Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK government lockdown the 2020 Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery Registrar interviews did not include a face-to-face element – for more information on this see the bottom of the page. 

There are normally upwards of 300 people interviewed over a week in March or April and you will have the opportunity to pick which time slot you want on a first come first serve basis. The interviews are done in circuits of 5 stations each lasting 15 minutes and run in a similar format to MRCS (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons) examinations or OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations) from medical school.

Candidates arrive on the day at various times depending on when your interview is booked. There is then a wait of about an hour while documents are checked, and portfolios are taken off to be looked through. You are then called into your groups and taken to different floors of the stadium. You start sat outside of a room with station instructions on the door and then work your way round the circuit. There are 5 x 15-minute stations with 5 minute breaks in between each one.

Orthopaedic Registrar Interviews ST3 2019

The five stations for the Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery Registrar interviews in 2020 are as follows:

Portfolio station

  • Before you enter the interviewers will have spent 15 minutes looking  through your portfolio and validating the self-assessment questions that you complete during the application
  • They will then ask you two main questions based on your portfolio and career to date
  • Your score from both your self-assessment questions and interview question answers add up to make your overall score for this station which often contributes the highest to your overall score


  • This station will use two scenarios to test your clinical knowledge and clinical anatomy
  • You are given one scenario outside the interview station and the other scenario is given during the station
  • Each scenario will last approximately 7½ minutes

Interactive (communication skills)

  • In this station you will be observed interacting with actors who will role-play a scenario with you
  • There will be two parts to the scenario each lasting approximately 7½ minutes

Technical skills

  • A hands-on practical station to test your operative skills using synthetic bones and simulation equipment
  • For this  you will be asked to be bare below the elbows and to remove or tuck in ties

Presentation and list planning

  • You will need to prepare a 3-minute presentation on a topic that you are given in advance and deliver this to the interview panel
  • You may use an A4 handout if you wish (copies of which will be given to the interviewers)
  • The remainder of the station involves a list planning exercise – this typically simulates a handover scenario with several patients that need to be organised into the following days trauma list

For the relative weighting of points for each station see Scoring System.

For more information about each station and how to maximise your score as well as example interview questions sign up to our question bank.

COVID-19 and the 2020 interviews

The UK Government initiated lockdown measures as a result of COVID-19 on March 23rd 2020.  The T&O ST3 National Selection interviews were due to take place between April 1st and 3rd in Leeds.  The Specialist Advisory Committee that run the interview process did not want National Selection to go ahead but there was pressure from Health Education England to continue with the recruitment processes and they wanted consistency across all medical specialities. As a result, the allocation of jobs was determined by self-assessment score only. This previously made up about 10% of the overall score that determined which candidates were offered jobs. A minimum self-assessment score of 21 was used to determine which candidates were appointable. This number was determined based on historical data calculated from self-assessment scores achieved by those candidates successfully appointed in previous years. The controversial decision was then made not to ask candidates to upload any evidence to support their self-assessment marks and no further validation process was undertaken. To further complicate things, marks were then released with a mistake in the calculation process and so had to be withdrawn and resent out with some candidates that had been offered jobs having these offers rescinded and vice versa. In summary the whole application process was incredibly stressful for all of those that went through it and a lot of applicants were left feeling unfairly treated. When we know more information about how things will change for 2021 we will let you know via our mailing list.




To sign up to the OrthopaedicPrep mailing list and be the first to hear about updates for the 2021 ST3 application and interview round, click here.