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Tips For A Successful Nursing Interview

You got this! Practice and preparation make all the difference

I’ve worked in healthcare since I was 17 years old. I worked as a transporter, surgical assistant, patient care tech, and nurse. I’ve interviewed for each position, which has taught me a lot about the interview process. I’d like to share with you my tips for a successful interview.

Be Yourself

This is the most important part of the interview. Let your personality shine! Laugh, tell a joke, share a personal story, and smile. This should help you feel more relaxed and calm during the interview. Remember, the people interviewing you were in your position at one point. They want someone who is authentic and that will be compatible with their patients and team members. So, just be you!

Do Your Research

Research the organization and unit you are applying for. You should have a basic understanding of the organization’s history, mission, and vision. You should also be familiar with the unit or department. Find out if they are known for anything or have received any types of awards or certifications.

Make a Portfolio

Don’t just have a resume. Have a portfolio! This will help you stand out from the other candidates and will show that you are prepared and organized. Be sure to leave them with a portfolio after the interview. This will allow the decision makers to share your portfolio with the team and will leave them with something to remember you by.

What to include in your portfolio:

Resume

Letter(s) of Recommendation

Certifications (CPR, ALCS, PALS, CCRN, etc.)

Research or Papers

Volunteer / Community Service

Participation in Professional Associations

Remember Keywords

Have a list of keywords that you want to bring up during your interview. Here is a list of my recommendations:

Teamwork

Collaboration

Effective

Efficient

Patient Centered

Culturally Competent

Responsible

Practice Interview Questions

-Each answer should have a beginning, middle, and end

-Always end each question with something positive

-Silence is OK. Feel free to pause and think about your answer. Don’t rush.

-Be prepared for specific questions relating to the unit you are applying for. (ie. Oncology, pediatrics, OB, surgery, ER, etc.)

Examples of interview questions:

Tell me about yourself.

What made you choose nursing and why did you choose this department?

Describe a time when you disagreed with a co-worker. How was the issue resolved?

Explain a time when you went above and beyond your basic responsibilities?

Collaboration is key in healthcare. Explain a time when you collaborated with others. What was the situation and outcome?

Mistakes happen. Explain a time when you made an error and how you handled it?

Here, we inspire innovation. Describe a time when you had to be innovative.

What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?

Ask Questions

This is your chance to ask questions. And please do!! This will show that you are engaged and interested in learning more about the position.

Examples:

What is the patient to nurse ratio?

What is the orientation process?

Any opportunities to participate in a unit practice council?

When should I expect to hear from you?

Always Follow-Up

Send an email to the HR coordinator and interviewer within a few hours after your interview. Thank them for taking time out of their day to learn about your past experience and career goals. This will also give you chance to tell them anything important you may have left out during your interview.

Another reason to follow-up is if you don’t hear back within a reasonable timeframe about the status of your interview. Send the HR coordinator or person who interviewed you a friendly email asking about the status. Don’t feel bad about this, especially if there was a time expectation that was set.

Practice!!!

This is KEY! Always practice before each and every interview. Rehearse with a family member or friend. Practice your introduction, answering questions, asking questions, and using your keywords. However, there is a balance. Do not over practice because you don’t want to sound stiff or over rehearsed. You are not trying to memorize a script. Instead, you should practice to get comfortable.

I hope these tips help during your next interview! You got this!!!!

Please share these tips with your nursing friends.

Written by Nurse Blake

Blake is a registered nurse and received his BSN from the University of Central Florida. He has worked in a number of healthcare roles throughout his career and has managed several large programs including Shattered Dreams and the Banned4Life Project. Today, Blake is an advocate for nurses and patients and encourages a healthy work environment. He is a writer and public speaker and has been a paid contributor to the New York Times.

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