The All-Important Interview—How to Knock It Out of the Park
By: American Nurses Association
Once you get your resume in great shape, practice your interviewing skills. Check out these valuable interview tips for when you’re face to face with recruiters and hiring managers.
You may get both situational and behavioral questions as part of your interview. Situational questions are future focused: you’re asked to describe how you would respond to a standard scenario. Behavioral questions begin with a prompt and then you’re asked to describe how you did respond in the past.
Today’s nursing job interviews are very often behavioral-question based. Questions are probing and specific, so they require careful preparation. The idea is that your past actions in a particular situation show how you’ll respond in a similar future situation. These kinds of interviews let you highlight your skills and competencies.
Types of questions might include:
- “Tell me about a time you were successful at doing [specific behavior].”
- “Tell me about a time in which you weren’t successful at doing [specific behavior].”
- “How did you handle [specific situation]?”
Questions focus on qualities needed to carry out the roles and responsibilities of the position. They cover general topics such as:
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Taking initiative
- Interpersonal skills
- Time management
- Response to challenge, stress, or pressure
Interviewers may also ask you about topics such as ethics, customer service, clinical skills, conflict resolution, flexibility, future orientation, ability to manage frustration, and a specific work setting or client population. Questions may be about caring for patients with a critical illness, dementia, psychiatric and behavioral health illnesses, or end-of-life concerns.
Prepare for the interview by anticipating possible topics. Think about situations you could bring up to answer an interviewer. Give context, set the scene when you tell the story, and make sure to talk about your specific role, with details. Rehearse your story – lose the uhs and ums.
Then, go to the organization’s website and look at their culture, priorities, and patient populations. The “About” section will include information about leadership, history, and value statements, plus info about the nursing division and department.
Learn the roles and responsibilities of the position, including necessary skills and what makes a successful candidate.
You want to be confident and genuine for the interviewer – relaxed, engaged, and enthusiastic about the position. Remember to thank the interviewer and send a written thank-you note or email message the next day.
- How to prepare for a job interview >
- Use STAR to shape answers to questions (Situation, Task, Action, Result) >
- Nurse.org’s Guide to Job Interviews >
Practice your interview skills at our next Virtual Career Fair. Mark your calendars and you could win prizes for attending.