Tips for ACF Interview

An important part of generic preparation is to start by carefully reading the NIHR ACF website details (all the documents provided), as well as the RCPCH information about academic training in plenty of detail.


The ACF person specification and interview marking schemes are particularly helpful.


Here are some useful links:

RCPCH website:

Training in Research for the Benefit of Children:

Turning the Tide: harnessing the power of child health research:  (link to executive summary)


For ACF applications, the panel do not expect candidates to have extensive research experience (although a handful always do - but generally not the majority) - but they expect you to demonstrate commitment to academia. This can be through previous project/audits, or posters/presentations etc.

Try to obtain Good Clinical Practice (GCP) certification if possible (note you can do this online and it may be available for free through your hospital or university - ask the R&D team if unsure). These types of evidence are helpful, and in your application remember to also include any relevant events even from your undergraduate activities if they show a pre-existing interest in clinical research.


It is generally recommended to get in touch with potential supervisors by email – and if possible, it is usually also best to try to identify a potential supervisor and project prior to your application.


Try to be as specific as possible as you can about the project during application/interview. It is recognised that these details may change later, but the panel will benefit from seeing that you can plan a realistic project to a suitable level of detail, that would fit the ACF timeframe.


If you want to work in clinical research in the long-term, the ACF programme is a good way to get early exposure to research and the relevant techniques, before taking on a PhD. Talk to current ACFs/ACLs if you want to find out more about the integrated academic training programme to be sure whether it is right for you.


If you want to identify potential supervisors, as well as via the RCPCH/LSP/university websites, you can also consider signing up to researchgate