The Internal Medicine Training (IMT) interview portfolio has changed for 2021. Because of the pandemic, recruitment is moving to a virtual format this year, and that means the actual need to prepare a physical copy of the ‘dreaded’ portfolio is gone. The score that determines whether you are short listed for interview is based on your application self assessment and covers 8 sections and we would still recommend thinking about your portfolio in terms of these headings:
- Quality Improvement
It is likely that most candidates will not have to provide evidence to back up their claims in the self-assessment section, but this should stop you from putting together your portfolio! It is good practice and will help you focus your mind on this interview. It is also likely that the portfolio you build for this interview will stay with you and form the basis of your portfolio for many years to come so get it done now!
Preparing your IMT Portfolio
The portfolio station is worth 33% of the overall score in the interview and so it is worth knowing what you’ve put in before you sit down to talk about it! The portfolio can be prepared to how you want it and can shape the discussion on the day so you direct where the questions will head! The remaining 66% of interview points come from the management and clinical stations for which performance also relies on good preparation but all points are determined on the day – please see our IMT Interview question bank for preparation in these areas.
Preparing your portfolio can be a daunting task. Lots of people won’t have ever made a portfolio before and that’s all right (I certainly hadn’t!). What’s important is not to throw it together at the last minute. You should start thinking about it now as you are submitting your application and slowly pull together all the information that’s going to make you look great!
The ‘Portfolio’ makes up a whole station when it comes to the interview, so it’s very important! The interviewers will expect you to know everything that you put into your portfolio, so again, it pays to arrange it early and know it backwards! While the interviewers won’t physically have the portfolio this year the structure of the interview will still be the same and focus on the areas of the self assessment set out in the application form. Putting the portfolio together will allow you to structure your thought and be easy answering questions about your suitability as a candidate.
The portfolio or ‘Evidence Folder’ should be put together in a standard lever arch folder with a contents page at the beginning and dividers for each section. You should also upload a virtual copy of each piece of evidence onto your computer so that it can be uploaded to the JRCPTB in the event that they need to see it! You can name the sections as you want but I would follow the titles given to you for each of the scoring sections: Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Prizes/Awards, Presentations etc. This way the examiners can quickly go through each section and mark off the evidence against your application scores. This means there will be more time for actual questions in the interview and allow you more time to talk and sell yourself rather than helping the examiner find a bit of evidence and waste your time!
Ultimately the ‘portfolio’ is a way for the examiners to get an idea of you before you enter, but it is how you present and discuss the items within it that really score you points. Think about the parts of your portfolio that you are most proud of, and the parts that will make you a good fit to be a medical SHO. These are the bits to focus on in your answer – make the examiners look at your best bits!
The last bit of your portfolio is for you to detail any extracurricular activities and commitment to specialty! This can include what you like and is you way of showing off! Your interviewers want to see that there is a life beyond medicine and ultimately that you are a nice human being who they could actually work with! Anything could go in this section. Maybe you sing in a choir, or you love mountain climbing, or you’re just really good at baking. Whatever it is, find a way of including it and it will certainly make you stand out that little bit more!
- Make sure it’s neat and easy to use. The examiners only get ten minutes with it before you enter the room. It should be clear from the contents page where every bit of evidence is and how to get to it.
- Do not over fill your portfolio! You may think that you have to put in everything you have ever done in medicine. Do NOT do this. All you will accomplish is to irritate your examiners. Be selective with what you include – chose only the best bits and the things YOU want to talk about. It must be relevant to the job your applying for so don’t include it if it isn’t!
- Make it stand out. How you achieve this is up to you, but you want your examiners to remember you. You could include some great patient feedback, or a letter from your consultant. Whatever you do, make sure it’s easy for the examiner to find so they have read it before you enter
- Prepare it early. Putting a portfolio together the night before happens more often than you would think. It will be disorganised and you may miss things! Start collating your info now!
- Nurture your portfolio. The portfolio you start putting together now will likely last with you throughout your training career. The same things that score you points now will likely score you points in the future. Don’t think of your portfolio as something you need for interviews but rather as a reflection of your career to date.
Check out all our Internal Medicine Training (IMT) Interview Resources.