Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Summer vacation research

It's a great idea for chemical engineers and chemists to get some research experience over the summer, either in the UK or abroad. 

This might be of particular interest to chemists: as there's a new Year Away system in Chemistry, now most MChems are planning to apply for industrial placements/year abroad in their final year rather than their 4th year. This has the delightful benefit of freeing you up for a summer placement between your 3rd and 4th year. So where can you go? What can you do?

If you are thinking of abroad:

IAESTEInternational Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience.  Usually 8-12 weeks in summer, your destination could be any of 80 countries. Chemistry and Chemical engineering accepted. Note that the global IAESTE site is a bit hard to navigate, so I have given the UK one above. If you have a non-EU/non-commonwealth origin, you need to apply through your own country's IAESTE site

Saltire Scholars - this Internship Programme matches high-potential undergraduates from Scottish universities with leading global and entrepreneurial companies, charities, social enterprises, and small and medium sized enterprises - from Glasgow to San Francisco to Singapore. See the blogs from chemistry and chemical engineering scholars of previous years.

RISE Germany - Research Internships in Science & Engineering. I like this site, much easier to navigate than most. RISE Germany offers summer research internships in Germany for undergraduate students from USA, UK and Ireland. In their internships, students are carefully matched with doctoral students- whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. 300 scholarships are available each year. German language skills not necessary.

Amgen Scholars - can be in UK, Europe or Japan (or USA if you are from USA). Since it is focused on biotechnology, both chemistry and chemical engineering are highlighted as areas of research.

Erasmus - a source of funding you can apply for if you find an internship abroad. There is also a erasmusinterns website with vacancies listed, 40 in science right now.

Many individual universities run their own programme for undergraduate summer internships eg University of Tokyo or University of Paris-Sud. If you know which country you would like to work in, it's worth checking some of the good research universities' websites individually.

You can also apply for your own funding for university research through a research council/learned society/member organisation such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, Carnegie Trust, BBSRC, EPSRC, Biochemical Society, MedicalResearchScotland. These bursaries are administered in myriad ways - sometimes it is YOU who applies once you have found a willing academic (eg RSC), sometimes the participating academic (medicalresearchscotland).  Sometimes there are restrictions - many of these will require you to do the research in the UK. The Royal Society of Biology in particular is easy to navigate and has a list of funding opportunities (not all of them biology related!!).

The Careers Service has a very good section on Finding Internships, at home and abroad. If you need any help of any description, please do book an appointment with me or any of the other careers consultants. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Case Study - Business Development Assistant - Biogelx Ltd

Name Hannah O’Donoghue
Degree course MChem with a Year Abroad, U of Edinburgh 
Year of Graduation 2016
Employer Biogelx Ltd
Job title Business Development Assistant

What have you being doing since graduation?

After graduation, I worked in an analytical lab for a while but knew I wanted to do something else as it was very routine and badly paid. I applied for one of University of Edinburgh’s “Employ.ed in an SME” positions (advertised on MyCareerHub) and got a 10-week graduate internship working as a Business Development Assistant with Biogelx Ltd. Biogelx is a small University of Strathclyde spinout 
company who make hydrogels for a range of biotechnology applications.

What interested you in this specific role?

After graduation I was looking for non-lab based scientific roles, but apart from grad schemes it was difficult to find opportunities I was eligible for without experience. This role stood out as it was in business development but still required a scientific background. I thought it would be valuable to gain insight into a business role and open up a wider range of career opportunities. I felt I had a good chance of getting the position as my third year project involved working with polymers and analysing their properties; I believed would give me some understanding of the product.

What did you do there?

My primary responsibility was in marketing and customer engagement: reaching out to potential customers, responding to enquiries and arranging meetings. The company was in the process of upgrading its marketing strategy, so I also contributed content for and monitored the website and social media to work out how effective they were and how to improve. I dealt with paperwork and processed sales from the point of engagement with customers through to dispatch and payment, which has been good financial experience.

Did you use your chemistry background in the job?

  • Yes, I did - although I was working mostly on business and sales, it was useful to understand the basics of peptide synthesis. It made it easier to talk to customers.
  • Additionally, I carried out some product development; testing the protocols for various gels and applications and looking for possible improvements to the process. The lab setup was similar to the ones I used as an undergraduate, and my year abroad project working with polymer composites was really helpful.
  • The marketing and customer focus aspect mostly required organisation and some occasional diplomacy skills, rather than anything specifically related to chemistry. It was really useful for me to develop these skills and gain some experience in a commercial environment as previously I’d only worked in lab roles.

