interview After spending days or weeks perfecting the resume and hours filling out online applications it will feel exhilarating to have an invitation to interview!

But before the Big Day it’s important to spend some time preparing both mentally and physically.

Dressing the Part

The interview is all about first impressions. The very first impression a unit manager will retain is how the new graduate presents him or herself.

Guidelines for interview attire:


  • A skirt or pant suit with jacket and button down collared shirt or blouse
  • Skirts or dresses should be knee length
  • Avoid flashy colors or patterns
  • Heels should be low or wear flats, no open toes
  • Pantyhose for skirts or dresses
  • No cleavage exposure
  • No visible tattoos or piercings
  • Natural hair color
  • Earrings should be studs or no bigger than dime sized
  • Necklace should be simple
  • Handbag should be neutral
  • No perfume or mild use of perfume
  • Fingernails should be short and without chips in polish


  • A suit is preferred with jacket and button down collared shirt
  • Pants and jacket should match, if they are not a suit
  • Tie is optional but when in doubt, wear it
  • Avoid bright colors or patterns, keep it simple
  • Black or brown socks, avoid wearing white socks with dark dress shoes
  • Black or brown dress shoes
  • Avoid exposing tattoos or piercings
  • Natural hair color and neat haircut
  • Avoid wearing earrings
  • Mild cologne or none at all
  • Neat and natural fingernails

General rules of thumb for interview attire is to keep it simple, error on the side of dressy versus casual, and avoid being flashy. Keep colors simple and body parts covered. The impression should be made that you look the part of a professional unit nurse and will not offend patients, family members or staff of diverse backgrounds, not to mention the actual interviewer. While the current trend may be for the RN to have purple streaks in his or her hair this will likely offend. Best to go for natural and professional.

Gear Up Mentally

Nursing schools have a way of molding students into humble and gracious new graduate nurses. Perhaps it’s the stringent schedules, strict instructors, and high GPA demands or the overwhelming feeling many nursing students have once clinicals have begun. But most nursing students feel ecstatic to have finished school but at the same time inadequate and scared to death! This is good! This is the impression a brand new nursing graduate should make on an interviewer and maintain during the orientation and internship. Because, let’s be honest, a nursing graduate knows enough to be safe with patients on a basic level and knows the basics of the body and diseases, but the real learning hasn’t even begun.

Interviewers know, full well, that nursing students (no matter how amazing the GPA, how fantastic the references, and how glorious the school!) are not equipped to work independently on unit. No matter the specialty the new nurse graduate needs training and often 6 months or more of full-time training.

The only way a new nurse can be taught is if he or she is willing, eager, and understands his or her limitations. In attitude, body language, and overall presentation of oneself it is of utmost importance to portray this humble impression to the interviewer.

The absolute worst kind of new graduate nurse to hire and train is the cocky, know-it-all, smartypants type. We all know this type. It’s one thing to study hard and be confident but it is quite another for a brand new nurse to think he or she is smarter and more knowledgeable than the person trying to teach them and arguing with information.

A novice nurse absolutely must keep a humble and open minded. No matter what he or she learned in school it is just not the same as working in real world. And a nurse with a bad attitude will simply not last in a new unit even if they manage to get themselves hired.

So before the interview, be sure the attitude is humble, gracious for any opportunity to learn from such smart nurses and physicians, and ready to fill the brain with new knowledge and experiences.


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