Sponsored Listings

Orthogate arrow Articles arrow Orthopaedic Informatics arrow Interview skills for Trainee Orthopaedic Surgeons
Interview skills for Trainee Orthopaedic Surgeons PDF Print E-mail
Written by ChrisOliver   
Monday, 18 February 2020
Mr Chris Oliver DM FRCS (Tr & Orth), FRCP
Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon,
Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland.

This article is a guide to interviewing skills for candidates applying for orthopaedic posts. It is not a definitive guide to University or Hospital appointments and this page may not represent these organisations views. These notes are a few factors to consider when being interviewed for an orthopaedic post. It may be useful to consider the following factors. Some sample questions and suggestions how to answer them are outlined.

Candidate evaluation is a complex process and is subject to a variety of biases. Research has identified a number of evaluation errors. It should be emphasised that, although some interviewers may be more susceptible that others to a particular source of bias, it is unlikely that anyone is completely free from bias of any kind. Some of the most common biases which occur are as follows.


There is a wealth of evidence that, in first encounter situations such as interviews, people who are physically attractive are evaluated more favourably that those who are less attractive. The is true over a whole range of human characteristics. This occurs both when the person is the same sex and when they are of the opposite sex. This factor is unavoidable.


Contrast occurs when interviews fail to assure absolute standards of judgment when assessing candidates. Instead, the assessment of the candidate is influenced by the quality of the immediately preceding applicants. For example, if an interviewer sees two or three weak candidates followed by an average candidates, the latter is judged too leniently. There is a little hard to control this variable.


Common observations of people's behaviour, both at work and in everyday life, suggests that most individuals possess both favourable and unfavorable characteristics. The individual candidate who is superior on all favourable characteristics is extremely rare as is the individual who has no redeeming features. Yet research evidence indicates that interviewers frequently perceive people in these black and white terms. Candidates tend to be judged as all good or all bad. This halo effect is particularly likely to occur where a candidate has a single outstanding characteristic. For example, it a candidate is unusually high on one attribute, interviewers typically tend to minimise or ignore any weaknesses they have in other areas.


Strong impressions of a person's character are often made by observing body language. In many instances this can be helpful. However, there are often subtle cultural and gender difference in body language which can lead to us making the wrong assumptions about a person. For example, in some cultures, individuals will not look an interviewer in the eye to show respect. Unfortunately, this is often misread by interviewers as evidence that the interviewee is "hiding something", or as evidence that they are a "shifty character - couldn't look me in the eye". In some cultures, the body language displayed is opposite to that we are used to leading to other assumptions such as "she wasn't interested in anything I was saying - she never looked at me once when speaking to me".

Research also suggests that women and people from certain cultural backgrounds are more self-effacing in interviews. For example, they are more likely to give credit for their achievements to their team rather than to themselves. This can lead to wrong assumptions being made. Research has also found that, in general, women will often only apply for jobs if they fell they can do 90% of the job description/tasks/duties, whereas in general, men will apply for a job if they can do as little as 40% of the job description/tasks/duties.


This is the process whereby people are assumed to possess or lack certain characteristics as a function of their membership of particular social groups. Such beliefs are very widespread and often interfere with rational judgment about candidates. Typical examples include beliefs about people on basis of their racial origins, their social class backgrounds, their disabilities or their sex. Questions related to race, sex, social background and disability are not permissible and there is legislation to outlaw questions in these fields in the United Kingdom.

Increasingly it is not a persons "Intelligence" that is the major issue in getting a job. The concept of an "Adversity Quotient" (AQ) i.e. your ability to respond effectively to adversity may be an important than your intelligence Bottom line/Personnel 1998:19(19): 9-10. The AQ is determined by: having a sense of control over unexpected situations: willingness to assume responsibility and take action, no matter who caused the problem; ability to keep a crisis from spreading versus disabling catastrophising; and the ability to see beyond a crisis. It takes the ability to "get small" to cope in these difficult situations.

Assessment of competence and performance at interview is difficult to measure and has been described in a BMJ Career Focus article in 1999. Useful article on Assessment of competence and performance at interview BMJ 2000;320:S2-7231 ( 5 February 2020)


Typically, a wide variety of questions can be used to help gain information about a candidate's job skills. Use these questions below as a guide to help you think about the questions you may be asked. Apply these questions to focus on a specific job's skill requirements that you have applied for. Practice answering them in front of a mirror.

One of the interviewers will generally go through your previous training with you. You should have read the job description and have tailored your job application and interview answers to the job you have applied for.

