Careers - What if I have an assessment centre?


Assessment centre activities for specialty selection often cover a range of different ‘stations’  Each of these stations is designed to provide an overview of your skills, attributes, personality and motivation for the specialty training post.  These activities could include the following:

Structured Interview – Generally this is a ‘mini’ interview where you will be asked a series of questions regarding the specialty and your suitability including skills and motivations.  Often these are strictly timed, therefore it is important that you are clear, concise and mindful of time in your answer.

Presentation – This is often an unprepared presentation, where you are given a range of topics and asked to present to a panel.  The topics are such that you would not need to know about them in depth, but should be able to give an overview of your thoughts and conclusions.  Be aware that you are often only given basic presentation tools e.g. flipchart and pen for this activity.

Scenario Based Station – Scenario based stations are similar to the interview, but differ in that you are given a range of scenarios relevant to that specialty, and asked to explain how you would respond.  Again, be aware of time and make sure you give clear reasoning for your actions.  Sometimes the scenarios are based on ethical dilemmas and therefore they are very interested in your reasoning!

Psychometric Testing – Some specialties include aptitude tests for their selection centres (primarily public health).  These are tests of your numerical, logical and reasoning ability.  For examples of aptitude tests and a description of what they involve, have a look at the following information.

Portfolio Discussion – The portfolio discussion is an ‘interview’ style discussion where you present your portfolio to the panel.  It is important to remember that this is not your e-portfolio but an individual portfolio designed by you to demonstrate your suitability for that specialty.  It may, of course, include many examples from your e-portolio if you wish to demonstrate particular skills e.g. communication, team work etc.  The Health Careers website also has a guide to presenting your portfolio in a logical format.  You can access this here.

Patient Interaction – Patient interaction stations generally involve you being observed with an actor patient (GP) or a simulated clinical environment (sometimes acute specialties)  It is important that you are familiar with the person specifications for those specialties so you can demonstrate the skills that they will be looking for.  The way to practice this is, of course, to maximise your patient contact in your rotations!

Other assessment centre activities include some practical stations for heavily procedural specialties, as well as group discussions.  Always check with the specialty if they can provide you with any information regarding the format of the assessment centre.  This will give you an idea of what might be involved and help you prepare.