The interview is the first step on the road to landing your dream role as a nurse. Although it can be daunting, if you prepare diligently, the experience can be both educational and insightful.
The key to any successful interview is to answer the questions truthfully and professionally. One of the purposes of the meeting is to assess your communication skills. In addition, employers will want to ensure that you possess the characteristics required by the role, including:
If you have been invited to an interview for a nursing role, here are some tips that should prove beneficial.
1. Research your prospective employer
In all likelihood, you will have heard this advice before but it is important to emphasise the point. Try to learn as much as you can about your potential employer. For instance, if you are applying for a job in a hospital setting, you should research answers to the following questions:
- Is it an NHS Trust or a private hospital?
- What are the funding levels?
- What does the hospital specialise in?
- Who are its primary patients?
- How large is it?
- Who are the hospital’s senior managers?
2. Check and double-check your CV and the job description
If you have in-depth knowledge of your CV and the job description, you will be able to address any interview questions with confidence. However, if you are unsure about any of the finer details, you may experience unnecessary nerves when attempting to respond to the interviewers.
3. Eat a substantial meal and get a good night’s sleep
Remember, it’s completely normal to feel nervous, especially if it’s your first interview. This is why it is essential to have sufficient physical and mental energy. Convincing a potential employer that you are the best person for the job will involve significant mental concentration and enthusiasm. For this reason, you should try to eat a good meal before the interview and make sure you are well-rested.
4. Focus on what you can offer your prospective employer
Even if your skills are in high demand, you shouldn’t be complacent. Instead, you should concentrate on what you can bring to your employer, although you still need to be humble when discussing your abilities during the interview.
Try to avoid telling the interviewers that you are poor at some tasks or much better at others. This could indicate that you cannot follow instructions properly or that you are difficult to work with.
It is always a good idea to remember that your prospective employer will be looking for a skilled nurse who is willing and able to provide high-quality care to their patients. In turn, you will want them to recognise that you are the perfect candidate for the job, so prove it.
5. Arrive early or on time
There is absolutely no excuse for being late. If the interview venue is some distance away, you need to make the necessary plans to arrive early. Make sure you consider every eventuality, such as heavy traffic or unfamiliarity with the route.
It’s better to be an hour or two early than a few minutes late.
6. Wear professional attire
Although you may not have to come dressed in a nurse’s uniform, you will still need to dress professionally. If you have any doubts about what to wear, you could always ask about the dress code beforehand.
7. Mind your body language and be courteous
During the interview, it is essential that you maintain good eye contact. In addition, try not to appear hesitant when answering the questions. The interviewers may take this as a sign that you are unprepared. Of course, there is no way of second-guessing which questions will crop up, but you can still use good examples from your work experience.
Remember, if they ask about your knowledge of medicines or your training and experience in relation to medical procedures, be honest. Again, don’t hesitate when speaking and make sure you sound confident. Rehearsing your answers will give you the self-belief that you are ready to face anything.
Being courteous can help you create a good first impression on your interviewers. With this in mind, try to implement the following advice:
- Offer a firm handshake
- Make eye contact
- Wait for the invitation to sit down
- Avoid fidgeting
- Act in a professional manner when speaking or listening
8. Listen to the questions carefully before responding
It is imperative that you listen to the questions carefully and keep your answers relevant. In addition, try to stay positive. Avoid criticising your current or any of your past employers, and most importantly, the interviewers’ organisation.
In the majority of scenarios involving nursing interview questions and answers, having sound knowledge of the job description will be a significant advantage. Therefore, you should study the job requirements in detail as the interviewers will probably make reference to them in some of their questions. You will then be able to plan some possible answers.
The interviewers may begin the conversation by asking about your experience as a nurse. For instance, they may ask about your time with your current or past employer and any expertise you have acquired. You can prepare for this type of question by rehearsing answers to topics that are likely to arise. However, single-word answers such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are unlikely to establish a good rapport.
9. Review your medication knowledge and role-play certain situations
As a nurse, it is vital that you understand the effects of the medicines that you will be administering. In addition, it is advisable to rehearse the care scenarios which will require the use of these medicines. Remember, your answers should reassure the interviewers that:
- You understand the correct procedure and will adhere to it
- Your training, knowledge and skills are up to date
- You can adapt to situations demanded by the job
For instance, typical interview questions can include the following:
- What did you do during an average day in your previous or current role?
- How do you handle stressful situations? Can you provide an example?
- Have you faced challenges at work? How did you resolve them?
10. Compile a list of skills required by the position you are applying for
Naturally, nurses will need to possess a variety of skills to be proficient in their work. Here are just a few:
- Communication and listening skills – this will enable you to offer better care to your patients.
- An ability to follow instructions – this is vitally important, especially if you are working in a busy environment.
- Empathy – you need to be able to sense a patient’s pain.
- Critical thinking – you should be able to assess problems and find suitable solutions.
- Creativity – this skill will enable you to meet the unique needs of each patient.
- Emotional strength – nurses need this skill in spades, particularly when taking care of terminally ill patients.
- Observational skills – you should be able to notice even slight changes in your patients’ behaviour or condition.
- A sense of humour – this will allow you to make emotional connections with your patients.
- Determination – you need resolve in order to stick to your assigned work and complete tasks.
- Technological knowledge – this is an essential skill for nurses.
11. Make sure your nursing skills and experience match the job description
Your nursing skills and experience will mean very little if they don’t match the job description. You will need to demonstrate to the interviewers that you have applied your skills in a variety of circumstances.
Don’t forget, try to match your previous experiences to the job description and explain how they meet the requirements of the role.
If your prospective employer is part of the NHS, you will also need to update your knowledge of current NHS policies.
12. Don’t be shy about discussing money
Before the interview ends, you may be given an opportunity to ask questions of your own. One topic that often comes up involves the salary on offer. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewers about your potential pay grade. When they respond, try not to make a comment or display facial gestures. If the salary is below your expectations, don’t say anything until they offer you the job.
Nursing interviews can be both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Preparation is key. First, you need to conduct some research into the prospective employer and the job description. Make sure that the position you are applying for matches your work skills and experiences.
It is also a good idea to rehearse suitable answers to potential interview questions and try to draw from your experiences when discussing situational topics. Finally, make sure you face your interviewers with confidence and with an in-depth knowledge of your capabilities.