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What to say at HCA interview

Discussion in 'Mature Students' started by jason1000, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. jason1000

    jason1000 New Member

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    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,

    Jason.
     
  2. pap1

    pap1 New Member

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    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. wishing_on_a_star

    wishing_on_a_star New Member

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    Hi,

    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. pharmw

    pharmw New Member

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    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. Lawrie

    Lawrie New Member

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    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.
     
  6. piglet8

    piglet8 New Member

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    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
    hanna

    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
     
    #6 piglet8, Apr 12, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2007
  7. Lawrie

    Lawrie New Member

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    wow never got asked that many questions at mine! At mine it was mainly scenario based eg what would you do in each case.
     
  8. eek

    eek New Member

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    at my interview they asked a lot of scenario type questions and we also talked about MRSA and hygiene procedures...do 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 nada...as 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 bands...you'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)...
     
  9. algy_lacey

    algy_lacey New Member

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    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! :D 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!
     
  10. latestarter

    latestarter New Member

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    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! ;)
     
  11. jxh487

    jxh487 New Member

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    if you can't get through a HCA interview you're not gonna get thru 1 4 medicine, lol
     
  12. latestarter

    latestarter New Member

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    ha ha ha... actually that was the problem - breezed through the HCA ones, really confident no issues... and then medicine, turned into a quivering wreck - never happened to me before in my life!
    It really hit me how much emotional energy I had put into the whole process, and now I can't help but think of back up options :(
     
  13. jxh487

    jxh487 New Member

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    You can always reapply
     
  14. pharmw

    pharmw New Member

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    I don't quite see what you are trying to say with this comment. Maybe it was my use of the word 'unpleasant' I apologise if I have used it in the wrong context, however I stand by what I have said. I wanted to describe my opinion of the HCA role to the original poster of this thread and give an honest account of how I have felt at times during my time as a HCA. I can wholeheartedly say that I have suffered many unpleasant experiences and I can guarantee that many of my colleagues would agree with me on this. It may be that our roles are different you appear to work full time on a ward/department - correct me if I am wrong whereas I work for an agency so I constantly move throughout the trust therefore potentially increasing my chances of experiencing 'unpleasantness'.

    That aside I admire your understanding and commitment to the role, it is something I share and working as a HCA is fantastic for developing an understanding into how the healthcare team is organised. Moving away from the 'Messy' aspects of the job for those considering working as a HCA, you perform important aspects of care such as vital observations, feeding, accompanying patients during walks, spending time at the bedside - just simply providing company, some wards/departments/institutions will teach you basic clinical skills which will help when you become a doctor and my personal favorite playing on the playstation with children on the pediatric wards.
     
  15. blueberrypie

    blueberrypie Member

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    HCA interviews are always straight forward, and I have always got the job.
    (PRACTICALLY A GERIATRIC MYSELF NOW)

    1) You want to work as part of a multi disciplinary team (nurses, doctors, physio's, OT's, dietitians, etc)

    2) If you have a problem you will always follow the chain of command. i.e. staff nurse, sister/charge nurse, head of nursing and so on.

    3) Know your limits and your boundaries, tell them you would ask for help if you needed it, or would get someone who does know if you don't know the answer.

    4) You will always abide by trust policies/nursing home policies, depending on where it is you are going to work.

    5) How much you love people.

    6) Always bring a smile and a cheery attitude. They love happy people, and lets face it, if you are a patient on a ward - are you going to want a happy, smiley nurse or one with a face like a slapped a**e???

    7) Believe in yourself and sell yourself.

    P.S. If only medicine interviews were as easy!!!
     
  16. blueberrypie

    blueberrypie Member

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    and the last HCA jobs I had, was lovely. I got to look after technology dependent children on a one-to-one basis. Paid to play with them all day and sometimes even to go out to coffee shops with them and their parents... oh my, what a hard life!!! :D
     
  17. curlysin

    curlysin New Member

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    hi jason,

    i am a staff nurse and would be involved in the interview process of HCA. first things first dont worry about it so much, your adding to your anxiouness by worrying about letting it slip that your only doing it to get into medical school.

    For what ever reason people are looking to apply for this type of position the most important factor we look for it that you are capable of caring safely and effectively for someone in a professional and dignified manner.

    ok few other points that maybe very useful:-

    What do you think the role of a HCA is?? so there role is to assist the staff nurses in caring for the patients. you will be expected to carry out very basic duties such as assisting a patient with their activites of daily living ie elimination needs, hygiene needs, mobility needs.

    you will be expected to know a little about infection control most importnantly MRSA and how to combat it. THINK SIMPLE, things like hand washing, using the appropriate use of clinical products, using the equipment available ie aprons, gloves, masks and goggles if needs be.

