Once the outfit is chosen, hair is done, and attitude is adjusted, be sure to:
- Arrive early, it’s important to be about 10 minutes early for an interview, this demonstrates eagerness and punctuality, as well as a respect for the interviewer’s time
- Make eye contact, this demonstrates confidence and attentiveness, as well as good social skills
- Smile with both eyes and mouth, avoid fake smiles
- Sit forward in the chair, women should cross legs either at knee or ankle
- Keep answers on point and focused to the question
- Avoid using profanity and slang
- Bring a copy of your resume if you have prior work experience. Read more RN resumeadvice
Many types of nursing interviews are possible. Either the new graduate will sit in a big room with many interviewers and maybe some other members of the team all asking questions, one interviewer will read from a list of questions and write down responses, or an interviewer will loosely follow the script but mostly be trying to get an understanding of who the new graduate is as a person and who they will be as a nurse for the facility, or any variation.
The basic bottom line is no matter what type of interview it is, smile often, be polite, be yourself but keep it professional, and attempt to present yourself as an eager, brilliant, professional, and polite new graduate nurse.
The new graduate nurse has a unique advantage to an experienced nurse. The new graduate can not be quizzed during an interview on technical skills he or she has not yet learned but is expected to be eager and willing to learn new skills, be punctual and have good attendance, and be disciplined enough to not quit, even if it’s tough. The new graduate should offer an image of these things as well as offer any evidence of such behavior during previous work and clinical experiences.
While there are many questions a facility may ask a new graduate here are some potential questions and approaches to answering them. Review and think about how to answer these questions prior to the interview. Come up with a handful of situations which could be useful to answer variations of these questions honestly. These are just examples of types of questions.
- Tell me about a situation where you made a mistake and how did you fix it?
Making mistakes is fine, they want to know your thought process on fixing the mistake. Were you honest? Did you follow policy or admit if you didn’t? Did you follow the chain-of-command and tell a supervisor, if appropriate? Did you have appropriate remorse? Did you take the right steps to minimize damages and make it right?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 2 years?
This questions demonstrates long and short-term career and personal goals. The interviewer wants to find out if your aspirations fit within the facilities goals. They want to see how career and family-oriented you are. If you aspire to continue education and certifications, mention it here and relate it to the position for which you are applying.
- Tell me about a way in which you “made a someone’s day.”
Bringing hope and happiness to a patient’s day is part of nursing and some nurses are better at this than others. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you delight in bringing joy to others and truly feel an ethical responsibility to go above and beyond the call of duty to do this. Think of a situation where you did this and have it ready, just in case.
- Why did you choose to become a RN?
Best to answer this question honestly but avoid saying anything about money or family pressure. Feeling a “soul’s calling” is sometimes a true and appropriate response for nurses or having cared for a sick family member and felt deeply satisfied by being able to help them when they needed you most.
Tell me about a situation where a family, patient, or colleague was difficult to deal with and how did you respond?
- The interviewer wants to understand how anger or frustration affect your behavior.
They want to know if you can remain a professional and not react negatively to another person’s craziness. Did you demonstrate good communication skills? Did you treat them with respect even if it was hard to do so? Were you able to deescalate the situation? Did you ask for help if needed? It’s important not to speak about the crazy person or people in a judgemental way. Empathy is a good attitude for this question.
- Tell me about a time you were greatly challenged and wanted to quit.
The new position will be challenging and the interviewer want to understand if you will stick with it or give up. Nursing school likely has good examples of a time you felt like quitting but didn’t and now feel such a sense of accomplishment that you’re so glad you stuck it out. Be honest about your situation and talk about the emotions you felt but knew there was a need to persevere because nursing is so important to you, or whatever the truth may be.
- What are your strengths?
This questions offers a great opportunity to discuss your best qualities, if possible, try to gear it towards the position you are interviewing for. During clinicals were you great at time management? End of life comfort care? Memorizing and applying new information? Being a ray of sunshine for a lonely patient?
- What are your weaknesses?
Every person has weaknesses and the interviewers want to understand how yours could affect the kind of nurse you are. Make weaknesses sound like strengths, if possible. For example, if you are a perfectionist you might drive yourself a little nuts being sure tasks are done correctly and beautifully (something small maybe, such as wound care dressings having to be perfect) or being punctual to a fault.
- Do you work best with a team or alone?
Most nursing jobs require teamwork and cooperation. Saying something about how you always learn something from others when you work together on a project or how you love asking questions to people smarter than you may be an honest answer.
- What would you do if you saw a colleague do something you know is wrong, such as steal, lie, cheat, break policy, or put a patient at risk?
While this question sounds a little tricky because you’re not sure if “tattle-tailing” is a good answer, remember that an employee who is breaking policy or putting someone at risk is never in the right. Pledge your allegiance to company policy and how you feel an ethical obligation to report any bad behavior ASAP.