NSWMSC has asked Neel Gobin, our 2015 Chair who successfully interviewed and accepted an RPR position, to share some CV and interview tips with all graduating students. We have collated some of his advice below.
- Relevant, factual information – your study institution, expected graduation year
- Keep it clean and neat, for a classy look
- Reverse chronological order is ideal (most recent to oldest)
- Look up sample CVs and templates online, there are lots of resources available
- List referees who have worked closely with you recently (term/research supervisor, lecturer, employer)
- List high school achievements, unless exceptional/interesting
- Lies (better omit information that may be viewed negatively)
- Tables, colours, fancy fonts. If you have distracting elements in your CV, it will be ignored and you will miss out on an interview
- Spelling mistakes – review your CV multiple times and ask friends/family members to help proofread
- Make your CV more than 2-3 pages long
- Include a photo, unless requested by the employer or in the selection criteria
- List referees who do not have something positive to say about you (however, at this stage of your career, it is unlikely that hospitals will always contact your referees individually)
- List all the clinical rotations that you have completed in the last year or two
The RPR application process is usually well over-subscribed. An interview offer means you have been short-listed for the position – it’s worth celebrating, you are halfway there!
Have a good idea of what the job entails (usually standard across NSW Health facilities). Does it include rotating at peripheral hospitals within the same network? Research the organisation – any recent announcements, major expansion underway, funding for new departments/specialities etc. What terms are offered? Do these align with your career goals? These facts can help you engage with your prospective employers at the interview. It also shows you are interested in working there!
- The Panel
The interview panel usually consists of an experienced doctor (e.g. the DPET), some admin/HR staff (e.g. operations manager) and someone closely involved with JMO welfare/well-being (e.g. JMO manager or Education Officer). The panel may also include a community member (a common feature in rural settings). This information is usually provided beforehand.
- Think ahead
If you were the employer, what sort of questions would you be asking prospective employees? Prepare answers to common questions (e.g. “why would you like to work here”, “what are some of the challenges you may face while working as a junior doctor in a rural setting?”).
- Familiarise yourself with the geographical location
Most graduating students applying for an internship in a rural setting have probably not worked there before. Students tend to apply across multiple locations, to increase chances of getting a job. Make sure you research the area prior to attending the interview, as this is an essential part of the homework. Basic facts such as the population, what's available in town, number of yearly ED presentations etc.
On the Interview Day
- Leave early
As most of the interviews will be held in regional or rural areas, there will be a considerable amount of travel involved. If your interview is in the morning, consider travelling the night before.
- Be well-rested
Have a good night’s sleep, turn up fresh and ready to shine.
Professional attire at all times – dress “corporate”. For males this would include a tie and/or suit. For females, don’t wear something flashy. Basically, you want the panel members to focus on you, not on your clothes. Don’t be distracting!
- It will be shorter than you think
I travelled 7 hours (return trip) by road last year, for an interview which only lasted 8-10 minutes. Some popular hospitals have a high number of interviews to get through, and therefore tend to keep it short. It is an opportunity to meet you and see if your personality, behaviour and attitude complement your well-written application and strong CV.
- Unforeseen circumstances
In case things go pear-shaped, communicate! Call your contact person as soon as you can, in case you are running late and/or are unable to make the interview.
- Be honest
State facts, don’t exaggerate. The interview panel consists of people who have probably been interviewing future interns for a number of years, and it is very easy to tell when someone is lying.
- Attend in person, where possible
Although the option of teleconferencing may be offered, it is always preferable to make the effort and attend in person, if possible. Having said that, a number of current interns (including myself) have successfully accepted positions after interviewing via teleconference calls.
- Ask a smart question
In an ever-competitive world, it is important to be remembered after the interview. The interview usually ends with “do you have any questions for us?” – this is your opportunity to ask a smart question, if you have one.
- Be calm
Everyone gets nervous during formal interviews, especially when this is the moment that may determine the rest of your career and training. Take a few deep breaths, don’t speak too fast and remember to make eye contact and show confidence.
- Other practical tips
- Ensure your phone is switched off, or on silent (not vibrating);
- Arrive at least 10 mins earlier than your interview time;
- Be nice, courteous and polite;
- Demonstrate why they should choose you over someone else;
- Don’t reply by “yes” or “no” – always elaborate;
- Remain professional at all times, although some interview settings may be more casual than others;
- Ask current interns and residents what is it like to work at a particular hospital. If you have not visited the area, attend an hour before and have a look around – café, wards, and departments. It helps to show you are familiar with your “future workplace”.
Some Useful Websites
- HETI Rural Preferential Recruitment & Hospital Info
- Pre-Internship Conference
- NSW Health Map My Health Career
- NSW Medical Students’ Council – Internship Info
Neel Gobin is the Immediate Past Chair of the NSW Medical Students’ Council, now working as a JMO/Intern.
As the 2015 NSW Medical Students' Council Chairman, he worked closely with HETI, the NSW Ministry of Health and all NSW MedSocs in order to represent the 4,500 medical students in NSW, particularly final year students. He is currently involved in a state-level committee overseeing training, wellbeing, supervision and accreditation of junior doctors.