Your journey into paediatrics begins here - preparing for the ST1 interview

Applications for next year's Specialty Training 1 (ST1) posts in paediatrics open in late October, with interviews in early 2024. It's not too soon to start your prep, and our Officer for Recruitment and Trainee Representative for Recruitment have teamed up to give you essential updates and tips.
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Happy reading and best of luck to you all!

Tips to ace your ST1 interview

By Dr Simon Broughton, RCPCH Officer for Recruitment

Simon Broughton - Officer for Recruitment

Congratulations! You have a clinical interview (fingers crossed) and are one step closer to the best career in medicine. This will be the start of your paediatric journey.

So many things have changed in the last four years. Interviews used to be face-to-face, which probably made it easier to demonstrate communication skills for the panel and the candidate. But the online system is almost certainly here to stay, and there are some good arguments for that - better for the planet with less travel and more convenient for all involved. 

Here are my top tips to give you the best chance to come as high in the rankings as possible, and hopefully get your dream rotation!

  1. Make sure you read all the recruitment material on our application guidance web page. Specific questions are read out verbatim so you should be well prepared. 
  2. Attend the College's recruitment webinars (we'll publish in our events listing and promote on the RCPCH social media channels and eBulletins). Trainees, the RCPCH medical recruitment team and consultants will give their top tips and answer any tricky questions you may have about your upcoming interview.
  3. Practice questions with other candidates, registrars and consultants. You can even recreate the virtual experience by doing it over Microsoft Teams. 
  4. Try to give each answer as much structure as possible: a beginning, middle and end. This will make it easier for the panel to follow your thoughts. If you jump around, your answer will be harder to follow.
  5. On the day make sure you'll have a quiet place with excellent Wi-Fi - and a backup solution in case your Wi-Fi goes down. 
  6. Enjoy it! You have around 40 minutes to talk about your desire to do paediatrics. It’s really important your enthusiasm comes across along with your well-structured answers.  
  7. Always emphasise the priorities: patient safety, communication with the child and parents, using the whole team of the nursing, medical and AHP team members. #Oneteam! 
  8. We are well aware that there are not enough Foundation opportunities for all applicants to have paediatric experience before ST1 interviews. So, the clinical cases are transferable from adult care (such as asthma, sepsis, DKA, seizures, etc.). As an ST1 applicant, we expect you to apply your needs to the rest of the team, so make sure you talk about them!
  9. ST3 clinical cases will be harder and more paediatric-specific, such as neonates and safeguarding.

Changes to the application process

By Dr Blanche Lumb, RCPCH Trainee Representative for Recruitment

Blanche Lumb - Trainee Representative for Recruitment

Last year paediatric training had the most places we’ve ever had for potential new paediatricians to enter training. This was accompanied by the highest number of applications we’ve ever had - which, as one of the smaller specialities, is amazing! Coupled with the introduction of RCPCH Progress+ as the new, more flexible, capability-based  training programme, this is fantastic news for children, young people and the training of future paediatrics across the country! 

Following this exciting news, we are making some changes to the entry requirements for paediatric training to ensure the right people get the right posts for them and their training needs.

The biggest change is the re-introduction of the limit of time in paediatrics for ST1 applications. For the 2023-24 recruitment round applicants at ST1 will be required to have had no more than two years’ experience in paediatric posts at the point they are making their application, in order to be eligible. This includes any experience inside and outside of the UK but excludes UK Foundation posts. This is to enable fairer competition for all ST1 posts and to encourage those with more paediatric experience to apply for higher entry, which will be more appropriate for their skills, so they get the most out of training.  

Those with more than two years of experience should therefore aim to apply to ST3 level - there is no need for you to complete full MRCPCH examinations to be eligible for ST3 entry.

You can find information and updates on the recruitment process, including the applicant guide, person specifications and other documents for both ST1 and ST3 entry from our Apply to Paediatrics pages.  Applications for 2023-24 ST1 recruitment open on 26 October. We'll have some webinars to answer all your questions for both ST1 and ST3 entry so keep an eye on the website for dates! 

In the meantime, any questions can be directed to the College's Medical Recruitment team on

Wishing you all the very best of luck on your paediatric journey. Remember to #ChoosePaediatrics, there's no job quite like it!