General & Vascular Surgery ST3 Interview Prep Essentials: All You Must Know


Building your portfolio, as discussed earlier, is essential to securing an interview. However, it’s only the first part of the recruitment shortlisting process. You will need to pass your interview to secure a training post. This article highlights some of the most important things to know as you prepare for your ST3 interview.

1: Know your timelines

Keep track of notifications and important timelines. Nothing is worse than missing your interview because you didn’t see an email or other important notification.

Successful applicants are notified via Oriel when they are shortlisted, and invited to book an interview slot on a 1st come, 1st served basis. So keep your eye out and book a timing that’s convenient to your work schedule. Interviews are typically held around the 3rd week of March every year.

General Application Timeline
Oriel  ST3 applications open2-3rd Week of November
Oriel ST3 applications close1st Week of December
Evidence submission2nd Week of Dec to 1st week of January
Interview Dates3rd Week of March
ST3 interview outcome/ offers3rd Week of April
ST3 post upgrade/ change deadline4th week of April
Start of TrainingAugust/ October

2: Understand the interview format

Interview formats are constantly changing with time. Always check the Health Education England Website for the latest updates.

The interviews are typically run online via Qpercom Recruit system and last 40 mins in GS and 50mins in Vascular. There is a 10-minute ID check before the interview start time. You will need your passport or driver’s license for this. They will also check the room to ensure you are alone for the interview.

The General Surgery interview format covers 3 areas of review:

  1. Personal/ Career/ Portfolio Station – 10 minutes
  2. Clinical Scenario Station– 15 minutes (5 minute prep and 10 minute scenario & question)
  3. Management Scenario Station- 15 minutes (5 minute prep and 10 minute scenario & question)

The Vascular interview format was updated in 2023/24 and covers 4 areas divided into 2 stations:

  1. Station 1:
    1. Clinical scenario- 15 minutes (5 minute prep and 10 minute scenario & question)
    1. Communication scenario- The interviewers will take you through the scenario. 10 minutes in total
  2. Station 2:
    1. Management scenario- 15 minutes (5 minute prep and 10 minute scenario & question)
    1. Virtual skill scenario (newly added in 2024 and replaces the personal/career/portfolio station similar to GS)- 10 minutes

3: Pre-interview Checklist:

Interviews are held online via different platforms depending on your speciality. Ensure you have the following basic checklist items:

  • Photographic ID- Passport or Driver’s license
  • Professional-looking room, silent, with no one else
  • A good-performing computer with fast, stable internet access.
    • Test before to ensure that the camera and mic are working.
    • You can practice interviews via online meeting apps to become more familiar and comfortable with this setting.

4. Interview preparation strategy:

You can score the highest points in the stage and significantly boost your ranking in the interview stage. It all depends on how well you prepare for the interviews. You will need to develop your interview skills to meet the person specification the interviewers have in mind. This can be achieved within 1-2 months with a proper strategy.

Here are 10 high yield tips:

  1. Register for an interview preparation course as early as possible. This will be beneficial in:
    1. Learning and understanding the latest interview format.
    1. Practice in real-time with experienced tutors in a high-fidelity simulation, enabling you to develop a better interview practice design prospectively.
    1. Understand your weaknesses early and work on them.
    1. Find probable group practice partners.
    1. I personally took the course by
  2. Buy at least 2 interview preparation books. I used and can recommend the following:
    1. Cracking the General Surgical Interviews for ST3 by Sala Abdalla
    1. Medical Interviews (Fourth Edition): A Comprehensive Guide to CT, ST and Registrar Interview Skills – Over 120 Medical Interview Questions, Techniques, and NHS Topics Explained, by Olivier Picard
  3. Find an interview practice group or partner. Since the interview is an oral skill, you need to make your practice as high-fidelity as possible to simulate the interview scenario.
  4. Practice regularly. Spend at least 1hour a day for the month leading up to the interview; you can do longer periods during the weekends.
  5. Record (video or audio) and time yourself responding to interview questions. Replay the recording to help you identify your weaknesses and improve on them.
  6. Have a generic structure to respond to the different types of questions. However, this is a double-edged sword. Don’t be too rigid when responding with a structure, as the interviewer will notice this and might penalize you. Remain flexible to respond to the flow of questions the examiners are giving.
  7. Expect interruptions during your interview. Ask your practice partners to be as brutal as possible, twist questions and veer off the template.
  8. Focus on recognising your weaknesses early via practice. Track your improvement as you progress.
  9. Identify the high-yield topics to revise. The interviews usually have a limited range of topics in emergency general or vascular surgery and challenging clinical, management or communication scenarios that you may encounter while working as a registrar. Master these topics making use of 80/20 principle, 80% of questions will come from these areas, spend your energy here.
  10. Interview for more than 1 specialty recruitment if you can. This will: i. give you a real-life practice experience ii. broaden your reach and give you a chance of success in at least one other specialty.

In conclusion, securing an ST3 post requires painstaking preparation and a strategic approach. Building a strong portfolio is just the beginning; passing the interview is crucial. Keeping track of application timelines, understanding the evolving interview formats, and developing a robust interview preparation strategy will significantly boost your chances. Remember, the key to success lies in the preparation!

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