Healthcare professionals increasingly recognise how human factors (HF) can contribute to medical error. An understanding of HF is also important during other high stakes activities such as summative assessments or examinations. National organisations hosting such events need to be aware of potential fatigue, boredom and stress that can occur in interviewers during these often repetitive activities.
A previously validated questionnaire based around the well known HF analysis and classification system (HFACS) was used to evaluate four factors (care and support, asking questions about the role as an interviewer, working within the rules and boundaries, and stress and pressure) at the 2018 UK general and vascular surgery trainee national selection process.
A total of 92 questionnaires were completed and analysed (48% response rate). After recoding for negative phrased questions, no significant differences were found between years of experience in the selection process and mean scores obtained for all four factor items. Interviewers had a positive experience during national selection with mean factor scores ranging from 3.84 to 3.98 (out of a maximum satisfaction score of 5).
Organisations need to plan carefully and recognise the human element to ensure that their interviewers are cared for during any high stakes assessment such as national selection. Our work suggests that a positive assessor experience will further help contribute to a reliable and fair recruitment process.