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The Dental Foundation Interview Guide

with Situational Judgement Tests

Zahid Siddique


Shivana Anand


Helena Lewis-Greene


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There are several books available on medical situational judgement tests (SJTs) but none for dentistry. Situational judgement test questions were introduced as part of the DFT application interview process in 2013. A relatively new concept in dentistry, SJTs have been widely used in industry as part of the selection criteria for professionals. We wanted to provide students with a selection of subject-specific SJT questions to help with their DFT preparations. Guidance for preparation has been put together by recently qualified dentists who understand the pressures that undergraduate study can impose. We hope that this book will be useful in helping all students gain experience with SJTs, leadership and management as well as clinical scenarios.

The DFT application process is highly competitive. Simply put, the higher the ranking the better the chance of getting your first choice placement. We hope that this book gives you all the information that you need in order to achieve this goal.

The SJTs in this book were verified and standardized by a group of dentists and are answered in accordance to their opinion and expertise.


Thank you to Mr Raj Rattan for his continued support and mentorship throughout this process. Thank you to Professor Dunne our Professor in Primary Dental Care at King's College London Dental Institute for his support and guidance from the beginning.

A huge thank you to some of the panel members who include:

  1. Dr Razaullah Ahmed BDS
  2. Dr Keshvi Patel BDS MJDF RCS(Lon)
  3. Dr Nirupy Shanmugathas BDS MJDF RCS(Lon)
  4. Dr Simrun Chowdhary BDS MJDF RCS(Lon)

Chapter 1
What is dental foundation training?

Dental foundation training is a year when dental graduates across the United Kingdom embark on a period of relevant employment general dental practitioners under a contract of service by approved educational supervisors to provide a wide range of dental care and treatment. The successful completion of the DF1 year is mandatory for those who want to work in the NHS as part of their future dental career. Dental foundation training (DF1) introduces new graduates to general practice and gives them a protected environment in which to work and enhance the basic dental skills achieved through their BDS degree under the supervision of a educational supervisor practitioner. The educational supervisor's role is to help and support the dental foundation trainee in all aspects of employment and provide continuous academic development through tutorials. The DF1 trainees also attend weekly study days outside of their general practice with the aim and objective of enhancing clinical and administrative competence and promoting high standards through relevant postgraduate training. The following competencies are included within the DFT curricula:

Excerpts from the National Health Service (Performers Lists) (England) Regulations 2013, found at (accessed 24 February 2016).

Chapter 2
The application process

Chapter Menu

  1. DF1 recruitment process
  2. How to apply
  3. Key dates
  4. DF1 schemes – where to work
  5. DF1 interview – format
  6. Scotland applications

DF1 recruitment process

All DF1 training vacancies are allocated through a centralized process for England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The online application process usually opens in the month of September for all UK-based year 5 dental students and EU graduates or overseas dentists.

The recruitment process is split in two stages:

It is important to understand that the DFT application process is competitive. The number of DFT training places is generally linked to the number of final-year students but places cannot be guaranteed for all UK graduates and it is therefore of utmost importance that all students give themselves the best opportunity to secure a place.

Over the past few years the number of candidates applying has exceeded the number of DF1 positions available with EU and oversees dental applicants also applying.

Table 2.1 shows the data collected for the application years 2011/12 and 2012/13 from the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND).

Table 2.1 data collected for the application years 2011/12 and 2012/13 from COPDEND

Numbers 2011/12 England and Wales EEA United Kingdom ROW 2012/13 England and Wales EEA United Kingdom ROW
Places Total 927 978
Applicants Total 1190 101 1044 45 1172 110 1031 31
Applicants eligible and short listed 1145 97 1042 6 1153 109 1027 17
Applicants interviewed 1110 86 1018 6 1138 104 1021 13
Applicants offered place 940 47 889 4 1040 77 953 10
Applicants accepted offer 928 42 882 4 978 58 914 6
Applicants not accepted offer 12 5 7 0 18 13 3 2
Applicants not offered a place 48 13 35 0 55 11 41 3

Notes: *EEA – European Economic Area; ROW – Rest of the World

How to apply

London application process

The London deanery and COPDEND change the application process on a yearly basis. It is always beneficial to look at the guidance notes released by COPDEND on the London deanery web site beforehand at (accessed 22 November 2015).

