Gain insights into the medical trainee specialty selection process

I am often asked to give advice to medical trainees about how to best prepare for the specialty selection process.

In my career, I have sat in on upwards of a thousand interviews and seen several more thousand CVs and applications. Like all things in medicine, preparation and practice can really help to boost your performance.

The process of obtaining a specialty position is becoming more and more competitive. In 2015 in NSW alone there were 45,000 applications for around 3,600 positions!

That is why a colleague and I are hosting the very first AdvanceMed: Medical Trainee Career and Interview Preparation Workshop in Sydney on 8th July, 2017. We have a great line-up of speakers, all experts in the process in their own way. From trainees recently selected to posts to senior medical practitioners who advise junior staff and/or participate in selection panels.

The process of obtaining a specialty post is becoming more and more competitive. In 2015 in NSW alone there were 45,000 applications for around 3,600 positions!

It will be great to see as many medical trainees attend as possible. But for those who cannot here are a few tips from a recent presentation I made on this subject to the NSW JMO Forum:


3 ways to miss out on an interview

  1. Don’t have a Plan B. Getting into medicine in the first place requires a range of skills and capabilities. Whilst confidence is definitely one of these don’t let that cloud your impression of your chances of getting into your specialty of first choice. Have a back-up in case it doesn’t go according to plan, whether that is another specialty, taking an SRMO year or locuming.
  2. Don’t organise your referees. It may sound strange but on more than one occasion I have discovered that a trainee has put down a person as a potential referee without ever checking with them in the first place. That’s a definite no no. Also bear in mind that the folks you are asking to attest for you are likely getting several requests so keep them updated and send them your CV to make it a bit easier on them when the time comes for a reference.
  3. Leave your application to the last minute. OK. Its true. Most people push the apply button on the last day but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were not organised enough to be able to apply earlier. A rushed application is far more likely to lead to errors in your CV and how you address the selection criteria.

3 ways to stand out at interview

  1. Prepare. Do as much research ahead of time so you can control your anxiety on the day. If possible, find out who will be on the panel so you can learn their names ahead of time.
  2. Practice. There are certain questions that are commonly used at medical trainee interviews. Practice how you might answer these. Think of examples that you can use to back up your assertion.
  3. Thank the panel for their time and if you can, send an email to the Chair of the panel a couple of days later to back it up. Politeness can go a long way.


These are just a few ways that you can think about improving your performance in the selection process.

For many more tips and advice please visit our Blog and we’d love to see you at our event on 8 July 2017. Limited tickets left – more info on our speakers and topics here.


– Dr Anthony Llewellyn

This article was originally posted on Anthony Llewellyn’s LinkedIn on Sunday 11 June 2017 –

Leave a Reply