The NHS is the world’s largest publicly funded health service, offering a broad range of careers from allied health professionals to administrative and clerical positions. The selection process for the NHS can vary depending on the nature of the role but will generally involve psychometric testing in the early stages, which helps to maintain a high calibre of staff through assessing candidates’ abilities. This stage of the process can require successful completion of up to four psychometric tests consisting of Aptitude Tests, Situational Judgement Tests and Personality Questionnaires. Initially the tests are administered online, but there may be further psychometric tests to be completed in person at the assessment centre stage. Candidates are informed in advance as to which tests they will be required to take.
The NHS look for a number of key skills in candidates, they are as follows: motivation to join the NHS, improving services, setting direction, working with others, managing services, analytical thinking and numerical ability.
The NHS Process
The NHS selection process is made of four stages:
- Application: Applicants will be required to provide their contact details, education and work experience. This is to ensure that the candidate meets the entry requirements for their selected role. Applications are made online, allowing candidates to check the status using registered login details
- Testing: Candidates will then need to undertake up to four psychometric tests; which can include Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Situational Judgement and Personality Questionnaires. The tests used have strict time limits, so practice tests are recommended.
- Interview: Candidates that are successful in the testing stage then undertake an interview which should last approximately 30 minutes. The interviews are competency based and are likely to be conducted by senior NHS staff.
- Assessment Centre: The final stage is at an assessment centre, in which candidates will undertake exercises such as role plays, presentations, group exercises and e-tray exercises to gauge the candidate’s ability. Successful applications at stage 4 will be given an offer of employment, or a place on one of the Student & Graduate Programmes offered by the NHS.
NHS Verbal Test
In these tests, candidates are provided with a passage of written information and asked to analyse and draw logical inferences from that written information. The questions will be multiple choice with the answer options being: true; false; cannot say. The key here is to answer the questions based purely on the information contained within the passage (ignore any prior knowledge you may have). Think literally, and go only on what you have been told in the passage.
NHS Numerical Test
In these tests, numerical data is provided to a candidate, usually in the form of graphs, tables, statistics and financial data. To answer these questions, candidates must analyse this data and make a logical conclusion from it, allowing them to select the correct answer. Typical numerical skills which are tested include addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, ratios, fractions and percentages.
NHS Situational Judgement Test
Situational judgement tests (SJT) describe fictional scenarios and provide a selection of potential actions. Throughout different sections of the test, candidates are instructed either to select the course of action they are most or least likely to adopt, the most or least effective option, to rank the options in order of effectiveness and to rate responses in terms of effectiveness and counter-productivity.
NHS Personality Questionnaire
If required to complete a personality test, candidates are instructed do so online. There are no right or wrong answers, although some job roles may be more suited to certain personality types and this is taken into account alongside other information gathered during the selection process. Relax and answer questions honestly, don’t try to guess preferred responses.
NHS E-Tray Exercise
The NHS e-tray lasts approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, including a written component. Prior to tackling the simulated inbox, there is time to look over additional information before getting to grips with responses. It is important to read all additional documents carefully and consider the information provided when comprising a response. Attention to detail and efficiency are key here, and will be vital when completing the written part of the exercise which is a report based upon the information provided.