ST1 Clinical Radiology - Interview
Hints and tips for the selection day and example questions
Once you have passed the hurdle of the SRA and been offered an interview, it is important to remember that your interview score now becomes the main decision making tool in recruitment. This means your performance at interview is the main factor for final job offer ranking, therefore being thoroughly prepared for the interview is the single most important element in your journey to radiology, especially with rising competition ratios.
- The interview structure tends to change each year so candidates should expect the process to be slightly different from the previous year
- The interview lasts approximately 30 minutes
- There are 2-3 interview stations, each lasting approximately 10 minutes, and a preparation station
- There are 2 interviewers (+/- an external examiner or observer) on each station and they each mark you separately
The radiology interview process has changed every year for the past few years. There are a number of reasons for this, but ultimately the college is trying to optimise the process to select the best candidates whilst managing the large number of applicants. For this reason the number and content of the interview ‘stations’ undergoes a change every year.
Read more about the interview stations
The format of this station has changed in recent years and is likely to change again next year so it is difficult to prepare for this. Here are some of the tasks candidates have been asked to do in the recent past:
- Self-marking their portfolio against a double sided A4 mark sheet with questions covering taster week, other qualifications, presentations, articles, quality improvement projects and teaching amongst others. This may then be checked in a subsequent station. See our portfolio advice page for tips on producing a good portfolio.
- Read through a piece of information - this may be a radiological report for example. The candidate may then be asked questions about it in the subsequent stations.
- Prioritise 5 scan requests in order of urgency. The candidate may then be asked to justify their decisions in a subsequent station.
2-3 interview stations
The interview format changes year-on-year so it is difficult to predict what may come up this year. Even the consultants performing the interviews do not find out the format until just before the interview date(s). Candidates will, however, be sent details of what to expect in the run-up to the interview. Given all this, we know there will be at least two interview stations each lasting approximately 10 minutes.
Commitment to specialty station
They may ask about your experience of radiology (including your taster week), questions about graduation and previous training experience including how your previous experience has equipped you for radiology training. If you have transferred to radiology from training in another specialty, for example core surgical training, they often want to know why you changed and how you think you'll cope with going back a few seniority grades.
They may ask you to talk about your commitment to radiology.
They may ask about your knowledge of radiology training including questions about the FRCR examinations, stress, the different types of training programmes and radiology academies. A good understanding of what you're getting yourself into is essential! There may also be questions about current issues facing radiology including dealing with excessive workload, MDT meetings, skills mix and teleradiology to name a few.
Knowledge and skills station
In this station candidates may be asked to critique audit, research, radiology reports/requests etc and anything you may have read in the preparation station. You need to show a good understanding of the principles of audit and research, particularly with regard to some of the issues and difficulties facing radiology in particular.
You will likely be asked about your own audits and if there was any radiology component to them. It is important to do a radiology audit as this shows that you are aware of clinical governance (which is an important part of the person specification) and that you have taken the time to complete a project in your chosen career area.
You may be asked about teaching and any feedback you received.
They may also give you a clinical scenario to see how you respond. An example would be a colleague picking up a significant incidental finding on a scan and asking you how you would manage this.
The key piece of evidence that comes up repeatedly is the radiology 'taster week', which you absolutely must have. How can you show that you are serious about a career in radiology without spending at least a week in the department so you have an idea about what a day in the life is really like?
The panel may want to review certain important documents within the candidates portfolio. These may include:
- Taster week letter (please make sure this is signed!)
- Qualifications (other than primary medical degree)
- Multi source feedback results
- Presentations (national or international)
- Quality improvement project (completed the cycle)
- Conferences / courses attended
- Evidence of reflection (ePortfolio print out)
Usually you will have to show your portfolio upside down (the consultants may sit opposite you), so make sure you are prepared to find things quickly while everything is back-to-front!
They may ask you to pick something to show from your portfolio. This may be your only chance during the interview to show something you had achieved so it is important to choose wisely. It doesn't have to be radiology related!
Ethical scenarios station
This may not be as vital now that the Professional Dilemmas paper (part of the SRA) forms part of the application process. You may be asked to discuss and work through a number of clinical scenarios with particular professional and ethical issues. The interviewer will be interested in how you would respond to them.
- Professional behaviour
- Working with colleagues
- Consent issues
- Radiation protection incidents (wrong patient, overdose etc...)
- Serious unexpected findings
- Difficult family and friends issues
- Inappropriate patient behaviour
Hints and tips
The number of applicants to clinical radiology has increased year on year and competition for training posts is more now than in previous years. This means preparation for the interview is more vital than in previous years.
- The key to a successful interview is preparation and practise. If you know what to expect and are prepared, the interview shouldn't have many surprises. Your local radiology department will be very happy to help you, and as a general rule, will be delighted that you are taking an interest and wishing to explore our specialty as a career option.
Have a good understanding of the general workings of a radiology department
- Without evidence of a taster week, valuable marks will be immediately lost. It is important that you spend time in a radiology department at some point before your interview. This gives you the opportunity to see how Radiologists, Radiographers and other members of the radiology team work together to deliver a service. Ask questions and get an idea of some of the current issues affecting radiology (e.g. lack of specialty trainees and moving to 7 day working patterns).
Top topics for interviews
- Topics are likely to be based on the clinical radiology curriculum and would therefore likely cover the following areas: Knowledge, audit, interpretative/clinical skills, leadership, procedural skills, communication skills, teaching skills and team work.
Look at example questions
- We have a comprehensive list of example interview questions commonly asked at ST1 interview. Read through this list and think about how you would answer the questions if asked at interview.
Attend a radiology course
- Attending radiology courses is a way of demonstrating your commitment to Radiology. Although course attendance as a topic is unlikely to come up at interview, in general attending courses or conferences can help you engage with other radiologists and will almost certainly help. There are also specific radiology interview courses, which may help with your preparation, however they are by no means essential! (I didn't attend one)
Useful documents and articles to read
Below are a list of articles, documents and publications which make good reading prior to interview. Many of difficult questions and situational judgement type questions you may get require a good understanding of the issues involved to answer well.
- Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry - Executive summary (Francis Report). 2013.
- A promise to learn – a commitment to act. Improving the Safety of Patients in England (Berwick Report). National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England. 2013.
- Quality assurance in radiology reporting: peer feedback. The Royal College of Radiologists Board of the Faculty of Clinical Radiology 2014. BFCR (14)10.
- Standards for Learning from Discrepancies meetings. The Royal College of Radiologists Board of the Faculty of Clinical Radiology 2014. BFCR (14)10.
- Larson DB, Nance JJ. Rethinking Peer Review: What Aviation Can Teach Radiology about Performance Improvement. Radiology 2011; 259:626-632.
- Prowse SJ et al. Discrepancies in discrepancy meetings: Results of the UK national discrepancy meeting survey. Clin Radiol 2014; 69: 18-22.
- RCOG Improving workplace behaviours: dealing with undermining. www.rcog.org.uk/en/careers-training/workplace-workforce-issues/improving-workplace-behaviours-dealing-with-undermining/.
- Gunderman R, Chan S. Knowledge Sharing in Radiology. Radiology 2003; 229: 314-317.
- Carthey J et al. Breaking the rules: understanding non-compliance with policies and guidelines. BMJ 2011; 343:d5283.
- Gibbons A, Bryant D. Followership: the forgotten part of doctors’ leadership. BMJ Careers 2012.
- Exploring the relationship between patients' experience of care and the influence of staff motivation, affect and wellbeing. NHS National Institute for Health Research 2012.