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OET Career Round-Up: Acing your Interview

Picture this: you’ve seen the job you want in the country of your dreams; you’ve prepared and polished your CV, you’ve completed the job application and now, the big day is here – your job interview! 

In our first blog in this series, we shared top tips for interview preparation. Now, let’s focus on acing the interview itself. 


During the interview 


A job interview is not just about answering questions; it's about showcasing your potential as a valuable team member. During the interview, it's crucial to demonstrate your skills and experience, but you should also show a keen understanding of the company and the role you're applying for. Let's explore how you can excel in this critical phase of your job application. 

Engage with the panel  

Eye Contact: Make eye contact with all panel members, not just the one asking questions. 

Body Language: Convey enthusiasm, positivity, and energy through your body language. 

Smile: It projects confidence. 

Ask: Don’t worry if you misunderstand a question. Simply ask for it to be repeated or rephrased. 


Structure your responses  

Clarity and Conciseness: Be clear and concise in your answers. While you shouldn’t give yes/no answers, you also shouldn’t overtalk or interrupt.  

Personal Examples: Use real examples from your experience, specifying your personal contribution. 

Use the STARR framework: The STARR acronym can be very useful, especially when answering questions related to your character and competency. 

  • Situation: Set the scene by briefly describing the situation to give the interviewer context.  
  • Task: Explain what you or your team were trying to achieve. 
  • Action: Describe what you did to achieve this goal.  
  • Result: Share the outcome in the scenario.  
  • Reflect: Explain what was done well and what could have been done better.  


Demonstrate your fit  

As well as evaluating your technical skills, a lot of employers want to make sure they understand how you will play a part in a team and department. Explaining how your experience may relate to the organisation is a great way to showcase how you fit into a new organisation.  

Be positive: Don’t badmouth a previous workplace, colleague or manager. It can make you seem immature or resentful – not qualities your interviewers want to see! Regardless of previous negative experiences, present yourself as a collegial and cooperative worker by speaking respectfully of previous workplaces.

Understand the Mission: Be prepared to discuss the organisation's mission and explain why this resonates with you and your aspirations. 

Match your skills: Explain how your skills make you the best candidate for the role. 

Ask Questions: Show your interest and enthusiasm for the role by asking relevant questions at the end of the interview. 


Types of Interview Questions  

Interviewers want to know that you have both the clinical expertise and the personal qualities that will benefit their team. So, you should expect a variety of questions in your job interview.  

Watch this webinar, co-hosted by Dean Gimblett from CapitalNurse and Rebecca Bush from OET, to learn some key phrases and strategies for answering questions in a healthcare interview. 


Classic questions   

These are open questions that provide the opportunity to talk about yourself. Talk about how your skills, experience and personality align with the employer and the role. Keep it positive!  

Sample questions
Key phrases and vocabulary

When did you realise you wanted to be a (nurse)?  

Childhood dream 

Lifetime ambition 

Why did you want to come to (the UK) to work?  

I want to develop my career as ____ 

I have family working here who inspired me to explore this option. 

What are you looking forward to about living in (London)?  

Multicultural population… 

Dynamic city… 

Cutting edge… 

Career goal questions  

Employers ask questions about your ambitions or career trajectory to gain a sense of your motivation, while also seeking to understand if they can provide you with those opportunities.  

Sample questions
Key phrases and vocabulary 

Is there a particular specialist area you would like to work in?  

I am passionate about ___ because ___ 

I am committed to pursuing a career in ___ because 

What are your career goals for the next few years?  

I am passionate about ___ because ___ 

I am committed to pursuing a career in ___ because 

What motivates you in your career?  

I am passionate about ___ because ___ 

I am committed to pursuing a career in ___ because 

Character Questions  

Character questions give you a chance to show the interviewer who you really are. For instance, interviewers may ask you about teamwork, communication, or how you respond to challenges. Use real examples from your work to demonstrate your values and character.   

If you’re applying to the NHS, you might get questions about the NHS Values. You can learn all about the six values and how to integrate them into your work with our NHS Values Course.  


Sample questions
Key phrases and vocabulary

Can you give us an example of when you have received negative or constructive feedback? How did you respond?  

The best example I ever experienced was ___ 

It was good because ___ 

Good teamwork is so important because ___ 

Can you provide us an example of when you have witnessed teamwork? 

The best example I ever experienced was ___ 

It was good because ___ 

Good teamwork is so important because ___ 

Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult patient.  

Of course, handling difficult patients is part of the job… 

One patient in particular was ___ 

What I did was ___ 

After that, I ___ 

The outcome was ___ 

I have found there’s always a reason someone is being difficult. It’s important to always (treat them with respect)… 

Curveball and Creative Questions  

Interviewers may ask you questions to see how you respond to something unexpected. These questions don’t usually require much detail or examples. Stay calm, think on your feet, and provide thoughtful, concise responses.  

Sample questions
Key phrases and vocabulary 
If you were a medicine, what would you be?

I would be ___ 

I say that because ___ 

What do your colleagues say about you?

My colleagues often say that I’m ___ 

Words that have been used about me include 
If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?  

I would choose ___ because ___ 

I would love to be able to ___ because ___ 

Competency Questions  

Interviewers want to know that you will be a good fit for the job you’re applying for. So, they may ask questions about key aspects of the job role. You should explain, with detailed examples, how your skills and experience relate. Before your interview, carefully read the job description and be ready to talk about how you meet the requirements with your own examples.  

Use the STARR strategy to practice answering these sample questions: 

Sample questions
Key phrases and vocabulary

Describe a time when you had to explain a complex medical procedure to a patient. How did you ensure they understood the information?  

Tell me about a situation where you identified a potential patient safety issue. What steps did you take to address it?  

Describe a time you had to delegate tasks to others. How did you ensure they were completed effectively?  

Situation: A few years ago, I was working with a patient who___ 

Task: I had to explain ___ 

Action: What I did was ___ 

Result: Because I took the time to explain things carefully, ___ 

Reflect: In hindsight, I feel that ___ 




End the interview well

Clarify next steps: at the end of the interview, it’s appropriate to ask the panel to confirm what the next steps are, and when you’re likely to hear back.   

Thank them for their time: Make sure you thank the panel for the opportunity to interview at the very end of the interview. You can always send through an email thanking them again, reiterating your interest in the position and fit.   


Reflecting on the Experience  

Self-Evaluation: Reflect on your answers and the overall interview experience to identify areas for improvement. 

Feedback: If possible, seek feedback from the interview panel to understand your performance better. 


Excelling in a job interview is more than just answering questions; it's about presenting yourself as a valuable addition to the team and the company. Remember to use the STARR framework to articulate your experiences effectively, and ensure you display a strong understanding of the company's ethos. Maintain a positive demeanour, engage with the interview panel, and reflect on your performance afterwards.

With these tips in mind, you're well-equipped to make a memorable impression and advance your career in your dream destination. Best of luck!  


Want to explore top healthcare jobs in the US and the UK? Open up a world of healthcare careers with OET Career. Submit your interest now.