What did you gain from your internship experience?

One of the benefits of working in a small company was that I was able to gain a range of experience across the technical and business sides of the company, and benefit from attending and contributing to meetings. There was only a handful of staff in the office, which meant I had a degree of independence in planning my own work and priorities. Everyone was very supportive, and I found it a friendly and informal atmosphere to work in.
I am just about to start a new job in the Civil Service Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). My experience at Biogelx improved my understanding of science in industry and probably helped me get the position.

Would you recommend Biogelx to others?

Yes, overall I found it to be a great experience; I’m grateful for the opportunity and would recommend an internship like this to anyone looking for a more varied scientific career outside the lab. I was pleased to be offered an extension to my 10 week contract (although I declined as I had the BEIS job by then), so internships can lead to other things!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Patent Attorney Opportunities at Marks & Clerk

Thinking about a career as a Patent Attorney? Just to let you know that the Marks & Clerk Open Days for potential trainees are coming up again, with the Glasgow Open Day (the only one in Scotland)  being on 24 October 1-6pm.


They are particularly keen to have a mix of disciplines, and while there are chemists and biologists signed up already, they want to encourage engineers (all disciplines) and physicists too. All are very welcome. If you want to chat to someone about it beforehand, let me know, as an Edinburgh graduate who works there has kindly offered to do so.

The day will include talks from current trainees and attorneys, an interactive group session and plenty of time to ask questions. The day will finish with the opportunity, over a drink, to meet and chat with some local partners, attorneys and trainees.  

To be eligible to apply for the Open Day, you will have gained (or be expected to gain) at least a 2:1 degree in a STEM subject (including computer science). Priority will be given to students in their final year of an undergraduate or post-graduate degree, or those who have already completed their studies. Applications for the Open Day must be submitted online by 2 October 2017.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Alternative science careers

Are you at the stage of thinking about HOW might you like to use your chemistry degree? Maybe you like science, but don't see yourself working directly in R&D? Then read on, because there are several sources of helpful information on the topic listed below:

1. Chemistry specific pages on Careers Service Website (NEW!!! for 2017) - covers areas like Science Communication, Publishing and Policy, Data Science, Intellectual Property, Production Management, Quality Assurance, Technical Sales & Marketing, Scientific Recruitment Consultancy are covered - ie concentrating on careers where you can use your degree without even donning a lab coat. If you want the lab coat but not the R&D, then working in a more analytical role might suit you - eg forensic scientist, or clinical healthcare scientist

2. Search this blog - from the menu on the right, select Case Studies and/or Careers using Chemistry.

3. The Royal Society of Chemistry - Profiles. 46 stories from people with a chemistry degree and the wide variety of careers they are in

4. This one could win prizes for ugliest, hardest to navigate, online discussion list on the planet, but it's also one of the most useful for job vacancies in science communication, administration, policy, education & publishing.  And it's up to date.

5. Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry - Case Studies (100+) of the range of jobs available in the pharma industry, in the lab, and away from it.

6. The Science Council - 10 types of scientist - and each of the 10 types (eg policy, business) has a range of people describing what they do.

7. Oxford University blog - science alternatives

8. Manchester University Blog for Bioscience students - science alternatives

9. Also, just for a change, something that's not online - A Book! (we have a copy available for use in the Careers Service).  Successful Careers beyond the Lab. Also has a fair bit about engineering. Author David Bennett. UK based, which is nice (many of these sorts of books are US-based).

If you find all of this a bit overwhelming, try thinking about it from the other angle - YOU! What bits of your degree have you enjoyed the most? What are you good at? What do you find easy compared to your peers? Can you relate that to a career? For example, at a very simplistic level:

Potential  Career?
Supply Chain
Attention to Detail
Patent  Agent
Report Writing
Science Journalism
Forensic Science

Still overwhelmed?  Try picking out 3 potential careers, then go out and find people who are actually doing the jobs and find out more from them (better than just reading about them). If  you need any help in planning how to do this, then book an appointment through MCH and we can talk it through.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Extreme interview anxiety?

