You’ve landed an interview for your dream job – congratulations! As you embark on this journey, keep the following recommendations in mind.
Become familiar with the organization and the position you are seeking. Use the facility’s website and other online resources, and talk to any employees you know. Think about how your skills and strengths will meet the needs of the employer and unit.
Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Write down your skills and experiences, as well as examples of your commitment to team collaboration and quality nursing.
Practice. If possible, ask someone to perform a mock interview with you. Be ready to answer questions, such as:
- Can you tell me a little about yourself?
- How did you learn about us? Why do you want to work for us?
- Can you tell me about your current/last job? Why are you leaving? What did you like most about that job? What would you change about that job?
- Did you ever have a disagreement with a manager?
- Can you tell me about your education and training?
- Can you give an example of a major problem you faced and how you solved it?
- What's your greatest strength? What’s your greatest weakness?
- Why did you choose to be a nurse?
- How do you handle your on-the-job stress?
- What do patients expect from nurses?
- What's the difference between mediocre and excellent when it comes to nursing care?
- How have you solved challenging nursing problems? Or, describe a challenging situation and how you managed it.
- How have you demonstrated your ability to perform as a team member and team player?
- What are your long-term goals in nursing?
As you prepare your answers for these questions, remember to focus on the positive, even when faced with a negative question. Be honest and keep your answers work- or project-related, rather than personal. For example, if asked about disagreements with leadership or a coworker, keep it positive by saying, "Sure, we disagreed at times, but we worked well together,” or make sure your example is a work-related one, such as a disagreement over a project due date, rather than a personal one.
Jot down your questions. Chances are, your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions and you probably will! Here are some things you may want to find out:
- What are the nurse/patient ratios for each shift?
- Can you please describe the orientation program?
- What's the career ladder program and policy?
- Are continuing-education (CE) programs available through the facility?
- What's the reimbursement policy for external CE programs, certification, or nursing classes?
- Will I be tested?
Today's the day!
Think carefully about the first impression you’ll be making. Get enough rest so you’ll be energized and fresh. Dress professionally – conservative is best – and avoid distracting jewelry, make-up or perfume/cologne. Don't smoke, smell of smoke, or chew gum.
Plan to arrive about 15 minutes before your interview. Bring multiple copies of your resume in case more than one person is participating in the interview. Your resume should be printed on crisp white paper for a professional presentation. Also, bring names and contact information for references and employment and education institutions. Turn off or silence your cell phone.
Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake while looking him or her in the eye, and continue to make eye contact with the interviewer during the interview. Throughout the interview, sit up straight, show interest, smile and speak clearly. Be yourself!
Listen carefully to questions asked and respond in an open, friendly manner. If a question is unclear, ask for clarification. Your answers should be complete, but concise.
As the interview process comes to a close, expect to learn the date when a decision is likely to be made and how you'll be notified. You can ask for this information if the interviewer doesn't mention it. In general, salary shouldn’t be discussed until a former offer has been made. Thank the interviewer and be sure to have his or her name and contact information.
Within 24 hours, send a thank-you letter or e-mail. Be sure to express your continued interest in the position. Use this opportunity to reinforce how and why you're qualified for the position.
Hathaway, L. (2005). Savvy answers to tough interview questions. Nursing2005, 35 (1).
Rosati, L. (2014). Strike gold when interviewing for your first nursing job. Nursing2014, 44 (5).
Smith, L. (2010). PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: Are you ready for your job interview? Nursing2010, 40 (4).