Recordings and questions from two live webinars on sub-specialty (Grid) applications and interviews including a Q&A - August 2020

We held two live, public webinars during August for trainees who are thinking about applying to sub-specialty Grid training this year.

Here we provide the recordings and written questions / answers for those who could not make the live event and/or would like to listen again.
Last modified
7 September 2020


The webinars were presented by Dr Kay Tyerman, Nephrology Consultant and Assistant Officer for Recruitment (Sub-specialties), Dr Sian Copley, PGHAN trainee and Trainees Committee Representative (first webinar), Dr Anna McNamara, PICM trainee and Trainees Committee Representative (second webinar), James Clark, Recruitment and Careers Manager and Eloise Rodgers, Recruitment and Careers Co-ordinator. 

Delegates were able to submit questions, and we present the questions and answers below.

First webinar - 13 August

The first webinar covered what's new this year, including remote interviews and how that will work, the timeline, assessment areas, setting yourself up for a remote interview and tips for a successful remote interview. 

Second webinar - 26 August

In the second webinar we went into more detail on the shortlisting scoring and tips for a successful application. We went through the interview domains and gave a couple of example questions and some more virtual interview tips. We also gave an update on where we’re at with the Grid process, covering where you can find the available programmes and job descriptions on our website. During both webinars delegates were invited to ask questions.

Available programmes

Will trainees who had been planning to apply to one of the non-recruiting specialties be able to do so in the future? Worry we might lose potential future immunologists/IMD specialists, etc.? Especially those working full time and with less flexibility

It is likely that those sub-specialties not recruiting this year will do so next year, but this isn’t guaranteed. We would recommend getting in touch with the relevant CSAC to find out more about this:

Amongst those specialties recruiting will there be advance warning of any areas that aren't recruiting this year? (This might dash someone's hopes.)

The programmes available, including the regions, are all available to view on Sub-specialty training - how to apply.

If there is unlikely to be a Grid post in your sub-specialty for a set year (eg 2 year Grid applying in ST5), does that essentially leave you with only 1 chance at getting Grid the following year?

Please get in touch with the relevant CSAC if your sub-specialty is not recruiting this year to enquire about future recruiting years. You may be able to count experience/capabilities already achieved towards your Grid training if you are further along with your training.

Less than full time training

If one wants LTFT [less than full time training] post, would it affect chances of getting a post or would it be considered as a disadvantage?

No it will not disadvantage you if you are LTFT.

Some regions have allowed LTFT on a category 3 (lifestyle preferences), looking through LTFT for GRID- can that only be for category 1 or 2 i.e caring capacity/ health

If you would like to work LTFT please put this on your application. We do not look at the different categories for Grid.

Eligibility criteria and Confirmation of eligibility form

If applying to 2 subspecialties, do we need 2 forms of confirmation of eligibility filled in?

In the second webinar recording we said that you do need one form per application/sub specialty (e.g. two forms for two applications/sub specialties). However, one form per person will be accepted, as long as all the sub specialties you apply for are listed on the form, as well as any previous experience/capabilities that have been approved by the CSAC Chair. 

Do we need to send the GRID team the confirmation of eligibility form or just upload it to Oriel?

Yes please email the form to the Grid team at as well as uploading it to Oriel.

When do you apply for grid training, end of ST4 or end of ST5?

Usually trainees apply at ST5 or ST6, but if you are progressing swiftly through your training and complete Level 2 by the start of your Grid training post and your Head of School approves and has no concerns on your confirmation of eligibility form, then you can apply at ST4.

Guidance around how Shape of Training will affect trainees from next year will be published on RCPCH website in the next few months, but it does not affect trainees this recruitment year.

Deferral process

Please could you clarify the process for deferral for maternity leave - there is some confusion by my deanery. Can you apply this year to start September 2022?

Please refer to the Grid applicant guide on Sub-specialty training - how to apply for the deferral process. If you know you will be on maternity leave and will therefore need to defer your place, there is a box to tick on the application form. If you find out after the application period, please email us to let us know. You can defer your place to September 2022 if you’re on maternity leave.

