How to Nail Your Nursing Job Interviews

How to Nail Your Nursing Job Interviews
Photo by Christina @ / Unsplash

So you’ve submitted your resume to all of your favorite departments and got your first bite! This is an exciting first step in starting your new career, but don’t pop the champagne bottle just yet. There are a few things you’ll need to get right if you want to secure this job.

Telephone Interview

Some companies won’t even interview you in-person until you’ve interviewed with HR or a hiring rep over the phone first. These folks are generally not your unit manager or director but serve as a filter for companies that might get a lot of applicants per job opening. If you pass this step, you will likely move on to an in-person interview later. Here are some tips for the phone interview:

  • Stand up. Walking around is a good way to get your blood moving and it really helps with formulating your thoughts as well. Give it a try and compare it to talking when you are seated, and you’ll see just how much of a difference a little movement can make. You will feel less nervous, and your voice will project better over the phone.
  • Take your time. Without blurting out the first thought that comes to your mind, take a few seconds to think of an answer. These seconds might seem like an eternity to you, but in rea, ity it’s not a very noticeable pause on the other side of the line.
  • Be enthusiastic. Avoid being monotone and actually act like you want this job.
  • Plan ahead. Most companies will ask you beforehand when you would like to have a telephone interview, and be prepared to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes on the phone. Make sure you’re in a quiet place with no distractions and good cell service.

Team Interview

Once you’ve passed the telephone interview, you will likely be contacted for an in-person interview next.

Team interviews can either be a set of nurse managers and directors, or they can be a unit specific set of “nurse peers” whom are normally comprised of charge nurses, clinical coordinators, and perhaps a floor nurse or two. These groups are normally anywhere between 2-5 people in size so prepare for an audience and you won’t feel as overwhelmed.

Team interviews are mainly used as a way to see if you would be a good fit for the unit as far as your personality is concerned–that is, the existing staff would like to know if they think you would get along with everyone before having you onboard. Team interviews also service as another filter for unit managers and directors, and generally their vote carries a lot of sway, so you really want them to like you.

  • Be punctual. Give yourself plenty of time to show up on time and be early. Account for traffic interruptions and getting lost if this is your first time visiting a new hospital. Also give yourself time to find the unit you’re interviewing on if this is the first time you will be going there.
  • Dress professionally. Don’t show up to this interview in scrubs unless specifically asked to. Instead, men should wear a suit and a tie, and women should wear a pantsuit. You want to look professional and this outfit will never serve you wrong in any interview.
  • Address all team members. You want to speak to the group, not one just one person. You might not be used to doing this, but take some time to practice before you’re put on the spot.
  • Stay cool. This interview is largely a meet and greet. It is not so much designed to test your skills and knowledge as it is to see how you act and how you are as a person. Just relax and be your friendly self.
  • Emphasize that you’re a team player. Nobody wants to work with someone who will not help contribute to the group. Let them know how important a good team approach is, and that you are a great team player.

1:1 Interview

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely a few short steps away from securing your new job, so give yourself a big pat on the back. If you’ve already had previous interviews, this meeting may be more of a formality than an actual interview, but it could also be a serious grilling, so come prepared.

  • Similarly to the team interview, you need to be on time (early), and be dressed professionally.
  • Bring a copy of your resume. Most unit managers or directors will appreciate that you can provide a printed resume, and it can serve as a set of talking points for your meeting and help guide you while speaking of any prior experience, or education that you would like to illuminate on.
  • The unit tour. If you’re taking a tour of the unit, you have almost certainly gotten the job. Most managers will not take the time to show a prospective employee around the unit unless they are interested in hiring them.
  • Take a card. Be sure to get a business card with contact information for figuring out the next steps in the hiring process. Well done by the way!

Follow these steps and you’ll find that interviewing is not so scary after all. The most important takeaways from this article should be to remain calm and always be polite and professional. Do that, and it’s hard to go wrong.

Congratulations on nailing the interview and getting the job!