Policy & Strategy
A for Application
09 Nov 2017
Hello. For my first blog post I want to tell you about my NHS application process which began exactly a year ago. I started the NHS Graduate Scheme in September this year, and I am settling into the routine of working life and into my first placement, but I’ll keep those stories for future posts.
So, a year ago I was in my last year of university, studying BiologicalAnthropology at the University of Cambridge. I knew I wanted to start working soon after I graduated, so I put a lot of effort into applying for jobs. In addition to the NHS, I applied to several other graduate schemes including those with the Local Government, the Wellcome Trust, Charity Works, Worthwhile and G’s Fruit and Veg, as well as other local jobs. Though I did not have a particular career path in mind, I knew that a graduate scheme would suit me because I love learning quickly and experiencing a variety of roles. I also knew that I wanted to start my career in the public or charity sector.
To find out about the NHS Scheme, I used the online profiles and questions others had asked as well as the fantastic blogs from current trainees, and would recommend those tools to other applicants, especially if you’re considering which specialism to choose. I chose the Policy and Strategy specialism because I like big picture thinking and ideas of how we can change things for the better. For those of you in my position, I’ll share my experiences and some advice.
Application stage 1 – registering and the online tests
Last year I was one of 16, 217 people who registered to start their application process. Leave yourself enough time for this, and the following online tests. There were 5 tests: a situational strengths test, a personality profile test and a verbal, a numerical and a logical reasoning test. My best advice is to practice these beforehand (using FREE practice resources available online or from your university careers website).
Application stage 2 - the interview
Out of the 6,266 applications who completed online tests, 1000 people were invited to interview last year. I did not initially get invited to interview, but then in February, I was asked to book in for an interview in Leeds (London and Nottingham were also an option) for the following week. The interview was 30 minutes long with two very friendly people, and before and after I had the opportunity to speak to current trainees. The preparation guidance I was given as part of my interview invitation was super (hint: focus on the Healthcare Leadership Model), and it was really helpful that I was able to do a practice interview with my university careers service beforehand.
Application stage 3 – the assessment centre
In March, following my interview, I was delighted to be invited to an assessment centre along with about 300 others candidates. I could book my preferred day, and it was held at the NHS Leadership Academy in Leeds together with about 30 others. I had already done a half day assessment centre for the local government scheme, and had been to a practice session run by my university careers service, but as the NHS one was a whole day and very full-on; I was exhausted afterwards.
I was desperate to hear back from the assessment centre to find out if I was to be offered a place, especially as in April I had lots of university work to do and was not keen to spend more time on job applications. Initially, I was 6th of 20 on a waiting list for the policy stream (there are 13 of us on the scheme), so I did not expect to hear anything else. I had applied with a preference to be placed in London, however a place became free in Leeds towards the end of April, so after some tough decision making I chose to accept the offer.
You may be asking why I applied to the NHS Scheme, or why I took this job in the end (I had 2 other job offers as well). Let me tell you: I think the NHS is a brilliant organisation, and I wanted my work to make a difference for people (every person we know is, has been, or could be a patient!). I knew that the scheme has a strong educational element, and as I enjoyed my university experience, I was keen for more training and studying. Also, the team at the Leadership Academy (who organise the scheme) made a very good impression on me throughout the application process and I had also spoken to current trainees, so I was confident the scheme would be organised well.
You have until 1st December to Apply, and in the meantime if you have any questions you can contact me, another trainee or scheme organisers via the ‘insiders’ tab on the website. I’m looking forward to writing my next blog post already, the title of which will begin with the letter B.