Scotland application process

See below.

Key dates

COPDEND has the right to change the recruitment process on a yearly basis. Table 2.2 is a proposed timeline for recruitment with guideline months.

Table 2.2 Proposed recruitment timetable

Applications open 25 August 2015
Applications close 22 September 2015
Interview window 16 – 20 November 2015
Preferencing of schemes opens 8 December 2015
Preferencing of schemes closes 15 December 2015
Initial offers out by 06 January 2016
2nd round offers 06 July 2016
Placements commence March 2016 and September 2016

Table 2.3 gives the selection centre interview venues across the United Kingdom.

Table 2.3 Selection centre interview venues

Centre Venue Dental schools covered
London London Recruitment Events Centre King's College London
Queen Mary
University of London
Bristol Bristol Marriott Hotel, City Centre Bristol University
Cardiff University
Peninsula College of Dentistry
Manchester Reebok Stadium, Bolton University of Central Lancaster
University of Liverpool
University of Manchester
Birmingham West Bromwich Albion University of Birmingham
University of Sheffield
Belfast Ramada Hotel, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast Queen's University, Belfast
Newcastle Newcastle United Football Club Newcastle University
University of Leeds

DF1 schemes – where to work

A component of the DF1 application process involves choosing DF1 scheme area preferences around the United Kingdom. In 2014, applicants were asked to rank their scheme preferences via the UK Offers System, which was done separately from the submission of their online application form for their original DF1 application. Candidates will be emailed with information regarding their interview date (which they must confirm within 48 hours) and full instructions on how to complete scheme preferences, including use of the UK offers system. This involves logging into the system approximately 3 weeks after the interview and submitting their scheme area preference. The submission for schemes is open for 7 days – after this period submissions cannot be made.

The London Deanery usually produces an information sheet about the available schemes for that year. It is of utmost importance that candidates take time to consider all the schemes and their locations. Due to the competitive nature of the application process it is imperative that the candidates give themselves the best possible opportunity to obtain a DF1 job offer. These opportunities can decrease if candidates limit the number of schemes they are willing to work in. If they do not rank one of the schemes they will automatically forfeit their place, even if a position is available. However, it should also be noted that there is no point in candidates ranking a scheme if they are absolutely certain that they are not willing to work in that region. The rationale for this is that if they do rank such a region and are offered a place within it, they will not be offered an alternative, or be given an opportunity to swap, if they decline the offer. We therefore advise candidates to try to be as flexible as possible when ranking schemes to give themselves the best opportunity to secure a DF1 job.

It is also important to note that, at this stage of the application process, candidates will only be given information regarding their scheme locations and not the locations of the actual training practices as they are not approved until spring / summer and can change on an annual basis. Some schemes cover a large geographical area and the distance between practices within a scheme can take over an hour to commute. The deanery will only provide detailed information about practices once they have all been approved; however, it might be possible to see the previous year's information regarding individual practices on its web site.

Once candidates have accepted their scheme in the beginning of January, they will have an option to ‘upgrade’ or ‘accept’ the offer. If they choose to accept, their deanery will be notified of their acceptance and their place for the DF1 year will be confirmed. If they choose to ‘upgrade’, then on the last day of January their scheme will either be upgraded to a higher choice or the candidate will stay in the same scheme.

