How to Successfully Interview for a Nursing Position

Whether you are a new grad interviewing for your first position or a seasoned nurse with years of experience, interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-racking experience. When there is a lot of hope riding on the outcome of an interview, we are often emotionally invested in the interview process.  It is natural to experience some anticipatory anxiety. And when it comes to anxiety, the best offense is a best defense. By putting forth time and effort to prepare for your interview, you will feel more confident during the interview process.

The Basics

There are certain elements that are common to all job interviews, such as dressing professionally, using professional language, and showing up on time to your interview. Although these may seem obvious, they do help set the stage for a successful interview.

The All-Important Questions

You can expect to be asked questions common to all interviews, including questions about your education and past experience, as well as questions pertaining to what you perceive to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses. In addition, nursing interviews often include questions that are specific to the nursing job you are applying for, such as:

  • Nursing philosophy questions:  These questions focus on your personal approach to nursing, your beliefs and values in regards to nursing, how you define professionalism, and what skills you possess that make you a skilled/professional nurse.
  • Case study questions:  For example, if you are applying for a position in an Emergency Department, you may be asked how you would manage a patient with chest pain.
  • Prioritization questions:  You may be given concrete examples of several patients experiencing various symptoms/problems and asked which patient you would tend to first, as well as the rationale for your decision.
  • Communication questions:  These questions help the interviewer to understand your style of communication. You could be asked to describe a time when you communicated poorly and how you rectified the situation, or how you view the importance of communication with other members of the healthcare team.
  • Leadership questions:  You may be asked to describe your leadership skills (if you have been in a leadership/management role) or asked to describe the qualities you possess that might make you a strong leader.
  • Conflict resolution questions:  The ability to manage conflict positively and effectively is a skill prized by all organizations. You may be asked to describe a time when you experienced conflict with a physician, manager or co-worker, and what you did to resolve that situation.
  • Learning curve questions:  These questions focus on what you have identified as potential areas of difficulty, or areas that you may need to work on to be successful in the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a position on a maternity ward and have not worked in this area before, you may need a more extensive orientation and may need to do specialized preparation such as taking a neonatal resuscitation course.

Your Turn

Remember, the interview is your opportunity to ask the questions that are important to you. Try to avoid asking questions that focus on salary and perks; instead, focus on asking questions that will clarify whether the position is a good fit for you. Doing research on the organization (especially if it is one that is new to you) and the specific job you are applying for can be a way to target your questions and impress the interviewer. Lastly, ask whether you will be notified regarding whether or not you are the successful candidate.

Have you got tips for a successfully handling a nursing job interview? Then make sure to tell us in the Comments section!

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