12 NURSE INTERVIEW TIPS & TRICKS!
After spending 8 years in the nursing field and much time applying for jobs (New Grad positions, Travel Nurse positions, Per Diem & Staff Nurse) I have certainly had my fill of the Nurse interview process! Filling out the online applications can be overwhelming, but landing that interview is so exhilarating! Here are some Nurse Interview Tips and Tricks I have learned along the way!
12 NURSE INTERVIEW TIPS & TRICKS!
Interviews. They are nerve racking NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE! Someone is dangling a carrot in your face and has the potential keys to your future. BUT I believe Interviewing well is a true skill. It takes time to master. Here are a few insights for you I have learned a long the way.
1. DRESS THE PART!
Yes, management does judge the book by the cover. Professional & well groomed. I personally love a sharp power suit!
A skirt or pant suit with jacket and button down collared shirt or blouse
Skirts or dresses should be knee length
Avoid flashy colors or patterns
Heels should be low or wear flats, no open toes
Pantyhose for skirts or dresses
No cleavage exposure
No visible tattoos or piercings
Natural hair color
Earrings should be studs or no bigger than dime sized
Necklace should be simple
Handbag should be neutral
No perfume or mild use of perfume
Fingernails should be short and without chips in polish
A suit is preferred with jacket and button down collared shirt
Pants and jacket should match, if they are not a suit
Tie is optional but when in doubt, wear it
Avoid bright colors or patterns, keep it simple
Black or brown socks, avoid wearing white socks with dark dress shoes
Black or brown dress shoes
Avoid exposing tattoos or piercings
Natural hair color and neat haircut
Avoid wearing earrings
Mild cologne or none at all
Neat and natural fingernails
Prepare a portfolio and practice with it using stories & examples of your experiences.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Know the company & position you are interviewing for! Nothing worse than a candidate who doesn't know anything about the organization they are applying for.
4. ONE MINUTE PITCH
Practice the question “Tell me about yourself,” planning out your focus & emphasizing relevant skills for the interview. (See details below!)
5. OVER PREPARE
Portfolio and resume!! Assume your interviewers forgot everything. Bring extra (fully updated) copies of resumes and references. Bring notebook & pen (just Incase)
6. BE EARLY
Allow time for parking, traffic, & map out where to go! You never know what could happen leading up to your interview. Planning ahead is key.
7. SMILE & MAINTAIN GOOD EYE CONTACT
Something I think we forget to talk about. This is so important. I know you are going to feel so nervous but really try to show your passion to be there and part of that is smiling. Be confident in yourself and hold good eye contact as well.
8. ASK QUESTIONS
Prepare a few insightful questions for the interviewer. (I have some good details below.)
9. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!
I can't stress this one enough. Practice interview questions until you are blue in the face! I personally like practicing in the car, shower, envision the pressure of sitting in that room. Talk out loud, practice your stories until you CAN NOT forget them.
10. SHOW YOUR PASSION
Employers want to know you WANT to be there! Show them. Let them hear it.
11. PHONE OFF
Turn down your phone OFF. Nothing worse than an unexpected call from mom or text from your friend asking "How it went," when you are right in the middle of the interview! Don't make that rookie mistake.
They want to get to know you. Take a few deep breaths & remember the AWESOME reasons they should hire YOU! Remember how hard you worked to get there! You deserve it. Envision the practice you want to hold as a nurse. And let that vision come to life in your interview. You are going to kill it!
While there are many questions a facility may ask a new graduate here are some potential questions and approaches to answering them. Review and think about how to answer these questions prior to the interview. Come up with a handful of situations which could be useful to answer variations of these questions honestly. These are just examples of types of questions.
12 NURSE INTERVIEW EXAMPLE QUESTIONS
I get a lot of questions via instagram: "How do I prepare for a NICU interview?" Well, frankly, most people who have never worked in a NICU prior don't know much about it. Managers know that. Rather they want to know WHY you want to be there and how you have prepared to work there. Most interviews are general and will include something like this! Tailor your interview to the unit. (Regardless of it is NICU or not).
They ask situational questions! How you handled something, patient or co-worker related. How you respond to stress. They are looking for someone who is a good fit & addition to the team. (Being an expert IV start isn't the only thing that makes a good nurse.
It is the nurse who will: jump to and help their neighbor, open to learning & growing (easy to teach) can stay calm in high pressure situations & have confidence to speak up for their patient in rounds. Also a nurse who has a list of a million things to do but understands how to delegate & comfort a family or child. Is a leader and wants to take on leadership roles. (Doesn't mean management, it can be precepting or joining a committee.)
We can't teach these powerful skills in school or on the job. But you CAN teach and review skills (hands on) once that new team member is hired.
To nursing students who have decreased clinical hours: Write down situations during your clinical or current job that show these skills. Exemplify your leadership during COVID. What have you learned? How can you contribute to the unit and most importantly your patients. 1️. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.
