How New Nurses Nail the Interview

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Even though healthcare remains the fastest-growing industry in the United States with the best job outlook for graduating nurses, landing your first job still requires hard work, humility, and careful preparation. The best healthcare organizations are highly selective, choosing only nurses who nail the interview and demonstrate high value in pre-employment screening and discussions.

These tips and advice can help you wow the interview team and nab a competitive job offer before you even graduate.

How to Nail the Interview

Nailing the interview isn’t rocket science, but it is science. Follow this formula for the best outcome:

Prepare for the Interview in Advance

Do an online search for “RN interview questions” and practice answering each one in front of the mirror. If you have a friend who hires somewhere, ask them to critique your practice interview and provide pointers for improvement.

Learn as Much About the Organization as You Can

Knowing their mission, vision, and core values before you show up can help you tailor your answers to those key components of the organization.

Demonstrate Humility

While confidence is important in all stages of your career, humility – and knowing what you don’t know – is critically important for new nurses. Seasoned nurses know that they learned more on the floor than they ever learned out of a book, and they hire people who recognize that early. Be confident about what you’re willing to learn and modest about your level of experience coming in.

Think About the Physician-Nurse Relationship Ahead of Time

Think about reading The Art of Influence). Every organization wants to know ahead of time how you’ll interact with a physician whose orders don’t look right to you, so know your strategy for positive physician relationships and practice answering the question ahead of time.

Bring Great Questions (That Aren’t Related to Comp)

Thoughtful questions give the impression that you’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you without creating the perception of entitlement. Examples include, “How would you describe the relationship between nurses and administration here?” or, “What support systems do you have in place for new nurses?”

Aim for Business Professional

“Dress for the job you want” doesn’t apply here; wearing scrubs to your interview is on the “don’t” list.

What Not to Do

The list of things you shouldn’t do is short: don’t confuse confidence and entitlement.

In recent years, a (perceived or real – the data presents conflicting pictures) nursing shortage has driven some organizations to offer substantial incentives for signing nurses: sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, and student loan repayment, to name a few. While these perks are great, the same nursing shortage has also steered new grads in the wrong direction, leading them to alienate organizations during the interview process and forfeit their chance at getting a job offer.

Here are just a few of the things nurses who have fallen prey to the message of the nursing shortage have said in real interviews:

  • “I have to compete for the position? There’s an RN shortage right now; I would be doing you a favor if I agreed to work here after I graduate.”
  • “I guess my question is, ‘What can you do for me?’”
  • “I expect to be given credit on the pay scale for the years I worked as an LPN because the experience makes me a better RN.”
  • “How far are you willing to go to get me to sign with your organization?”

While negotiating is acceptable when you have grounds on which to negotiate (such as specialized experience and other offers on the table), entitlement leaves a bad taste in the hiring manager’s mouth 10 times out of 10. And believing that you’re owed something more than what your experience as an RN and the pay scale supports is entitlement.

If you want to get your foot in the door with an employer of choice, you’ll find that candidates compete for jobs and entitled candidates are simply screened out.

To learn more about an employer before you apply or accept an offer – or to get more great tips and tricks to help you land the job – explore the EveryNurse Job Board for employer profiles and helpful articles.

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