Best Interview Tips for Nurses

Best Interview Tips for Nurses was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.

7 Critical Interview Tips for Nurses
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/

Did you know that it only takes a hiring manager about 30-seconds to develop a first impression of you? This means that before you tell about your nursing experience, theories on patient care, or stellar teamwork, the interviewer formed an initial impression about you as a professional. Knowing this information might make you even more nervous about heading into the conference room for an interview, which is precisely why you need to know and use some of the best interview tips for nurses.

Many nurses struggle with knowing what to say, how to act, and even how to prepare for nursing interviews. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of nurses over the years, I can tell you first hand that there are a few things you can do to make those first 30-seconds work in your favor. Here are some of the best nurse interview tips to help you land the job of your dreams.

Know What Questions to Expect

You must prepare before you head into a nursing interview. Research some of the top interview questions for nurses. Getting comfortable with the types of questions most hiring nurse managers ask is crucial. Ask a colleague, family member, or mentor to practice the scenarios with you a few days before your scheduled appointment. Spend some time thinking about your nursing experience and specific examples of excellent nursing care to use when giving your answers.

A few common nurse interview questions you need to know before you go to a nursing interview include:

  • Why did you become a nurse?
  • Tell me about a time you had a difficult patient situation and how you handled it.
  • Name 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses you have as a nurse.
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?

Prepare Yourself Mentally

Stress affects everyone a little differently. Here are a few excellent strategies for combating  the stress you may feel as you get ready for an upcoming nursing interview:

  • Be sure to get a good night’s rest the night before so that you are well-rested.
  • Plan your drive to the facility. Enter the address in your GPS with plenty of time to look over the route in case you have any concerns.
  • Arrive in the parking lot at least 20 minutes before the start of the interview.
  • Spend 5 to 10 mins in the car giving yourself a pep talk, saying a few affirmations, or practicing mindfulness exercises to get in the best headspace before entering the building.

Arrive at the Right Time

Being too early or too late is a recipe for disaster during an interview. Most experts and hiring managers recommend arriving about 10 to 15 minutes before the meeting is scheduled. This gives you plenty of time to get settled and shows a high level of professionalism and punctuality that the hiring nurse manager should definitely notice.

Dress the Part

Not everyone knows how to dress for an interview.  I’ve interviewed nurses who wore everything from expensive suits to jeans and a t-shirt to sweatpants to scrubs. However, if you want to make the most of your 30-seconds before the manager forms an opinion, you need to dress professionally.

Always wear a nice pair of pants or skirt and a professional-looking top. You may also choose to wear a dress, too. If you aren’t sure what to wear, or you are coming straight from your current job and won’t have time to change out of your scrubs, let the recruiter or your human resources contact know so that they can help you out with a few of their own nurse interview tips for making a good first impression.

Take Only What You Need

You may carry two bags and a backpack with you to work, but less is more when heading into an interview. Carry a small bag or purse if possible. Get a nice folder or another carrier for any needed papers, like a copy of your resume. Before you get to the hiring manager’s office, turn your phone on silent and store it in your purse or bag. This minimizes any distractions and shows that you are there to connect with the hiring manager and anyone else you may meet while you are there.

Research the Company

It goes a long way when you can speak intelligently about the mission, vision, and values of the company during your nursing interview. Take a few minutes before the interview to look at their website and social media webpages to get a feel for what is important to the company. During your interview, use this information by adding it into some of the questions you are asked. For example, if you are asked about the activities you enjoy outside of work, you may be able to use examples of philanthropic work that is part of the company’s overall plan.

Write Down Your Own Questions

Interviews should not be one-sided. You may have your next supervisor in front of you, so be sure to get a thorough understanding of their expectations and leadership style. Don’t be afraid to ask about wages, benefits, and work culture as well. Here are a few excellent nurse interview questions you can ask the hiring manager:

  • Can you describe your orientation process and any ongoing training?
  • What skills or characteristics make a nurse successful in this role?
  • What is your tuition-reimbursement policy?
  • What are your staffing ratios?
  • Can you tell me about your overtime policy?

Experiencing a Successful Interview

Finding a new job is challenging. Most people don’t enjoy going to multiple interviews. When you prepare before the appointment, get there with a few minutes to relax, and know what questions you want to ask. You will be well on your way to making an excellent first impression.