Could you defer to ask for a preferential geographical location if that location is not offered this year? (I am unable to move due to caring responsibilities)

You cannot defer for preferred geographical location reason, only for statutory leave/ or research.

Can you defer entry once you have accepted an offer?

Applicants applying for deferred entry must put their intended start date on their application form. Deferment will be allowed for a maximum of 3 years and will only be considered due to:

  • Statutory reasons (e.g. maternity leave, ill health)
  • Studying full time in higher education such as higher medical degree/research

It is recognised that the outcome of funding for research application can sometimes coincide with the Grid selection process. In these circumstances it will be at the discretion of the receiving deanery whether deferment is allowed. If an offer of research is made after the grid process, when a successful applicant has already accepted a post in a deanery, applicants must notify the RCPCH within three months of accepting the post otherwise deferment may not be allowed.

If you need to defer for maternity leave and you find out after you have submitted your application or offers have gone out please let us know as soon as possible and we’ll ask you to contact all the relevant people (Deanery/CSAC).

Using previously acquired capabilities towards Grid

For pre-approved posts requiring CSAC approval - does this have to be the CSAC chair specifically or can it be anybody on the CSAC such as Training Advisor?

The CSAC Chair need to approve any experience and achieved capabilities towards Grid training, but the confirmation email can come from another member of the CSAC.

Regarding CSAC approval for a post before starting Grid: does that approval need to be before completion of confirmation of eligibility form, or before the actual post starts?

Approval from the CSAC for any previous experience/capabilities towards Grid training needs to be sought before you submit your application.

Shortlisting and the application process

Will Grid specialities know if you apply for more than one sub-speciality? 

No, the applications are anonymous.

If someone has publications, does marking depend on the " as the first author" or the "co-author" marks?

Yes, co-author would be 2 points, first author in peer reviewed journal would be 3 marks and more than one as first author 4 marks.   

When will the new shortlisting scoring be available to view?

It is available now to download on Sub-specialty training - how to apply.

What are the changes made to the shortlisting scoring system?  

We have streamlined the ‘Publications/Presentations/Posters’ section so that it’s out of 4 instead of 6, which it was last year.

Under the ‘Education - Involvement in teaching’ section you will be awarded an extra mark on top of the score you have been given if you have a formal teaching qualification. Lastly the ‘Statement for support’ section has also been streamlined and will be out of 4 instead of 5.

To mention that one is first author they must mention their name on the paper. Isn't that right?

In previous years applicants lost points for including their name, but this rule no longer applies. So you can now list your name as the author.

Will there be any changes in subsections on Oriel for application (in comparison to last year)?

There may be slight changes but generally the sections will be the same.

Does everyone get an interview if get 60% or more of shortlisting score?

The shortlisting cut off score is based on the number of overall possible appointments and the timescales for interviews. Therefore you are not guaranteed an interview if you get 60% for your shortlisting score.

Regarding the new publication scoring - what about first author of two case reports - would that still be 2 points or 4 points?

This would be 2 points.

With publications, is there a timeframe that they have to be within? (Thinking time out of practice, maternity leave, etc. meaning publications might not be that recent.)

No there is no timeframe for publications.

If we have evidence of offers made to present nationally/internationally at conferences but these were cancelled because of COVID, is there any consideration for that?

If you have email confirmation that you were accepted that would be ok. Please contact us to discuss further and to provide evidence:

If I take 1 year as a clinical fellow in a sub speciality, will this help me in GRID application later on? 

You do not need to have any prior experience in the sub specialty you’re applying for. It is a personal choice if you would like to take a year to gain more experience, but do not feel that you need lots of experience before you apply. 

What evidence do you need to provide to support your answers to the domains e.g. evidence of being rota coordinator?

If you’ve had a considerable role within your Trust like arranging rotas, give a concise answer that best describes your role. We do not ask for evidence of your experience and trust that you are being honest as professionals. 

