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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    What to say at HCA interview

    Hi everyone,

    In dire need of advice

    I have got an interview for a HCA position in 3 weeks time (my first) and I dont know what to tell them if they ask why I am applying for the post. The fact is, like a huge number of people on this site, I am really only doing it for the work experience prior to an application to medicine. However, I really feel uncomfortable about saying this, but would feel even more uncomfortable lying, or at least fudging he truth.

    Any ideas on how to approach this would be most grateful.

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2
    Junior Member pap1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Edinburgh (uni) and Belfast
    Say that you want a job in the caring profession and want to get a "foot on the ladder" They know that no-one starts a job as a HCA with the intention of doing it for the rest of their lives...

    You want a job that is more rewarding than working in a bar or shop, which it will be, you'll go home at night knowing you made someone more comfortable when they were ill.

    They'll probably ask you if you mind helping with "toileting", to which you will of course reply "someone may have to wipe my bottom one day...I suppose I wont feel so bad about it if I've wiped those of others"

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    I've worked as an HCA for 18 months now and have just got offers for med schools, which I'm sure was mainly due to my ability to talk about my work experience, because my academic history certainly isn't brilliant, so I think it's great you're applying for this.

    I just said that I'd decided I wanted to work in healthcare and wanted to get some experience in hospitals to see what kind of career options there were, what interested me and what I could see myself doing. I didn't mention medicine, partly because when I first applied for HCA work I still wasn't sure that I wasn't kidding myself about my ability to do medicine, but also because I thought they must hear it a lot and I doubt it's what nurses want to hear - you can meet quite a bit of negativity from some nurses if you say you want to do medicine.

    I think if they look at your application form and see your qualifications or previous work experience (sorry, I don't know what you do) they'll probably ask you why you want to work in such a junior job, but as someone else said, they know that a lot of people take HCA work with a longer term view to go on and do other things. Quite a few people I did my induction training with were planning to do medicine or had deferred offers, etc.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Member pharmw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Good advice from pap1.

    Be upfront and honest - tell them that you are planning on going to medical school and you want to understand how the health care team operates from the perspective of an HCA.

    Working as a HCA is nearly always very messy and unpleasant but gives you an amazing insight into the carer/patient relationship. It helps develop your interpersonal skills and tests your resolve. Keep this in mind when you are in your interview and above all else remember that even though you are doing it as a means to an end - the job is still an important one and it is all about the care of the patient.

    I wish you the very best of luck with your interview and if I could give you one piece of advice for the role, it would be to ask as many questions as possible and ask everyone from ward housekeepers to senior consultants.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Lawrie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I just said that I wanted experience working in a hospital, and to go on into a health care profession from then, I didnt say medicine at the time, but I did when I had been there a while and I found that the doctors,nurses etc were keen to help me with questions and let me do a lot of study days in different parts of the hospital. Also if you can work as a HCA then nothing will faze you when you do medicine. I worked on an acute medical ward, loved it and learnt soooo much.
    Peninsula 2007!!

  6. #6
    Member piglet8's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    somewhere not sunny!
    well done on getting an interview, try to prepare for a lot of diff questions they will ask you. alot of people going into these interviews thinking it will be really easy and just a formality as how picky can they be. sometimes thats true but most of the time they can pick from many great applicants and do give u a grilling on why they should pick you. they also love scenarios! in regard to mentioning that u only apply inorder to gain work experience, i would not say as much, maybe just say that you have always wanted to work within the health care field but unsure in what capacity and you are exploring your options... ones u start im sure u will find that most other staff will be more than supportive in regard to your medical school application.
    what area is you interview for?? regardless of where u will work i dont think its a fair representation to say that 'hca work is nearly always messy and unpleasant' yeah no one likes the toilet aspects of it but u deal with it as that could so easily be u on the other end needing help besides this is only a small part of the job.
    good luck

    just found my old list of interview questions

    Tell me about yourself and what you are currently doing (icebreaker to relax you!)
    tell us about your nursing experiences to date
    what are your strengths/weaknesses?
    what skills do you have from your current work/experiences that will transfer into becoming a HCA?
    what do you think a HCA actually does? (think very careful of this one)
    what are your personal qualities that you think you will be able to bring to this ward?
    what would you do if you were unsure of how to proceed with a particular aspect of care?
    have you experience of a particularly difficult or challenging situation? How did this make you feel? what did you learn from this?
    have you experience of working without supervision?
    what challenges do you anticipate if you join this ward/area?
    To give and example of a project I had undertaken that I was particularly proud of?
    What to do with an awkward staff member?
    How is quality practise measured?
    How do you know you are giving quality care
    what 3 words would my friends use to describe me?
    why do i wanna work there?
    Communication is important, can you tell us about different forms of communication....
    What do you think makes a good team-worker?
    What do you think is meant by "good inter-personal skills"?
    Can you give us an example of when you have used good interpersonal skills
    Last edited by piglet8; 12-04-2007 at 03:10 PM. Reason: adding pottential q's

  7. #7
    Junior Member Lawrie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    wow never got asked that many questions at mine! At mine it was mainly scenario based eg what would you do in each case.
    Peninsula 2007!!

