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Preparing for a Nursing Interview

Just as with all job interviews, an interview for nursing can be a scary or stressful proposition. However, with the right preparation you can greatly calm yourself and enter the interview confident that you will impress your prospective employer with your skills and preparation. There are three main ways you can prepare for your interview which include: making sure your resume and credentials are in tiptop shape and well organized, anticipating potential questions and practicing your interview skills with a friend or in front of a mirror. By following these three steps you will have the confidence and organization to have an excellent showing at your interview.

The first step is to gather together all of your credentials and polish your resume. You will want to have a resume that is concise, yet highlights the details of any specialized training or clinical experience you have gained during your career. You will want to discuss your clinical experience, key accomplishments and responsibilities. It is also imperative that you stress your education, licensing and other official credentials relating to nursing education and training. You will want to ensure that there are no typos or mistakes in grammar or accuracy. Be sure you have solid up to date references who will give you a glowing recommendation and who know they might be called. You will also want to bring all proof of your nursing credentials to your interview such as proof of passing boards, licensing verification, driver’s license, immunization record and social security number.

Create a checklist to ensure you have everything you need for your paperwork. Many employers require a criminal background check and will need information about your travels and places of residence going back five to seven years, so this is good information to know. Placing these all in a folder and ensure that you have copies of all relevant paperwork, especially your resume. Be sure to check your paperwork folder the day before your resume to ensure you have all the documents you need go over your checklist again. Knowing that you have everything ready and organized will help you to bolster your confidence ahead of the interview.

Prepare for questions you might be asked. There are often questions that relate to the following:

  • Staffing shortages?
  • Your ability to work as part of a team?
  • How you interact with management?
  • What methods you use to deal with hostile patients, co-workers and families?
  • How do you prioritize and deal with large workloads during times when you are short-staffed?
  • How would you deal with doing a treatment or procedure you are unfamiliar with?
  • How would you deal with multiple emergency admissions that occur during a staff rotation period?

In addition to these likely questions that deal specifically with nursing, you may be asked more generic interview questions. Many organizations try and glean insight into how a person handles stressful or difficult situations by asking questions that seem negative. Be sure to acknowledge the reality of whatever challenge they are describing and your similar experiences. While answering these questions you will want to be sure to emphasize how you used those opportunities to develop as a professional, gain personal insights and new strengths that came about as part of the process of dealing with and overcoming adversity. Be sure you use detailed examples when questions are asked that relate to your own experiences in nursing. Make sure you do not speak negatively about past employers, co-workers or patients and their families. Use neutral terms such as challenge, adversity and obstacle as opposed to words that imply judgment of a negative sort on your part.

The final element you need to consider in your preparation is practice and self-care. Be sure you have ample time to practice your interview skills. It is helpful to have someone who works in nursing or medicine to be your practice interviewer. Preferably find someone who can give you constructive feedback and who pays attention to detail, if at all possible someone who has worked as part of an interview panel in the past. Be sure you take care of yourself by eating an hour in advance, sleeping the night before and taking some time to do some slow breathing techniques to clear your mind before the interview. Also exercise a few hours before your interview if possible to get rid of excess energy, relax your body and clear your mind. By following all of these steps you can help ensure that you have a successful nursing interview.