Prepping for a nursing job interview might seem straightforward but the field of nursing carries with it additional considerations beyond what is expected of other job candidates. After all, people are putting the care of their loved ones in your hands. Hospital and clinic administrators have to interview and hire accordingly, especially given the large number of job openings in most markets.
Interview Preparation: Focus On What You Can Bring To the Nursing Job
Give serious thought to what you might be asked and how best to answer. A simple “tell me about yourself” type of question is an opportunity to explain your track record as a good employee.
Keep your answer in the two minute range. Remember that employers aren’t interested in minor details like your favorite color or what you did last weekend. They want to know what you can do for your patients and for the organization.
There are a number of other scenarios to consider that are unique to the nursing profession.
- Nurses are often faced with real life-and-death decisions so give thought to questions about stressful situations you’ve found yourself in and how you handled them successfully.
- Think about the times when you’ve had to make a quick decision as a nurse. How did you assess the situation at hand? What was the outcome?
- How would you handle several emergency admissions at shift change? As a nurse, you know there isn’t much time to think when you’re hit with a crisis.
- Nurses get criticism from both supervisors and patients as well as families of patients. How do you handle criticism? What if the other person is less than tactful? Do you focus on the person criticizing you or the bigger issue at hand?
Practice answering these and other tough questions. Show you’re a concerned problem solver. Nursing shortages can make an already stressful workplace even more so. How you handle the stress can make a difference for everyone involved. If you have a great way of handling stress like following good self-care or other tactics, this is actually a job experience discussion – so make sure you touch on it if prompted. Nursing job interviews questions that surface are only slightly different from the ‘tell me how you handled…’ type of questions. Craft your answers accordingly.
Be prepared to ask some questions of your own. Interviewers often close out interviews asking if you have any questions. Make the most of that opportunity by showing them you’ve done your homework and the depth of your interest in the position. However, you generally wouldn’t discuss salary or bonuses on a first interview, unless the employer brings it up. You can tiptoe around this with a question like ‘How does this organization compare to others with regards to retaining nurses?’ Turnover rate is top of mind for any recruiter and this should be an easy question for them to answer, while telling you how competitive their compensation is. Finally, ask them to clarify when they might make a hiring decision so you can plan, too.
Universal Interview Tips
Mentally preparing for the kinds of nursing specific questions you may be asked is the most important step you can take to prepare for the interview but don’t overlook the other basics of a good job interview either. Wear close-toed shoes, be presentable, and have a copy of your resume (free of typos).
Practice your smile and handshake in the mirror until you’re comfortable. Show up 5-to-10 minutes early. If you’re going to a large hospital complex, get there thirty minutes early to make sure you find the interview location.
If it’s a phone interview, your voice needs to exude warmth and confidence. And always, always, thank the employer for inviting you for an interview. Courtesy counts, especially in the nursing field where you will be dealing with the public on a daily basis.
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