An overview of the HSST recruitment process

An important update for 2024 and details of who is responsible for what during the recruitment process.


The National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) manages recruitment to the Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) in England. Appointment to the HSST is through a national recruitment and selection process.

For 2024, the final selection will be made through an online interview to assess:

  • suitability and meeting the entry requirements
  • values, behaviours, leadership, and management skills – to reflect the needs of the programme and the NHS Constitution
  • research, innovation, and any scientific experience

If you are an employer (or human resources department) involved in recruitment and need further information or advice that you cannot find in this guidance, or our frequently asked questions, please email


Important changes to 2024 recruitment

The following changes only apply to:

  • Cardiac Science
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Respiratory and Sleep Science

We are committed to maximising the funded places available to meet the needs of service and must balance this with ensuring a high-quality learning experience and supervision support is in place for all learners.

For these 4 specialties demand exceeds the training opportunities. Therefore for 2024, there will be an adjusted application and selection process which will include the following changes:

  • The application process will be competitive and the highest scoring candidates will be appointed to the available spaces subject to meeting the entry requirements.
  • Each candidate put forward (one per confirmed post) will be required to attend an interview to ascertain their suitability and preparedness for the programme, in line with current NHS England and National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) recruitment procedures.  Recruitment is to proceed on the basis that executive support for the post(s) by the recruiting department will be in place at the time of interview.  If you believe your organisation will not meet this requirement by the time of interviewing, please contact your regional commissioner.
  • Applicants who pass the interview process but have not scored as highly will be placed on a reserve list. We will ask for your support as in previous years with the interview process and would appreciate your commitment to supporting consistent panel membership, in order to ensure a fair and transparent interview process.

Example recruitment situation

If there is demand (requests) for 10 posts and there are 8 posts that can be supported, all nominated in-service applicants will be interviewed. If all are successful at the interview stage, funding will be offered to the 8 applicants who score highest in the interview and the remaining 2 will be placed on a reserve list.

Following the selection process, if a successful applicant withdraws, the NSHCS will contact the next highest scoring applicant from the reserve list, to support them starting the HSST in 2024. If no places become available in 2024, the reserve applicants will be considered for admission in 2025, on the proviso that funding is secured, and the host organisation has capacity.


Roles and responsibilities in the recruitment process

We communicate all recruitment information to employers through the NHS England local commissioners.

Employers must ensure that:

  • any internal recruitment processes for posts are instigated as soon as the post(s) has been confirmed by the NHS England Local Team
  • one or more members of the department are nominated to participate where required in the shortlisting and interview processes
  • their HR department are aware of the posts, the national process and are engaged from the beginning of recruitment
  • fulfil the requirements of the HSST accreditation process
  • they can support HSST trainees through the programme including ensuring protected time whilst on the programme