GP Partnership interviews come in different shapes and forms, ranging from a traditional discussion with a couple of senior GPs to an OSCE-type arrangement with up to four stations including role play with real patients. The prospect of applying straight for a GP partnership might be appealing from a financial perspective but the work that you need to put into getting there is certainly no mean feat and knowing how to position yourself is therefore crucial. Here are a number of tips that you should bear in mind during your job search and interview preparation for a GP partnership post.
1. Understand the role that you are applying for
If you are applying for a GP salaried post, your role will primarily relate to the provision of clinical services and you will generally have no problem grasping the requirements. However, at a GP partnership level, your role will involve much more than this, including staff management, quality assurance and governance responsibilities, liaison with the PCT, etc. To ensure that you shine at your GP partnership interview, you will need to do your homework by reading the job description carefully, by seeking further clarification with the practice manager if possible and by visiting the practice beforehand.
2. Apply for the right type of job
Many candidates apply for jobs which are either out of their league or for which they simply aren’t prepared. There are different styles of GP partnerships and you should find one that suits you. Some practices have GP partnerships which are fairly mundane i.e. they get on with their work, earn well, but are not necessarily very ambitious. Others have GP partnership that are much more aggressive and where the expectations placed on you will be very different. If you apply for the right type of practice, you will find that the interview will seem to go well. However, applying for the wrong type of practice (i.e. for a practice where the work ethos does not match your) will pace you in danger of failing and losing confidence. Again, success here is down to homework. Do not get blinded by the prestige of being a GP partner. Choose the right environment for you. This will encourage you to thrive and you will come across as a genuinely motivated candidate.
3. Present yourself as an all rounder
As a GP partner you will of course be expected to provide a good clinical service but you will also have managerial responsibilities. In smaller practices (or those where there are only a few partners), the onus will be on your to take the lead to help the practice develop, or to identify and implement new services or solutions. Consequently, at the interview, there are three aspects that you will need to expand on:
- clinical skills
- understanding of the primary care environment and
- your leadership/managerial experience (preferably backed up by examples of real achievements).
Many candidates tend to overemphasise their clinical skills (good for a salaried job) at the expense of their leadership qualities and political awareness. This often costs them the job. Others, keen to sell their entrepreneurial skills, overdo it on the leadership front. This can be equally devastating as it may present an overambitious and sometimes threatening image. The key is in maintaining a balanced approach.
4. Stop thinking like a trainee
You are now entering the business world and you must show the determination to work both independently and as part of a greater team. GP practices, particularly at GP partnership level, will not be looking for someone who can be a good trainee, needs attention and is potentially ‘high maintenance’; they will be after people who can add value and make a real contribution, even outside of their normal remit. Candidates with limited postgraduate experience sometimes find this difficult to appreciate as they will have received little exposure so such a way of thinking. A year at registrar level is sometimes not enough to help them bridge the gap and they realise, too late, that they might have benefited from experience at salaried level to gain maturity and experience before going for a GP partnership. After several failed attempts at getting a GP partnership, they may become bitter and disillusioned, which then translates into cynical answers when they do attend an interview where they might have a chance.
Before all, to succeed, you must believe in your abilities. Make sure that you are fully aware of all your achievements and experience. Most people are surprised to see how much they have achieved when they take the time to look at themselves, so don’t undersell yourself. Preparing for a competitive interview is hard work and takes time, but with the right attitude, good self-awareness and judicious career planning, you will achieve your goals.