Our selection process

Selection procedure

  • Our values based recruitment process takes full account of the six core values and the NHS Constitution.
  • 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.
  • If due to disability you need support to access our selections procedure or feel that any aspect of our process would put you at a disadvantage, we will work with you to mitigate these issues and ensure that you are given a fair opportunity to show your potential. Please contact us and we can discuss your options.
  • 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. Between 40 and 50 candidates are usually short-listed for interview.


Why do we use a short-listing test?

We collaborate with the Lancaster and Cardiff University‚Äôs Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programmes with regard to our short-listing 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 short-listing 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 numerical reasoning elements.

Giving yourself time to practise the tests beforehand can help ensure that all applicants, regardless of background, can demonstrate their ability. Please visit the SHL Direct website to complete the practice tests - you only need to do the verbal and numerical 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 short-listing 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 2 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 numerical 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 Plymouth selection process, these test results are considered together with information taken from the candidate's Clearing House application form to help inform the potential for training on a Doctorate training programme. Applicants should have a year 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*

Two interview panels are completed which together are designed to explore candidates' academic, clinical and reflective strengths. Panel members will include the course team, representatives of our Service Users and Carers' Consultative Group 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 three pieces of work: a clinical or professional paper plus a research and a clinical scenario all provided to candidates one day prior to 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 numerical 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.

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

*Our selection process may be subject to change for our 2019 round of selection, our procedure will be confirmed in September 2018.