How to “ace” the NHS STP application process

Contributers: Martyna Borak and Sophie Reed (OUH Genomics STP trainees)

My story

Hi, I’m Jess and I’m a 1st year NHS STP trainee in Bioinformatics (Genomics) at Oxford. I first heard of the NHS STP through a friend on placement and was intrigued. I heard that it was a degree apprenticeship scheme where you study for a master’s degree at the same time as gaining clinical experience which sounded awesome. After doing more research about the scheme on the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) I decided to apply in 2021 for Genomics but was unsuccessful. This led me to do the typical “panic” master’s (when one does a master’s degree because they do not know what to do or want to change career paths) where I gained more experience about bioinformatics and reapplied in 2022. Other people have also applied multiple times (I know someone who was successful on their 5th try) and some people have done post-docs, but others get in on their 1st time. In this post, I will talk about my applications process and tips.

Applications

The first part of the NHS STP application process is the application (obvs). This tends to open in January and close in February and you can only apply for 1 specialism. You will apply through an online system called Oriel where you will input your personal details, qualifications, and most importantly… your personal statement! You do NOT need a CV or cover letter unlike most jobs. The 1000-word personal statement is the crucial part because this is where you WOW your assessor. You must write 500 words about “scientific skills”, for example, write about what work experience you have and how the specialism you are interested in fits into the wider picture of providing healthcare for PATIENTS through the NHS. Also, you must write 500 words about “transferable skills” and “physical skills”, for example, organisation, leadership, and teamwork skills. These are scored against the criteria laid out in the Core Person Specification & Job Description.

💡 Top tips:

  • Don’t be a lemon! 🍋 Your personal statement won’t write itself! Get words written down and you can edit it later.
  • Proofread your personal statement!
  • Get feedback from family and friends – pop that OOMPH into your statement!
  • Bear in mind the NHS values!!! (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more)
  • Keep up! Read the news 📰 what are the latest advances in your specialism and what’s being adopted into the NHS? (NHS longer term plan; NHS constitution)
  • Choose your submission date carefully as you have 2 weeks from your application submission date to complete the next stage (SJT)

(Image from: https://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/core-values)

Situational Judgment Test (SJT)

This is the only psychometric test that you will come across during the process. The SJT consists of 25 questions in 50 minutes. Some questions are grouped for 1 situation e.g., if there were 5 questions per situation, so there will be 5 situations. This was carried out through Pearson Vue and the questions were orientated around patient-facing situations in the NHS. However, I believe that the NSHCS is trying to change this to make it more personalised to each specialism. After the SJT, candidates are longlisted and those who qualify rank their locations. The assessors shortlist those who have been ranked and rank the candidates themselves. Then an algorithm will sort these rankings to determine who gets an interview. This process takes a long time so be patient.

💡 Top tips:

Interviews

This is your time to SHINE! You only get 1 interview so prepare well! Your interview will be around 20-30 mins long (short) and will be split into 2 parts. The first part features specialism-related questions and the second part features values-based questions. These questions will be asked by in-service staff who know the specialism inside out and will potentially be your managers. My interview was conducted on Microsoft Teams in the morning, and I heard my result back by the end of the afternoon (gee whizz!).

💡 Top tips:

  • Don’t assume you have the post! In 2022, there were over 7000 applicants, of which over 1000 got offered an interview. Of those 1000, around 300-400 were successful with 29 unfilled posts.
  • Be prepared (scout’s motto)! Make sure you have revised what you said in your application, know how your specialism fits into the NHS, and know the NHS values inside out.
  • Make sure that you are not disturbed – turn your phone to silent, put a sign on your door, go to the toilet, etc.
  • Make your bed and put away your laundry! (Haha this may have happened to me… woops! 😅) . Don’t forget that it is an online interview where they ask you to pan your camera around to check you’re not cheating!
  • Ask the panel questions!
  • Use the STAR technique to explain your answers.

(Image from https://faangpath.com/blog/star-method-for-faang-interview/)

Useful links

Voila!

So, there we have it! Make sure you pack a punch into your personal statement, think about the NHS values when completing the SJT, and know your specialism inside out when doing the interviews. Good luck with your application! 🤞 And remember…

(Image from https://quotefancy.com/quote/1601238/William-Edward-Hickson-If-at-first-you-don-t-succeed-try-try-try-again)

P.S.

Some stats if you’re interested (NSHCS, 2022. https://nshcs.hee.nhs.uk/programmes/stp/applicants/data-and-statistics-relating-to-the-stp/) and because I prefer numbers over words lol (don’t ask me why I’m blogging shhhh):

2021

4 thoughts on “How to “ace” the NHS STP application process

  1. Hi, hope you’re well! Just wanted to see if a new Discord link could be given as the current link in this blog seems to be broken. Appreciate it, thanks!

    Like

      1. Hi Madeleine, I’ve fixed the link in the blog now so hopefully it should work. Let me know if it still does not. Thanks.

        Like

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