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Online interviews for healthcare degrees: how to prepare?

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The healthcare offer at Sunderland has grown exponentially in recent years, and we are very proud of our excellent, state-of-the-art facilities and our high-quality teaching in these areas. Our students and graduates are achieving great things already, so early on in their careers, and you may also be deciding to join the next generation of key workers.

The first step to gaining entry onto one of these courses is to make an application which will be considered by the admissions tutor - this is where your personal statement is crucial. Make sure it is well written and demonstrates you have the relevant experience, knowledge and understanding of, and passion for, the course you are applying for. If you meet our initial requirements, we will invite you for interview. Under normal circumstances we would welcome you on campus for your interview, where you would meet the academic team, members of staff from our partner NHS Trusts and your potential classmates, however given the present situation regarding social distancing, we have had to adapt to moving interviews online. This has been an adjustment for our staff and we recognise it may be daunting for you as an applicant; therefore we want to put you at ease as much as possible. Read on to find out what you can expect at your online interview and how you can best prepare.

A quick note on Values Based Recruitment 

Before we get into how you can prepare for your interview for your chosen course, let’s take a look at our interview approach – Values Based Recruitment. This approach intends to ensure that we attract and recruit students on the basis that their individual values and behaviours align with the values of the NHS Constitution, the 6 C’s and the professional body of your chosen profession (for example, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists is the professional body for Occupational Therapy). We recommend you research these prior to your interview.

A student physiotherapist is practicing clinical skills on a patient

Our courses

This article provides information and advice about your online interview for the following courses:

A female nurse is taking the blood pressure of a patient who is sitting in bed in the mock hospital ward

Preparing for the interview

Your online interview will take place over Skype or Microsoft Teams and you will be emailed instructions prior to your interview, with key details about your interview slot – remember to check your junk email folder.

We are looking for applicants who can:

  • Answer questions relating to personal experience. This experience can be from a range of settings, for example from work (paid or voluntary), family life, school or college
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Articulate their understanding of their chosen profession and why they chose this career path, including the challenges of being a student healthcare professional
  • Express their enthusiasm for their chosen course
  • Demonstrate that they understand the demands of their chosen course
  • Contribute to, and engage with others in the group interview situation (if applicable)

Key things to remember:

  • If your interview is over Microsoft Teams please make sure you accept the invite so the interview panel know you are planning to attend. On the day of the interview make sure you are available at the start time of your interview so you can be invited into interview and/or group activity
  • If your interview is over Skype please make sure you are registering the correct Skype address on the interview booking form and check it works before your interview
  • Find a quiet place away from distractions where possible
  • Please have a form of photographic identification for your interview (e.g. passport or driving licence). Please note marriage certificates do not count as identification

Specific course requirements:

  • If you are applying for MPharm Pharmacy you must also be prepared for a numeracy test, which will be a key part of the Pharmacy interview. Numeracy is assessed at every stage of the MPharm Pharmacy course, therefore a good grasp of the subject is vital. Further information on the numeracy test will be sent in advance of your interview
  • If you are applying for MNurse you must also be prepared to answer questions relating to your first degree and your healthcare experience. You will also be required to bring your completed portfolio of evidence to the interview

A group of pharmacy students are practicing clinical skills in the mock hospital ward

During the interview

Each of our healthcare courses has a slightly different interview process:

  • Nursing (including Adult, Mental Health, Learning Disability and Children's and Young People's) - individual interview and group interview
  • BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care - individual interview and group interview
  • BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy - individual interview and group discussion
  • BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy - individual interview
  • MNurse - individual interview

Individual interview: You will be given an interview slot where you will be asked a range of open questions, based on your experiences, to demonstrate your skills and attributes. You may also be asked questions to demonstrate your understanding of current issues and challenges within healthcare. The questions are designed to be straightforward – we aren’t trying to trick you or trip you up. During your interview you will be assessed on your values and communication skills, as well as the knowledge and skills relevant to the role you are applying for. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the course. 

Group activities: During group interviews (see Nursing and Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care) the activity will be a discussion in a group and the aim is to allow you to demonstrate your understanding of current issues and challenges within healthcare. You will be assessed on your values, critical thinking, communication and team-working skills, as well as knowledge and skills relevant to the role you are applying for. For BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy the group discussion will be a chance for you to meet fellow applicants and Patient, Carer and Public Involvement (PCPI) participants. 


If you are applying for MPharm Pharmacy, your interview is slightly different. You will be invited to an introductory presentation about our MPharm Pharmacy course at the University of Sunderland, this will be followed by your interview. You will participate in a range of Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs); case studies or scenarios where you are assessed on how you would react in a certain situation. SJTs aim to identify personal and professional attributes, rather than academic ability. We look for an awareness of what you understand by ‘professional behaviours’ and will ask you to answer a series of questions based on a given scenario. No preparation is required for this, there are no right or wrong answers, we just ask that you answer in an honest way, and be yourself. Finally, you will have the opportunity to have an informal chat with a member of teaching staff and ask any questions you may have about the course.

Two student paramedics are moving a patient on a trolley onto the training ambulance

Useful links

You may find it useful to look at the NHS website to help you prepare for the role you are applying for:

We would also recommend you research the relevant professional body:

Further information

Find out more about our healthcare courses. If you require further information about your online interview, please contact our Student Helpline:

Email: student.helpline@sunderland.ac.uk 

Tel: 0191 515 3000

Published: 2 November 2020

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