New Year, New Job? 5 Essential Interview Tips for Nurses

5 Essential Interview Tips for Nurses | CareerStaff

Are you in the market for a new nursing job in the new year? If so, CareerStaff has you covered! From thousands of open nursing jobs spanning the entire United States to tons of career tips and resources, we’re here to help you with everything you need to land the job of your dreams. And because you can’t land that perfect job without nailing the interview, here’s a rundown of essential interview tips for nurses.

5 Essential Interview Tips for Nurses

There’s a difference between interviewing for a nursing job, and pretty much every other kind of job. As every nurse knows, the profession is unique and often demanding — and the interview process reflects that.  As such, it’s difficult to know exactly what to expect. You may be speaking to a single hiring manager, or a few different individuals, or even a panel of potential co-workers.

Whatever the situation, there are still best practices you can take to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. With that in mind, here are a few key interview tips for nurses to boost your chances of successful.

Tip #1: Do your homework.

The first step for any nursing job interview is to learn as much as you can about the job itself, and who you’ll be speaking with. Luckily, in the age of Google and social media, this isn’t hard to do. Start with the job description, and make sure you’re acquainted with everything written there. Then, search Google to learn more about the facility and the department you’ll be working in.

Chances are good that can find your potential employer on LinkedIn, and maybe even the individual who’s interviewing you, too. There you’ll get a much better idea of the job and the organization — their culture, for instance, can be glimpsed by the types of posts they create and share.

“Do your research on the unit or the floor you are going to be interviewing for,” advises travel nurse expert Yaya Genfi via Nurse.org. “Find out the patient population and what procedures are common on the floor. It’ll be good to already know what to expect and to be able to brush up on your knowledge before you speak to the manager or interviewing nurses.”

Tip #2: Review your skills and qualifications.

It’s important to be able to talk confidently and knowledgeably about yourself. This may seem obvious, but many people struggle with describing their skills and experience in the best possible light. You can be sure that you’ll be asked about this, so it’s a good idea to take a few minutes before your interview to review your own history to make sure you can speak about yourself with meaning and confidence.

Are there new skills in your recent history that you may not have considered yet? For instance, if you’ve been working extensively with telehealth or any other technology in recent years, make sure the people you’re interviewing with understand that you have that experience. It will show that you can use important clinical tools, and that you’re adaptable and able to change.

Likewise, if you’ve been heavily involved in patient education, family outreach or other particular tasks in your previous roles, make sure to highlight that info. But don’t overdo it! Being able to present your skills and expertise in an appealing way is important, but don’t talk too much about yourself unless specifically asked to do so.

And remember, “tell me about yourself” isn’t an invitation for your life story! Be ready to talk about yourself in a way that speaks to your skills and how you could contribute to a team without sounding like you’re bragging. This may take practice; consider writing up a career summary and then reading it out loud to get comfortable with this step.

Tip #3: Be Ready for some tough questions.

A lot of questions that throw nurses off their game are easy to prepare for. So, take a moment to think of answers to some difficult but common questions like:

  • What are your weaknesses, and what are your strengths?
  • Would your co-workers describe you as a team player? Why?
  • How do you work with difficult co-workers?
  • Can you give an example of conflict or miscommunication you’ve had in the workplace, and how you dealt with it?
  • Have you ever worked with a problematic patient? If so, how did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Describe your skills and comfort with interacting with patients’ family members.
  • Describe a high-pressure work situation in your past, and how you dealt with it.
  • Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Being able to answer these types of questions without missing a beat will reassure your potential employer that you can be calm and collected in most situations. It’s also an effective way to show that you have initiative and can solve problems on the fly, while working to avoid interruptions to patient care.

Tip #4: Bring your own questions.

Job interviews almost always wrap up by asking if you have any questions for them. It’s important to not let this opportunity pass you by, but to show that you’re interested in the job with some specific questions you can ask your interviewer. This shows that you’re interested not just in a paycheck, but the actual job of patient care, and improving the facility you’ll be working in.

Some sample questions include:

  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • What type of training should I expect for this role?
  • Do you offer ongoing educational opportunities to help me hone my skills in this role?
  • What type of input and oversight should I expect from my direct supervisor?
  • What’s a typical day like here?
  • What would make someone successful in this role?
  • What do you (the interviewer) like about working here?
  • Are there any additional details about this job or facility that I should know about?
  • If I’m hired, what would be my top priority on day one of the job?
  • What’s the next step in this process? How should I follow up our conversation today?

Tip #5: Be prepared to talk about your future.

Finally, you should be ready to convince your interviewer that you’re the best person for the job not just because of your skills and qualifications, but because working for their organization fits your larger career goals. In other words, you can help your chances by finding a reason to be excited about the job, and to be able to communicate that enthusiasm to the people interviewing you.

After all, chances are good that you’ll be asked why you want this particular job, and why it interests you. That’s a good opportunity to briefly recap your own skills and professional goals. If you’re working toward a specialization or certification, let them know. It shows that you’re interested more than just landing a higher-paying job, and that you’re motivated to do the best possible job when you’re hired.

Take some time to figure out how your skills and goals align with the employer’s reputation. Based on your research in tip #1, make a note on whether they’ve won awards, or are known for a particular characteristic like being a Magnet facility or specializing in patient-centered care. Talk about how their specialties match up with yours, and how a future together will benefit you both.

More important interview tips for nurses

On top of the tips above, here are a few more important factors to remember before your next nursing interview:

  • If it’s an on-site interview, find out exactly where you need to go, and arrive 10 minutes early.
  • If it’s a phone interview, find a quiet place to speak, away from the sounds of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, barking dogs, or any other distractions.
  • Bring a few copies of your resume and/or CV to share.
  • Stay focused with your answers, and try not to ramble. If you usually struggle with this, prepare your answers in advance, and read them out loud for practice.
  • Dress professionally — no scrubs! Wear business casual clothing, remember that it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed, and avoid strong perfumes or other scents.
  • After the interview, send a follow-up note or card to thank the interviewers for their time, and for considering you for the role.

> Related: What to Wear for a Nursing Interview

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