Asking questions during the interview portrays an image of interest and shows that the new graduate is prepared and has really thought the position through. Here are 5 suggested questions to ask during the interview.
- What are the immediate and long-term goals of the unit?
This can be geared differently for the type of unit and facility the RN is applying for. A large teaching hospital is always doing research projects and they need participants who want to help. Demonstrate an interest in helping, if you can, and offering outside time to do so.
- Please tell me about the leadership team. What are their expectations for new graduate and experienced nurses?
You’re demonstrating an understanding of how the facility is structured and a keen interest in abiding by these expectations. Hospitals tend to have leadership teams of nurses which create committees and set standards for non-leadership nurses. Smaller facilities may not have a team but should have some sort of nursing leadership in place.
- How is the training program for new graduate nurses structured?
If this hasn’t been explained already be sure to ask about the training program. Is it a good mix of classroom and preceptorship? If you aren’t comfortable when the program is over will you be allowed a longer preceptorship? Who is assigned to train new graduates?
- Might there be an opportunity for advancement down the road?
The key to this questions is showing that you want to work really hard and do extracurricular activities for the facility because you are so eager to learn and grow as a nurse and not to seem like you think you’re too good or don’t want the position you are applying for. In a hospital setting, asking about qualifying to be a charge nurse may be a good approach since charge nurses usually have bedside shifts as well. Most bedside nurses don’t like being charge nurses so the interviewer may appreciate this enthusiasm.
- Please tell me about the scheduling requirements and patient ratios.
How many weekends will be required? If starting on night shift and wanting to move to days, how long might that take? Be sure this doesn’t sound like working you are unwilling to work nights or weekends. A new graduate should be willing to work any shift at any time to get in the door of a great job. And, if the state does not have patient-to-nurse ratio laws does the facility have a policy on this?
5 Questions to Avoid During the Interview
Saying the right thing is just as important as not saying the wrong thing. Choosing the right words can make or break an interview. Here are some questions to avoid during an interview.
- Will there be a drug test?
This leads the interviewers to think the new graduate may not pass a drug test. The answer, by the way, for any nursing job, is ‘yes, there will be a drug test.
- How soon can I put in a request for time off?
Avoid anything like this during the interview. You will find out all these processes and more during orientation. Unless you are getting married or have a funeral you can’t miss, plan on working whenever they want you to for at least the orientation and internship.
- Did I get the job?
Often the interviewer doesn’t know the answer to this question as he or she has likely not decided on the spot or is not the decision-maker. Also avoid asking if further interviews are required. Be patient. The facility will let you know.
- Will you hire my nursing school friends?
If you are hired and are officially an employee, have your unemployed nursing school friends apply with your name as a reference. Until then, hope and pray that you, yourself, become employed.
- Where and when can employees smoke?
Cigarette smoking, including electronic cigarettes, is prohibited on just about every hospital campus. Staff who smoke usually walk across the street from the hospital. Smaller facilities may have different rules but these will become apparent during orientation. Smoking tends to be unattractive to other healthcare personnel and patients. It’s best to avoid smoking before the interview (so there’s no smell) and avoid talking about smoking during the interview.