Is the STP application process fair?

Last week we received a message from a reader:

Hi There,

As an STP applicant and interviewee for the last three years on my chosen programme I have been left with a sour taste in my mouth regarding the credibility of the interview process for STPs. Unfortunately I don’t think I am the only potential applicant who feels this way, yet our voices continue to go unheard with the feedback we provide to the school of healthcare science. It would be great to see current STPs in post displaying a balanced view of the application process, interview process and training programme to potential applicants rather than a rose-tinted view. It is quite unconvincing when we see a page promoting the STP from such a light when we have seen that year upon year, excellent candidates are slipping through the net, becoming increasingly demeaned and disheartened while less experienced candidates who are able to charm at interview get recruited.

Please let me know your opinion on this.

Firstly, we just want to say thank you for getting in touch, we really value the opinions of our readers and hearing from you helps us to know what to write about. We wanted to share what you’ve written so we can fully address what you’ve spoken about in a way that can help everyone.

We are hoping to write some posts in the future (closer to the time that applications open) about our experience of the application and interview process and also share some tips for anyone thinking of applying. But, we felt we should also directly address the issues you’ve raised here now.

We want to start by saying that we genuinely feel everyone on the Scientist Training Program fully deserves their place. Regardless of anyones personal experience/opinion of the application process, 8 different experts in their field observe and judge you in the interview stage and- this is something that resonates very strongly with us- if you start to doubt the legitimacy of the interview process you start to doubt yourself and whether you really deserve your place. We think this creates a really negative mind set that isn’t beneficial or productive for anyone. However, we understand that isn’t a perfect process, as no recruitment process is, and the frustration and disappointment that comes with feeling like you’ve been let down by the flaws of it.

We think another important point to make is that some specialisms are a lot harder to get onto than others, as evidenced by the statistics published by NSHCS:

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 21.25.40

So if you’re applying for certain posts, competition can be very, very high and you shouldn’t feel disheartened by not getting a place. We’re not saying any are easy to get onto but some are clearly harder than others.

We don’t want to sound like we are just defending the process because it worked for us, because as we said, we know it isn’t perfect and there are areas that can be improved, as hopefully they have this year by introducing a second specialism specific round at the interview process. We also don’t ourselves know the ins and outs of how the process works but we can look into speaking to people who have been involved in the interviews to see if we can get some more specific advice. If any applicants have specific feedback on the interview process, we welcome discussion in the comments and we can attempt to advise where we are able.

Once again, thank you for sharing your opinion with us, we really value all our readers opinions and feedback, and we hope we have been able to address the issues you have brought up. We really want STP perspectives to present the STP in an honest light with our real experiences and be able help aspiring and current trainees.

Author: Jes

I am a trainee clinical bioinformatician working at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. I am passionate about increasing awareness and discussion about healthcare science and particularly the routes into the field.

2 thoughts on “Is the STP application process fair?”

  1. The STP is a very competitive programme with each post oversubscribed with quality capplicants. Recruitment to such a scheme will always involve rejecting excellent candidates. They interview 3 candidates for each position; the two-thirds of unsuccessful interviewees will all be capable candidates with relevant work experience and excellent academic records. The same criticism can be levelled at any prestigious graduate training scheme or PhD programme.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If the format of the recruitment doesn’t suit you, try applying for the Welsh/Scottish STP or apply for a band 6 job and register through the equivalence route. It worked for me, in a standard interview you’ll have the time to get over your initial nerves and the interviewers get to know you better.


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