(This is your time to shine, 2 minute PITCH!)
Prove that you have the traits of a good employee. (Personality, professional experiences, education,, and career goals.) 2️. WHY THIS UNIT?
(NICU, ICU, OR, L&D, TRANSPORT, MED-SURG, CLINIC)
Lead with an educated understanding of the patient population & your passion to joining their team!
3️. TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT OUR INSTITUTION.
Research about the institution. You can visit their website, check out patient feedback & reviews, and even ask friends. 4️. TELL ME ABOUT A TIME WHEN YOU FAILED, OR MADE A MISTAKE, EXPLAIN THE SITUATION & HOW YOU HANDLED IT. (HINT:WEAKNESS QUESTION)
Be realistic and honest with your answer. Interviewers can smell a fraud answer. What did you learn from your mistake?
5️. TELL ME ABOUT A TIME YOU EXCELLED
(HINT: STRENGTH QUESTION)
Bedside experience, school project, other work experience, etc. 6️. A PATIENT IS DECLINING, HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE THE SITUATION? (HINT: PRIORITIZATION QUESTION)
Assess, monitor, notify, escalate care.
7️. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?
(HINT: they want to hear some loyalty here) married, kids, home, OH and working HERE!!!!!!
8️. NAME A TIME YOU HAD CONFLICT WITH A MANAGER/CHARGE NURSE/ ETC HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?
(HINT: what did you learn from the situation?)
9. TELL ME ABOUT A TIME YOU WENT ABOVE & BEYOND FOR A FAMILY.
Give good examples of how you have affected someone (preceptorship or personal to go above & beyond the expected job or experience). A situation or scenario & practice practice practice so you will NOT forget.
10. TELL ME ABOUT A TIME YOU HAD A DISAGREEMENT WITH A CO-WORKER OR DIFFICULT FAMILY.
This is often something we face in our everyday life as a Nurse. How did you handle it? What did you learn, how can you improve in the future.
11. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM A DIFFICULT DAY?
(HINT: How do you handle difficult situations?) Can you compartmentalize and manage stress effectively? 12. A CO-WORKER IS SLACKING ON THEIR DUTIES, HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE THIS?
(HINT: how do you interact with co-workers? are you tactful and encouraging, can you lead by example?) 13. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU?
(HINT: Be humble yet VERY confident you are meant for them! Explain your specific characteristics will be valuable to them.)
14. DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US? HINT: YES! YOU ALWAYS HAVE A QUESTION FOR THEM.
Ask about the details of the position. You can ask about the usual nurse-patient ratios in the facility, length of orientation phase, and educational opportunities for employees.)
LIST OF QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1. What is the size of the unit, organizational structure of the unit, volume?
2. Can you explain your overall organizational structure?
3. Can you discuss your take on the hospital's culture? and philosophy?
4. What does the transition period look like? Expectations of days / nights?
5. What does the orientation look like? Preceptorship?
6. What are some recommendations of getting involved and growing within the unit?
7. What will be the greatest challenge in the job?
8. What are the greatest strengths of this department?
9. Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
10. What are the traits and skills of people most successful within this unit?
11. What do you like about working here?
If you don't land the job, ask for feedback. Where can you improve? Also, don't get discouraged. If you want it (that bad) keep going and make your journey. My journey WAS NOT EASY. I spill the #REALTEA on the first episode of my podcast!! Lots of juicy deets, tips & tricks for you there. (Episode #1 The Cellfie Show)
Pediatric RN Interview: Highly advise getting experience with the Pediatric population.
When to start thinking about applying to jobs for nursing school?
1-2 semesters before you graduate is a good time. Don't put it off until graduation because you lose the direct networking while in clinicals.
Things you can do early:
1. Spruce up your Resume (typing it out will help you fill in the blanks & be ready to start applying)
2. Make a list of possible references of people who would write a letter of rec for you (get their emails) usually need 2-3
3. Participate in leadership activities at school to stand out in applications
4. Start an excel spreadsheet of hospitals/units you would consider applying to. Find out when their new grad program applications are due.
Interviewing can be very nerve racking! With a confident yet humble approach you can shine in your interview! And at the very least, DRESS TO KILL! & do as ZZ Top “Cause every girl crazy bout’ a sharp dressed man” (or woman)
Tori Meskin BSN RNC-NIC. Nurse. Blogger. Podcaster. Tori has been a clinician since 2012, works in acute care/inpatient NICU & Pediatric settings in southern California. She is a blogger, podcaster, NICU & Pediatric Critical Care RN, Sponsored Capella University MSN student, a Barco Uniforms Ambassador & Brave beginnings Ambassador. She has obtained her National NICU Nurse Certification (RNC-NIC) & has previously worked as a travel nurse, pursuing bedside experiences in several NICU settings. Follow her as she shares her NICU journey married life & juggles work, school, content creation, & brings you top notch Tips & Tricks along the way. Find her at www.tipsfromtori.com or firstname.lastname@example.org