Here are some useful points to consider when choosing where to work:

  1. Travelling to work
    • How far are you willing to travel to work?
    • Do you drive? Will it be feasible to drive to work – Congestion charge? Parking?
    • If you don't drive will you need to relocate close to a train / tube station? Will you need to relocate to make your commute to work easier?
  2. Finance
    • How expensive will your living accommodation be in certain regions?
    • Will living at home be more suitable?
    • How expensive will your commute be?
    • Do you have any family commitments or are supporting any children? If so, consider childcare and school arrangements.
  3. Social life
    • It is important that the location and environment you choose to work in provide a suitable social lifestyle outside of work, which caters for your individual needs.
  4. It is only for one year
    • Always take into consideration all factors. However, this is your opportunity to shine, build your CV, gain extra experience and make mistakes from which you will learn.
    • Chose an environment in which you will feel comfortable to grow professionally and personally. Flexibility is key and it is only for one year.
  5. Location
    • It is important to consider the region you want to work in.
    • Do you want to be living at home? Do you want to stay in the same city as your university? Do you need to support a family? Are you someone who enjoys living in rural versus coastal areas?
    • Speak to family and friends to aid and advise you.
    • Speak to older dental colleagues to give you further information about regions within the United Kingdom.

The list below gives the schemes that are available for DF1 applications. They may be subject to change in the forthcoming year. The HE region or deanery is displayed in bold and scheme names are displayed below them. A virtual map of DF1 schemes in the United Kingdom may be found at (accessed 13 November 2015).

  1. HE East Midlands
    1. Chesterfield Scheme
    2. Leicester Scheme
    3. Lincoln Scheme
    4. Loughborough Scheme
    5. Northampton Scheme
    6. Nottingham Scheme
  2. HE East of England
    1. Basildon Scheme
    2. Bedford Scheme
    3. Essex Coast Scheme
    4. Ipswich Scheme
    5. Norwich Scheme
    6. Peterborough Scheme
    7. Welwyn Garden City Scheme
  3. HE Kent, Surrey and Sussex
    1. Central Scheme
    2. Coastal Scheme
    3. East Scheme
    4. South Scheme
    5. West Scheme
  4. HE North East
    1. GPT Scheme
    2. North 1 Scheme
    3. North 2 Scheme
    4. South 1 Scheme
    5. South 2 Scheme
    6. West Scheme
  5. HE North West
    1. Blackburn Scheme
    2. Lancaster Scheme
    3. North Manchester Scheme
    4. Pennine Scheme
    5. Wythenshawe Scheme
  6. HE North West (Mersey)
    1. Aintree Scheme
    2. Chester Scheme
    3. Clatterbridge Scheme
    4. Speke Scheme
  7. HE South West
    1. Bath Scheme
    2. Bristol Scheme
    3. Exeter Scheme
    4. Plymouth Scheme
    5. Salisbury Scheme
    6. Taunton Scheme
    7. Truro Scheme
  8. HE Thames Valley / HE Wessex
    1. Berkshire Scheme
    2. Buckinghamshire / Milton Keynes Scheme
    3. Oxfordshire Scheme
    4. Portsmouth Scheme
    5. Winchester Scheme
  9. HE West Midlands
    1. City Scheme
    2. Coventry Scheme
    3. Russells Hall Scheme (March only)
    4. Solihull Scheme
    5. Stafford Scheme
    6. Telford Scheme
    7. Worcester Scheme
  10. HE Yorkshire and the Humber
    1. East Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire Scheme
    2. GPT Scheme
    3. Harrogate Scheme
    4. Sheffield and Doncaster Scheme
    5. Wakefield and Dewsbury Scheme
    6. York Scheme
  11. London Shared Services
    1. Northwick Park (March only)
    2. Northwick Park
    3. QMUL – Bart's Scheme
    4. South East London Scheme
    5. South West London Scheme
    6. UCL– Eastman Scheme
  12. Northern Ireland Deanery
    1. Northern Ireland Scheme (August only)
  13. Wales Deanery
    1. East Wales Scheme
    2. Glamorgan Scheme
    3. North Wales Scheme
    4. South Wales Scheme
    5. South West Wales Scheme
    6. Port Talbot Scheme

DF1 interview – format

Assessments are scheduled to take place in late November in six centres across the United Kingdom.

