Are you preparing for a job interview at NHS? If so, you're probably wondering what kind of questions you'll be asked and how to answer them.
NHS interviews often use competency questions. These are questions such as, “Tell us about a time when you used compassion?” and they will be based on the job specification.
In this article, I’ve collected the most common NHS interview questions along with their sample answers. I’ve got these insights from asking several NHS workers.
1) Tell me a little bit about yourself
When answering this question, provide a concise summary of your professional background, skills, and experiences, particularly those relevant to the NHS and the specific role you are applying for.
“I’m currently a registered nurse with three years of experience in a busy urban hospital, specializing in pediatric care. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and have completed additional training in emergency pediatric care. In my current role, I’ve developed strong skills in patient care, teamwork, and handling high-pressure situations effectively. My motivation for applying to this role at the NHS is to expand my expertise in a diverse and dynamic healthcare environment and to contribute to a wider community. I’m particularly drawn to the NHS because of its commitment to excellence in public health. I’m known for my empathetic patient approach, strong communication skills, and resilience in challenging situations. My goal is to continue developing these skills in a supportive and progressive environment like the NHS.”
This response provides a clear and relevant overview of who you are professionally, why you're interested in the NHS role, and how your background aligns with the position.
2) Why do you want to work at NHS?
When answering this question, focus on your personal motivations for joining the organization, aligning your answer with the values and ethos of the NHS.
“I’ve always admired the NHS for its commitment to providing high-quality healthcare to all members of the community. My personal and professional values strongly align with the ethos of the NHS, particularly in terms of delivering compassionate patient care and working collaboratively with a diverse team. I’m passionate about making a positive impact in people’s lives, which is a core aspect of healthcare. Working at the NHS offers the opportunity for significant professional growth through exposure to various medical specialties and the chance to learn from experienced healthcare professionals. I’m also drawn to the idea of contributing to the community and being part of a system that has such a meaningful impact on public health.”
This response demonstrates a clear understanding of the NHS's values and shows that your motivations and career aspirations align well with working in this organization.
3) What is your understanding of the role?
Providing an answer to this question depends on the role you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for the Band 3 position in the NHS, your answer should reflect an awareness of the typical tasks and structure of a day, as well as your ability to manage these effectively.
“In a Band 3 role at the NHS, I anticipate starting my day with a review of the schedule and any urgent tasks. This would likely include patient care responsibilities, such as assisting with personal care or mobility, as well as administrative duties like updating patient records. I understand the importance of time management in efficiently balancing these tasks. My day would also involve collaborating with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive patient care. Given the dynamic nature of healthcare, I’m prepared to adapt to any urgent patient needs or changes in the schedule. Above all, my focus would be on maintaining high standards of patient care and safety.”
This response demonstrates a realistic understanding of the Band 3 role and your preparedness to handle its various aspects effectively.
4) What are the NHS core values?
This is a very important question. You must know the NHS core values before going to the interview. There are six core values of the NHS. Take the time to learn them:
- Respect and dignity
- Commitment to quality of care
- Improving lives
- Working together for patients
- Everyone counts
When answering this question, be prepared to briefly explain each value and, if possible, how you embody the National Health Service values in your professional practice.
“The NHS is guided by core values that resonate deeply with my professional ethos. These include respect and dignity, ensuring every patient is treated as an individual; a commitment to quality of care, striving for the highest standards in all treatments and interventions; and compassion, which is central to how care is delivered. Improving lives is another crucial value, focusing on positive outcomes and patient well-being. Working together for patients highlights the importance of teamwork and collaboration in healthcare. Lastly, 'everyone counts' emphasizes inclusivity and the equal treatment of all patients. In my experience, I’ve always strived to uphold these values, such as showing compassion in patient interactions and working collaboratively with colleagues to improve patient care.”
This response not only shows that you are familiar with the NHS core values but also demonstrates your commitment to these principles in your professional conduct.
5) What does respect and dignity mean to you?
This question assesses your ability to provide compassionate and respectful care to patients. When answering It's crucial to convey your understanding of these values in the context of healthcare.
“Respect and dignity are foundational to my approach in healthcare. To me, respect means acknowledging each patient as an individual with unique needs and rights. It's about listening to them attentively, valuing their perspectives, and involving them in decisions about their care. Dignity is closely related; it’s about treating patients in a way that maintains their self-esteem, privacy, and comfort. In my previous role, I always made sure to provide care that respected patients’ privacy and preferences. For instance, I would always explain procedures and seek consent before proceeding. These values are vital for building trust and ensuring that patients feel safe and valued in their care, which is crucial for the quality of care the NHS strives for. Upholding these values, I believe, not only supports positive patient outcomes but also fosters a respectful and compassionate healthcare environment.”
