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Wondering how to prepare for a nursing interview? Nurses are more in-demand today than they have ever been, but that is no reason to arrive at your job interview unprepared. All the training in the world will not help if you are unprofessional during the interview process. For this reason, it is important to understand what prospective employers are looking for in a nursing applicant and how to “wow” them with your first impression. A fresh, well-groomed appearance, friendly demeanor, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge of the profession are key. We have put together this guide that includes common interview questions for applicants hoping to land a nursing position.

How to Prepare for a Nursing Interview

As a recent graduate of nursing school, prepare for your interview by having a copy of your resume on-hand. Your resume should be free of typos, and it should list your accomplishments in concise detail. This includes schooling, prior work history, and any volunteer work, internships, or externships you have held pertaining to the nursing profession. Be prepared to discuss your resume in some detail and to explain any obvious gaps in employment or time away from nursing school.

Dress professionally for your nursing interview. This means wearing clean, neat, business attire that looks nice but that is also comfortable for standing, walking, and sitting. There is always the possibility that your interview could include an extended wait in the lobby beforehand or a tour of the grounds afterward.

Lastly, smile. A smile and a friendly demeanor could put you ahead of another candidate who has more experience. Positions within the healthcare field require professionalism, but they are also people-oriented. Be prepared to smile, converse, and show off your communication skills to make the most of the interview process.

What to Wear for a Nursing Interview

Business attire should be your go-to choice for your nursing job interview. For women, this may include dress pants, skirts, button-down blouses, blazers, or jackets. Men should consider wearing at least a dress shirt and tie, or possibly a two-or three-piece suit. Avoid bright or shocking color choices, and opt instead for navy blue, gray, black, or neutral tones.

How you dress at your interview alerts your prospective employer as to how seriously you prioritize the opportunity. If you show up in jeans and a tee shirt, you may be giving the message that you are not that invested.

Should you wear scrubs to your job interview? Experts say no. Unless you know you will be shadowing another medical professional as part of the interview process, leave your scrubs at home.

6 Tips for Acing Your Nursing Job Interview

Familiarizing yourself with common interview questions and following these tips will help you feel prepared and confident when you report for your next nursing job interview:

1. Make a Good First Impression

A neat appearance, affable personality, professional dress, and demonstrated curiosity for the job will help you make a great first impression. Your prospective employer wants to see that you are interested in the job and that you appreciate the time they have devoted to speaking with you. Be friendly, but reserved, and resist the urge to be overly chatty or informal.

2. Be Prepared for Questions

The interview process will include open-ended questions that reveal aspects of your personality. Commonly asked questions include:

  • Tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult co-worker. How did you handle the situation?
  • Describe a situation where you were responsible for leading a team. How did it turn out?
  • Describe a time when you played a pivotal role in your healthcare team. What happened?

In other words, be prepared to talk about yourself, your work habits, and your strengths and weaknesses. While this is not a time to over-exaggerate your skills, it is appropriate to show confidence in your own abilities. Practice ahead of time to find the right balance between talking yourself up and showing a measure of humility.

3. Know the Specifics of the Job

Do a little research beforehand so you have an idea of what the job entails. For instance, familiarize yourself with the type of environment in which you’ll be working and some of the duties you may be required to perform. Show an interest in the company and in the position for which you have applied.

4. Sell Yourself

Let your prospective employer know you are a serious candidate for the job. Talk about your degrees or certifications. Discuss the internships and externships you have completed. If you have received awards, such as dean’s list, honor’s list, or cum laude, let your interviewer know. This is a great time to discuss your long-term job goals, as well. This will alert your employer that you plan to make this a career and not just a temporary job.

5. Be Professional

Be formal, yet friendly. Smile, but do not be a jokester. Keep your answers short but pertinent to the questions being asked. Be prepared to talk about yourself and your hobbies, but do not go into minute detail. For instance, it is fine to say you enjoy spending time with your family, but this is not the time to bring out the pictures of your children or pets.

6. Ask Questions

Do not be afraid to ask your own questions from time to time. Employers enjoy knowing you are interested, and they should have no problem answering questions pertaining to the position for which you have applied. Questions to ask in a nursing interview include ones regarding job benefits, hours, the availability of overtime, and more. You may want to refrain from asking about salary during the initial interview, however. Follow your interviewer’s lead on this subject, and if they do not mention it, save this inquiry for the follow-up interview or when you receive a job offer.

What to Do After the Interview

Unfortunately, not every nursing job interview will end in an offer, but that is no reason to feel discouraged. Once the interview has concluded, remember to thank your interviewer for their time in speaking with you. You may also inquire about the timeframe during which you can expect to hear back. Once several days have passed, it is fine to follow-up to see whether the position has been filled. However, you should follow-up only once. You might also consider sending a thank-you note immediately following your interview.

If your nursing job interview does not lead to a job, do not be offended. Often, a candidate may simply not be a good fit for the job at the time. Keep submitting your resume anyway, and always put your best foot forward at the interview. This will give you the best chance of landing a job you will grow to love.

If you are a RN interested in pursuing your BSN or MSN degree in nursing, contact the American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University for more information.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website, or reach out directly!