Are you looking for an easy way to predict the types of questions you will get at your job interview? I've worked with lots of candidates for various jobs both inside and outside of medicine and there is a reasonably simple and straight forward method that I show these clients which can help you to predict the majority of questions you will be asked during the interview. And also set you up for any unexpected “curveball” type questions.
So how can you tell what sort of questions you are going to be asked during the interview? The simple answer to this is that the genesis of each interview question should come from the selection criteria that are attached to the job description. If you can identify these selection criteria then you can also identify the types of skills, strengths, evidence and examples the panel will be looking for in the interview and practise questions which formatted in the various interview question styles.
Whilst, it's never 100% possible to completely predict the actual question you may be asked. I find that this sort of analysis paired with an intensive practice regimen will pick up about 80% of the actual questions fairly closely. But its always possible for the interview panel to go “off-script” on occasion, especially on medical panels, where some of the panel members can view themselves as self-taught experts in the process. For these occasions, I have a couple of other methods so you can handle the more odd question comfortably as well.
For the rest of this article, I will take you through my method for identifying questions in more detail. Give you a couple of examples and then talk about a couple of more tips to have you extra prepared.
Predicting Interview Questions. First Find the Selection Criteria.
When you know how and where to look. It's actually pretty easy to predict most of the questions you will be asked.
So here is a typical Senior Resident Medical Officer job from the NSW Health site.
You can see that its for a role in Intensive Medicine. So the sort of doctor who might be applying for this role is someone in their third year of Medicine who is looking at potentially training in ICU or perhaps Anaesthesia in the future.
These jobs aren’t formally accredited for training. So they are almost 100% done as a small panel interview with perhaps 3 or 4 people on the panel.
So its obviously worth reading through the whole position description to see if it is a job that is good for you.
But once we have decided we are interested in the job. If we want to work out the sort of questions we will get asked then we need to look at the Selection Criteria. Because in most countries like Australia the common practice (and normally also the policy) is to ask questions based on the selection criteria. Here are the Selection Criteria:
In theory, you should not be asked a question which is not related to one of the selection criteria.
So for this job we have 8 selection criteria which is the maximum allowed in NSW Health. Let’s look at some of these criteria. I am going to skip over the first one which is about having a medical degree and being registered with the Medical Board. You will need to be able to prove this when you apply. So you are not going to be asked a question about this. Unless there is a specific doubt or query about the evidence you have given.
Questions About Relevant Experience
Lets look at Selection Criteria number 2.
“Completion of at least two postgraduate years including relevant experience in intensive care medicine.”
On the surface, this seems similar to the first criteria. In that, you either have this or don’t have this. But there are actually a few ways this criterion could come up as a question
AND a few ways of answering it.
The first way this criterion could come up is in what I call “The typical opening or first question.” Panels often like to kick off the interview with a question that gets the candidate to talk about themselves. So you might be asked something general like:
“Why are you a good candidate for this role?”
OR even more general like
“Why are you interested in this position?”
Or more specific and more targeted to the criteria. Like
“Can you outline how your experience makes you suitable for the position?”
If the panel was to ask this question in a behavioural format. Which they often like to.Then they might ask a question like:
“Can you give us an example of how your experience so far has prepared you for this role?”
Every Question Is An Opportunity to Highlight Your Strengths.
Now. I have just given you 4 questions that fit one selection criteria. So, you could now go off and practice all 4 questions. But actually, whilst the format of answering each of these questions will differ slightly. The content will generally remain the same.
With each and every question it’s an opportunity for you to emphasise your strengths to the panel. So in this instance, you would:
- Give an outline of your experience so far. Especially if it is more than 2 years.
- Talk about any specific experience in intensive care if you have had some.
- But also talk about related experiences and training, such as working in emergency OR doing an advanced life support course OR being given the opportunity to participate on a Medical Emergency Team
- And give the best example of a case of a patient requiring urgent or intensive care and how you contributed to that case and displayed skills and competencies relevant to intensive care.
Demonstrating the Ability to Work Independently.
Let's look at one more of these criteria. Let's look at number 3.
“Demonstrated ability to work independently in a supervised environment”
More often than not. The most likely way this selection criterion will be assessed is through a clinical scenario.
If you undertake any coaching with me or take my interview skills course. We talk about how the clinical scenario is both an assessment of your clinical knowledge but also an assessment of your ability to seek help and access other resources.
So, you are likely to be given a scenario where you have to have a method and approach for assessing a sick patient. But there will be a point where the panel expects that you discuss when you would seek help from more senior colleagues. And this is likely to be the more critical part of the question.
The approach to the question is to show a balance between being able to act calmly in a situation, collect information and conduct an initial assessment and then use your assessment to gain input from the senior colleague.
Once again. As always. An example. It doesn’t need to be the exact scenario but just something similar. That demonstrates how you have actually done this before in real life is EXTREMELY POWERFUL.
Some Other Tips For Being Prepared For the Interview.
Another great tip for making sure you have practised the questions that you may be asked at the interview is to find out from previous candidates what sort of questions they have been asked.
You will find that if you ask around you will often be handed a bunch of “past questions”. If you get enough of these you will start to notice a bit of a pattern. That is the questions will start to repeat themselves. They may not be exactly the same. But in essence, they are the same question.
This is because medical position descriptions generally don’t change much year to year. So you can be fairly confident in using these questions to practice. And if you practice enough of them. Then you will find that you are familiar with most of the questions you get asked.
By the way, we have a page on the AdvanceMed site that lists over 500 interview questions. Categorized by various job titles. It's worth exploring. Even if there are not many questions for your particular position. You will probably find questions under other categories are easily adapted.
Prepare an Example for Each Criterion.
My last tip is to have a good example for each of the selection criteria. This is useful. For a couple of reasons.
Firstly. You probably have had to do this anyway when you addressed the selection criteria in your application.
Secondly. Even if you are given a bit of a curveball question and you weren’t prepared for it. Having an example for each selection criteria will probably give you something to talk about that is relevant to that “curveball question”.
So that’s how you can work out the sorts of questions you may be asked at the interview.
If you are looking for even more guidance you may want to look at purchasing our book
Question. Where's a Good Place to Find Evidence for the Selection Criteria?
I find a good place to start is your CV. Look at each selection criteria and then go through your CV and highlight areas that meet that criteria. Ask yourself is there enough detail here? Are there quantifiable results or a good example? If not you probably want to add these into your CV for this particular job application.
Question. Why Do Interview Panels Like to Ask Behavioural Questions?
Behavioural questions are when the panel asks you for an example from your past that demonstrates a selection criterion. This is based on some reasonable evidence from organizational psychology and human resources research that asking for an example is more predictive of future performance than an answer to a hypothetical question. Its based on the principle that past performance predicts future performance.