General Surgery ST3 Interview Format
General Surgery 16th November 2023

General Surgery ST3 Interview Format

What is the General Surgery ST3 interview actually like? There are many stories and myths about what goes on, but in this post, we hope to demystify the intricacies of the interview format. The take-home message is that time is tight, and you need to approach each station with a strategy. You’ll find a breakdown of the current interview format below, and to help you prepare for each individual station, we’ve developed our General Surgery ST3 Interview Question Bank.

General Surgery ST3 Interview 2024

For 2024, the interview dates are:

Tuesday 19 – Thursday 21 March 2024

For a full breakdown of the application timeline see our guide to the General Surgery ST3 Application Process.

The interview will last 40 minutes and will involve reading time, a clinical scenario, a management scenario and a career discussion (see below).

All interviews will be conducted remotely via Qpercom Recruit. It is vital you test your audio-visual equipment and ensure you have a strong WIFI connection. Interviews will be terminated if the panel cannot see you. Previously Microsoft Teams was used for the General Surgery ST3 interviews, which you may be more familiar with. More information about Qpercom Recruit and what to expect from the virtual interview is provided on the Specialty Recruitment website.

The initial process for the remote interview will be as follows:

  1. You will receive an invite link to the interview close to the time.
  2. You should enter the interview at the time you have booked.
  3. You will then be asked to confirm your identity with a photographic ID, and move the camera around your room to confirm there is no one else present.
  4. Once your identity is confirmed, the administrator will advise the interview panel to commence the interview.

The interview panel will consist of at least 2 Consultant interviewers. Additional members may include a Lay Representative (for quality assurance) or a Consultant or senior trainee observer (to assess the interviewers). There will be a maximum of one observer present at any time. 

The General Surgery ST3 Interview Stations

For 2024, the General Surgery ST3 interview will consist of 3 core stations, each lasting 10 minutes, with 5 minutes of reading time prior to the clinical scenario and management scenario stations.

You will be assessed and scored at each station by the two Consultants. All stations, except for the Portfolio station, are scored using a Rasch analysis which compensates for ‘hawk’ and ‘dove’ interviewers as well as ‘easy’ and ‘difficult’ scenarios. There is usually a lay person in the station to ensure the interview process is conducted fairly.

The interview format will be as follows:

1. Clinical Scenario Reading Time (5 minutes)

You will be given a clinical scenario relating to a patient and 5 minutes reading time in order to prepare.

Time is very tight, so ensure you read the scenarios fully before writing any notes, as you must make sure you understand them. There is usually 1 side of A4 text for each scenario containing a lot of clinical information. Candidates have failed in the past for missing out on a vital point in the scenario: the last piece of text on the instructions. Completing practice questions during your interview preparation will help you to get used to identifying the relevant information quickly and preparing a management plan.

2. Clinical Scenario (10 minutes)

You’ll then have 10 minutes to answer questions related to the clinical scenario given.

You will need to explain your management for the Clinical Scenario step by step. We have provided example scenarios and the recommended answer structures in our General Surgery ST3 Interview Question Bank. An example of this is below:


The recommended answer structure provided in the example will help you to organise your answer and provide a clear step-by-step management plan.

Make sure you identify all the issues at the beginning. The interviewers will provide you with more information and ask you to suggest management plans. These can usually be anticipated (e.g. CT reports).

3. Management Scenario Reading Time (5 minutes)

This is similar to the clinical scenario reading time. You’ll be given a scenario related to a management problem in a clinical environment with 5 minutes reading and preparation time. Ensure you make a note of the key management issues in the clinical environment and how you would approach this.

4. Management Scenario (10 minutes)

You will then have 10 minutes to answer questions related to the management scenario. We have provided example scenarios and the recommended answer structures in the General Surgery ST3 Interview Question Bank to help you to prepare effectively. An example is below:


The recommended answer structure supports you to think through how you would approach the scenario, and what you would need to consider initially, so you can explain how you would manage the situation effectively.

For both scenarios, you will be marked down if you are prompted to highlight a key issue or aspect of management, so it’s essential that you make the most of your reading time to identify all issues before you start.

5. Portfolio Station (10 minutes)

This is an opportunity for the panel to ask questions about aspects of your career to date.

You do not need to prepare or present a hard copy of your portfolio for the 2024 interview. Nor will the interviewers have access to your portfolio evidence during your interview.

Previously, candidates could submit additional portfolio evidence (along with the evidence to support their self-assessment score) which could be discussed during this station. However, for the 2024 application, this has been removed and you can no longer upload “large volumes of unstructured evidence”. 

However, you should be prepared to discuss elements of your portfolio, including your career to date and achievements.

Good luck for your interview!

Further Reading

General Surgery ST3 Interview Questions 

General Surgery ST3 Application Process

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