For the vast majority of the population, the answer to the question "Do job interviews make you nervous?" is a resounding YES!
This nervousness can manifest itself as many weird and wonderful symptoms -eg:

  1. inability to think of examples of skills or experience on the spot
  2. inability to find the right words 
  3. inability to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end
  4. being glib/making jokes
  5. making inappropriate comments
  6. a host of ill-advised non-verbal behaviours like scratching, twitching, foot tapping, hand-wringing, poor eye contact, sweating, blushing, palpitations..... the list is endless.
A family member (I'll call him Elvis) graduated (not from Edinburgh I hasten to add) in June 2017. Poor Elvis appears to be suffering from all of the above during interviews, but particularly symptom no.5. Picture these two gut-churning scenarios:

Role: Data Analyst for Barclays Investment Management ( 1 year contract)
Interviewer: "What's your future career plans Elvis?"
Nervous Elvis: "I'd like to work for the NHS as a data analyst, but they've just rejected me. I'm going to apply to them again next year though"
Interviewer (blinking): "So you don't see yourself in Financial Services?"
Nervous Elvis: "No, but I heard that the data analysis training is pretty good here, so I thought I could do that while waiting to re-apply to the NHS".

Role: Statistician for small charity which distributes vaccines to developing countries
For some inexplicable reason, Elvis told the panel that he had got the train to the interview from a town (X) that has had no train station or railway since 1962. The interviewers pointed this out to him. Instead of saying, "Sorry, I meant Town Y", Elvis continued to insist that Town X had a train station, "because he didn't want to look silly". Brows furrowed all round the interview table at this blatant lie. He knew this was madness, but anxiety again interfered with his brain/mouth co-ordination.

What can Elvis do to overcome his nerves and avoid repeat performances of these car crash interviews?

To be fair, I've never actually met a person who has no anxiety before a job interview.  Feeling nervous beforehand is just a sign that you want to do well. Your anxiety can actually motivate you to be better prepared, provide you with energy and keep you alert during the process. However, if like Elvis, nerves are keeping you from doing your best, here are 5 quick tips for calming your anxiety and maybe even taking advantage of it:

1. Control what you can by preparing for the interview. You can’t control what you will be asked or what will happen in the interview, but you can control how you prepare for it. Research the organization, put yourself in the interviewer's shoes and think what he might ask, practice responses to interview questions, practice your handshake, practice telling powerful stories about your skills, etc. Sometimes the enormity of the looming interview makes you so nervous that you keep putting the preparation off until it is too late to do anything (this was the pickle that Elvis got himself into). If this is you, try the following:
  • Set aside 60 minutes one day well before the interview. No distractions. Use a timer.
  • Think up a SINGLE likely question - eg "What do you know about Diageo"
  • Do your research to answer ONLY that question
  • Arrange the important points into a story
  • Do this for 8-10 likely questions. Do only one per day, spend no more than 60 minutes on each, to prevent you from being overwhelmed
  • In 8-10 days time - Voila! Ready for interview.
There are many other ways to practice:
  • Mock interview with a careers consultant in the Careers Service - book on MCH
  • Supply some typical interview questions to a friend or family member and have them “interview” you
  • Try Interview Simulator on MCH - you can make up your own questions  and video/audio-record yourself and play back/view generic feedback. It's completely private, so you can try out different responses to the same question, play them back to compare them and decide which sounds best.
2. Get there early. If you’re travelling to the interview, make sure you know where you’re going and allow plenty of time to get there. Knowing you are going to be late could make your anxiety spiral upwards. Allow for possible traffic delays or late flights. You can always walk around for 30 minutes beforehand. Better to be 30 minutes early than 1 minute late.

3. Think of others. During an interview, anxiety causes us to become very self-centered and self-focused.  To take your mind off your heart jumping about like a box of frogs, make a point of focusing on others and being empathic. Smile. Greet the receptionist warmly. Pay attention when someone tells you their name, and make an effort to remember it and use it (sparingly!). Notice your surroundings - if they are pleasant, say so. The interviewer might be having a more rubbish day than you, they might even be very nervous. After all, if they consistently choose the WRONG person for jobs, they will be in trouble, sacked even. YOU on the other hand, are not going to get into any kind of  trouble (other than not getting the job) on the back of this interview.  If all else fails, picture your interviewer naked - always a great leveller.

4. Question your thoughts. Ask yourself: “Is this true or is this my interpretation?” Remember, just because you feel it doesn’t make it true.  Can you dispute your emotional thoughts with logic?  See to check if unhelpful thoughts are raising your anxiety. For example - "Mind-Reading" - we often assume that we know what others are thinking about us in an interview. What’s the evidence?  Is there another, more balanced way of looking at it? What would you say to a friend who was having these negative thoughts?