This response shows that you understand the importance of respect and dignity in healthcare and are committed to upholding these values in your professional practice.
6) Why is compassion important for this role?
When answering this question, focus on how compassion is fundamental to providing effective healthcare and creating a positive patient experience.
“Compassion is vital in healthcare because it underpins the quality of care we provide. In this role, showing compassion means understanding patients' needs and experiences, providing empathetic and attentive care, and always prioritizing their well-being. It's about more than just medical treatment; it's about making patients feel heard, understood, and supported. This approach not only builds trust but can also lead to better health outcomes, as patients who feel cared for are more likely to engage actively in their treatment plans. Compassion also creates a positive and collaborative atmosphere among colleagues, which is crucial in a high-pressure healthcare setting. Given the NHS's focus on patient-centered care, I believe compassion is key to fulfilling the responsibilities of this role effectively and aligning with the broader values of the NHS.”
This response demonstrates your understanding of how compassion is integral to healthcare and your commitment to embodying this value in your professional practice.
7) Why is it important that we work collaboratively?
When answering this question, emphasize the benefits of teamwork in healthcare and how collaboration contributes to patient care and the overall functioning of the service.
“Collaboration is crucial in healthcare, especially in an organization as diverse as the NHS. Working together allows us to pool our varied skills and knowledge, leading to more comprehensive care for patients. In a collaborative environment, each team member can contribute their expertise, ensuring that all aspects of patient care are addressed. This not only improves patient outcomes but also increases the efficiency of our services. For instance, in multidisciplinary team meetings, we can quickly formulate effective care plans and address any issues. The support from colleagues in a collaborative setting is also invaluable, particularly in navigating the challenges and complexities of healthcare. In the NHS, where the needs of patients can be multifaceted, teamwork ensures that we deliver the highest standard of care.”
This response shows that you understand the importance of teamwork in healthcare, especially in a multifaceted organization like the NHS, and are committed to working collaboratively in your role.
8) What is the role of confidentiality in the patient-doctor relationship?
This is a specific yet common question you’ll likely face during an NHS interview. It’s crucial to demonstrate your understanding of the importance of confidentiality in healthcare settings.
“Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the patient-doctor relationship, serving as the foundation for trust and open communication. It assures patients that their sensitive health information is protected, encouraging them to share details crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. As a healthcare professional, I understand my legal and ethical responsibility to maintain confidentiality, in line with GDPR and NHS standards. This includes handling patient data with care and only sharing information on a need-to-know basis within the healthcare team. There are, of course, exceptions in situations where there's a risk of harm or for the greater good of patient care, but these are navigated with strict professional judgment. In the NHS role I'm applying for, I would continue to prioritize confidentiality to foster trust with patients, ensuring they receive the best possible care in a secure and respectful environment.”
This response demonstrates your understanding of the crucial role confidentiality plays in healthcare, your awareness of the legal and ethical framework surrounding it, and your commitment to upholding these standards in your professional practice.
9) What is information governance and how does it affect your work?
Similar to the previous question, you’ll need to prepare for this one. Be sure to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of information governance and its relevance to the healthcare sector, particularly within the NHS.
“Information governance in the NHS refers to the proper handling, use, and safeguarding of patient and staff information, ensuring it's secure and used ethically and legally. This is vital in healthcare to maintain patient trust and ensure that sensitive information is only used to support patient care and operational efficiency. It involves compliance with laws like GDPR, as well as NHS policies on data protection and confidentiality. In my role, it affects how I access and use patient information, ensuring I do so only when necessary and appropriate for their care. For example, in my previous position, I was responsible for managing patient records, where I strictly adhered to data protection protocols. Staying up-to-date with information governance policies and being vigilant in their application will be a key part of my role in the NHS to ensure that all information is handled with the utmost care and integrity.”
This response demonstrates a clear understanding of information governance and its critical role in healthcare, reflecting your commitment to ethical and legal standards in your professional practice.
10) What do you understand about the Data Protection Act 1998?
When answering this question, demonstrate your knowledge of this key piece of legislation and its implications in a healthcare setting.
“The Data Protection Act 1998 was a crucial piece of legislation that set out rules for handling personal information. It required that data be processed fairly and lawfully, kept secure, accurate, and not retained longer than necessary. In the context of the NHS, this Act formed the foundation for how patient data should be treated, emphasizing the need for confidentiality and careful data management. While the Act itself was superseded by GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, its core principles remain relevant. These newer regulations have further emphasized the importance of data protection, especially in sensitive areas like healthcare. In my role at the NHS, this means I am responsible for ensuring that any patient data I handle is treated with the utmost care, following these principles and the specific policies of the NHS. This includes everything from securing physical and digital records to being cautious about sharing information and ensuring it's only done when necessary and appropriate.”
