Nursing Interview Tips

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You’re skilled, confident, and empathetic, and you want to use your talents in a nursing career. Perhaps you’ve even completed an advanced nursing degree and gained solid experience in a healthcare facility. What’s your next step?

The job market for nurses is booming, but you’ll still need to stand out from a large pool of candidates. How can you shine during your job interview?

Preparing for a Nursing Interview

You’ll probably be nervous when you begin an interview, but you can reduce your anxiety by making sure you’re prepared. Give yourself the best possible chance of getting your dream job by following these nursing interview tips:

  • Research the facility and the job. Read the organization’s website thoroughly. Mission statements and “About Us” pages can be especially helpful. Be sure you’re familiar with the job description.
  • Review your resume. This will prepare you to talk about your work and education history, as well as give you the chance to make sure your resume is up to date.
  • Study the STAR method. The STAR method helps you answer questions about your decisions and behavior in past work situations. STAR stands for “situation” (the setting where you made this decision) “task” (your responsibilities at the time), “action” (the measures you took), and “result” (the outcome of your action).
  • Develop your own list of questions. Asking questions will show your curiosity and engagement, as well as give you valuable information about whether the workplace will suit you. Indeed.com recommends that you inquire about the unit’s mentorship opportunities, staffing ratios, culture, and major challenges.
  • Plan your route to the interview site (if in person). Give yourself time to arrive at least 10 minutes early, and, if possible, practice traveling there ahead of time.

Two people participate in a nursing interview.

Nursing Interviews: Highlighting Your Skills

Before you interview, review your skills. Nursing demands hard and soft skills, so be ready to talk about your specialty, training, and experience, as well as your ability to interact with patients. Include a section on your resume summarizing your knowledge of procedures — infection containment, sanitation, catheterization — plus intangible qualities like compassion and communication.

During the interview, be ready to use the STAR method to expand on the skills you’ve listed. You may even want to outline some specific situations on paper so you don’t have to fumble for examples. (Just don’t rely too heavily on notes during the interview, as eye contact is important for projecting confidence.)

How to Dress for a Nursing Interview

Your attire should show you care about appearing professional. It’s a good idea to stay simple and avoid flashiness.
More nursing interview apparel tips include:

  • Choose a button-down shirt with a suit or pantsuit, or a jacket and knee-length skirt.
  • Wear close-toed shoes. If you decide on heels, make sure they’re low.
  • Keep your fingernails short and clean.
  • Avoid large or dangling earrings.
  • Wear only mild cologne or perfume, if any.

Preparing for Various Interview Environments

You may have either an in-person or virtual interview. Online interviews have become more prevalent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly during the early stages of the hiring process as employers narrow down their candidate shortlist. In-person and virtual interviews each have their advantages, but both require you to show your professionalism and competence.

In-Person

If you’re traveling to an on-site interview, be observant. You’ll be getting a glimpse of the work environment and your prospective coworkers. Remember, even as the healthcare facility assesses you as a potential employee, you’re evaluating your potential work environment. If you can observe how doctors, nurses, staff, and patients interact, you’ll gain a valuable picture of the facility’s culture.

Virtual

Virtual interviews afford less of an opportunity for observing interactions and body language — and that applies to both interviewer and interviewee. However, you can still make a good impression by dressing and acting professionally.
Make sure your interview space is quiet, private, and well-lit, with a non-distracting background. If you can’t position yourself against a blank wall, use a virtual background — nothing too bold or fanciful.

Common Nursing Interview Questions

It’s a great idea to prepare answers for some of your potential employer’s questions. Here are some of these possible nursing interview questions, as well as tips for how to respond:

  • Why did you decide to become a nurse? Be honest and authentic, but keep in mind that facilities want to hire compassionate and positive individuals, so emphasize those aspects of your personality.
  • What can you tell us about your specialty? This is your chance to highlight your specific nursing studies and job experience. Practice relating an anecdote about a time you drew on your knowledge to solve a problem or assess a patient.
  • Tell us about a time that you dealt with a difficult patient or caregiver. Instead of disparaging anyone — never a good idea — show that you can be calm and empathetic with an antagonistic patient. Was there an occasion when you were able to find the root of their angry or mistrustful attitude?
  • How do you cope with stress? Nursing is a demanding career. You should show that you can work well under pressure. Talk about the importance of effective communication with your colleagues, discuss de-escalation strategies that diffuse conflict, or list strategies you use to stay serene during hectic or emotional times.

Highlighting Your Strengths as a Nurse

Nurses need these seven qualities: assessment abilities, kindness, compassion, observation, communication, critical thinking, and communication. Once again, the best way to convince your interviewer that you have these qualities is to use the STAR method, speaking about a time you demonstrated them.

For example, a nurse needs to be able to convey complex information to patients, families, and colleagues. Have you helped a patient understand a complicated treatment plan or prevented a misunderstanding through effective communication? Was there a time that your assessment capabilities helped you identify a confused patient’s problem?

Find Your Nursing Specialty

These nursing interview tips can help you get the fast-paced, fulfilling job you want. Are you looking to specialize in an advanced nursing field? Discover Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) program, as well as Maryville’s bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate options in nursing.

Recommended Reading

Regional vs. National Accreditation for Nursing Programs

Nurse Practitioner vs. LPN

What Can Nurse Practitioners Specialize In?

Sources

The Balance Careers, “Important Nursing Skills for Your Resume”

Indeed.com, “6 Nursing Strengths to Highlight During Your Job Search”

Indeed.com, “20 Important Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview”

Interviewpenguin.com, “Nursing Interview: What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

The Muse, “The STAR Method: The Secret to Acing Your Next Job Interview”

Nurse.com, “How to Prepare for Your Virtual Interview”