1. Patros, Sheila PhD, RN


Interviewing tips to help you get the job you want!!


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You've researched facilities and have an interview for a perfect position at your ideal facility. How do you make yourself stand out?


Timing is everything. Test out the commute beforehand and plan to arrive 15 or 20 minutes early. This will give you time to find your way to the hiring manager's office, use the restroom if needed, and fill out any necessary paperwork before the interview. But don't arrive too early-the hiring manager's assistant doesn't want to have to entertain you for 30 minutes while you wait for your appointment. If you arrive too early, sit in the facility's lobby or your car or walk around the block. This will give you time to collect yourself and calm your nerves.


Keep anxiety in check. Employers are aware that people feel anxious in a job interview and make allowances for a certain amount of nervousness. But don't allow your anxiety to take control and cause you to talk too much; make negative comments about your current job, manager, or nursing program; be overly sociable, even if you know the interviewer; and supply too much information when answering a question.1


Dress for success. Conservative business attire is appropriate for most job interviews, regardless of the profession. Remember that you have a short time to make a good impression. Men should wear a suit and conservative tie. Liz Ryan of BusinessWeek Online related her experience interviewing a man wearing a Tasmanian Devil tie.1 Her attention became focused on the inappropriate tie and why the interviewee would wear it to a job interview. Don't let your clothes be distracting. You want the hiring manager to concentrate on you and the skills you bring to the job.


A conservative suit is also a good option for women. But avoid wearing a blouse that's low cut or too tight. Wear minimal jewelry; earrings should be small and other jewelry simple. Hair should be clean and neat; style long hair in such a way that the interviewer can see how you might wear it on the job.


Be prepared for difficult questions. If the interviewer asks what you think you can bring to the job, this is the time to highlight your strengths. But come prepared with an idea of your weaknesses, too. If you don't offer any weaknesses, the interviewer may interpret this as lack of insight. Examples of new graduates' weaknesses are


* the need to improve nursing skills in a specific area.


* to learn more about charting.



Always follow a discussion of your weaknesses with how you plan to strengthen them. Be able to articulate your training or learning needs. You may be asked why you're interested in a particular area of nursing. Briefly explain your interest in the area and stress that working there is a future goal; explain that you're interested in seeking experience in other areas of nursing as well. If you're asked to give an example of a problem in a previous job or why you left another facility, answer honestly, but put your comments in the most insightful and positive light. Never make negative comments about a previous employment, regardless of the circumstances. If you were ever fired, state briefly and honestly what happened and what you learned from the experience.


Finally, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. Always have at least two or three questions ready to show that you've prepared for the interview and are interested in the facility. Don't include questions about salary in this interview. The time to discuss salary is when you're offered the job.



To find research in this area from the interviewee's point of view, I conducted a literature search on Academic Search Premier using the search terms "employment," "job," "interviewing," "structured interviewing," "situational interviewing," and "behavioral interviewing." The literature search turned up two articles. Krajewski and colleagues studied whether interviewers should ask job applicants how they would handle a work situation in the future or how they did handle a work situation in the past. The researchers found that how a situation was handled in the past significantly predicted job performance.2 Huffcutt and colleagues studied the same issue.3 After performing a metaanalysis of 54 studies (total sample size, 5,536), the authors found that asking how prospective applicants had handled past situations had greater validity regardless of job complexity. Research aside, the reality is you may be asked questions about either type of situation.



Follow up your interview with a card or e-mail in a day or two thanking the interviewer for the interview. If you haven't heard anything in a week or so, follow up by e-mail or phone to inquire if a hiring decision has been made. You may express your continued interest in the position at that time.




1. Ryan L. Make-or-break interview mistakes. BusinessWeek 2006 Feb 6. [Context Link]


2. Krajewski HT, et al. Comparing the validity of structured interviews for managerial-level employees: should we look to the past or focus on the future? Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 2006;79(3):411-32. [Context Link]


3. Huffcutt AI, et al. The impact of job complexity and study design on situational and behavior description interview validity. International Journal of Selection and Assessment 2004;12(3):262-73. [Context Link]