Looking back at my interview a year down the line
18 Jan 2016
As I drove to the office this morning I had exactly the same churning stomach, slightly nauseated feeling of 12 months ago driving to my Grad Scheme interview and decided this would be an ideal time to reflect back to that day. Although my day today hasn’t been anything too stressful, it was the road conditions that took me straight back to my treacherous journey down the M6 one cold January morning last year.
I spent the journey thinking of things I had done and projects I had been involved in that I was proud of which got me into the interview mind-set and gave me a bank of things I could quickly tap into if relevant questions were asked. I thought about the NHS, the literature I’d read in a blind panic in the days before the interview and the things I read as part of daily life. I thought about why this interview meant so much to me, not just the reasons I wanted to work for the NHS but about the difference getting the job would make to my future and the difference it would make to my family. I also wondered a little whether I was crazy, considering leaving a stable job for something so new and so different but with every mile closer I got, my determination grew.
On arrival at the interview venue I was greeted by a handful of graduates already on the scheme. They were happy to talk about scheme life and what they had been doing so far. The waiting room didn’t feel stressed or tense, despite the candidates being due to go into an interview of such high importance. I was quickly registered then sat to wait my turn. Candidates came and went and a group of half a dozen of us seemed to be there for ages. We chatted idly as the time went by, still not particularly stressed by the imminent interviews. Finally my name was called and I was shown to a small room overlooking the pitch at Birmingham City football club.
There was a large jug of water on the table in front of me and I was told I could drink as much of it as I wished. I commented that it sounded like a challenge to which the head panel member said there was a second jug in the next room and I was guaranteed a place on the scheme if I could drink both.
So, with that, my interview set off with a relatively relaxed start. I genuinely felt that the interviewers were there to help me and guide me through the interview, probing my answers for more detailed responses.
Perhaps my top tip, although it sounds cliché, would be to take time to consider your answer before speaking. You need to give an answer that you can talk about as it is probable a further probing question after the initial question. Don’t be put off if your interviewers interrupt you and don’t panic if something doesn’t immediately spring to mind to answer a question.
Before I knew it, the interview was over. It flew by and I joked that I hadn’t had chance to drink all my water yet, ending with a laugh. As I left the room I thanked my interviewers for taking time out of their undoubtedly busy schedules to see me.
I left the venue with a slight spring in my step following a positive experience. Typically, as I sat in traffic on the way home I thought of a million better answers, cringed at some of the things I said (especially the water!) and wished I could go back and change things. There must be a lesson to learn from that – keep your initial gut feeling in mind and don’t dwell on what you can’t change.
If you’re successful at interview you’ll receive an email about assessment centre but if not, don’t give up hope. I applied to the scheme a few years ago and didn’t get through to assessment centre but a few years on I was far more ready for the scheme. Although it felt harsh at the time with hindsight I know the decision was right for me and for the NHS.
To everyone attending interviews – Good Luck!