5. Fake it till you make it. Stand tall. Sit tall. Shoulders back and relaxed. Firm handshake with good eye contact. Take definite strides when walking. Take deep breaths. Assuming a "power-pose" immediately makes you look less anxious. If you consciously try to LOOK less anxious, it can help you to FEEL less anxious. Don't wait until the interview to try it; start acting powerful every day, till it becomes second nature.  Remember, you’re in front of them now because they liked what they read about you in your application. Watch this TED talk by Ann Cuddy to learn about how your posture affects your mood.

Bear in mind, everyone will experience a certain amount of anxiety before and at an interview. It's not necessarily a bad thing as it forces you to prepare, in the hope that the anxiety will abate. Some people though, have a more deep seated social anxiety on a daily basis, where the thought of any interaction with another person can cause them extreme distress. This makes interviews especially difficult for them. The NHS website lists some very good tips, psychological techniques and organisations for help with this. For example, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been found to be useful in many cases for extreme anxiety.

There are also many books on the subject, but one that has been recommended to me more than once is Matt Lewis' Overcoming Social Anxiety. It's written by a  UK university lecturer with case studies drawn from his student population, so it feels especially real somehow. The tips in the book also help with interviews.

At a more local level, the University of Edinburgh Student Counselling Service run several workshops every semester on overcoming anxiety. The dates are listed on their website. You can also have one to one appointments with a counsellor, getting "assessed" within 2 weeks and put on a waiting list for anxiety counselling (4 appointments). For longer term counselling, they have a list of external agencies on their website (log in required for these).

For the lucky majority though, nerves can be beneficial, so take advantage of them and use them to improve your interview performance. Further information on the Interviews section of our website.

Bear in mind too, that there may be Interview Feedback reports from previous students who have had a interviews at a range of companies - search on Interview Feedback under Resources on MCH.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Working in Procurement - GSK

On a recent visit to GSK, I heard from some Edinburgh alumni who are working in roles away from R&D. Below, Uma describes how she got to her present position and what her job entails.

Uma – Procurement Business Solutions - GSK

How did you find your current job and why did it appeal to you?
I had originally applied for a research scientist job at GSK and got through to the phone interview stages. At this point I was told that I had been in academia for too long (PhD and Postdoc) and as I didn’t have any industry experience I wasn’t suitable for that particular role. They did however, encourage me to look at the GSK website to look at the range of graduate and postgraduate roles. Here, I found the IT Future Leaders (ITFL) programme. There were a number of aspects to this programme that appealed to me:
1. They offered training from the ground up, with little or no experience in the area;
2. All FL programmes give the graduate a landing role after they roll off the programme;
3. They focus on developing soft skills that will create a future leader;
4. GSK are a global, hugely successful, healthcare organisation – where the possibilities to learn are endless.

I began the programme in Procurement Business Solutions. After 2 years in this area I am now about to move into a role that suits my science background better (still on the same programme) in Clinical, Medical & Regulatory IT.

Can you describe what your job entails or a typical week in your job?
In my current role as a business & technology consultant in the world of SAP (Systems, Applications & Products – the world’s largest business software company) we are deploying a particular SAP procurement system globally. My specific project covers the US, Canada and Puerto Rica where we analyse the current processes they use in order to obtain requirements for any bespoke edits to our procurement system. We then thoroughly test the system and train users in the market to use it. This involves a lot of interaction with a number of different business areas, is highly demanding and most definitely keeps you on your toes!

How have you used the skills and knowledge from your degree in your job?
Working in IT means I am not using any technical knowledge from my science degree directly. Instead, I am using soft skills I didn’t even realise I had picked up from my years at University. For example;
Attention to Detail – in a global, successful company like GSK, quality is an area you cannot afford to overlook. We have specific departments to check the quality of test scripts, documentation and other project activities and so attention to detail is incredibly important.
Negotiation & Communication - Working in my area involves deploying a new system in a market comfortable with their current system. Understandably, we can sometimes meet resistance where the new system does not fulfil all the requirements that the current system does, and so being able to speak to the market to negotiate a conclusion best for the company is a vital skillset for my job. A large part of my time at Edinburgh University was speaking in public to lay audiences as well as experts in the field – a good grounding for my communication skills at GSK

What extra curricular experience do you believe helped you get where you are today?
Like a lot of graduates, I had no idea what I wanted to do once I left university. I had an interest in Reproductive Biology so I contacted London Zoo and got a summer placement working in one of their labs, which led me to apply for a PhD.

