Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Your Interview

Preparing for an Interview

Getting invited to an interview means you’ve passed the first hurdle – your application must have made a good impression.
NHS Lothian e-mails interview invites; the email address you provided on your application form will be the one we send the invite to.


Now you must prepare for the interview. Firstly, find out about the employer and the job. You could speak to people you know who work for NHS Lothian or find out if they have an information pack.
You could also arrange an informal visit to the department. Your prospective employer will note that you have taken the time to learn about their department and organisation.
Find out what the interview will involve to make sure you are prepared.
If you have a disability, and to attend the interview need special arrangements to be made, please indicate any special requirements needed when you phone to confirm you will be attending the interview.
If a presentation is required, make sure it is completed in plenty of time and practice beforehand. If you have been asked to e-mail your presentation, ask for an acknowledgement that it has been received and is compatible with our systems. Have printouts of slides in case anything goes wrong on the day.

Plan your journey

  • Consider a ‘dummy run’ before the day of the interview or check how long the journey will take. Check if you will be able to park on site. On many NHS sites it is difficult to find parking spaces, so allow extra time for this. 
  • If travelling by public transport find out bus routes and timetables.Plan an alternative means of getting there – be prepared for the unexpected.
  • If you have a disability, check there are no obstacles or restrictions that would cause you problems or delay you.

Create the right image

Give yourself plenty of time to decide what to wear and get the clothes ready the day before. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. Aim for a neat, clean and tidy appearance – if you look good it will help you feel good.

Gather the information requested

Bring items the employer has asked for: for example, qualification certificates, driving licence, passport, confirmation of eligibility to work in UK.
Take a copy of your application form to refer to. Finally re-read the job description and advert to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Prepare for questions you might be asked

Thorough preparation will give you the confidence to do your best at an interview.

Competency-based questions

Competency-based questions are focused on actual experiences and ask specific questions that require you to give examples from past experiences.

  • Give an example of a time when someone has complained about your work or when you’ve known that someone wasn’t pleased with your work 
  • Give an example of a time you had to work with a group of people on a project or another job
This allows the interviewer to explore in detail what you actually did, actually thought and actually felt.
Don’t talk in broad terms – give specific examples. Briefly describe the background to the situation then specifically describe your responsibility, what you did and finally describe the outcome of your actions.

Do you have any questions?

This is almost always asked at an interview. Asking some questions can show you are interested. Some appropriate questions are:
  • Who would I report to?
  • What training will I get, if any?
  • What would my first job be?
  • When is the anticipated start date?
  • How soon will I hear about the result of my interview?
  • How many employees are there in the department? 


The Day of the Interview

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and make sure you’ve got all the relevant paperwork with you.

When you arrive

  • Aim to arrive about 10 minutes early
  • Report to the receptionist or whoever you were asked to report to
  • Try and relax and keep calm. It is natural to be nervous. The interviewer might be just as nervous as you.

The interview

You will make an impression in the first few minutes. It takes this time for people to assess you and store this information.
Once an impression has been formed, it’s seldom changed. It’s important to make first impressions work for you.
If you are nervous, your voice may sound shaky. Practice deep, slow breathing. This will slow down your heart rate and help you avoid taking quick, shallow breaths.

  • Enter the room confidently
  • Smile
  • Be polite and friendly
  • Maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to. If there is more than one person on the panel look at the person who has asked the question and glance at the others occasionally as you reply.
  • Answer questions as fully as you can, avoid just saying 'yes' or 'no'
  • Ask if you don’t understand a question
  • Provide examples to prove your skills and achievements
  • Tell the truth
  • Speak clearly
  • Sell yourself – get your good points across and be positive.

  • Sit down until the interviewer asks you to
  • Fidget, slouch or fold your arms
  • Swear
  • Criticise your previous employers
  • Interrupt
  • Draw attention to your weaknesses
  • Lie.Stay calm and stick to the facts.
At the end of the interview, thank the interviewers and shake their hand.


After the Interview

As soon as the interview is over, it is a good idea to go back over the interview while it is still fresh in your memory. Ask yourself:

  • Which questions did I answer well?
  • Which questions did I answer badly?
  • Did I answer questions fully?
  • Is there anything I wish I had said?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve my chances – learning new skills, gaining further experience, e.g. through voluntary work
  • Did I highlight my strengths?
  • Did I talk about previous relevant experience?

Now you must wait. If you have not heard after a week or so, you could try to find out if the job has been filled.


There may have been a lot of competition for the job, so do not take it personally if you are unlucky this time. You will receive a letter letting you know you have been unsuccessful. The chair of the interview panel’s details will be on the letter, you could telephone them to receive feedback on your interview technique. This could be useful for improving your performance next time.


Congratulations! If you are currently working and wish to accept the job offer now is the time to inform your employer you will be resigning as soon as all your pre-employment checks are complete.
We will write out to you with an offer of employment conditional on satisfactory pre-employment checks. It may take up to two weeks from your interview to receive this letter. If you haven’t heard within this time period you could contact the recruitment department.


NHS Lothian Careers
NHS Lothian Recruitment (General)
Block 3, Stairwell 6
Residency Buildings
St John's Hospital
Livingston EH54 6PP
NHS Lothian Recruitment (Medical and Dental)
Pentland House
47 Robb's Loan
EH14 1TY

Employees of NHS Lothian demonstrate Our Values. Around 3,000 colleagues across NHS Lothian have developed this set of common values and ways of working - to the benefit of everyone working in the organisation and, most importantly - to the benefit of our patients.

© NHS Lothian Recruitment & Personnel Services. Terms & Conditions