12 Nursing Interview Tips that Might Surprise You
By Megan Ruesink on 10/05/2015
You’ve devoted countless hours to studying. You’ve sacrificed fun time with friends and family. You’ve endured sleepless nights and conquered exhausting exams. But all of the ups and downs have been worth it because you’re finally ready to become a nurse!
After putting in all of that hard work to earn your degree, you’re not the type of person to head into your first nursing interviews unprepared. You want to be ready for what’s coming, equipped with advice on how to thrive, not just survive, during the interview phase of this journey to become a nurse.
But when it comes to nursing interview tips, it’s hard to weed through all of the clutter. That’s why we enlisted real nursing professionals to share their best advice for mastering your nursing interview. Keep reading to gain valuable insight from those who have been in your shoes.
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12 helpful nursing interview tips
This list of 12 nursing interview tips should help you gain the confidence you need to conquer your first nursing interview. Read up on what to emphasize, what you should pay attention to, questions you should ask and what you should always remember.
That you’re low maintenance
If the opportunity arises, try to highlight ways that you are self-sufficient and easy-going (so long as it’s true!)
“Managers often spend 80 percent of their time dealing with 20 percent of their employees, so it's important to emphasize that you can be low-maintenance and play nice,” says Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN and author.
Your diverse experiences
“Diverse experience in healthcare often translates to being familiar with different types of equipment and protocols and perhaps the ability to improve how things work at a future job,” Angelis says.
He advises you to be cautious about how you present these experiences, though. You don’t want the employer thinking you can’t sit still or stay loyal to a position.
Your unique skills
Remember, many of the candidates applying for a position have the same or similar training and education that you do. Take this opportunity to highlight any special skills you may have developed from other jobs or life experiences.
About the fine print
Angelis recommends asking about certain company policies up front so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Gathering information about mandatory overtime, availability of vacation and schedule flexibility and how overtime payment works is ideal before accepting a position.
“Learning about the relationship between different departments can also be illuminating,” Angelis adds.
About the work culture
The purpose of a nursing interview is not only for the employer to determine if you are the right fit for the position, but also for you to gauge if the position is the right fit for you. Learning about the environment in which you’ll be working will allow you to picture yourself in the position.
If possible, and so long as it’s appropriate, try to ask questions of staff members you see even before the interview begins, Angelis suggests.
Who their ideal candidate is
This question is absolutely imperative. Not only can you determine if you are a good fit, but you can then cater your answers to help position yourself as their perfect candidate.
Pay attention to…
What you see & hear
Not only should you ask questions about the work culture, but you should also be aware of what you see and hear in the environment.
“Be open with your eyes and ears to the dynamics of how relationships are played out in that culture, how things are conducted or how the workplace is played out,” says Shannon Spies Ingersoll, independent anesthesia contractor and founder of Behave Wellness.
Your body language
Sometimes, your body language speaks louder than your words. Be sure to make eye contact (but still blink like a normal human being,) sit up tall and keep your posture open and inviting.
The types of questions they’re asking
Obviously you’ll need to pay attention to the questions in order to give a good answer. But above and beyond that, try and notice if there are themes or subject that are consistently brought up. Interview questions can tell you a lot about what the employer values and emphasizes.
And don’t forget to…
Dress nice, but don’t stress. “A suit for men or pantsuit for women,” Angelis says. In his opinion, the color you wear and what it might represent doesn’t particularly matter as it might in other professions.
Bring an extra resume & a notebook
Even if you’ve both emailed and submitted an electronic resume online, always have a printed one (or two) in tow. And don’t forget your notebook. Jotting down notes will not only signify to the interviewer that you are interested and attentive, but it will also give you something to review when the nerves have died down after the interview.
“For the most of us, we are at our jobs and around our co-workers more than being in our own homes and with loved ones,” Ingersoll points out. Knowing this, it’s important to be honest with the interview – and with yourself! The last thing you want is to find yourself stuck in a position you don’t enjoy or an environment that just doesn’t fit.
Now go ace your interviews!
These expert nursing interview tips should help you feel more prepared as you enter this next step in your journey to earning your scrubs. The hard work is behind you; all that’s left is to impress those interviewers!
The hard work is behind you; all that's left is to impress those interviewers! Our article, "8 Nursing Volunteer Opportunities to Help Bulk Up Your Resume" can provide some solid suggestions for boosting your resume's appeal.