Help with the National Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment 2022

The 2022 recruitment process isn't always easy to understand, but we've got the answers to your most common questions below.

If your question isn't answered below, our Professional Support team can help -call 0207 572 2737 or email [email protected].

Application process

Does the process consider my previous experience, such as summer placement experience?

The recruitment process does not consider your previous experience (work or university), or performance within your pharmacy undergraduate programme. Everyone has an equal opportunity of gaining a training programme. Your offer will be based on your performance at the numeracy and SJT assessments.

Although the recruitment process does not directly consider your previous experience (either work or university) when determining your overall ranking, all the questions you will be asked are based on in-practice scenarios. Therefore, the process tests your ability to apply all that you have learnt to the situations described. 

Answers tend to be more informed and richer when candidates are able to utilise their learning from their work experience (both in pharmacy-specific and other settings). This is a fairer way for you to demonstrate how your experiences have informed your practice and behaviour, rather than simply asking how many placements you have had. In this way, everyone has an equal opportunity of gaining a training programme. 

This year your offer will be based on your performance at the numeracy and SJT assessments.


Can I preference in both Scotland and England/Wales?

Yes, you are free to apply for a training programme in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Please do take note the differences in application and preferencing processes. 

Find out more from:

Is there is a smart way to preference to be more likely to get your top choices?

There is no special technique for preferencing, as your offer will be based on your performance at the assessments and how others have preferenced. 

We advise you to select programmes where you are prepared to undertake training. 

Please note that hospital and multi-sector places are competitive, so we recommend that you preference as widely as possible. 

Think carefully about your lists, and do not include programmes as ‘back-ups’ unless you are happy to work there. 

If you include a programme in your ‘preference’ and/or ‘no preference’ list(s), there is a chance you will be offered it.

What is the average number of preferences?

The average number varies every year and is based purely on the selection choices of candidates for that cohort. It does not represent an ‘ideal’ number, as the most ideal number of places to preference is the number that is right for you! 

The best number for you is the number of training sites that you would be willing to travel to and work in. You can be as selective as you wish, but please remember to only select those training sites that you would be willing to train in.

There is no limit on the number of training programmes you can preference in England and Wales, however in Scotland the limit is 16

The limit is because there are a smaller number of training programmes available in Scotland.

What is meant by speciality?

This is a filter within the Oriel platform and describes specialist hospitals. See page 28 of Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales). See page 12 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (Scotland)

I’ve heard that there is not a ‘no preference’ list for applications in Scotland, is that correct?

Yes. You should preference training programmes in your ‘preference’ list. This is the only list that will be used when matching applicants.

Can I place the same option in more than one list, i.e. once in the ‘preference’ list and in the ‘no preference’ list?

No, you cannot place the same programme in more than one list.

Can I change my preferences at any time, before I accept with upgrades?

In England and Wales, you can change your preferences as many times as you wish right up to the submission deadline on 31st October 2022.  

In Scotland you cannot change your preferences after the deadline of submission of your preference list on 26th October 2022.

If an option is listed in your ‘not wanted’ list, could you still be offered it?

No, if you have placed a programme in the ‘not wanted’ list you have made clear that you do not want to undertake the programme, so will not be offered it.

If I don't get a programme in the preference section will I be guaranteed a ‘no preference’ programme? Is there a case where I would not receive a programme?

Yes, if the programmes listed in your ‘preference’ list have been offered to other candidates and are therefore unavailable, you will be offered a programme in your ‘no preference’ list. 

In England and Wales, if all the programmes you have selected (i.e. in both the preference and no preference lists) are allocated to other candidates, you have the option of re-preferencing until such time as the national recruitment scheme (NRS) closes the process.

There is still the possibility that you may not be offered a place if all of your choices have been allocated to other candidates. 

In Scotland, applicants will be matched to programmes in rank order from the SJT and numeracy assessment until all places are filled. It is a competitive process and there is no guarantee of obtaining a place.

If I have a special circumstance and need to work in certain geographic location, can I also choose community pharmacy only, as this my preferred option?

The special circumstances process does not allow you to specify in which sector of practice you would like to work, only the geographical location you must work in. 

In order to maximise the chances of you obtaining a place in your chosen geographical location, you are encouraged to preference all those training places in that location. 

You can still rank your preferences so that those places you would like to work in appear at the top of your ranking list. 

In Scotland, you would need to preference training providers based in these geographical locations and discuss particular requests for locations with them directly.

How do you submit your preferences within the platform? Are they automatically submitted when the window closes?

Yes, there is no submit button for preferences. You can continue to save and amend them until the preference window closes.

How much time do I have to accept my offer before an upgrade is offered?

This will be specified in your offer email.

If you accidentally decline an offer, can you get in touch and explain it was an accident and will you then be offered a place or kept in the ORIEL system?

It would be difficult to accidentally decline an offer as it would involve having to check a couple of boxes. It's not just one click that could be hit by accident. 