This response shows that you understand the Data Protection Act 1998 and its evolution, its relevance to the NHS, and how its principles impact your professional responsibilities.
11) What are the challenges that NHS is facing right now?
This question is important because it shows how informed you are about current issues impacting the NHS, and understand how these challenges might affect your role.
“The NHS is currently navigating several significant challenges. One of the foremost is the ongoing recovery and adaptation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed unprecedented demands on services and staff. There are also challenges related to staffing shortages in various areas, which impact service delivery and patient care. Budget constraints also continue to be an issue, requiring efficient resource management. Another key challenge is the integration of new technologies and healthcare innovations, which is essential for improving patient care and operational efficiency. In the role I’m applying for, I anticipate these challenges will affect daily responsibilities and decision-making. I believe my skills in [relevant skills related to the role] can contribute positively, especially in terms of improving efficiency, adapting to new healthcare practices, and maintaining high-quality patient care despite these challenges.”
This response demonstrates your awareness of the current landscape in which the NHS operates and shows that you have thought about how these challenges could impact your role and how you can contribute to addressing them.
12) Explain a situation where you provided high-quality patient care
This is an example of a competency-based question you’ll likely encounter during the interview. Choose an example that showcases your skills and commitment to patient-centered care.
“In my previous role as a staff nurse, I cared for an elderly patient who was admitted with complications from diabetes. The patient was anxious about their treatment and the impact of their condition on their lifestyle. Recognizing their distress, I took the time to explain their treatment plan in a way that was easy to understand and reassured them about the steps we were taking. I also coordinated with the dietitian to provide dietary advice tailored to their preferences and lifestyle. Throughout their stay, I regularly checked in to address any concerns and provide support. As a result, the patient’s anxiety levels decreased, and they were more engaged in their treatment plan. They and their family expressed deep appreciation for the care provided. This experience reinforced the importance of holistic care – not just addressing the clinical needs but also the emotional well-being of patients. It has shaped my approach to always consider the broader impact of health issues on a patient’s life.”
This response effectively demonstrates how you provided comprehensive, empathetic, and effective patient care, reflecting the high standards expected in the NHS.
13) How would you manage a situation where a patient submits a complaint about you?
When answering this question, it’s important to demonstrate your professionalism, communication skills, and commitment to resolving conflicts constructively.
“If a patient submitted a complaint about me, my first step would be to take it seriously and approach the situation with professionalism. I would listen carefully to understand their concerns fully, ensuring I'm not becoming defensive but rather seeking to understand the issue from their perspective. Following the NHS’s protocols for handling complaints, I would document the incident and discuss it with my supervisor. I would aim to resolve the issue effectively, whether that involves clarifying any misunderstandings, apologizing if a mistake occurred, or taking steps to rectify the situation. Regardless of the outcome, I would reflect on the complaint to learn from it and improve my practice, as I believe continuous improvement is key in healthcare.”
This response demonstrates your ability to handle patient complaints professionally and constructively, showing that you value patient feedback as a tool for personal and professional growth.
14) Describe a situation where you managed a conflict between colleagues
When answering this question, it's important to demonstrate your conflict resolution skills, professionalism, and ability to maintain a positive working environment.
“In my previous role as a ward manager, I encountered a situation where two colleagues had a disagreement over patient care responsibilities, which was creating tension in the team. Recognizing the impact this was having on our work environment, I arranged a meeting to address the issue. My aim was to provide a neutral space where each colleague could voice their concerns without interruption. After both had shared their perspectives, it became clear that the conflict stemmed from a misunderstanding about the division of responsibilities. We discussed and clarified each person's roles and responsibilities, and I facilitated an agreement on how similar situations could be handled in the future. This approach not only resolved the immediate conflict but also improved our team communication and clarified our workflow processes. The experience reinforced to me the importance of clear communication and early intervention in conflict situations. It’s something I’ve carried forward in my professional practice, understanding how essential a harmonious work environment is to patient care.”
This response demonstrates your ability to handle workplace conflicts constructively and shows that you value open communication and a collaborative team environment, which are important in a healthcare setting like the NHS.
15) Describe your most significant accomplishments in your career
For this particular question, it’s important to choose achievements that showcase your skills, values, and professional growth, particularly those relevant to the healthcare sector.
