Last year I embarked on probably one of the most important interviews I would ever have to take – the dental foundation training interview. It is not only there to assess what job you will take the following year, but also places you in rank against all the final year students in the country. Not everyone is guaranteed a job, so it is important to be prepared and stay calm. You have not trained for five years to miss out because of a lack of confidence on one day.
These are my 10 top tips on what to do during a DF1 interview.
1. Stay calm. What a strange thing to advise. You may think you cannot control your emotions, your nerves, your feelings, but you can. It is likely that you are going to be holding a drill in children’s mouths who are screaming and moving around – you will need to learn to keep your cool
2. Familiarise yourself with the format.
The assessment process consists of:
- Clinical communication skills station with real actors (10 minutes)
- Professional, leadership and management skills station (10 minutes)
- Situational judgment test (SJT) – 50 SJT questions comprising of both ranking based SJTs and multiple choice SJTs. (90 minutes). From my year, of the 50 SJTs, 30 were ranking based and 20 were multiple choice based.
3. The SJT exam is designed to assess non-academic skills such as – professional quality, coping with pressure, communication, teamwork and putting patients’ best interests first
4. Read the SJT question properly. My year was the pioneering year for the SJT examination and in all our practice we had to rank the SJTs from one to five however on the day half the questions were ‘choose the most three appropriate together’. This year it could alter slightly again
5. The SJT ranking mark scheme is as follows:
- Ranking the options correctly scores the candidate 20
- Again this could be subject to change so listen to your
tutors’ feedback and have the most up to date version
of news surrounding the DF1 interview.
6. The communication station is not there to trick you. The scenario will be something you have read or practised, just do it to the best of your ability this time and funnily enough that is being yourself. The medical actors are extremely good at picking up whether you are being fake or not
7. Familiarise yourself with the scenario mark schemes. It will help order your answer in a similar logical order. Use these mark schemes when giving each other peer feedback
8. Create a checklist of referring documents that you go through in your head when answering the questions. This will help you to not forget something
9. Know your dental organisations and bodies
10. Speak clearly, comprehensively and steadily. Do not guess or make up answers as it is better to state: ‘I do not know.’ They want to know you are safe to practise. Once it is over, do not dwell, just go onto the next station and begin all over again.