Hints and tips for the interview day
To get an interview slot, you first have to pass the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA). If your score in the MSRA is good enough, you will be offered an interview and it’s 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 step in your journey to radiology, especially with rising competition ratios.
This year, the interview will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams online.
- The interview process is different from previous years due to COVID-19
- The portfolio self-assessment will take place online this year
- Interviewed applicants final score will consist of their MSRA score, the verified self-assessment score and the interview score.
- The interview will be held online using Microsoft Teams.
- In the event that interviews are uable to be held, the contingency plan is that all candidates will be ranked based on their MSRA scores and the verified self-assessment score only.
The radiology interview process has tended to change year-on-year for the the last 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’ changes slightly every year.
What is the interview structure?
Single online station (15 mins)
For a taste of what may be expected, here are details of the some interview topics used in previous years:
Commitment to specialty
Interviewers are likely to evaulate a candidates ability to understand and discuss pertinent topics in radiology. They may ask about your experience of radiology (including your taster week) and previous training experience including how your previous experience has equipped you for radiology training. If you are transferring to radiology from another specialty, for example core surgical training, they often want to know why you changed your mind 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 try to find out how much you know about clinical 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. In summary, questions will proably be aimed at the following broad areas:
- The training scheme (how they vary across the country, exams, life as a trainee etc)
- Life as a consultant (challenges to the field, day-to-day working as a cosultant etc)
- Exposure to the specialty (your experience, taster weeks, radiology projects etc)
Knowledge and skills
Candidates may be asked to critique audit, research or radiology reports/requests. 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. Another example is critiquing a radiology report and how you would respond.
Given this may be covered to an extent in the MSRA, this is probably less likely to be covered here, however 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. Examples include:
- 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.
Practice out loud
- Practice with someone out loud. This is really important and will help you appreciate that your answers are a good length (not 10 minutes long!). Practice with family and friends under timed conditions.
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).
Read our 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. There are many hot topics to read up on, many of which are 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.
Know the exam structure
- Questions on this often come up at interview. We have detailed information and tips for the FRCR exams on this website, however it is primarily targetted at current radiology trainees. In preparing for your interview you would be better to read the information on the Royal College of Radiologists website.
Here is a summary of the FRCR exams for you:
- First FRCR examination
Taken in March of ST1
Consists of two exams; Anatomy (90 minutes) and Physics (2 hours). The anatomy exam consists of 100 radiological images with one question each (usually ‘name this structure’) and free text answers. The physics exam consists of 40 true/false questions, each question with 5 components (so total of 200 questions).
- FRCR Part A examination
Taken in December of ST3
Two 3 hour papers (each 120 questions) taken on one day. This exam asks questions on the following areas: Cardiothoracic and Vascular, Musculoskeletal and Trauma, Gastro-intestinal & Genito-urinary, Adrenal, Obstetrics Gynaecology and Breast, Paediatrics and Central Nervous System and Head & Neck.
- FRCR Part B examination
Taken in October of ST4
Consists of three exams; a reporting session (75 minutes), a rapid reporting session (35 minutes) and an oral examination (60 minutes).
- First FRCR examination
Listen to this excellent RadCast Podcast episode on interview essentials
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)
Best interview preparation books
Medical Interviews (2nd Edition): A comprehensive guide to CT, ST & Registrar Interview Skills
Many candidates have found this very helpful to read prior to the ST1 clinical radiology interview.
Useful documents and articles to read
- 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.
- Lifelong learning and building teams using peer feedback. London. The Royal College of Radiologists, 2017. Ref No. BFCR(17)5
- 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.