    You may get asked some questions on team work, so how do you work within a team? you need to say you work very effectively within a team environment (even if you dont or youll have no cahnce of getting the job)

    COOMUNICATION, CMMUNICATION,COMMUNICATION the importnace of this can not be stressed enough. make sure you make them aware of what a good communicator you are, ie friendly hand shake when you enter interview room, the use of all your non verbal techniques throughout the interview.

    At the end of your interview you will get an opportunity to ask some questions always ask at least one, it shows you are interested and have been listening!!

    Good Luck

    curlysin

    if you need any further advice feel free to post
     
    #17 curlysin, Apr 16, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  18. curlysin

    curlysin New Member

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    hi jason,

    i am a staff nurse and would be involved in the interview process of HCA. first things first dont worry about it so much, your adding to your anxiouness by worrying about letting it slip that your only doing it to get into medical school.

    For what ever reason people are looking to apply for this type of position the most important factor we look for it that you are capable of caring safely and effectively for someone in a professional and dignified manner.

    ok few other points that maybe very useful:-

    What do you think the role of a HCA is?? so there role is to assist the staff nurses in caring for the patients. you will be expected to carry out very basic duties such as assisting a patient with their activites of daily living ie elimination needs, hygiene needs, mobility needs.

    you will be expected to know a little about infection control. THINK SIMPLE, things like hand washing, using the appropriate use of clinical products, using the equipment available ie aprons, gloves, masks and goggles if needs be.

    You may get asked some questions on team work, so how do you work within a team? you need to say you work very effectively within a team environment (even if you dont or youll have no cahnce of getting the job)

    COOMUNICATION, CMMUNICATION,COMMUNICATION the importnace of this can not be stressed enough. make sure you make them aware of what a good communicator you are, ie friendly hand shake when you enter interview room, the use of all your non verbal techniques throughout the interview.

    At the end of your interview you will get an opportunity to ask some questions always ask at least one, it shows you are interested and have been listening!!

    Good Luck

    curlysin

    if you need any further advice feel free to post

    p.s forgot to add MOVING AND HANDLING!!! important stuff, so moving and handling policies and procedures are inplace to protect both you and the patient. it is to ensure you assess a situation fully before moving and hanling a patient because if you dont risk assess and you dont know what your doing either you or the patient will end up injured!! THINK T.I.L.E task(what have you to do, Individual (what can they do can they weight bear can they not), Location (where are you on the ward do you have enough room to get the necessary staff in that it will take to move the patient safely??) equipement (what do you need, hoist,banana slide, slide sheet etc)

    If you are unsure of any of this, tell them that you will locate their policies and procedures manual on the work and read through the relevant information. and that you will always seek more experienced staff if you are unsure of what you are about to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
    #18 curlysin, Apr 16, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  19. algy_lacey

    algy_lacey New Member

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    I wrote my comment when I was really tired, so I may well have misinterpreted what you meant. I appreciate your understanding that I may not have worded my comment exactly right either! :)

    I took your "unpleasant" to mean stomach-turning/gross which re-reading, was an assumption on my part. I do think that most people get used to the bodily fluids/bad smells aspect of the work very quickly - colostomy bag contents and really badly infected wounds are probably the worst things I have ever smelled. But although the job can be messy, the satisfaction of laying a patient back into a clean bed with fresh, dry skin is something that overwhelms any sense that what you have just done is unpleasant.

    There are other kinds of unpleasant though. I have been hit on several occasions by confused patients (usually people who are absolutely lovely once their UTI is being treated or they are sufficiently far along in their detox), I have been sworn at and threatened (again, usually by detox patients or by elderly people with dementia who are frightened) and was once cornered by someone with a weapon. I have watched patients deteriorate and die, I've seen people suffer and not had it within my power to help...All of these things are unpleasant - so you are quite right in your use of the word.

    I'm really going to miss being a HCA (or "healthcare" as we are called here - is that a Liverpool thing?) even though I do want to be a doctor...
     
  20. pharmw

    pharmw New Member

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    Nope its a Leeds thing also. I am writing this after just finishing a night shift on a bloody busy respiratory ward - you know the shifts where sitting down is out of the question.

    Anyway one of the patients was a reg just fully qualified so to give her, her proper title 'Miss'. She was a great person and I am sure a great surgeon. She said that HCA who become doctors have a much easier time settling in on the wards - but we knew that already!!

    Right I am off to sleep:)
     

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