Interviews for Consultant posts inc role of BPS Assessors

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Interviews for Consultant posts inc role of BPS Assessors

Post by miriam » Sat May 17, 2008 5:48 pm

As some of you might know, Consultant CP posts are quite limited in number, and tightly guarded by the BPS. The first 6 consultant CP posts were created about 25 years ago, to head up services, and the number has gradually grown since then, reflecting the value that is placed upon CPs who head up services and significant service areas. However, there are still much fewer Consultant posts than other CP posts, and there is by no means a guarantee of progression. Typically services have 3-6 times as many posts at bands 7-8B within clinical psychology than they have at 8C-9 (and it is worth remembering that apart from in medicine/psychiatry, the posts on these bands are amongst the best paid NHS clinicians). So, many CPs do not become consultant, as it is not about time served.

To gain a consultant grade post, there must be a post to apply for that is banded at 8C or higher by the local matching panel, and the BPS National Assessors must agree that the job description is at consultant level. A consultant post has to contain substantial leadership and management, and a role outside of providing a clinical service in one service area. The person specification needs to also be approved by the National Assessors, and must specify a minimum of 6 years full-time equivalent of experience since gaining full qualification as an applied psychologist (for most CPs this means 6 years experience since they complete the clinical doctorate). A substantial proportion of this must be with the client group that the consultant post will be working with (normally a minimum of 3 or 4 years WTE). The BPS National Assessors also get to see the applicants, and help decide who meets the threshold to be interviewed for the post.

BPS National Assessors are Consultant Clinical Psychologists who have held that position for at least 5 years, and have then undertaken training to take on this gate-keeping role for the profession. They are a group of very experienced CPs who span the geography of the country, and all major specialisms of work. They meet each other annually to ensure that they have consistency and agreed standards. Two of these assessors have to be involved in every appointment at consultant level, so the local service look in the BPS lists and invite assessors with experience in that client group, who are nearer geographically. Nonetheless, the assessors may have to travel quite far, as their numbers in some specialities are limited. (This may explain long lead times in setting up consultant interviews, as they have to get two extra people to be able to make the same date as the rest of the panel).

At the interview, the task becomes two-fold: firstly to select which candidate is the best fit for the job, and secondly to see whether the best candidate can be appointed at consultant level. This is not a mere formality. It is quite common for such panels to fail to appoint, or to have to re-advertise the post at a lower grade if there is not a candidate who meets the criteria for becoming a consultant. Sometimes this can be a fixed term appointment to allow the candidate one or two years in which to gain certain skills or experiences before the consultant grade post is re-advertised. However the consultant grade post should always be open to national advertising and competition and cannot be arranged like a preceptorship.

So, having recently been (successfully) interviewed for a Consultant CP post, what can I share about my interview process?

Well, my interview was with a panel of 7. This included 4 local service leads/managers, a service user representative and the 2 BPS national assessors. This is a high number partly because of the multi-agency nature of the post, but a typical panel would be of around 5 people. Each of the people on the panel asked at least one question, and the interview lasted for approximately an hour and twenty minutes. Often the candidate is asked to start with a presentation of some sort, but this was not the format of my interview (if it is going to be a conponent, you are given the details in the letter inviting you to interview, it isn't just sprung on you).

Questions I remember (not necessarily in order) include:

So tell us briefly about your career path, and why you feel your skills match this job?

How do you visualise the role? What excites you about it?

Can you give us an example of where you have been the lead in developing a new service area or managing change?

What model of supervision do you use? Can you give some examples of your experience in supervision? When hasn't this gone well, and what have you learnt from it?

Can you reflect on an experience you have had in your work that has had both a personal and professional impact on you, and share that with us?

What national policy documents are relevant to the service this post will be leading?

What governance mechanisms will help you establish whether the service this posts leads is effective, and meeting the need?

If you were line managing someone and they failed to do the work expected, or appeared to be practising unsafely, how would you tackle this?

If the team had internal conflict or signs of dysfunction, how would you manage that?

How would you ensure that service users had a voice in developing and shaping the new service?

How would you ensure that all local agencies valued the service and used it appropriately?

Do you have any questions?

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