although the trend is to have some sort of focus, even in DGHs.
  • Do you want to be an academic? Respiratory medicine is a highly academic speciality with plenty of opportunities for research and many extremely high-regarded departments and doctors in the UK.
  • Does this specialty suit your personality? You are unlikely to be someone who dislikes practical procedures, or who likes to work in silos. To succeed in this speciality there is a lot of teamwork, interdisciplinary involvement, pressure in working with extremely sick patients.

3. What have you done in your career that shows you want to do respiratory medicine?

a. This is an opportunity for you to show all the extra-curricular stuff that is respiratory-focussed.

b. Things to include: Audits, research projects, publications of any sort, courses, conferences, presentations, clinical fellowships, locum jobs in respiratory, taster weeks

c. Have you taken the time to speak to or shadow a respiratory consultant? What did you learn and how was the experience?

d. Did you choose your CMT/IMT on purpose to include a respiratory rotation? Don’t worry if you didn’t. For many, the interest in the speciality might develop after you chose, or start, your CMT/IMT years.

e. Do you read any journals? Did you belong to any relevant groups as a medical student? Are you a member of the BTS (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – they will ask)

f. Have you done a practical procedures course? These could be pleural ultrasound, bronchoscopy, ALERT, etc.

4. What is your main achievement/publication/audit? NB: it doesn’t necessarily need to be a respiratory related one. As long as it is impactful and you can justify why it was important for you.

a. Why do you think this is the main achievement?

  •  Did you put a lot of work into it? Did you lead a team? Did it have an impact on patient care? Did you present it or publish it? Did you come up with the idea and lead on it?

c. What did you learn from it?

d. What impact did it have on you or your ward/hospital (if you talk about your audit)?

4. How will this change what you do in future in your career?

Example answer: “My biggest achievement was publishing my study on A-B-C in Journal XYZ (signpost early – clear message to the interviewer). This was the final result of a 6 month piece of work I did in a team of X people involving my consultant, and 4 other CMT/IMTs. My role was to coordinate the literature research and collate and analyse all the information gathered, as well as sharing the writing of the manuscript with the others. I had to manage a lot of the data and analyse it thoroughly which demanded I learnt many analytical skills and many evenings of my own time.”

“I feel it is my biggest achievement because I had an important role in managing the team and the output was of very good quality. Finally, it was published in a very reputable journal. I enjoyed the process of research and as a result of doing this project I am keen to develop my career into a more academic role.”

5. Where do you see yourself in X years’ time?

You might not have thought about this yet or you might have it all planned until you retire. Regardless, you will need to provide a structured answer that is specific to you. Try and use examples as much as possible.

Think about:

  • What type of setting will you want to work in? If in a hospital, do you want a teaching hospital or a DGH? In an urban or country setting? Why do you feel this way? Have you worked in a DGH and liked the pace there? Or do you want to be involved in large hospitals, with the exposure to more conditions than in a DGH working in usually larger teams?
  • What type of role? Do you want to be solely clinical or have a proportion of your job allocated to academic/research purposes? You might also want to be involved with management. Do you have any examples of experience in any of these that might have swayed your decision?
  • Do you want to subspecialise and why? Maybe you worked in a subspecialty during a placement?
  • Do you want to become a clinical teacher? Do you have any experience in teaching that made you choose that? Any specific field of teaching you’re interested in and why?
  • Do you intend to get involved in politics? Say the BMA, or higher still government, or public health? What are the reasons behind this? Do you like the ability to influence policy and healthcare at a more national level? Have you worked in that area before? Have you implemented small scale change in your hospital and want to expand that to a larger scale?

6.  What have you enjoyed most about your training?

    • No real right or wrong answers here.
    • The key is to chose something that is relevant and impactful and give a reason that is personal to you, with examples.
    • For example, you might have enjoyed nights as an CMT/IMT because there is more pressure to problem-solve without having all the supportive people around you. Was there a specific time when this happened? Talk about it using the STAR structure.
    • Or maybe you enjoyed the clinics you did in a certain specialty. Did you like them because they are a completely new, and somewhat scary, way of managing patients, from which you learned a lot? Did you like the follow-up and continuity of doing the tests, seeing the results, and acting on them (unlikely as a CMT/IMT as you might struggle to follow people up). Exemplify with a specific case in which you did this.
    • Or you enjoyed a specific rotation?

7. What are your weaknesses/strengths?

  • Very challenging question and the key is to not be too negative nor too positive.
  • Try to think about 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses
  • Get an example that demonstrates each of these
  • For your weaknesses, then think about what you did to learn from your mistakes, and maybe even an example of another time when you demonstrated your improvement.
  • Don’t choose a weakness that makes you unable to perform as a registrar (“I am unable to manage a small team of 4-5 people” – you absolutely need to be able to do this as a registrar, such as during an acute medical take, or leading a ward round and managing a day’s work with your Fys/CMTs)
  • For strengths, don’t cut yourself short. If you feel you are good at something then say it and use an example to back it up.
  • Example answer for a weakness:
    • I feel that one of my weaknesses is my difficulty in maintaining focus during periods of prolong stress, such as a night shift. For example, during a night shift when I started as a CMT/IMT, I found myself making prescribing errors and overlooking some jobs that I wouldn’t find myself doing during a day on-call, such as when I prescribed double the dose of an antibiotic to a patient, only to be informed of this by the nurse looking after them. Once I realised this, I made sure I took frequent rest periods during my on-calls and made an effort to double check all I did to minimise the risk of mistakes”
  • Example answer for  strength:
    • I feel that one of my strengths is my ability to prioritise work within a team. During my time in attachment B, I was usually the most senior doctor on the ward for most of the day which meant I had to organise the workload to make sure we finished all our jobs by the end of the day when the registrar came back to confer on everything. I started by doing A, then I divided jobs according to B and C, and then by lunchtime we did D. In the end, we managed to always leave work on time with all the important jobs completed”
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