Interview tips nurses absolutely must follow

  • interviews
  • January 23, 2017
Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a change or a student fresh out of nursing school, everyone who is looking for a new career opportunity can benefit from brushing up their interviewing skills. Interviewing for medical jobs is similar to interviewing for a position in any industry, with a few subtle differences.

Here are several tips to help you prepare — and ace — your nursing interview.

Don’t just phone it in

Your first conversation with a potential employer will likely be a phone interview. Organizations tend to favor these types of initial interviews to determine which candidates move to the next round. Plus, it’s the best way for employers to speak with traveling nurses who aren’t local. 

Since this may be your only opportunity to “wow” your potential employer, don’t forget these important phone interview tips:

  • Make sure you have a fully charged phone battery and strong reception.
  • Take the call in a private, quiet location.
  • Conversations can sometimes sound garbled over the phone, so don’t talk too fast and your answer questions in a clear, loud voice.
  • Have a copy of your resume and write down any questions ahead of time so you can reference during the interview.
  • Take notes, and be sure to get the full name and spelling of the person who is interviewing you.

Phone interviews tend to be quick, so you’ll only have a few minutes to make a good impression. Make every second count!

Scrubs or business attire?

Chances are that you won’t need to come in for a face-to-face interview. But if you do, there’s one very important detail about interviewing with which many medical professionals seem to struggle. You can prepare all you want, but it won’t matter if you arrive for your interview wearing the wrong thing. Although your hospital scrubs may seem like a logical choice to help your potential employer envision you as a nurse, they aren’t appropriate in this setting. 

Pick out a business outfit for your interview. For women, this could be a shift dress or a nice pair of black pants with a blouse. For men, you’ll want to wear suit with a jacket and tie. Make sure your outfit is wrinkle-free and neat. You want to convey a sense of cleanliness, since the work setting holds infection-prevention as a top priority.


Expect the unexpected

Your interview may be scheduled for 30 minutes, but due to a patient care emergency, you might only have five minutes to speak with your interviewer. Or perhaps you are asked a few tough questions for which you didn’t plan. Be flexible and roll with the punches!

Remember that your potential employer will be interviewing multiple candidates for a very specialized role, so they are looking for someone who fits a very specific need. Therefore, you will likely be asked very detailed, open-ended questions about your clinical expertise and experience. Even if you aren’t sure of your answer, remain confident and communicate clearly (a must-have skill for traveling nurses).

You’re interviewing them too

While the hospital is interviewing you to see if you’d be a good fit, you’re also interviewing them to see if it’s a place where you’d like to work for the next few months. Before the interview begins, write down several questions that you want answered. This will show that you are prepared and very interested in learning about this particular position.

Here are a few potential questions you might want to ask:

  • What types of patients will I be caring for?
  • What is the average nurse-to-patient ratio?
  • How is scheduling handled?
  • How is time off handled?

Hopefully, most of these topics will be covered during the interview. But if not, you’ll have your list ready to go.

Bonus tip!

Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you letter or email to reiterate your interest in the position. This will leave a lasting impression that can help you land the job.

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