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I should like to attempt an answer to the question posed by Arun Natarajan in the January 2007 issue of JRSM: what is the value of an interview?
Interviews are usually seen as opportunities for candidates to sell themselves to employers. However, there is another side to the coin—the opportunity for employers to sell themselves, and sometimes to betray themselves, to potential candidates! Several years ago I had an interview for an SHO post at a swanky London Hospital. All potential candidates had been invited to spend the day in the Department and, up to the time of the interview, I was very keen to be appointed. Half way through the interview I had the overwhelming impression that the post was not for me. Indeed it was almost as though somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘whatever you do, don't accept this job!’ Fortunately, the job was not offered and I was spared further temptation. Several years later I met the successful candidate and asked how he had got on. ‘It was quite simply the worst job I ever did and I couldn't wait to finish,’ he replied. I don't suppose all interviews leave as deep an impression on candidates as this particular one did for me but I think the principle is clear. It is important for candidates to see the people who will train them or employ them and decide whether they will be happy in that department. Staff who are happy and at ease in a Department are staff who make the best of the opportunities there and I think it remains important for candidates to be able to put their future employers on the spot.
Competing interests None declared.