Our selection process

Selection procedure

  • Our values based recruitment process takes full account of the six core values and the NHS Constitution and the ten competences model derived by Baron and O’Reilly (Clinical Psychology Forum No 232, April 2012)
  • The programme strives to ensure that we uphold the values of equality and inclusivity at all times, including in our selection process. For this reason, our procedure is designed to actively encourage those from diverse backgrounds to apply and is focused on an individual's overall potential to become an outstanding clinical psychologist rather than over-emphasising existing knowledge and skills.
  • Applications are also considered on the basis of academic attainment, clinical experience, life experience, reflexivity and critical understanding of the social and cultural context of the profession of clinical psychology and the workplace. Approximately 42 candidates are usually short-listed for interview. 

Applicants with a disability

If you are a candidate with a disability please contact Programme Administrator Michele Thomas as soon as possible stating the nature of your disability, how this may impact in your participation in the screening and selection events, and any specific support you may need. Please contact Michele by email Michele.thomas@plymouth.ac.uk or phone 01752 586701.

Further information

We do not operate the Disability Confident (two tick) scheme.


Why do we use a shortlisting test?

We collaborate with the Lancaster, Cardiff, Exeter and Manchester University’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programmes with regard to our shortlisting screening procedures. All candidates who have achieved Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership and the minimum English language requirement will be invited to take part in our screening procedure (see the entry requirements section above if you need further details). Many applicants to our programme are fortunate enough to have had access to extensive education and employment/experience opportunities. However, some individuals have not had these privileges, and may never have, but have significant potential and are well suited to the programme.

As we want everyone to be assessed on a fair basis, we use a short-listing test which examines potential rather than looking only at the application form which emphasises experience. Evidence also shows that application forms on their own are poor predictors of academic and job performance. Our approach means using shortlisting tests which have substantial evidence to indicate they predict performance on both the programme and in a complex job role once qualified.

This component of our screening process uses an online general mental ability (GMA) test. This approach is widely used, for example by other healthcare professions with graduate entry training programmes, as it is a strong predictor of performance in complex or intellectually challenging roles. The GMA test will have verbal and deductive reasoning elements.

We strongly encourage you to give yourself time to look at, familiarise yourself and practise the tests before the window opens so that you can demonstrate your ability. Please visit the SHL Direct website to complete the practice tests at any time - you only need to practise the verbal and deductive tests for the Plymouth programme. SHL practice tests are only examples of the type of questions you will be given and do not indicate the difficulty level as this changes dynamically in the live test based on your responses. The live test system has some visual differences from the practice tests and includes additional support to allow for zooming and changing text/background colours.

How the shortlisting works

Candidates will be invited to take the online GMA test at a time and place convenient to them. Candidates must complete these tests during a time window of two weeks. Once arranged, it is not possible for online testing to take place outside of this window.

Important note on our policy on technical issues during screening: we provide all candidates with a generous window in which to complete verbal and deductive tests so as to ensure that any technical issues can be identified and resolved without causing undue anxiety and stress. We expect candidates to use the screening window to complete the tests as soon as they are able. While the programme will make every effort to help candidates who experience difficulties with the tests, leaving the completion of the tests until the end of the window puts candidates in a position where they may not be able to complete the screening. If in the opinion of the programme, a significant issue caused by the programme or their testing partner has impacted on a candidate then the programme reserves the right to review the status of their application. However, the programme will not routinely extend any deadline due to technical difficulties.

In the University of Plymouth selection process, eligibility criteria includes 12 months whole time equivalent relevant experience in human services (not including undergraduate placements). Further knowledge of candidates is gained from two interviews at our Selection Event.

Selection Event*

The selection event offers an opportunity to demonstrate competences in communication skills, warmth and empathy, personal maturity and self-awareness, organisation, motivation and resilience, autonomy and contextual awareness, and academic, clinical and research skills.

Two interview panels are completed, one panel is comprised of academic, research and clinical staff, and the other comprises members from some or all of the following; our Plymouth Consultative Group (service receivers and carers) , current trainees and practising clinical psychologists drawn from services across the Devon and Cornwall Peninsula.

As part of the interview questions, candidates will be invited to discuss some material sent out prior to the interview. This will be clarified if you are selected for interview. Information about the programme is available on the interview days and current trainees are present throughout the interview days to consult with candidates. 

Following your panel interviews, you may be asked to take a second general mental ability test which acts to verify your identity as the original test-taker. This will comprise a short form of both verbal and deductive reasoning tests and is undertaken under supervision. These will take approximately 40 minutes in total.

The selection process takes place over two days, with each candidate joining us for the major part of one day. Candidates rank order their preference for their placement base at the selection day. Candidates are informed as soon as the selection process is completed and are allocated their placement base at this time. Feedback to non-successful candidates is offered after the selection process is complete.

*Our selection process may be subject to change for our 2020 round of selection, our procedure will be confirmed in September 2019.

Disclosure and Barring Checks

All offers of a place on the doctoral programme are dependent on satisfactory references, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health checks.

Safer Recruitment 

This programme is committed to safer recruitment and principles are embedded into our shortlisting and selection processes to ensure a safe and positive environment service users and the workforce in health settings.