How to ace interview questions for RMO and registrar jobs

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You’ve looked through the doctor jobs listings and you’ve scored an interview for a great RMO or registrar position at a hospital you’d love to work for. Congratulations! The job is (almost) yours. But first, you’ve got to run the gauntlet of the RMO interview questions.

It’s your chance to stand out from the crowd and get your ideal medical job, but RMO job interviews can have tricky questions. It’s up to you to field the strange (“If you were an animal, what would you be?”) and the not-as-simple-as-it-sounds (“What are your weaknesses?”).   Though both Australia and New Zealand are known for being laid-back, it’d be a mistake to think that doctor job interviews here are a casual affair. As with any interview, it’s important you dress to impress and thoroughly prepare for your interview. Find out what the hospital or clinic is known for, its specialties, and any notable facilities.

Securing a role as a Resident Medical Officer (RMO) or Registrar is a significant milestone in any medical career. The interview process is a critical step where you can showcase not only your clinical expertise but also your interpersonal skills and suitability for the role. Understanding and preparing for the common questions can greatly enhance your chances of success. Here’s how to ace those interview questions.

Understanding the interview structure:

Interviews for RMO and Registrar positions typically focus on a few key areas: clinical knowledge, problem-solving skills, communication, teamwork, and ethical understanding. It's important to prepare for scenarios that demonstrate your competencies in these areas.

Common interview questions and how to approach them:

Clinical knowledge and decision making:

  • Example question: “Describe a challenging case you managed and the outcome.”
  • Approach: Choose a case that highlights your diagnostic and decision-making skills. Discuss your thought process, the actions you took, and the rationale behind them.

Communication skills:

  • Example question: “How would you handle a situation where a patient disagrees with your treatment plan?”
  • Approach: Emphasise the importance of clear, empathetic communication. Describe how you would listen to the patient’s concerns, provide information, and reach a shared decision.

Teamwork and collaboration:

  • Example question: “Can you provide an example of a successful teamwork experience in a clinical setting?”
  • Approach: Share a specific instance that demonstrates your ability to collaborate with colleagues, contribute to a team, and the positive outcome that resulted from this teamwork.

Ethical and professional scenarios:

  • Example question: “How would you handle a situation involving a conflict of interest?”
  • Approach: Demonstrate your understanding of professional ethics. Describe the steps you would take to address the situation while maintaining professional integrity.

Career motivation and goals:

  • Example question: “Why are you interested in this specialty/position?”
  • Approach: Articulate your genuine interest in the specialty or role. Discuss how it aligns with your long-term career goals and how you can contribute to the department.  

Other common RMO and medical registrar job interview questions

  • Why do you want to work at this hospital?
  • Tell us about your ability to work under pressure
  • What field experience do you have for a Resident Medical Officer/Registrar position?
  • Describe an error you’ve made and what you did to fix it

A common question is “Why do you want to work here?” – you’ll only be able to answer this question satisfactorily if you know a good deal about the hospital and the surrounding area. Talk about the features that attracted you to the role: perhaps it is the hospital’s state-of-the-art equipment or the clinic’s close-knit community. Avoid being negative – if you hate your current role, keep it to yourself. Negativity is a red flag for interviewers as a miserable attitude doesn’t always disappear with a change of scene.   With weird and whacky questions, the key is to use it as an opportunity to showcase your skillset or tell an anecdote demonstrating your personal attributes. If you’re asked what kind of animal you’d be, liken the animal you choose to your personality. Owls are thoughtful, bees are hard workers and crows have great problem-solving abilities. With questions like these, it’s all about the explanation – you’re not being judged on your zoology knowledge.

Similarly, when you’re asked to describe your responsibilities in your previous role, interviewers don’t want a list of what was on your CV (they’ve read that already). Flesh out your answers with anecdotes and use them as an opportunity to showcase your personal attributes.

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Medical interview top tips

  • Dress to impress and be on time
  • Be positive (even if you hate your current role)
  • Do background research on the job, hospital or clinic, and location
  • Describe why you’re right for the role and use anecdotes to back up what’s on your medical CV
  • Don’t forget to address any key skills or points outlined in the job description

Preparing for the interview:

  • Research: Understand the hospital or health service you’re interviewing with. Know their values, the patient population they serve, and any recent developments or challenges they face.
  • Practice: Conduct mock interviews with peers or mentors. Get comfortable discussing your experiences and handling unexpected questions.
  • Reflect: Think about your career journey, challenges you’ve overcome, and what you’ve learned from your experiences. Personal anecdotes can be powerful.

An interview for an RMO or Registrar position is more than a test of knowledge; it's an opportunity to demonstrate your passion, your fit for the team, and your readiness for the challenges of the role. With thoughtful preparation and a clear understanding of what interviewers are looking for, you can present yourself as a strong, well-rounded candidate ready to take the next step in your medical career.

We hope you found these medical RMO and registrar interview questions helpful. Remember that the interviewer will be looking at ways you can demonstrate any communication skills, attention to detail, leadership skills, and other skills you may possess so try and display these in your answers.

When you work with a medical recruitment agency, like Medrecruit, we will guide you through the entire job process from job search to the interview.

Bethany Rogers
29 January 2020Article by Bethany RogersMedrecruit Editor