ST3 Application/Interview Experience – Miss S Howles

@ The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital

ST3 Interview Tips


  • Prepare your portfolio well in advance
  • Only include things that you are happy to talk about in depth  in the interview
  • Make sure that it is well structured and easy to navigate – the interviewers will only have 10 minutes with it
  • Structure your portfolio in sections based on the self assessment questions
  • Make sure that your portfolio looks professional – expensive leather-bound, gold-embossed portfolio is not essential, but it needs to be neat and tidy.
  • If in doubt, get someone with recent experience of the interview (i.e. An ST3/4 or consultant who has recently sat on the panel) to check it over
  • Spend some time looking at ‘hot topics’ in orthopaedics and orthopaedic training.
  • Have in your mind examples of your practice/achievements to reflect desired attributes, such as leadership, professionalism, teamwork, good communication etc


  • You will be given the title in advance of the interview – prepare for it, but remember that it is just part of one station
  • Whilst content needs to be reasonable (i.e. not nonsense), presentation skills are the main thing being tested here, so focus on structure.
  • Make sure your presentation has an introduction and a conclusion
  • Keep visual aids very simple – not too many words
  • Practice at home and check your timing – the interviewers will enforce the time limit

Clinical Knowledge/Anatomy

  • When looking at clinical cases, start simple and safe – ABCDE/ATLS protocol
  • BOAST guidelines can be helpful
  • Know your limb anatomy
  • Be structured in your answers – for example if asked to name all muscles supplied by a nerve, group them in compartments


  • This station can feel very artificial, but try to act as you would if you were talking to a colleague about real patients.
  • Think about patient factors which might affect list planning (eg. warfarin/NOACs/diabetes/pacemaker/allergie
  • Make sure that the interviewers can see that you understand the urgency of life/limb threatening situations
  • If part of the scenario involves list planning, read the scenario carefully: How many sessions  is the list, who is available for it etc. There isn’t a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ order per se, but you need to make sure that your reasoning is sound (and that the interviewers understand your rationale)


  • Stay calm
  • Put ethical principles and patient safety first
  • Show that you understand capacity, consent, autonomy etc
  • Consider ideas, concerns and expectations

Practical Station

  • Get to know the kit that you may be asked to use (i.e. DHS and AO small frag kit), including diameter of drills/taps/screws and how to put together the drill/screw and set the triple reamer.
  • Read the op tech and/or ask a friendly scrub nurse to take you through the kit after a case if you are unsure about anything
  • Know which drill/tap/screw/suture material  to use and why – you may be offered more than one option
  • Understand principles behind techniques and materials used- you will be asked questions as you perform the practical skill.
  • Consider safety when handling sharps/power tools

On the day:

  • Get there with plenty of time to spare
  • Look smart: wear a suit, (but remember that you will have to take off your jacket for the practical station, so whatever is underneath has to be appropriate)
  • Be polite to everyone you meet at the interview centre
  • Don’t get intimidated by any apparent bravado displayed by other candidates
  • This is more like an OSCE than an interview – and you need to prepare for it.
  • It isn’t all about your CV, but how you perform across the board.