What evidence is needed for publications? (Is an email that it has been accepted sufficient?)

For publications there will be a section on the application form to add the PubMed number.

If you've been involved in national teaching (RSM neonatal study day) that's been postponed due to COVID will this still count?

If you have made a significant contribution to a teaching event but the event was postponed/cancelled due to COVID, please include this in your application. If you are unsure if it will count please email the Grid team with details at

International publication for shortlisting- does it have to be in a PubMed indexed journal or peer?

It needs to have a PubMed index.

If you are applying a second time, can you use the same shortlisting application and answers with a few modifications?

You may use parts of your application from before, as all applications are anonymous. All applicants need to set up a new Oriel account this year because there is an update and a new link, so you will have to check if you are able to retrieve it. Also be mindful of what worked well and not so well on your last application and look at the feedback you received. It’s also helpful for your interview practice to have new information on your application form.

What is the evidence to prepare for audit / QI project?

Think about the projects that you have played a significant part in and give concise answers. You do not need to provide physical evidence for the work.

If I have designed and led a teaching series for medical students, is it possible to use this as management experience? Organising/ logistics etc?  

Yes, you may want to use this as management experience, but give different examples but each section so not to repeat answers.

If you have 2 first author publications but one is a case report with literature review, would this count for the full marks?

You won’t be able to get full marks for case reports.

For publications that are not journal articles e.g national guidance papers/resources etc. are these able to be used in publication category?

The publication needs to be published so it will have a PubMed number. If not you may be able to use it in the QI/Audit section.

Who marks the answers? Is it the same panel that will mark all the answers or do each of your answers go to a different panel?

The shortlisting panel is made up of members of the sub specialty CSAC that you are applying for. The larger sub specialties, like neonates split up the questions so that 2 people will always mark sections 4 and 5 for example.

What sort of roles count as a "Lead role nationally?" Would an RSM trainee teaching lead count?

Yes anything showing that you have contributed to a lead role nationally would count.

I’m really worried about by making my answers concise, I may miss important parts.

Be selective about what you give as your examples and be to the point.    


30/11 will be the deadline for confirmation of preference choices. Is this the sub-specialty preferences or preference for geographical areas?

The preference deadline refers to the applicant preferencing their preferred programmes. The Grid programmes covers a particular region. For example, CCH may have a programme in the East Midlands so that may be one of your preferences.


Do we get a chance to log on to Practique ahead of time to ensure we don't have any technical issues?

We have requested that there is a training version of Practique that can be used to practise on, but there isn’t any guarantee that this will be available. We would recommend testing out your Wi-Fi connection and getting virtual interview experience through Zoom or MS Teams.

As you must be aware, the Grid interview dates and the MRCPCH clinical exam dates are in same timeframe. What is the advice, if the dates collide for a candidate?

This shouldn’t be an issue as we’ll be able to work with the Examinations team to make sure the appointments do not clash. If you think this may be an issue when you receive your exam date or invitation to interview contact us:

Interview dates for Community Child Health and Paediatric Neurodisability? 

All the interview dates can be found on Sub-specialty training - how to apply.

For CCH: Thursday 26 - Friday 27 November and Monday 30 November - Tuesday 1 December.

For neurodisability: Monday 16 - Tuesday 17 November

How will it work if you apply for a sub-specialty that has two interview panels? Is there a format for the second interview panel or is it specific to the specialty?

Only Neonatal Medicine, PICM and CCH will have a two panel interview format. It will be like one interview cut into two. Each two-panel interview will be for a maximum of 15 minutes, there will be a maximum of 3 panel members in each virtual room and there will be two questions per room.

During interview - do we automatically move from one room to other? Do we need to enter PIN number for each room?

For each new virtual room on Practique you will have to log in with a new pin code (which we will provide). Please refer to the PowerPoint presentation given at the webinar for more information (you can see this in the above recording). Clear instructions will be given if you are invited to interview. 

How will the presentations work this year?

There will be no presentations this year.