Increasingly some hospitals ask for a presentation on a topic to be presented in a fixed time, if so this needs careful research and rehearsal. You should be warned of this before the interview.

Standard questions:

Tell me about yourself?
Why did you choose this hospital/university and how did you arrive at this decision?
What factors did you consider in choosing your speciality?
Why do you want this job?
Since you have been in medicine/orthopaedics/surgery, what is it that you are proudest of?
How have you changed personally since starting medicine?
Tell me about your training - good points, bad points?
What was your Best job, Why?
What was your Worst job, Why?
Tell me about your Hobbies/pastimes/adventures?
Of the hobbies and interests listed on your resume what is your favorite and tell me why?
If you could change a decision you made whist in medicine/orthopaedics/surgery what would you change and why?
Tell me about your c.v. ~ some aspect, you need to be able to account for any gaps?
Describe a leadership role of yours and tell why you committed your time to it?
Give me an example of an idea that has come to you and what you did with it?
Give me an example of a problem you solved and the process you used?
Give me an example of the most creative project that you have worked on?
What work experiences have been most valuable to you and why?
What have the experiences on your resume taught you about managing and working with people?
How have your educational and work experiences prepared you for this position?
Give me a situation in which you failed, and how you handled it?
Where do you think your interest in this career comes from?
Why have you chosen this particular profession?
What challenges are you looking for in a position?
What goals have you set for yourself? How are you planning to achieve them?
What is your most significant accomplishment to date?
What motivates you?
What turns you off?
If I asked the people who know you well to describe you, what three words would they use?
If I asked the people who know you for one reason why I shouldn't employ you, what would they say?
Tell me how you have used study leave?
What is the best course you have attended, Why? What did you learn?
What was the worst course you have attended, Why?
Recent political or medical news developments?
What are your team-player qualities? Give examples
What methods have you used or would you use to assess student learning?
What characteristics do you think are important for this position?
Name two management skills that you think you have?
What characteristics are most important in a good manager? How have you displayed one of them?
We are looking at a lot of great candidates; why are you the best person for this position?

Increasing you may be confronted with more "modern" questions that are designed to make you think:

Describe a time in any job you've held when you were faced with problems or pressures which tested your ability to cope. What did you do?
Give an example to a time when you were unable to finish a task because to did not have enough information to go on. Be specific.
Give an example of a time when you have to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
Tell me about a time when you had to use your spoken communication skills in order to get a point across that was important to you?
Can you tell me about a job experience in which you had to speak up in order to be sure that other people knew what you though or felt?
Give me an example of a time when you felt you were able to motivate your colleagues or subordinates.
What do you do when one of your people is performing badly, just not getting the job done ? Give an example.
When you had to do a job that was particularly uninteresting, how did you deal with it?
Give me an example of a specific occasion when you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
Describe a situation in which you felt it necessary to be very attentive to your environment.
Give an example of a time when you have to use your fact-finding skills to gain information in order to solve a problem - then tell me how you analysed the information to come to a decision.
Give me an example of an important goal which you have set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
Describe the most significant written document/report/presentation which you have had to complete.
Give me an example of a time when you have to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
Give me an example of a time when you were able to communicate with another person, even though that individual may not have liked you personally.
Describe a situation in which you were able effectively to "read" another person and tailor your actions according to your understanding of their individual needs or values.
What did you do in your last job in order to be effective with your organisation and planning? Be specific.
Describe a situation in your job when you could structure your own work schedule. What did you do?
Describe the most creative work-related project which you have carried out.
Describe a time when you felt it was necessary to modify or change your actions in order to respond to the needs of another person.
What experience have you had with a misunderstanding with a customer or fellow employee? How did you solve the problem?
What did you do in your last job to contribute towards teamwork? Be specific.
Give me an example of a problem which you faced on any job you have had and tell me how you went about solving it.
Describe a situation in which you were able to influence positively the action of others in a desired direction.


Make eye contact with the interviewer before speaking
Adopt a relaxed posture sitting squarely in the chair
Facial expressions and gestures should be natural
Do not fidget or appear restless
Keep to the point
Aim to be precise
Give a full answer and do not waffle
Structure your answer; it should be logical and clearly understood
Avoid using jargon
Speak confidently so that you can he heard
Do not speak too quickly or slowly
Use your voice to reflect the meaning of what you are saying
Do not argue with the interviewer

Finally best of luck!

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 July 2020 )
< Prev   Next >
Submit Community News
If you have some orthopedic news that you would like to share with the community, please submit your story, article, announcement or review here.