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Interview Tips

On this page: Tips for a successful interview
  In the days before the interview
  Before you go to the interview
  Upon arrival
  During the interview
  After the interview

Tips for a successful interview
Create a cheat sheet to feel more prepared and confident. You shouldn't memorize what's on the sheet or check it off during the interview. You should use your cheat sheet to remind you of key facts. Here are some suggestions for what you should include on it.

In the days before the interview
  1. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side, make a bulleted list of what the employer is looking for based on the job posting. On the right side, make a bulleted list of the qualities you possess that fit those requirements.
  2. Research the company, the industry and the competition.
  3. Prepare your 60-second personal statement: Your answer to the, "Tell me about yourself," question.
  4. Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions ("Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of a time...").
  5. List five questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry.
  6. Get permission from your references to use their names.

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Before you go to the interview
  1. Do you look professional? Check yourself in the mirror. Part of your confidence will come from looking good.
  2. Carry these items to the interview:
    • Several copies of your résumé on quality paper.
    • A copy of your references.
    • A pad of paper on which to take notes (notes are optional).
    • Directions to the interview site.
  3. Prepare answers to the 10 most common interview questions:
    • Tell me about yourself.
    • Why did you leave or are you leaving your last position?
    • What do you know about this company?
    • What are your goals?
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    • Why do you want to work for this company?
    • What has been your most significant achievement?
    • How would your last boss and colleagues describe you?
    • Why should we hire you?
    • What are your salary expectations?

Upon arrival
  1. Arrive early – enter the building 10 minutes before your appointment.
  2. Review your prepared stories and answers.
  3. Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time.
  4. Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner.
  5. Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty – not bone-crushing – handshake.
  6. Smile and look into the interviewer's eyes.

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During the interview
  1. Try to focus on the points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff.
  2. Relax and enjoy the conversation. Learn what you can about the company.
  3. Ask questions and listen; read between the lines (see the list of questions that follows).
  4. At the conclusion, thank the interviewer and determine the next steps.
  5. Ask for the interviewer's business card so you can send a follow-up letter.

After the interview
  1. As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling.
  2. Later in the day, look at what you wrote and assess how you did.
  3. Write a follow-up thank-you letter, reminding the interviewer of your qualities.

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What to ask during a nursing interview
Part of the process of getting ready for an interview is knowing the questions you want to ask a potential employer.

Your inquiries should cover three main areas: orientation and training, the working environment and the employer’s management and administration. Here’s an interview cheat sheet:

Orientation and training
  • What is the level and depth of orientation?
  • Will more orientation time be granted if I feel I need it?
  • Will my orientation take place during the shift I will be working?
  • Is there a mentorship program?
  • What are your expectations of new hires during their first six months on the job?
  • Describe typical first-year assignments.
  • What qualities do your most successful nurses possess?

Working environment
  • How long are your shifts – eight, 10 or 12 hours?
  • How do you go about scheduling? Is self-scheduling an option, or does someone else dictate the schedule?
  • Will I be on call if I accept this position? If so, what are the conditions/requirements of on-call duty?
  • What kinds of patients are cared for?
  • What diagnoses are common?
  • What differentiates this nursing unit from others in the hospital?
  • What model of nursing care is provided?
  • What is the typical orientation period for a nurse with my experience?

Management and administration
  • How would you describe your management style?
  • How do you motivate employees?
  • How do you demonstrate that you value your nursing staff?
  • How much autonomy do you give your nurses to make decisions regarding patient care?
  • How often do you conduct performance reviews?
  • Is the administration open to suggestions that would improve patient care?
  • What are the challenges that this facility is facing?
  • What have been this unit’s most notable successes and failures over the year?
  • What are nurses’ biggest challenges at this facility?
  • What makes this facility unique among others in this region?
  • What steps do you take to ensure safe working conditions?
  • What are your plans for future growth?
  • Why should I want to work here?

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