You worked hard, and you finally landed an interview at your dream nursing job…Even if it's not your dream nursing job getting the interview is just half the battle.
The other half is impressing the hiring manager during the interview. To help you out here's a list of our top nurse interview tips.
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Top Nursing Interview Tips
To start with you really need to…
1. Be Prepared…Do NOT Wait Until That Morning
This section seems all-encompassing, but it will make sense after I get into it. The main point is just do your homework ahead of time.
For example, make sure you know where you’re going. I’ve made a mistake before of trying to figure out where the building I was going to be interviewed in was located ONLY 30 minutes from my interview time. That last-minute behavior caused me to be late.
On top of knowing where the building is, make sure you know where the office is located and the name of the person you’re going to be asking for.
Make sure your clothes are picked out ahead of time. Don’t wait until the day of to realize
- The clothes are dirty.
- Don’t fit you anymore.
- Or you left them at the dry cleaners, and they won’t open in time for your interview.
If that last one seems oddly specific, it’s because it happens. I know it happens because it happened to me.
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you ever tried to do anything when you’re super tired and with hardly any sleep? Do you remember how hard that probably was? If you’re saying, “yes.” Then you already know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
That best way to accomplish this is to have a good routine going for you a couple days beforehand. Also staying out too late the night before your interview or drinking alcohol also doesn’t help either (source).
3. Prepare to Arrive 30-45 Minutes Early…If not Earlier
Somebody is going to disagree entirely with this, but this is what I do, and I think it works great. Does it mean I always arrive that early no, but what it does do is it reduces the likelihood that I’m going to be late.
To me, what dictates how early I plan to arrive at a place is dependent on a lot of factors. Some of those factors could be:
- How important the interview is
- The distance of the interview location
- How familiar I am with the area/ Have I been there before
It honestly just varies.
The other thing I should mention is I’m not saying I’ll check in that early. I usually won’t do that till about 10-15 minutes before the interview start time (source).
The other reason why I make it a point to arrive at interviews early is that I try to find every means possible to reduce stress and nervousness and with that…
4. Do What You Can to Reduce Your Stress/ Nervousness for the Interview
Being overly stressed or nervous will cause you to behave and respond in irrational manners. Plus, you just won’t interview as well. There are several things you can do to help manage some of that stress and nervousness.
- Show up early. (Showing up early means you’re not rushing to be on time. If you do get there super early sit in your car or depending on the location, sit in the building for a little bit to gather yourself mentally.)
- Get a good night’s sleep. (For all the reasons we’ve already mentioned above).
5. Don’t Set-up an Interview Time that Sets You Up for Failure
There are several different schools of thoughts on this. But do you know when the best time to set up an interview is?
I go by the day and time I’m most likely going to be on time for the interview and when I’m going to be the most awake/alert for it. This is going to vary from person to person. Some nurses might prefer an 8 am interview time while others might like a 3 or 4pm interview time.
For me, I usually schedule my interviews if possible at 10 am. I’m a morning person, and I typically get up around 7am even on the days that I’m off.
So, I like to leave enough room for me to take my time in the morning, get breakfast, and mentally prepare.
6. Do NOT Dress in Scrubs
I see this all the time, and I’ve interviewed nurses who thought this was ok. When you’re trying to impress for an interview, there is a right way and a wrong way to dress for a nursing interview.
I know that if you look in any forum or if you talk to an older nurse, they might tell you it’s ok to dress in scrubs or that dressing in professional attire is not that big of a deal.
They are WRONG.
First impressions in an interview are a big deal, and they matter a lot and what you wear for that initial interview is a big way to set a good first impression.
Am I saying that you won’t get a job if you show up to an interview in scrubs? No.
Are there some nurse managers who might not care if you wear scrubs to an interview? Sure.
But in all likelihood, you won’t know if the person interviewing you is one of those. The other point of dressing in professional attire is to give as many things as possible going on your side.
I went in detail on the perfect nursing interview outfit. You can check out that article for the full detail.
I will also show these two videos that talk about professional attire for men and women.
7. Know Your Resume and Bring a Copy
Red flags are going to be thrown if your responses do not match with what your resume says. First of all, make sure your resume is factually correct. Then make sure you know your resume.
Also, make sure to bring several copies of your resume printed on nice paper that’s not wrinkled. If 3 people are interviewing you make sure to have enough for each one.
This shows preparedness and honestly just looks really good to the person interviewing you.
8. Study Some Nursing Interview Q & As
Contrary to popular advice, I try not to stress too much about this. Look on the internet for some nursing interview questions. (We’re in the works of an article, and we’ll link to it when it’s done.)
Look at the questions, look at the example answers, and just get an idea of how you’re going to answer a question like that or what the interviewer might be looking for.
If you’re generally pretty good thinking on your feet, this will come easier to you.
9. Only Say Kind Words About Your Former/Current Employer
There’s probably going to be a point where you’ll be asked about your former or current employer. It could be the worst job in the country, and you should still only say nice things about them.
You don’t want to but bashing your former or current employer to a potential new employer is not going to go well.
If you’re looking for some words to say to a question like:
Interviewer: “What made you decide to leave your current employer?”
Here’s how you could respond to a question like that.
You: “I have been at my current employer for 4 years and have had the pleasure of working with some amazing nurses and managers. At this point, I’m looking for some new challenges in my career. This position is appealing to me because it allows me to be able to take care of more acute patients and be able to help Memorial Hospital accomplish its mission of providing exceptional patient care.”
They don’t need to know that it was a bad unit or organization to work for. With this response, you answer their question without bashing your employer. You get to highlight your strength and your drive.
You get to emphasize that your aware of what the organization's mission statement is and that you’re on board with it.
Also, if it’s a recruiter that's been at the job awhile, he or she is already going to know it’s a bad unit or organization that you’re coming from.
10. Make Sure to Send a Thank You Note
This might seem kind of weird especially since you won’t know if you got the job. And you could send this and still not get the job. But remember what I keep saying you’re just trying to add one more point in your favor when you’re interviewing.
The point of the thank you note is to show gratuity. Thank the manager for the interview opportunity they gave you and how your skills can help the company in their mission.
It’s not something that needs to be super long or complicated, but I do think it’s an important step that goes missing often.
If you need help getting started we have an article on example nursing interview thank you letters.
We’ve given you a lot of nurse interview tips, but the main things you need to focus on is:
- Be prepared
- Dress professionally
- Get there early
- Make eye contact
- Answer questions appropriately
- Ask good questions yourself
- Send a thank you card at the end
If it’s your first job as a new nurse, then you might be even more nervous. Just remember to breath and take it one step at a time and one question at a time.
Related Articles on Nurse Interview Tips
The last thing is if it’s not your first job and you have another job then there’s a right and wrong way to quit your nursing job and start another one.
Here are some other helpful articles on this that were not already talked about above.
- Example of a Nurse Interview Thank You Letter (Template)
- What to Wear for an Interview for a Nursing Job
- Nursing Interview Questions to Ask Your Future Employer
- Can a Nurse Quit Without Giving Notice?
- Example of a Nurse Cover Letter: Template & How-to Guide
- 9 Tips for Starting a New Job as a Nurse
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