12 NURSE INTERVIEW TIPS & TRICKS!
Updated: Apr 27
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 suite!
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 of "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). 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?)
9️. 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? 10. 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?) 12. 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.)
12. 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.) .
13. FEEDBACK. If you don't land the job, ask for feedback! Where can you improve?
CHECK OUT OUR E-BOOK COMPLETE INTERVIEW TIPS & TRICKS COMPLETE WITH ANSWERS & QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR INTERVIEWER ! 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 is a registered nurse in Los Angeles & Orange County metropolitan area. Working in Level IV-II NICUs.
In addition to being a wife & nurse, Tori is currently studying to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). She has obtained her National Certification (NICU) and worked as a local traveler pursuing bedside experiences in several NICU settings.
Tori enjoys time with her new hubby, creating content, learning about new patient populations, riding horses, weekend beach or ski time, time with family & friends & sharing all of her life Tips along the way!
Follow her NICU & Lifestyle blog journey as she juggles married life, nurse life, & enjoying life’s adventures!