Is there anything you wish you HAD done to make it easier to get where you are today?
I would have paid more attention to careers fairs. There are so many opportunities available for graduates of all interests right at your fingertips and career fairs are literally there for you to take them. Networking is difficult for a lot of people but career fairs most definitely make it easy for even the most indecisive and shy.

What advice would you give to students wishing to enter your field of work?
Email people that interest you (from Linkedin, career fairs, company websites etc.) – networking is difficult but the internet makes it very easy now. You may only ever get an opportunity from 1% of all the people you speak to, but you’ll never know unless you speak to them.

Uma's CV summary
BSc & MRes in Biomedical Science, St Georges Hospital Medical School, London
PhD Reproductive Biology, University of Edinburgh (2013)
Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College Dublin
IT Future Leaders Programme, GSK

Thank you Uma!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Teaching chemistry - new scheme in Dundee- earn while you learn

There is a new teacher education scheme at University of Dundee, which received approval just last month from the General Teaching Council for Scotland.  It’s a fast track STEM course which combines the one-year teaching qualification with the induction year.  The subjects it includes are Chemistry, Computing, Home Economics, Mathematics, Physics.  

The benefits are that graduates will be in the classroom quicker and they are paid the probationer salary (£22,500) from the outset.  This is a two-year pilot and the first year of the course runs from January 2018 to January 2019.  You apply directly to the University of Dundee and the closing date is 17th October.
To find out more have a look at Dundee’s website

Note that Dundee are still offering the more traditional PGDE Secondary alongside this new option.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Recruitment News from GSK

I know I have been very quiet over the summer, but as well as holidays, I have been busy!

I went down to Brentford to visit GSK in July and heard about the various programmes they run for students and graduates. When you hear GSK, you might only be thinking in terms of R&D or manufacturing. However, they do have a huge variety of other career areas, for example,  Business Operations - this includes Commerce, Distribution, Supply, Marketing, Sales, Finance, HR, Communications, Procurement, & “Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability”.

Entry Points:
12 month Industrial Placements (IP): 400 positions a year in the UK (number includes summer placements). IPs can be fast tracked onto a graduate programme - managers will help you complete application and help with assessment centre. IPs are very competitive – eg for Chemistry R&D, there are 12 applications per hire.

The Future Leaders Programme (FLP): is 2-3 years long and aimed at graduates who want to be managers/leaders and progress quickly through the ranks. Approx 500 positions a year globally, 60-70 in UK. Note that 43% of FLP come from industrial placement fast track, so really there are only around 40 FLP positions available to non-IP graduates. Approx 25% of FLP is for R&D (most popular area), 25% for manufacturing and the other 50% for Business Operations.  There are over 20 pathways – some pathways only recruit in alternate years. FLP is rotational – ie you will need to move around the country.

Direct Entry: these positions are advertised as and when needed – often for R&D. Many PhDs come through this route. GSK acknowledge that Direct Entry roles have a lower profile/harder to find than FLP and they hope to address this in 2017-2018. There are a lot more Direct Entry opportunities than FLP opportunities. Easier to get in this way for R&D and then can move sideways if you want – eg to Regulatory Affairs.

Esprit – usually aimed at MD/MBA/PhD/Postdoc

Selection Criteria
4 Core values: Integrity, Respect for People, Patient Focus, Transparency. These are very important to GSK and you should try to relate to them throughout selection. Tell them what interests you about GSK : this could include, for example, recent product developments or health initiatives. Your career goals may also be another point you may wish to mention, where you hope to be and how you intend to reach your goals through employment with GSK.

For all positions, need to demonstrate that you know how GSK operates, your motivation for the programme (eg finance). Avoid any regurgitation of website or bland statements. If a statement could apply to a competitor, it's not specific enough.

As well as the products, it's good to know about: the culture, development opportunities, CSR, and any awards/accolades GSK may have received recently.

Application Procedures & Process
Apply EARLY in the cycle - you will have a better chance as they review applications as they come in. – don’t wait for closing date.  Some vacancies/programmes are only open for two weeks so may miss if don’t check regularly. Previous applicants have reported that they wanted more feedback and information about the process, so for this coming year, GSK will provide full feedback at every stage of recruitment.

