How exciting! You’ve built and written your resume, applied for RN positions, and now you’ve landed your first interview. Getting an interview means you’ve at least appeared qualified on paper. Now it’s time to knock their socks off in person. How? By preparing.
I’ve interviewed a gazillion new and experienced nurses and know how intimidating they can be for the candidate. After all, a stranger is basically judging you and making a decision about your future. However, careful planning and preparation can help you appear confident, competent and win over almost any interviewer.
Follow these tips to ace your next interview:
Know the qualifications – Every position has a set of qualifications employers look for in a candidate. You want to know exactly what skills the position requires so that you can speak to those skills during the interview. As a recent grad, you probably don’t have a lot of skills, however, you can talk about how your school provided you with excellent opportunities to develop certain skills or talk about the skills you developed during your volunteer work, work as a nursing assistant, etc.
For example: If the job includes, “taking the role of charge nurse,” you should talk about how your school assigned you in the role of team leader during your clinical rotations where you got to practice being “in charge.” Be prepared to talk about that experience or others that demonstrate your leadership skills.
Note: Sometimes the qualifications are listed on the job posting. If not, ask the employer if he or she will share the job description.
Prepare for common questions – Interviewers typically ask the same types of questions. Knowing this makes is easier for you to prepare great answers! Typically, employers ask interviewees about three things: Success, failure and how well you work as a team. While preparing, think of a few examples for each and practice your stories.
Note: Avoid saying the token, “I work too hard,” or “I’m too serious about my work,” comments. These statements make you sound fake. Be real but don’t go on and on about your perceived failures! Instead, identify a time when you made a mistake (failure) and how you dealt with and learned from it.
Prepare questions of your own – When the employer asks if you have any questions, saying “no” is the kiss of death! Always, always come prepare with questions. Go to the employers website and read their mission, vision and values page. Use key words from this page during your interview. Words such as “patient-centered,” “community involvement,” “respect.” Read the media stories and ask questions about them during the interview. Asking pointed questions related to the organization sends a message that you are serious and that you’ve done your homework.
Note: Avoid asking questions about schedule, money, benefits, etc. on your first interview.
Experienced interviewers can spot the difference between candidates who are “winging it” and ones who took the time to prepare.
Oh, and don’t forget - throughout the interview, smile, sit tall and act interested! Trust me – it makes a huge difference!
I hope these tips help you to land your dream job as a nurse. I’m cheering for your success!
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