Interviewing Skills for Nurses

Getting the in-depth education that comes with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree provides the confidence you need to tackle any career challenge. But first, you have to ace the interview.

No matter how much experience or education a nurse may have, it's very common for nurse job seekers, like any job seeker, to feel nervous about the interview process. After all, just that one conversation might make or break your next career step. Take control of the pressure. Employ some calming tactics like taking deep breaths when you feel stressed or laying out your clothes the night before the interview so you can relax in the morning.

Another major strategy that can keep you calm is preparing as much as you can in advance. It's worth setting aside some time to brush up on interview etiquette and to make sure your nurse interviewing skills are top-notch. Here are some strategies.

Answer the Common Healthcare Interview Questions

There are a number of questions that tend to come up often. These might be "Tell me what you know about our healthcare programs" or "Describe how you perform under pressure with patients."

Remember that the interviewer is listening for ways that you'll contribute to the organization and will frame questions around that. Be prepared for specific questions related to problem solving. For example, a position in a clinical setting might include a question like: “Your patient is having an allergic reaction; what do you do?” Other questions may involve calculating medication dosages or describing certain procedures.

By practicing the answers to general healthcare interview questions like these, you will feel better prepared for whatever comes your way. Keep in mind that you may also need to answer these questions during an initial phone interview, so be sure to prepare just as much for one of those as you would for an in-person interview.

Highlight Healthcare Buzzwords on Your Resume

Interviews help employers know if you will fit into a certain team, but they also provide an opportunity to expand fully on a resume. Nurse job seekers should craft a resume with buzzwords that they can use in an interview as well.

Everything should match up: a job posting, a resume and interview answers should all have the same healthcare keywords. For instance, if an employer is looking for a "compassionate nurse who can lead a team," your resume should emphasize your empathy, rigorous education and leadership skills. During the interview, highlight those again.

Discuss Your Nursing Coursework

Experience is important, but if you've just earned your BSN, talk instead about what fresh insights and perspectives you may have gained in your schooling. For example, if you're interviewing for a community wellness position, describe the importance of health promotion, community outreach and communication skills.

One idea is to discuss your core competencies, which can include time management, ability to handle conflict, organizational skills and attention to detail. Be prepared to give an example of how you used skills like these in a situation at school or in a recent healthcare setting. You can also emphasize your commitment to professional standards, such as maintaining patient privacy.

Another topic to fold into the interview is leadership that you’ve demonstrated. Maybe you’ve led a recent discussion on clinical topics or spearheaded a recent nursing project. Even if you’re not interviewing for a supervisory position, employers appreciate knowing that you have those skills for the future.

Follow Up

Even if the interview made you question whether it's the job you'd want, always follow up with a note of thanks, either written or through LinkedIn or email. Send the note within 24 hours of an interview, and show appreciation for the interviewer's time. This type of gesture is memorable and also demonstrates that you are a thorough and thoughtful candidate.

Taking the time to sharpen your interview skills can help to bolster your confidence going into an interview, no matter what the nursing position might entail.

Looking to expand your future? Browse Anna Maria College’s Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program, contact us today at 877-265-3201 or visit online.annamaria.edu/rn-bsn.

Endnotes:

  1. TheCommuter. “How to answer the most common nursing interview questions.” Allnurses.com. http://allnurses.com/nursing-interview-help/how-to-answer-748905.html (accessed July 27, 2016).
  2. “Clinical/medical interview questions.” Allnurses.com. http://allnurses.com/nursing-interview-help/clinical-medical-interview-1064699.html (accessed August 23, 2016).
  3. Mayhew, R. “Interview techniques for work.” Houstonchronicle.com. http://work.chron.com/interview-techniques-nurses-1407.html (accessed August 23, 2016).