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First impressions matter

We have all heard that first impression counts. To make that lasting first impression, you must do your homework well in multiple ways. In consultant interview preparation, you really need to explore and search for the job, the trust and the people that you are going to be with.

You have three opportunities to make that first impression during the selection process.

  1. Application
  2. Pre interview visit
  3. Interview

You must perform at the time of interview and this is not discussed in this blog. We will discuss first two in details. Performing well on the day is discussed in a separate blog. 


We cannot emphasise enough that a well written application will help you get shortlisted. When completing your application, make sure that:

  • You complete all sections
  • Cover all aspects of your work
  • Remain honest: do not overstate: you will be found out!
  • Avoid typos and grammatical mistakes

You can use our Application review service.

Pre interview visit

In simple term, purpose of pre interview visit is to see if the organisation is right for you and leave a mark so that the panel feels same about you.

This is the first time you get to see the team you would be working as well as the managers. This is your opportunity to understand trust values and culture. Remember to put your best feet forward. Whilst you are trying to see if the place/people are right for you, you are also being judged. It is very important to meet the key holders, budget holders and senior managers. Take multiple copies of your CV and give to individual team member when you meet them. Unless you have worked before, this is the first time you get to meet the people you would be working with for years (or decades).

This is your opportunity to visit the area. What is it like? Lively and busy or quite charming place? Where would you want to be?

Do a Google search on every member of this colleague that I working with, maybe Google the chief exec and medical director. When I went for my interview, I even searched for them on Facebook and Instagram. And I was quite fascinated because I found that one of the Panel members, but had the same interests as I had.

Aim of the pre interview visit is to clarify any burning issues you may have, clarify any points that are unclear and pick up cues that you can use in the interview. During your pre interview visit try to:

  • See your future place and meet future colleagues
  • Understand the post with key people, stake holders and managers
  • Identify directions organisation is heading
  • Recognise challenges and happy moments
  • Visit the local area and see if that is where you would like to spend good part of your non working life
  • Meet members of the Appointment Advisory committee (AAC) members. Aim to meet as many people as you can (all if possible)

Do not forget to meet the unsung heroes of the tea: Ward clerk, theatre coordinators, specialist nurses and secretaries. These may not be interviewing you but positive mark on them will be remembered by AAC members or existing consultant who may be in AAC. You may already have interacted with the secretaries whilst planning a visit.

During your visit, stay positive, avoid criticising the organisation. If there is something negative that you have uncovered (poor CQC rating) or a never event in the trust, remember to empathise and understand how it can get better rather than why did it happened and who is responsible?

During conversation, stay attentive, listen and respond. Clarify as needed. Make mental notes.

You should have read important documents, job description, trust reports on website and any news worthy comments. How relevant these are to the job you will be doing? Give a positive air to the negative comments. If something is not good that is your opportunity to do something when in post.

Don’t forget junior doctors/registrar in post. They have their finger on the pulse and that little inside information can make your day.

You should have done enough searches about the job so that you can ask intelligent questions. Ask right questions recognising role and responsibility of that person. Whilst the chief executive can tell you a lot about new hospital site, plan for future asking this question to the nurse consultant in your speciality will make you look unprepared.

Whilst this is an opportunity for you to explore threats and challenges, future of the trust, departments and yourself, it is not the time to demonstrate your eagerness to climb management ladder, to take on leadership (current post holder may feel threatened)! That should not deter you from exploring future personal and professional development and career progression.

You may also want to explore the reason previous post holder left. Beware as it may be a sore spot for organisation so back off if needed and explore in a different platform.

Do not be late, Arrive in time and dress smart. If you are late for any reason, keep them informed.


There is no turning back. Leave a bad impression and you have no hope for getting the much coveted job. You should follow our Four steps to success at your interview. Do not give cliché replies. Give your opinion when asked without arguing when panel views are opposite to your views.

Again, arrive in time if not early, walk in with confidence and answer questions with zest.

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