  8. #8
    eek is offline
    Member eek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    at my interview they asked a lot of scenario type questions and we also talked about MRSA and hygiene you have any past hospital volunteer work you could talk about?

    initially I wrote on my applications that I wanted to become a HCA to gain experience for med school - and i god soon as i left that out on my applications, i got offers for interviews...

    while hospitals know they you won't be a HCA forever, they are looking to have people who will stay and progress through the've been lucky in getting an interview and HCA positions are quite hard to come by, so basically i would lie (which i did = S)...
    [insert best signature ever]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    I was very honest in my applications for HCA jobs, and also in my interview (I was offered the first job I had an interview for, so I didn't go to the other two I had lined up). That may have been a contributing factor in me only being shortlisted for 3 interviews out of the 50 or so jobs that I applied for. I couldn't justify applying for a job in the NHS knowing that I intended to leave after about 18 months, without being upfront about it. My applications stated exactly how long I anticipated being available for, and despite the limited responses that I received, I feel that was the right thing to do.

    I would like to make a few other points though.

    1) Do not get a HCA job if your main reason for doing so is that you think it will impress admissions people. It may do that, but you'll be coming to a very important job with the wrong priorities. Become a HCA if you truly want to learn what it is like to work in a medical environment, to see things from the point of view of the nursing staff, to really get to know patients well, to improve your communication skills, but your absolute first priority has to be to provide a high quality of care for your patients.

    2) I've just cut point two. It was a bit of a rant about the idea that most HCAs regarded their job as a step on the ladder, but I'm too tired to word it in a way that doesn't come across as a personal attack...which I certainly don't intend it to be . I've worked with a lot of incredibly dedicated HCAs who regard it as their profession and are very proud of the role they play in the hospital. I think that suggesting that it's a job that many people can't wait to leave, maligns many of those who work very hard as career HCAs.

    3) Wishing_on_a_star - have you met negativity from nurses that you work full-time with? The nurses on my ward are very supportive of my desire to be a doctor. The only negative comments that I have had have been "I wouldn't want that much responsibility" and jokes that I am going to become an arrogant, snotty, rude, superior, uncaring twit as soon as I step into my first lecture! But that's just teasing...

    4) Working as a HCA is nearly always messy and unpleasant? Messy definitely!!! But I certainly haven't found it unpleasant. If you have a weak stomach, then maybe it could be a nasty experience, but otherwise you soon get used to all the nasty, nasty smells, sounds and sights. The emotional unpleasantness that sometimes occurs is different of course - but from a five senses point of view, changing someone who has soiled the bed is far more rewarding than it is unpleasant, especially if you have come to know that patient well. Some people aren't suited to it though - I have a friend who almost faints any time I make a general comment about bedbaths. If you would rather curl up and die than touch someone else's bodily fluids or genitals, the HCA experience will likely be an unpleasant one for you! If you'd rather see someone clean and comfortable than worry about such things, you'll be fine

    5) I hate to say it, but my interview was really easy. No scenarios, just a few basic questions about Caldecott, what did I think the job entailed etc...

    6) I refused to lie to get a HCA job despite getting no replies from the first 35 or so jobs that I applied for. Lying would have left a very nasty taste in my mouth - do as your conscience guides you, but remember this is the NHS and not some rich private company, and HCAs cost money to recruit and train.

    This has turned into a bit of a rant - I'm very tired and due back in work at 7:15am so I need to stop going on now!

    I love being a HCA (can you tell?). Why am I going to med school? I must be mad!
    Previous graduate entrant with degree in Biological Sciences. Studied for MBChB at Sheffield 2007 - 2012. Now an F2 in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

  10. #10
    Senior Member latestarter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I have been honest in my application and I'm about to go to my 5th interview today, after 4 rejections. My interview to application ratio is pretty good, but I do tend to think that my med school application affects their decision - why would they want someone who's only going to be there a year??
    I even applied to NHS Direct and got an interview, which went well as I am a fully qualified IT person who's been a customer service manager - so only the healthcare bit missing, but nope not good enough.
    I don't finish college until June, so hopefully it's been the availability that has fallen short and now that will be solved....
    I was also told yesterday that many HCAs start as a volunteer on the ward and then get in that way... I had no idea wiping bums was so competitive!
    Newcastle 3rd year (accelerated)

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