However, in Scotland if an offer was declined accidentally then we would advise the applicant to contact Pharmacy Recruitment.

For England and Wales contact the NRS team via the HEE Enquiries and Support Portal

What about modular programmes in Scotland?

Further information about modular programmes can be found on the NES website. You an also find a list of training provider information statements in Scotland here

What is a training provider preference list? Do some training providers need to get onto their preference list to be considered for matching?

There is no training provider preference list for vacancies in England and Wales.

In Scotland, training providers have the option to submit a preference list of candidates they are willing to be matched with. Some community pharmacy providers have chosen to do this. 

If a provider has submitted a preference list, matching takes into account both your preference list and the training provider’s preference list. It’s up to you to find out what the employers recruitment criteria are and whether they are submitting a preference list. 

It is recommended that you contact training providers to improve your chances of being included on their preference list. 

Further details of each individual training providers process can be found in the Training providers information site (TPIS) and also See page 32 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (Scotland).

There is no training provider preference list for vacancies in England and Wales.


Which placements can I upgrade to?

If you choose to upgrade you will be offered one of your higher ranked preferences if it becomes available, e.g. if someone else has declined it or they have been offered an alternative.

How do I know which places I am able to upgrade to?

You will not know which programme will be available when you opt in for upgrading.

However, as the upgraded offer is one of your higher ranked preferences, you in effect, would be more satisfied with the offer.

Is upgrade similar kind way of re-preferencing?

This is not re-preferencing. It is a process where you indicate whether you are happy to accept one of your higher ranked preferences if it becomes available.

Can I re-preference or reorder my choices during the upgrade period?

Yes, , however, you would only re-preference if you hadn’t received an offer, in order to maximise your chances in the next iteration of offers. 

If you are in receipt of an offer you have three choices: accept, accept with upgrades, or decline (in which case you leave the recruitment process).

Are upgrades based on my ‘no preference’ and/or ‘not wanted’ list?

Upgrades are based on your preference list as this is the list that you rank.

If an offer is based on how high my ranking is, how can I upgrade to an offer higher up my preferences?

We will illustrate this with an example below:

If you preference 10 programmes, and your offer is number 5 on your list you could potentially be offered preferences 1-4 on your list if any of them become available. 

This process is done by Oriel automatically if you choose to accept with upgrades.

Is opting in for upgrades the best option - unless I’ve received my highest preference as an offer?

This option allows you to receive the highest-ranked offer that you are able to achieve, without the need for you to do anything. 

All the places that you list on your preference list, should be acceptable to you, as you have chosen them to be on that list.

If I opt in for upgrading, could I be offered a lower preferenced programme?

No, you will always receive an offer for a higher ranked programme if it becomes available.

Once I have accepted my original offer or accepted with upgrades, can I opt out of upgrades?

You can choose to opt in or out of upgrades right up until the upgrade deadline (end of November). 

If you have upgraded and one of your higher preferenced programmes become available, you cannot decline the upgraded offer and reinstate your original offer. 

See page 40 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales) and page 42 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (Scotland) .

If I am accepting an upgraded offer, would employers know that I have chosen to do that?

Your prospective employer will not know if you have accepted an upgraded offer.

Enhanced preferencing

When does enhanced preferencing come into effect? Is it once the first round of offers have been released?

Yes, enhanced preferencing comes into effect, in England and Wales, once offers have been made. See page 42 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales)

Enhanced preferencing is not an option for the Scotland vacancy.

Assessment Scoring

What is the minimum threshold for passing the numeracy and SJT assessments?

The minimum pass thresholds for assessment are based on the performance of the cohort. 

An evidence-based standard setting process is used to determine pass threshold. See page 36 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales).

In 2021 the pass mark for the numeracy component was 30% and the 2022 pass mark is expected to be similar.

Will the numeracy test be used to determine my ranking?

Your numeracy test score may be used as a final piece of information in the event of a tie-break, i.e. where two candidates receive the same SJT score and other pieces of information used to determine ranking have been unsuccessful in separating candidate scores. 

See page 37 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales).

What would you use to determine a rank between two people who have the exact same SJT and Numeracy score?

A process to separate tied scores is in place and looks at a number of pieces of information to enable ranking of candidates to occur. 

This process will be communicated to you directly by your national recruitment teams in the coming weeks, before the start of the assessments.

Will you look at what universities we go to if scores are tied?

University details are not considered in the recruitment process.

When do I receive my SJT results?

You will receive your results no later than 30 December 2022, via your Oriel dashboard within Oriel.


Will I receive more than one offer? If yes, can I reject the one I do not want?

No, you will only receive one offer per vacancy. If you decline the offer you will remove yourself from the scheme. 

You may however receive an offer in England and Wales, and one in Scotland. 

You will need to decide which offer you want to accept, making sure to only accept one.

Is there a specific date for the first round of offers being given?

The first iteration of offered is expected to be early-November. Details of the dates can be found on page 4 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (England and Wales) and page 8 of the Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook (Scotland) .