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Advice for Nurse Candidates During the Interview Process

If you’ve made it through the initial application process and landed a nursing interview, congratulations! But before you head off for the interview, let’s cover some important tips and advice for nurse candidates.

The interview process is not easy and even experienced nurses can get nervous and experience doubt beforehand. But knowing how to prepare can help give you the confidence you need to put forth your best effort.

Let’s look at some tips and insights to guide you in presenting yourself in the most favorable light to help you land a role best suited to your needs.

Do your research

Learning about the organization and position before your interview will give you confidence and help impress the interviewer.

AARP advises that you research the company by tapping into your network to ask questions. Hopefully, you have a connection somewhere that can give you some insight into the organization.

Other avenues to glean essential background knowledge include:

  • Company website or pressroom
  • Job boards and ads that the company has placed
  • Media coverage
  • Social media

Prior to the interview, map out the route and plan for an extra 30 minutes of travel in case of unforeseen traffic or delays. However, refrain from walking into your interview too early. You’ll feel awkward waiting around for your appointment, and the staff may not be equipped to accommodate you. It should go without saying that you should never be late.

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What to wear and bring

There are expectations on what to wear and bring to this meeting, even if your appointment is for a virtual interview.

You should follow the basic guidelines for proper interview attire, such as a suit or dress. Bring a notebook and pen and several printed copies of your resume.

To reduce the stress on interview day, it’s good practice to assemble your interview outfit, accessories, and materials the day before.

An important piece of advice for nurse candidates — don’t make the mistake of wearing your scrubs to an interview. If you’re going to your meeting directly from work, bring a change of clothes to change into before the interview.

Interview questions

You should expect common interview questions such as “Why did you become a nurse?” during an interview. Prepare for these questions by pulling up a list of nursing interview questions online. Read over and answer the questions yourself or with a friend to become comfortable fielding these queries.

Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises a bit. Now’s the time to highlight all the wonderful reasons why you are the best nurse for the position.

Handling hard interview questions

Expect a few tough questions that may throw you for a loop.

Although each of us may stumble over different types of questions, most nurses dread those based on a particular scenario. This type of question shows the interviewer how you react in certain revealing situations. These topics can be tricky, and you may need to think on your feet, which can be daunting under pressure.

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Sometimes, the best answer is to state how you have grown from a negative experience. Practice this technique by finding situational nursing interview questions online and thinking on your own experiences to inform your response.

Try to avoid getting stuck on a question. It’s OK to inform a potential employer that you occasionally don’t know the answer. If this is the case, lead the interviewer through how you would devise a solution. This response shows that you’re a willing learner and open to asking for help when necessary.

Questions to ask the interviewer

A common aspect of any nursing job interview is the time allotted for you to clarify any points or ask specific questions.

Prepare a list of questions ahead of time to take to the interview. If you’ve researched the organization and role, your questions should be intelligent rather than repetitive about obvious aspects of the job. Have your queries jotted down in your notebook, where you can add more as the interview commences.

This is a critical part of the interview process. Nurses who don’t ask any questions or show a genuine interest in the role and the organization run the risk of appearing either unqualified, uninterested, or both.

Employers expect you to show enthusiasm for the job by asking a few questions. If you’re coming up short in your preparation and can’t think of any insightful questions, nursing resources online provide helpful lists of questions to ask during a nursing interview.

Final advice for nurse candidates

Once through the interview, you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, there’s still more to do as a last piece of advice for nurse candidates. A final step to help make a positive impression on a potential employer is a follow-up or thank-you letter.

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This courtesy note is one last chance to show excitement for the job and express gratitude to the interviewer. It’s a polite and proper way to end the interview process. Your letter is also one extra reminder of who you are and why you are a perfect fit for their team.

After you do find the right fit for the next step in your career and receive a job offer, focus on key considerations before accepting. Always secure essential details of the offer in writing, including:

  • Salary
  • Benefit package
  • Start date

You’re a valuable asset to your new employer, so don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be afraid to try and negotiate your contract if necessary. You may be surprised at what they will offer to bring you aboard.

If you’re unsure about what salary range to expect, leveraging data can serve as a guide to negotiate your salary.

Download and review our 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report for nursing insights and current salary data.

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