  1. Read all emails sent by the examining body prior to the interview date thoroughly and clearly, as they outline the majority of what is needed on the day, where the interview is and so forth. Do not discard them.
  2. Print out all relevant documents received.
  3. Compile all relevant documents and extras needed for the day – for example, bank statement, passport pictures.
  4. Work out the most efficient route to your interview.
  5. Top up Oyster cards or fill up with petrol beforehand.
  6. Dress smartly – boys: simple suit; girls: simple suit, long dresses or skirts and blouses.
  7. Girls – keep makeup simple.
  8. Keep a clear mind – do not plan other errands or have your mind elsewhere.
  9. Be confident!
  10. Speak clearly, comprehensively and steadily.
  11. Do not guess or make up answers; it is better to state ‘I do not know’.
  12. Once it is over do not dwell!

The assessment process consists of:

  1. Professional, leadership and management skills – objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) station. (10 minutes)
  2. Clinical communication skills – OSCE station with real actors. (10 minutes)
  3. Situational judgment test (SJT) – 56 SJT questions comprising both ranking-based SJTs and ‘best of three’ SJTs (105 minutes, discussed further in Chapter 3).

Professionalism, management and leadership skills station

This station is more like a mini viva station with the candidate discussing the scenario with two assessors. The candidate will be given a mark by both assessors, who will then collate their marks to calculate an average score for the student. Candidates will have 5 minutes to prepare in advance and 10 minutes for the actual station. (See mark scheme template in Chapter 3.)

Clinical communication skills station

This station will consist of a typical patient-dentist role-play scenario where an actor will be posing as the patient with a clinical problem. There will also be an assessor in the room, although he will have no involvement in the role play. The candidate will be marked by both the assessor and the actor in the role play (see mark scheme template in Chapter 3). Candidates will have 5 minutes to prepare for the station by reading and familiarizing themselves with the scenario and then 10 minutes for the actual station.

Scotland applications

Scotland has its own application process for which all year-five students can apply. The application for Scotland closes in early January and is done by emailing

There is an application form to complete and to send to dental recruitment for Scotland. Supporting documentation is needed, such as proof of identity – one copy of photographic ID and two copies of confirmation of address.

Chapter 3
The SJT exam

Chapter Menu

  1. What is an SJT?
  2. Format of the exam
  3. Marking format of the exam

What is an SJT?

The situational judgement test exam is designed to assess nonacademic skills and ethical values rather than clinical skills. Situational judgement tests are a measurement method designed to assess an individual's judgement regarding situations in day-to-day working practice. These questions provide an effective method of assessing the key attributes required in dentistry:

Format of the exam

The exam consists of 56 SJT questions comprising both ranking-based SJTs and ‘best of three’ SJTs. Six of the SJT questions will be used for evaluation purposes. The candidate will have 105 minutes for the exam, which is machine marked.

Ranking-based SJTs

Candidates will be given a question with five possible responses to specific situations. They will then need to rank the five options from the most to least appropriate usually from A to E.

‘Best of three’ SJTs

The candidate will be presented with a situation question in which there will be eight possible answers. The candidate will then need to choose the three most appropriate answers when all of the answers are considered together.

Marking format of the exam

Ranking-based SJTs

As explained above, the candidate is asked to rank five possible answers from the most appropriate to the least appropriate. The table below demonstrates how the candidate can score the maximum mark of 20 points for each question.

For example, if the answer to a question is ACBDE, with A being the most appropriate and E being the least appropriate, your score will be calculated according to a matrix which can look like the one in Table 3.1. Ranking the options correctly scores the candidate 20 marks.

Table 3.1 Mark scheme for ranking-based SJTs

Correct If you ranked If you ranked If you ranked If you ranked If you ranked
ranking it first it second it third it fourth it fifth
A 4 3 2 1 0
C 3 4 3 2 1
B 2 3 4 3 2
D 1 2 3 4 3
E 0 1 2 3 4

Best of three SJTs

In this format the candidate must choose the three most suitable options when all the options are considered together. Each option scores four marks and therefore a maximum of 12 marks can be scored for each question. For example, if the correct three options are BCD the candidate will score 12 marks for choosing BCD, eight marks for only choosing two correct options, for example BCA, and four marks if the candidate only chose one correct option, for example BAE.