1. Pullen, Richard L. Jr. EdD, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CNE, CNE-cl, ANEF

Article Content

Q: How do I prepare for a successful Interview?

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

A: The purpose of an interview is for a nursing professional to convey to the interviewing team that they have the qualifications and experience necessary for a position at a healthcare organization.1 This article provides strategies to build self-confidence and lessen the anxiety of the interview process.


It's important to establish that you're a well-qualified, competent, motivated, caring, compassionate, and relationship-building nursing professional.1 The interview team will review your resume before offering an invitation to interview. Once you've received an invitation to interview with the team, you should prepare by considering the following points.1-6


Tips for success


1. Do your research. Learn about the organization's vision, mission, goals, values, and reputation. This knowledge may be useful to mention during the interview to demonstrate your genuine interest.


2. Familiarize yourself with the position requirements posted on the organization's website or job site posting.


3. Demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and attitude related to the position requirements, including critical thinking, clinical reasoning, problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, professionalism, and work ethic.


4. Formulate responses to several practice prompts in preparation for the interview, such as: (1) Why are you a good match for the position? (2) Describe a project you are most proud of. (3) Describe a situation when you managed conflict. and (4) How would your coworkers describe you? Provide specific examples in your responses that complement the position description. It's helpful to practice with a friend or peer.


5. Prepare a few questions to ask interviewers at the end of the interview, such as: (1) Would I have an opportunity to engage in interprofessional teamwork? or (2) What professional development opportunities are there?


6. Determine whether a single person or an interview team will conduct the interview. Provide several copies of your resume when arriving to the interview if it's in-person.


7. Interviews are stressful. Enhance your confidence by preparing with plenty of rest the night before the interview and eat a well-balanced meal the day of.


8. Dress in professional attire for an interview even if the environment at the organization is casual. If your interview is virtual, the same applies; however, you should make sure that you have good lighting and that your face is clearly visible. Avoid distracting backgrounds.


9. Arrive at least 10 minutes early to the interview.


10. Greet the interview team professionally, smile, and maintain eye contact. Have good posture, and speak in a conversational manner. Be yourself.


11. Keep your hands relaxed on the interview table and use them to emphasize a specific point.


12. Respond to questions thoughtfully. Display confidence and interest when responding to questions. If you need a moment to gather your thoughts, it's okay to pause and take a subtle breath before you continue.


13. Thank the interview team at the end of the interview with a handshake and smile. It's appropriate to send a follow-up thank you email immediately after your interview, highlighting your main points.


Avoid these common pitfalls


1. Don't ask about salary during the first interview unless you're asked. This is traditionally discussed in a second interview or with the offer of employment.


2. Try not to negatively reference current or previous employers as a bad experience. Rather, maintain a positive tone that showcases your qualifications, problem-solving, and talents.


3. Avoid nervous gestures such as wringing your hands, fidgeting, chewing gum, glancing in different directions, avoiding eye contact, and shaking.


4. Speak clearly and try not to ramble. Avoid the overuse of phrases like, "you know," or starting every sentence with, "so."


5. Avoid poor hygiene and grooming. This can include the overuse of cologne, perfumes, or scented deodorants. Avoid smoking and nail-biting before the interview. Avoid the overuse of makeup, excessive jewelry, or flashy clothes.


6. Don't use your cell phone. It should be turned off for the duration of the interview.


It's your moment

Preparing for an interview requires you to develop an intentional plan to showcase your knowledge, skills, and attitudes to an interview team who'll find your skill set a good match for a position in their organization. Applicants who prepare for an interview will demonstrate to the interview team they're motivated to be a part of their team. Preparation is key to promoting self-confidence.




1. Interviews and job offers. In: Makely S, ed. Professionalism in Health Care: A Primer for Career Success. 5th ed. Pearson; 2017:215-224. [Context Link]


2. Interviewing. Harvard University Extension School. An Extension School Resource.


3. Interview tips for nurses. Purdue University Global.


4. Horton PH. Preparing for a job interview: nurses as negotiators. Am Nurse J. 2020.


5. Preparing for a nursing interview: nursing interview tips. Maryville University.


6. Linda Raynier. How to Dress for an Interview [Video]. YouTube. Published May 8, 2019. [Context Link]