FLP or Summer placements (same process):
1. Register. Landing page – now have clearer job descriptions. Application Form (some competency questions). Interactive Quiz/Pathway matcher – scenario-based, matches you and suggests pathways. Not a screening tool, and not too serious. Feedback given
2. Online verbal and numerical tests. Automated feedback. Then Immersive Assessment – with more in-depth scenarios. Example  - You are running a clinical trial, you are unsure about colleagues abroad depth of understanding and their fluency in English. How would you communicate with them? Given a range of alternatives, select one. Not timed. Full feedback.
3. Video Assessment. One way and recorded, but now have a real person asking the question rather than the question popping up on screen. Example Q- How have you built relationships with others as part of a team to give a positive result? Feedback given.
4. Assessment centre/Interview. Feedback given

Industrial Placements: Roughly same as above although no Interactive Quiz/Pathway matcher at Stage 1. May have a telephone call rather than video assessment at Stage 3. May have an interview rather than assessment centre at Stage 4. Depends on what you are applying for.

How do GSK view Edinburgh students? 
For FLP and Summer placements – In Online Tests,  Edinburgh students score significantly ABOVE average compared to students from other universities. One of the reasons GSK wants to recruit from Edinburgh is the high intelligence of its students. However Edinburgh students are BELOW average at Competency Qs, Video Interviews and Assessment centres.
For IPs- again Edinburgh students score significantly ABOVE average at Online Tests. Average at face to face interview. Below average at Video or Telephone interviews.
Advice on Video Interviews and Assessment Centres here.

Equal Opportunities Information

  • GSK do recruit International students/graduates. 
  • They have prayer rooms/quiet rooms available for staff. 
  • If an employee is from a poor economic background, they can receive coaching if desired. 
  • They employ people with learning difficulties on 12 month supported internships. 
  • Strong on LGBTI issues – eg all restrooms have transgender facilities. 
  • FLP uses a name/university blind procedure to remove bias.

Future Plans/Trends
Process Chemistry FLP will be offered for the first time in 2018

Other Information
The majority of international opportunities are for pharmaceutical sales and marketing roles.

There is a wealth of GSK social media: (good for finding out background information)

Friday, 30 June 2017

NHS Graduate Management Scheme

If you fancy using your chemistry or engineering degree in a health setting, you might want to consider applying for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme. The next round of recruitment opens in October 2017. There are 6 specialist areas to choose from:

Finance Management - helping the health service tackle financial challenges to get the best value for money and ensuring delivery of vital services to patients.

General Management - working on the front line, ensuring services are managed and delivered in the best possible way for patients.

Health Analysis - through data, providing insight and evidence, and supporting decision-making in the NHS for the benefits of patients.

Health Informatics Management - the lifeline that ensures everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions for the benefit of patients.

Human Resources Management - having the best workforce to deliver the best patient care, and to tackle unprecedented change.

Policy and Strategy Management - creating programmes that improve patient care through evidence-based policy, systems thinking and strategy development.

For more details of each programme, see NHS graduate management training

The other week, an Edinburgh student was successful in gaining a place on the Graduate Management Trainee Scheme. The selection procedure and the assessment centre day was lengthy and hard work, so she very generously volunteered feedback about the process to help other U of E students.

Note: This is a brief summary - the FULL transcript will be available on MCH under "Interview Feedback", but will not appear until next semester.

How did the selection work?
The application is done in three stages: online application (video situational judgement, personality profile, numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, logical reasoning), then interview, then assessment centre. For more info, see

What interview questions were you asked?
They included:
1. What attracts you to the NHS?
2. How do you keep up to date with issues in the NHS?
3. How did you develop an interest in Finance?
4. What do you think is the biggest challenge as an NHS Financial Manager?
5. What are strengths/weaknesses?
6. What have you done to support a team?
7. Give a scenario where you set a goal? What was the biggest challenge? What did you learn from the experience?
8. Have you led a project? How did you manage the project? How did you encourage your team?

At the Assessment Centre (a month after the interview), exercises included blog writing to convince the reader that patient needs were being met  (using emails, videos, newspaper articles), a 2 minute presentation of candidate's proudest achievement, a group exercise and a role play exercise.

In the group exercise, candidates received emails about the organisation's funding and potential investment initiatives. Task was timed, and it was important to come up with investment strategies within the time limit. Discussion format SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).

In the role play exercise, candidates met a consultant to discuss a project and persuade the consultant to get on board. Candidates had information about the project as well as the consultant's background (a Linkedin profile) and personality.

Our Edinburgh student asked for feedback after the initial interview, so that she could work on any areas that needed development for the assessment centre. She also noted that you are assessed against a competency framework, not against each other, so it is always better to work as a team to achieve the greater goal.