Blogs > NHS Recruitment Process

What to expect when you interview an IMG

  • May 29, 2018

This blog is focused on providing NHS Trusts and IMG’s who are at the interview stage with all the information needed for the interview process.

But first thing is first, why employ an IMG? It is global knowledge that the UK’s health system is currently suffering a staffing crisis and consequently, the NHS is spending twenty-five times as much on temporary staff than permanent staff to fill the rota gaps. Thus, to employ a permanent international doctor over a long-term agency locum doctor has many benefits.

First, is cost-effectiveness. Reports reveal that one in thirty agency locum doctors earn £120 an hour. This amounts to paying some locum consultants £375k a year compared to a permanent consultant who would receive just £76-102k a year. This disparity is unjustified and so, to replace long-term temporary doctors with permanent staff will reduce a Trusts staffing costs dramatically. This would allow the extra finance to go towards research, equipment and increasing capacity.

Second, is staff-retention. If you employ a permanent doctor over a temporary doctor this will not only benefit your hospital financially, but will also give doctors further confidence, and in turn, will create a better continuity of service to all patients as well as job satisfaction (ultimately increasing staff-retention).


The majority of international medical graduate candidates that you will be interviewing will be GMC Registered, the only exceptions will be those who require a Structured English Language Reference Form. Therefore, it is important to remember each candidate will be qualified, experienced and will be able to effectively communicate in English.

GMC Registration for a licence to practise in the UK requires:

English language assessment

The GMC needs to be satisfied that the doctor can speak, read, write and listen in English, so the safety of patients is not at risk.

Ways for a doctor to evidence their English language capabilities?

  • OET
  • Structured English Language Reference Form

Knowledge and Skills

The GMC also require all doctors who practise in the UK to demonstrate that they have the appropriate knowledge and skills. In summary, this can be done by:

  • Passing PLAB
  • Acceptable postgraduate qualification
  • Gaining sponsorship by an approved sponsor
  • Eligible for entry onto the Specialist Register or the GP Register

Prior to the interview

Check CV’s prior to interview

Before the interview, it is crucial to consider the candidate's CV in advance. This will provide you with all the information needed, without needing to discover this in the interview. This will include employment history, educational background, IELTS/OET scores. If you know this before the interview you can then focus questions around getting acquainted with the candidate. Information such as why they want to relocate to the UK, why they have chosen to interview with your Trust, their career prospects, and whether their personality aligns with the Trusts values and visions.

Furthermore, an IMG’s CV may possess words that mean something in their country, however, will translate to mean something else in NHS terms. To exemplify, often IMG’s use the word “Specialist”, which in the NHS would mean a Speciality Doctor, however, in other countries could mean “Consultant”. Second, “ICU experience” in Saudi Arabia will not equivalate to the same experience as “ICU experience” in the UK. Thus, you should clarify these difference in meanings during the interview.


From experience, Trusts tend to interview all international candidates for a position/series of positions within the same day. The reason for this is that, typically, there is always a Consultant in the interview panel, meaning they have a limited time frame to interview due to their other responsibilities. Therefore, when organising interviews, it is fundamental to set a time slot to conduct the interviews – and stick to the time slot. Often Trusts forget that IMG’s are taking time out of their working day to interview with them so it is not always possible for them to wait around.

Skype Test

Twenty-four hours before the interviews happen NHS Trusts should add the candidates so they can accept. This will save time during the interview slots and allow each interview to commence immediately – rather than waiting for an invitation and acceptance.

During the interview


When you first establish a Skype connection with the candidate it is important to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Often, the interviewing panel forgets that IMG’s are uprooting their whole entire life to move halfway across the world – and so first impressions of the UK, its people and their potential new employer are critical. From experience, IMG’s will tend to choose the department that they feel most comfortable with after speaking with them.

Topics to cover

One of the central reasons that IMG’s relocate to the UK is for the opportunity to develop their existing skills, gain new skills and improve their overall career aspects. Therefore, it is important to cover the following topics during the interview:

  • Training Opportunities
  • Orientation Periods
  • Long-term Career Prospects
  • CESR Opportunities

To do so, will more likely mean that the candidate will accept a job offer from the Trust as it has been outlined from the outset that there is the opportunity for career and educational development.

After the interview

If you have decided that you would like to offer an IMG candidate the position after interviewing, it is important to review their CV and request relevant documentation quickly so an offer letter can be sent promptly. This is vital because often IMG’s interview with a series of NHS Trusts and a signed offer letter means you have filled your vacant post and will not have to interview again.

So, if you are interested in using our services to help provide you with permanent doctors over costly agency locums then get in touch with us at [email protected] – and we will be happy to help!

Alternatively, if you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to [email protected] and one of our Specialist Advisers will be able to provide you with tailored advice.


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