The nursing interview is the most critical part of the hiring process for a nurse job since it generally determines whether or not you are offered the position. Interview preparation involves both “technical” preparation (rehearsing interview questions, researching facilities, etc.) as well as mental preparation (envisioning success, learning to handle rejection, etc.). Most job seekers focus solely on the technical side of interviewing but are at a disadvantage by doing so since mental preparedness is equally important in terms of a successful outcome.
The In-Person Interview for a Nurse Job
There are four main components to keep in mind during an interview for a nurse job:
- Build Rapport: Both you and the interviewer will be looking for ways to establish areas of commonality and build rapport. For this reason, most interviews start off with simple conversation that also serves to settle nerves on each end.
- Clarify: A nurse job involves many different components. During the interview you will want to establish what the primary responsibilities of the position will be, along with performance goals over the first three and six months of employment.
- Prioritize: Understanding the priorities of the position will help you to understand what is most important and allow you to focus your questions and comments accordingly.
- Close: At the end of the interview, indicate your interest in and commitment to the position – and ask for the job!
Step 1: Build Rapport
There are three primary strategies you can use to build rapport with the interviewer.
First Impressions Count
The first fifteen to thirty seconds of an interview are critically important in establishing a positive first impression. With this in mind, there are a few strategies you can use to ensure that you get off to a great start. Most importantly is to “dress for success” and arrive no earlier than fifteen minutes before your scheduled interview appointment. When the interviewer enters the room stand up, smile, and offer to shake hands. Do not sit down again until the interviewer has done so first.
When entering the interviewer’s office take note of pictures on the wall or trophies. Perhaps the interviewer is a tennis player, or fan of a certain sports team, as are you. Comment on this similarity to break the ice. Alternatively, if you have performed some research on the facility, comment on an interesting fact your read.
Use a Mirroring Technique
Mirror the interviewer’s style. If the interviewer uses hand gestures, do the same. If the interviewer speaks in a slow and careful manner, you should also speak in this way. If the interviewer is somewhat distant and businesslike, don’t try to win him or her over by being overly friendly or humorous.
Step 2: Clarify Needs
- Your goal here is to uncover the most pressing needs of the employer for this specific nurse job by asking clarifying questions.
- What do you want to see accomplished in this department over the next three months? Six months? One year?
- How will success in this role be measured?
- What are the core competencies of the “ideal” candidate for this position?
- What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?
- In what ways are nurses held accountable for quality patient care?
- How much input do nurses have with regard to systems development and procedural changes?
- What percentage of time should be devoted to each of the key responsibilities outlined?
- Who does this position report to?
- Have the duties of this position changed over the past few years?
- Is there mandatory overtime?
- What is the administration’s position on providing nurses with prescriptive authority?
- What are the primary challenges which stand in the way of meeting stated goals for this position?
- What opportunities does the facility offer for professional development?
Step 3: Prioritize
In the prioritization phase your primary objectives are three-fold:
To establish how you will perform the tasks of the position, you can ask the following questions:
- What procedures are working well and which do you seek to change?
- What did the prior person who held this position do well? What are the areas that needed improvement?
- What changes would you like to see with regard to how tasks are carried out?
Demonstrate how you have met performance goals in prior employment. You can do this with a PAR statement: Describe the Problem, the Action you took to solve the problem, and the Results of that action. Provide the employer with a general overview of how you will perform the job.
Step 4 A Professional Close
There are three strategies with regard to closing the interview:
Highlight how your background and skills are a match for this position; e.g. “What do you see as the greatest contribution I could bring to this role?”
Uncover Hidden Concerns
Ask questions to uncover any concerns the employer may have; e.g. “Is there any area we haven’t discussed that is influencing your decision?”
Express Interest in the Position
As a final step in the process, express your interest in the position and ask for the job; e.g. “I’m very interested in this position as it presents a wonderful opportunity for me to fully utilize the skill set and knowledge of the field that I have developed in my career to date. What is the next step in the hiring process? Can we arrange that now?”