When you are interviewing for a nursing position, you should be prepared to answer questions confidently and in a positive manner. You want to demonstrate that you are a team player who is willing to work with others to achieve the best outcomes for your patients. Even if the interviewer asks you about a negative experience, you always want to end with the positive outcome.
Going to an interview well-prepared and dressed for success will increase your confidence and ultimately your chances of being selected for the position. Become familiar with the questions which are often asked and think about your responses in advance. Here are some sample nursing interview question topics and suggestions on how to tackle them to better prepare you for your nursing interview.
Questions About Your Goals
Be prepared to discuss your current and future career goals. Relax, if you are just entering the field of nursing, they are not expecting you to know exactly what your future holds. For example, a new nurse might respond that she plans to focus on becoming a strong well-rounded bedside nurse and is considering returning to school in the future. You want to be honest, but many nurses need time to set 5- and 10-year goals. Examples of future goals may include becoming certified in your specialty, getting involved in unit projects, training to be a preceptor or charge nurse, or returning to school.
If you are currently applying for a position just to enhance your knowledge and skills and plan to move on within a year, this is something that interviewers will not appreciate. It is very time-consuming and costly to train a new nurse, and if they will not benefit from their efforts, they will likely hesitate to hire you. Also, you need to be willing to make this new job your priority, so demanding time off or very specific schedules can decrease your chances of landing a position.
While many hospitals are willing to be flexible if you are in school or for religious reasons, you need to be sure that you are being a team player and willing to be flexible to meet the unit’s needs. Think about what you can offer in advance. For example, if you need every Saturday off, offer to work every Sunday and then follow through. When everyone pulls their weight, the staff is much happier and willing to help one another out.
Questions About Your Prior Experiences
Interviewers will usually ask questions about your prior job or past experiences to gain a better understanding of how you deal with challenging situations. Remember to try and end each discussion on a positive note or discuss what you learned from the experience. Oftentimes, you will be asked to describe a difficult situation between you and a patient, family member, or fellow colleague. Briefly describe the issue and then focus on how a solution was reached, the lessons you learned, and the impact it will have on future situations.
If you are leaving or have recently left another position, be prepared to discuss the reasons why you left or are planning to leave. Try and stay positive and don’t discuss your personal feelings about a prior employer. You can state that you are looking for a new challenge or more opportunities to advance within the field of nursing. It helps to be familiar with what the hospital and the unit specializes in and how you can learn from that.
If you are applying to a unit that provides a great deal of palliative or end of life care, they may ask how you deal with losing a patient or care for yourself after a loss. If you don’t have any experience with losses, explain that you will seek guidance from your fellow nurses and are looking forward to developing this skill set.
Questions About Your Personal Attributes
This is when you will be asked why you became a nurse, to describe positive and negative attributes, and how your co-workers would describe you. Examples of positive attributes include being a team player, a quick learner, and an advocate for your patients. If you have any other skills, such as speaking a foreign language, don’t hesitate to share this.
Your goal is to set yourself apart from the competition. When describing an area where you could improve, identify an area and then focus on how you plan to make a positive change. For example, you can attend classes on the area that you need to improve. Try to be very specific and give examples of your prior accomplishments so that the interviewer can truly understand who you are and what you will bring to the institution.
Final Things to Remember
Remember to relax, be yourself, and remain positive throughout the interview. Prior to leaving, be sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time and ask when they expect to make a decision. This will give you an idea of their hiring process and whether you will be required to return for a panel interview.
Be sure to have a list of references who can truly speak to your attributes. Your references should be aware that they may be contacted so they are prepared to supply the required information.
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