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What the panel’s really thinking

Chair of the MRC’s Clinical Training and Career Development Panel, Professor Moira Whyte, tells interview candidates what to expect from her panel. She explains that (although they can seem like an intimidating bunch on the day) they are actually very happy to meet you and hear about your project… so relax!

Moira Whyte

What to expect

Fellowship applicants always wonder what to expect from a panel interview. Even for those who’ve been through one, it can all be a bit of a haze once it’s over.

To help future Clinical Research Training Fellows (CRTF) prepare, the MRC has launched a set of videos showing what to expect in a fellowship interview and of panel members frankly describing what they’re looking for from applicants.

As an aspiring clinical academic, your first interaction with us will probably be at your CRTF interview. We know it can be daunting so we’ve made these videos to give you an idea of what you can expect on the day… and what we’re hoping to see.

We’ve sat in that chair too

Although it might not feel like it at the time, the panel really is on your side! Every one of us sat on that panel is committed to clinical academic careers. We’re delighted to meet bright candidates with exciting projects that will underpin their future careers.

We’ve all been the other side of the interview process ourselves and we know how nerve-racking it can be. While it may feel like we’re giving you a tough time, we’re keen to see how well you can defend your project, how widely you’ve thought about potential issues, and to understand how the project might be adapted either in light of the referees’ comments or as the project progresses and things don’t go as planned.

It’s normal to be nervous

We don’t necessarily expect you to have all the answers, but we’re looking to see that spark of enthusiasm, thoughtful replies and that you can think on your feet. We know you’ll be nervous and that really doesn’t matter. If you prepare well you’ll be well set. Practice your presentation, consider the referees’ comments and come in ready to update us on any progress since submission.

What happens next?

Members of the panel provide ongoing support for clinical fellows throughout their development as clinical academics. We also participate in events for fellows and feed into the MRC’s strategy on how best to support researchers. For example, we contributed to the recent report on barriers and enablers of careers in clinical academic medicine.

Now is the time to begin your clinical academic career

Academic medicine is truly an exciting, varied and rewarding career and your clinical PhD is arguably the most important stage of that. With funders working in ever closer partnership to support this career pathway there has never been a better time to embark on a clinical academic career.

We hope you find these videos useful when preparing your application. Don’t forget to check our frequently asked questions too and if you need to check anything just get in touch with the MRC fellowships team at fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk.

We look forward to meeting you!

(Don’t panic.)

 

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