Archive for the ‘assessor’ Category

By Renu Bindra FFPH, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Public Health England @RenuBindra

The Selection Centre: the night before

Hurriedly pack suitcase to get to the selection centre by 4pm. Two dull hours on the motorway enlivened by an aeroplane that looks like it’s about to land on top of the car – the selection centre is in Loughborough and very close to East Midlands airport. Gets me every year. This year – and for the third year running – I’m marking the written exercise. All candidates are assessed by written test, group exercise and six (!) panel interviews. As a bonus (sarcasm intended), written selectors have to sit the test themselves a few days before selection, and Sunday afternoon is when we meet to compare answers and iron out any niggles (questions have already been peer-reviewed). Very relieved to find that I got all the answers right – the exercise requires good basic mathematical skills so I would have been mortified to have screwed up! The exercise also assesses qualitative analytical skills which are harder to mark – thankfully, a rigorous and well-tested framework helps us structure our marking. We finish by 5.30 – a quick change of clothes and I hit the hotel gym – only to find it closes at 6. Manage 20 minutes on the treadmill which I choose to run on an incline (ouch) in vague preparation for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks later this spring.

The Selection Centre: Day One

Quick breakfast where I meet Liz – public health consultant and fellow selector from the Highlands and Islands. I wonder if she’s had the longest journey to get here? Talk about our relative working environments; I thought some of my work journeys were long but hers definitely win! Head over to the morning briefing where we go over the selection process from start (application) to finish (offers issued in March). All candidates are assessed at every station against a range of skills: organisation and planning, conceptual thinking and problem-solving, communication skills, learning and professional development.

Walk past a nervous-looking gaggle of candidates about to go into the panel rooms. I’d love to stop and say something nice, but reassure myself they are being escorted round by a team of lovely and calming public health registrars who have experienced the process themselves.

Meet up with my fellow selectors where we get into our allocated pairs and go through the running order. As with all of public health we’re a diverse bunch working in defence public health, community provider organisations, academia, local authority and Public Health England. At around 10am the first batch of scripts arrive and we get stuck in. It takes a while to get into a good rhythm but we eventually get the hang of it and within an hour we’ve cleared the first batch. All scripts are double marked and at the end of each batch we work with our partners to compare scores. Where there is marked deviation (very rare) we work through the marking schedule to see if we can moderate our answers, referring to the lead if we get stuck.

Top tips for the written exercise from today’s selectors:

  • Stay calm and read the question carefully
  • Make sure you answer all questions – allocate your time!
  • If you mainly use a computer at work, practice your handwriting – we can’t guess the answer if we can’t read it!
  • Try and structure your answer as clearly as possible, using all the space available.

Five cohorts marked today and then we are done! Time to treat myself to a longer session in the gym followed by a dip in the pool, before we repeat the whole process again tomorrow. Good luck to all candidates!

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