Advice to candidates

If you're looking at applying for a job with North East Ambulance, you've made the right choice! 

This page will provide you with information and advice about each stage of the application process.

Advice when applying

  • Subscribe to NHS Jobs for automatic alerts
  • Make sure you clearly demonstrate how you meet the ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria in your application.
  • Make your application standout – provide the evidence showing why you are the best candidate for the role!
  • Tailor your application specifically to each role to which you apply.
  • Make sure you read the Applicant Guidance Notes, Job Description, Person Specification and any other information attached to the vacancy.
  • Be realistic – do you have the required knowledge and experience to do the role? Is your daily commute manageable / accessible?
  • Be honest – is this job really for you? Can you deal with distraught members of the public? Can you commit to the hours / shifts / training required for the role?
  • Do your research – what is the company like to work for? What do they do? What benefits are available?
  • Remember – your application will be thoroughly checked and verified if you are successful.
  • Submit your application as soon as possible.

Advice when completing online assessments

  • Find somewhere quiet with a good internet connection.
  • Make sure you have enough time to complete the assessment.
  • If there are practice tests available…..practice! It is worth visiting sites like as practice tests are often available.
  • Don’t dwell on your responses for too long.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t answer all the questions in the given time.
  • Be honest – you may be asked to re-sit the test under supervised conditions to verify your identity.
  • Be yourself. Answer how you would normally answer, not how you think the company wants you to.

How do we interview?

The Trust use a ‘values based / ‘competency based approach to interviewing. 

At NEAS (as with most organisations) our interviews test competencies, otherwise known as behaviours and skills. This is what is referred to as a Competency Based Interview.

Competency Based Interviews:

Competency Based Interviews are often referred to as Structured Interviews and each question is designed to test a specific skill or behaviour. The answer is then marked against pre-decided criteria and scored accordingly.

This is much fairer than an un-structured interview where the interviewers ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking for but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. Questions can be fairly open and quite random, so a question:

“What can you offer our company?”

is meant to gather general information about you but does not test any specific skill or competency and the candidate is far more likely to be judged on the general impression they leave, therefore making the process far more subjective.

So for example, in a Competency Based Interview, we might want to test a candidate’s ability to deal with stress by asking the candidate:

“Can you give us an example of an occasion when you have worked under pressure?”

As interviewers we would want to hear about a specific occasion when the candidate has had to work under pressure. Ideally the candidate would provide us with an example and explain the challenges that they faced and how they overcame those challenges. The answer would be scored against positive and negative indicators which might include the following:

Positive Indicators

Negative Indicators

  • Demonstrates a positive approach to the problem
  • Considers the wider needs of the situation
  • Recognises own limitations
  • Is able to compromise
  • Willing to help when necessary
  • Uses effective strategies to deal with pressure/stress
  • Perceives challenges as problems
  • Attempts unsuccessfully to deal with the situation alone
  • Uses inappropriate strategies to deal with pressure/stress

Competency Based Interviews have more than twice the success rate of unstructured interviews. By success, we mean that if NEAS as an employer can get recruitment appointments right first time then we see a number of wins for the business:

  • Resourcing and recruiting can be expensive and is time consuming and takes Hiring managers away from their ‘day job’
  • When our people have the right skills and behaviours to perform to a high standard our ability to meet patient needs improves
  • When we have the right people for the job this results in less stress for the rest of the team

However we also measure success by what success means for the candidate.  At NEAS we are committed to creating an environment where staff are happy and healthy at work.  If we break down the skills and competencies necessary to perform well in that role, then a competency based interview will demonstrate to you as well as NEAS that you are indeed a great fit for that position and if successful you will be embarking on a new role that will make the most of your talents!


  • Ensure you have prepared thoroughly. Make sure you understand the job and have thought about why you would be a good candidate for the role.
  • Google competency based interviewing; the ‘STAR’ method can sometimes be helpful. Think about some examples of work that you have delivered of which you are proud and think about what skills were required to ensure that you delivered and reached your goals.
  • Remember in an interview to differentiate between your own role and part in an outcome and the wider team responsibilities, this will enable the interviewers to understand what your contribution was to the outcome.
  • If you aren’t sure what the question means or you need the interview question repeating, then ask the panel to repeat it for you.
  • Make sure you have a couple of sensible questions to ask at the end of the interview.
  • If you have previously been unsuccessful at an interview then think about the feedback you received on your last interview performance and try and ensure you have worked on improving your short falls.

Advice when attending assessment

  • Be clear about what the assessment process is and what is expected of you.
  • If there is a group exercise, role play or presentation involved think about what the role really entails and what it is important to be successful in the role.
  • If you need adjustments, let the Recruitment Team know.
  • Make sure you research the location and how to get there – do a trial run if necessary.
  • Be confident and enthusiastic – you were invited to assessment for a reason!
  • Make eye contact and smile – it is only natural that you are nervous.
  • Do your research – it is vitally important that you know about the company and the job to which you are applying! We will expect you to know about this.
  • Prepare for your interview – think of situations where you have exhibited appropriate behaviours and describe what YOU specifically did…what was the outcome?
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Ask questions – about the role, the Company, next steps etc. An interview should be a two way thing. The Company has to be right for you as well!
  • Be clear on the next steps.
  • We ask applicants to wait a minimum of six months before re-applying for a same or similar role to enable them to have the best chance of further developing their skills for the next assessment.

A bit about our pre-employment checks

Patient care is at the forefront of everything we do at NEAS and as a result we carry out rigorous pre-employment checks on all of our recruits.  We need to ensure that our patients will be in the best possible, safest hands and we make no excuses for that.

NHS Guidance on pre-employment checks is strict and you may have to go through some or all of the following depending on the role for which you have been successful.

-          Occupational Health Questionnaire / Assessment

-          DBS Check

-          References

-          Proof of identity

-          Proof of right to work in the UK

-          Proof of residence

-          Qualification checks

We appreciate this can be a little time consuming and there can be a lot of paperwork but our Recruitment Team will support you through the process and endeavour to get you on board as quickly as possible so please bear with us…your dream job is just around the corner!

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Pay and benefits

  • Competitive salaries in line with the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service
  • 27 days annual leave on joining
  • Membership to the NHS Pension scheme – one of the best schemes available
  • Access to occupational health and counselling support services
  • Free parking at most Trust sites
  • LGBTQ+, BAME, Disability, and Women’s staff networks
  • Discounted car-lease scheme
  • Access to the Blue Light Card discount scheme
  • Access to home electronics scheme
  • Part of cycle to work scheme

Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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