19 June 2020

Blog: What should I expect at an Orthoptics interview?

Once you’ve applied for Orthoptics at the University of Sheffield, the next step, if you’re successful, is to be invited to an interview day.

Students gets her eyes tested

There’s always a lot of uncertainty about what to expect at one of these, so some of our current students shared their experiences and tips for the day. We also have advice from some lecturers (who conduct the interviews) about how to do well in an interview.

Holly Kniazewycz, a current student, gave some great advice about the experience. She advises, “Smile and be friendly. Be honest. Use the day as an opportunity to find out more about the degree and university.” 

The day starts with an orthoptics talk and what it’s like at the University of Sheffield. Hopefully you’ll already know some of this from your research before applying, but it’s good to listen again in a real university lecture hall from some real orthoptics lecturers. They may share their own reasons for becoming orthoptists and delve into what it’s actually like becoming one. This is also the time to learn about what opportunities are out there once you have graduated.

You’ll also get to meet some current students. They’ll take you on a tour of the orthoptic clinical skills facilities and answer any questions you have about the course, clinical placements or even just the best place to socialise. Most current students said that this was the best part of the day, so relax and enjoy it - don't forget to quiz the students on the way round! 

Then comes the interview. If you’re lying awake at night worried about this part, try not to. Most of the students we asked said that this wasn’t as intimidating as they were expecting and it was more relaxed than they thought it would be. 

Lecturer and admissions tutor Anne Bjerre had some guidance. She says, “The applicants need to familiarise themselves with the NHS values, demonstrate an understanding of the work of an orthoptist and the importance of professional behaviour.

"The NHS values are an important part of every single job in the NHS from consultants to porters. Every job role will be asked about the values in their interviews. Try to think of examples of when you have lived by these values and how you think being an orthoptist would fulfill each of these. 

"Hopefully by now you have an understanding of the work of an orthoptist and can talk about this in the interview. You are not going to be expected to be able to diagnose a patient on the spot, but just to be aware of the sorts of people and conditions you might be helping. If you’ve visited an orthoptist or you’ve done work experience, make sure you let the interviewer know as this is a definite advantage."

The University of Sheffield orthoptics website and the NHS careers website has lots of information about what an orthoptist does and the skills needed. Don’t forget that an Allied Health Professional (AHP) needs skills like good listening and problem solving as well as the skills you learn in a classroom. 

Being professional is a very important part of this interview, as you’ll be going out into the real world on clinical placements from year 1. The interviewers need to know that you’ll be a good representative of the University. Dress smart, remembering you’ll be going on walking tours and that Sheffield is a hilly city, so consider your footwear carefully. Be polite, and don’t forget to smile!

Holly had some reassuring advice about the interview as well: “It was not as scary as I thought. All the staff were really friendly and made you feel relaxed.” 

Helen Davis, Professor of Orthoptics, says, "good applicants often do not answer as well as they could. Always try to use an example when you can to back up your answers. You say you’re a team player? Tell us about a time you were! Answer the question which was asked, not the question you want to answer. Don’t be afraid to ask to have the question repeated if you think you’ve missed something or you want to check you’ve answered it as well as you can. If you’re not sure about anything, ask! The questions aren’t there to trick you, they’re there to learn about you and why you’d make a great orthoptist."

As one student said: “Don't be too nervous, the lecturers and interviewers are just trying to bring out the best in you. So don't stress yourself out and overthink, you're not expected to know everything”.

So relax, try to enjoy the day and use it to learn about your University. Go out there and be the best version of you!

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