It was said that there will be no presentations or lit reviews to prepare. But will we still be given papers to read during the interview to assess our critical appraisal skills?

There will be no papers to review. It will be a question-based interview. 

Did you mean the Grid interviews are until 27 November rather than December?

This was a typing error on the PowerPoint presentation. The core two weeks for interview are from 16 – 27 November with CCH continuing onto 1 December 2020.

Will the panel all be in separate virtual rooms? will they mark the interview after you have left the virtual room?

The panel will all be in logging in remotely and will appear in their own video on the screen. The assessors are likely to be scoring and making notes during the interview. 

Can we ask for alternate time / date if interview dates clash with a pre-booked course?

Please email us directly if there is an issue with dates and times at Unfortunately, we can’t offer alternative dates outside of the set timetable as this has been arranged with the assessors.

16-27 Nov for interviews confirmed as webpage advises Interviews could happen in the weeks either side of this?

The interview dates have been finalised now: from 16 November to 1 December 2020. You do not need to keep free any time around this now the dates are confirmed.

Please re-iterate the four assessment domains

The four interview assessment domains are: 

  1. Ability in clinical situations and reasoning
  2. Academic understanding and ability
  3. Exploring multidisciplinary team working and learning skills
  4. Motivation and past achievements and strengths

Clinical question - usually a lot of information is given, if virtual can be difficult to register, how is this going to be mitigated?

We understand that the clinical question can sometimes contain a lot of detail and can be one of the longer questions asked, so it will be available on Practique as a document you can open and read when the panel ask you the question.

What is the procedure if unwell on the day?

Please let us know as soon as possible and we can see what we can do. It may be that the sub-specialty is interviewing on another day and we can add another interview slot there.

Will the clinical question be related to the sub speciality we are applying for?


How long do we have to answer clinical questions?

The interview with be for 20/25 minutes in total and there are 4 domains, so around 5 minutes per question.

Do the interviewers know that the applicant has made an application to another specialty?

No - they won't be told by the College team

Offers and scoring

If one makes two applications: will the offers be released at the same time for the two sub-specialities?

Offers will be made from Wednesday 9 December. Every effort will be made to release the offers for all sub-specialties on the same day but due to the number of vacancies being processed, this may not be possible. We would suggest 'holding' your offer so you can make your decision.

The hold deadline will be 12:00 (noon) on Tuesday 15 December 2020.

Is interview still worth 75% and application 25%? 

The overall score is a percentage made by scaling an applicant’s interview score and shortlisting score, so that the interview contributes 75% of the total and shortlisting 25%.

If you only apply to one centre but score highly but another applicant scores higher, is there any scope for a centre to create a job thereafter?

We cannot create new posts as the posts available reflect the workforce demands in each of the sub-specialties. If too many posts are offered this wouldn’t be fair for applicants the following year who may be planning to apply. There may be a possibility if there are two LTFT applicants, but this would need to be agreed with the CSAC and the deanery.

How will allocation of offers be made? Is it first candidate for their first choice then second candidate to get their first choice?

Offers are made based on your preferences and where you ranked. Candidates are ranked in accordance to how they scored.

For example, if you achieved the highest score you will rank first and be offered your first preference. If the next person preferenced the same programme they will be offered their second preference and so on.

The more programmes you preference the higher the chance that you will be offered a post depending on where you rank; however, you need to be willing to take up the offer.


If you apply for only one post (location) will you then be offered further posts on clearing?    

You will only be offered posts in clearing if you have not been offered a post already and if there are posts still available in your chosen sub-specialty. If you have declined a post you will not be eligible for clearing.

In other applications if you haven't ranked all the jobs you can't be cleared into other posts even if eligible for clearing. Do we need to have ranked all posts to be considered for clearing (assuming eligible for clearing and not obtained one of 'chosen' posts)?

You do not need to have ranked all the posts to be eligible for clearing. To be eligible you need to have not accepted or declined an offer and there needs to be posts still available in your chosen sub-specialty. We will contact you at the time if you are eligible and if the sub-specialty is in clearing.


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