“One of my most significant accomplishments was leading a project to improve patient discharge processes in my previous role at a community healthcare center. We noticed a recurring issue where patients were experiencing delays in receiving discharge information, which impacted their aftercare. I spearheaded a team to tackle this, involving staff from various departments. We analyzed the process, identified bottlenecks, and implemented new procedures to streamline communication and documentation. As a result, we reduced the average discharge time by 30%, greatly enhancing patient satisfaction and reducing readmissions. This experience not only honed my skills in project management and cross-departmental collaboration but also underscored the importance of patient-centered care, a principle that resonates deeply with the NHS ethos. It taught me the value of proactive problem-solving and effective teamwork in healthcare, skills I am eager to bring to my role in the NHS.”
This response demonstrates your ability to lead and collaborate effectively, achieve tangible results, and align your accomplishments with the values and goals of the NHS.
16) What’s your biggest failure and how did you deal with it?
It’s okay to highlight your failures. It’s a good thing to be honest when answering this question, but you want to emphasize your willingness to learn from your shortcomings.
“In my previous role, one of my biggest failures was underestimating the time needed to implement a new patient record system. I was overly optimistic about the timeline, not accounting for the training and transition period needed for the staff. When the deadline approached, it was clear we were not ready to switch over. This failure taught me the importance of realistic planning and involving key team members in the process. I addressed the situation by communicating openly with my team and management about the delay, reevaluating the timeline, and arranging additional training sessions. This experience improved my project management skills and taught me the value of involving a diverse team in planning stages, especially for complex tasks. It’s a learning I carry forward, and one that I believe is particularly relevant in the NHS, where effective implementation of systems is crucial for both staff efficiency and patient care.”
This response demonstrates your ability to take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and apply these learnings to improve your professional practice.
17) Explain how you handle emergencies
When answering this question, it's important to show your ability to remain calm, think critically, and act efficiently in high-pressure situations.
“In emergency situations, my first priority is to remain calm and assess the situation quickly. I prioritize tasks based on urgency and patient safety. For instance, in my current role, I once dealt with a patient who suddenly became unconscious. I immediately checked their vital signs, called for assistance, and started CPR, following our emergency protocols. Fortunately, we were able to stabilize the patient before the emergency team arrived. After such incidents, I reflect on the situation to identify any learning points. This process has honed my ability to act swiftly and effectively in emergencies. I understand that in the NHS, the ability to handle emergencies with composure and clinical efficiency is crucial, and I am committed to maintaining high standards of emergency care in line with NHS protocols and guidelines.”
This response shows that you have a structured approach to handling emergencies, can make quick decisions under pressure, and are committed to continuous learning and improvement in emergency care.
What to dress for an NHS interview to get hired
Men should wear a suit and tie and women should wear dress slacks or skirts and a button-down shirt when applying for an entry-level nursing position.
If you are going to an interview for a nursing management position, you should wear a suit.
Although most interviewers will expect you to be in smart business attire, it’s better to wear formal attire. At the very least, wear smart casual attire.
What to expect from an NHS interview
The NHS commonly employs competency-based applications and interviews.
You can often find the Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQAs) for the position online or in the initial job advertisement. It's crucial to understand these PQAs, as they will form the core of the interview questions.
Be prepared for at least one question regarding confidentiality, information governance, or data protection. Research the relevant guidelines and legislation specific to the NHS, including the Caldicott Principles and the role of a Caldicott Guardian.
It’s important to prepare examples that demonstrate how you embody the attributes listed in the person specification. Focus on what actions you took and the outcomes you achieved.
Familiarize yourself with current challenges facing the NHS, the specific hospital, and the service area of the job. Learn the six NHS values by heart and integrate them into your answers, demonstrating your specific interest in the NHS rather than a generalized approach.
According to an NHS recruiting manager, always keep the focus on patient-centered care throughout your interview. If you go through the entire interview and never mention patients once, chances are you won’t get hired.
NHS interviews often include questions directly related to the job specification.
For instance, if good communication skills are a requirement, you might be asked to provide an example. Consider preparing a response for each point listed in the job description to be thoroughly prepared.
Understand the interviewer’s point of view
To prepare for an NHS interview, it’s wise to understand what the interviewer is looking for. Here are the things that hiring managers consider when deciding who to hire:
1. Someone who can make decisions quickly.
2. Someone who works well with others.
3. Someone who is thinking ahead.
Questions in the interview will typically follow the format of "Tell me about a time when you...". To effectively respond to these, utilize the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method.
When a question is asked, determine the Personal Quality or Attribute (PQA) it relates to in your mind, then structure your response using STAR.
In the 'Result' part of your answer, it's important to include reflection. Break down the impact of your actions on yourself, your employer, and the public or customers.
Remember, the interviewers are not hoping for you to fail.
They want to see the best of what you can offer. Try to remain calm, as they will likely make an effort to put you at ease. Be yourself and provide sincere answers to make the most of the interview opportunity.