9 Consultant Interview Questions and How To Answer Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 December 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When interviewing as a consultant, you'll be faced with two different types of questions. The first category of questions usually relates to your clinical skills and the second to your personal qualities. While your clinical skills and experience will qualify you as a candidate, it will often be your personal qualities that make you stand out the most. In this article, we explore nine commonly asked consultant interview questions, why they are asked, how best to answer them and how to prepare.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

How to use the STAR method to answer consultant interview questions

The STAR method (situation, task, action and result) is an excellent way to answer consultant interview questions. It gives you a method for including all of the necessary details that your interviewer is looking for in an answer. The four steps are outlined below:

  1. Describe the situation. The situation is the context in which the event took place. If you are recounting something that happened in the workplace, then give details on your role at the time, with whom you were working and when it took place.

  2. Explain your task. In this step, describe your assigned task and what was expected of you. Focus on what you were supposed to do, not what others were tasked with. Focusing too much on the faults of others will make it look like you cannot take responsibility.

  3. Specify the actions you took. This is probably the most important step. Explain to the interviewers the steps you took to address the situation and your reasons for doing so.

  4. Detail the results. There are two things you want to include during this step. The first is what happened as a consequence of your actions. The second is what you learned from the experience. Whenever possible, explain the result in terms of a tangible difference made.

Example consultant interview questions

To help you prepare, we have compiled a list of nine commonly asked consultant interview questions. We have also included a brief outline to explain the importance of each question and how best to answer it:

What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

This is a broader question that will often be asked towards the beginning of an interview. Being prepared will help you avoid giving a long, rambling answer. Based on your knowledge of the position and panel, briefly detail the key qualities and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for the position. Make sure you know these in advance.

Example: 'I'm a very approachable and polite individual, meaning that I rarely have trouble dealing with either patients or my colleagues. I have also published many articles in peer-reviewed journals, and have been interviewed on a few occasions to talk about them on national television and university lectures. I have 10 years of experience in both clinical and administrative work.'

Related: Answering: Why Are You the Best Person for this Job?

Tell us about your teaching experience

This is quite a common question when interviewing as a consultant. You should aim to give a fully comprehensive account of your teaching experiences, but keep it concise. Where possible, give examples of the various types of teaching you have carried out.

Example: 'In addition to my published articles in peer-reviewed journals, I have also given several talks on what they discuss. This has included guest talks and lectures at universities. I have also given regular guest lectures at a University for two years now.'

Related: How to get teaching experience (plus benefits of doing so)

What experience do you have of service development?

This is a question that will often be asked by a manager on the panel, as they want to see what improvements you can potentially bring to the organisation. It also allows them to assess how you deal with change. Give a couple of examples of instances where you have implemented service changes that brought about genuine improvement.

Example: 'I recently helped implement a new service for the elderly and disabled. I always prioritise patient safety and quality of service, although I do acknowledge the need for cost-effectiveness. I was able to improve waiting times for these individuals, while also reducing expenditures.'

How would you formulate and implement a service improvement?

When answering this question, you need to show that you have the right priorities. Naturally, this starts with the safety of patients and the quality of the service provided. It might also extend to engaging key stakeholders, like patients and staff, in the improvement process to ensure it goes smoothly. If you have relevant examples of having done this in the past, you should mention them.

Example: 'I would begin with an assessment of the potential gains for patients, as well as staff. I would seek out similar programmes and reach out to those involved to learn about the potential costs and pitfalls, as well as patient satisfaction. I would write my proposal with concrete findings and estimates, with the overriding priority being patient care.'

How would you formulate and implement a new service?

This is quite similar to the last question, and is more likely to come from a manager. This is designed to assess how you would take initiative at work. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have the right mindset. This means communicating that you are careful, engage key stakeholders, weigh the risks, value efficiency and are capable of persuading others. You should also be able to communicate all of this clearly and in a systematic and organised way. This tells the panel that you have the organisational mindset to implement new services.

Example: 'If I identified a gap in our services that I feel could be filled, I would first seek out the key stakeholders, such as patients and medical staff, and survey them for feedback. If I felt that a new service could still offer real improvement, I would seek out similar initiatives to study, and compile a proposal, complete with a proposed budget and timeline.'

Related: Change management skills: examples and how to improve them

What are your greatest weaknesses?

When answering this question, it's best to either name a genuine weakness that has little effect on your eligibility for the role, or a weakness that you have managed to overcome. Either way, it should be answered honestly. Obvious attempts to dodge the question by claiming perfectionism is a weakness will fool nobody. By citing a weakness that you have managed to address, you can show both honesty and the ability to improve yourself.

Example: 'I sometimes have trouble being assertive. This has meant that I have avoided confrontations even when they were inevitable and could have been headed off. However, I have been taking the advice of a coach on this matter, and am gradually improving.'

What is your greatest strength as a doctor?

Although this question might be shortened to just ask you about your greatest strength, the answer should not differ. Just like the question about what makes you the best candidate, this will often be asked near the beginning of the interview. It's also easy to ramble unnecessarily if you're unprepared. You should prepare a list of your key qualities in advance. This list should be broad and include clinical, interpersonal, academic and other relevant skills that make you stand out.

Example: 'As a doctor, I would cite my empathy as my greatest strength. I believe I have a rare ability to communicate with patients and get them to open up, something that I have also been told by patients themselves.'

Related: Interview Question: 'What Is Your Greatest Strength?'

Tell us what you think about…

You would be correct to assume that this question can be a trap, depending on what the subject is. Too many candidates will make the mistake of either being too opinionated or having no opinion at all. You should demonstrate your knowledge of the subject mentioned, and your awareness of the opposing points of view commonly associated with it. When you do give your personal opinion, make sure you base it on some sort of evidence. This shows that you are fair-minded and willing to adapt your opinions based on evidence.

Example: 'On the subject of X, I confess to being an advocate. I believe it has a lot of potential for the future of medicine. However, I do understand people's misgivings. It's quite new, after all, and we must listen to critics to proceed effectively and safely.'

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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