Interview Tips for Nurses: How to Make a Great Impression

Interview tips for nursesYou've completed your nursing education and passed your licensing exams*. Your nursing resume is making the rounds, and you just scheduled your first interview. A looming nursing shortage may create job openings in your area, but it's important not to assume you'll get the first job you interview for or land your dream job immediately. Preparing to interview for a nursing position the way you've prepared for your courses and licensing exams may help you successfully complete the job search process. The following interview tips for nurses focus on ways to help you get ready to begin meeting with prospective employers.

Before the interview:

Identify and prepare responses to questions which are most often asked during nursing interviews. Conducting online research could help you find typical questions for candidates in your field. Interview questions can run the gamut from “Tell me about yourself.” to “What did you like least about your last job? or “Why should we hire you?” etc.1 Though predicting every possibility is nearly impossible, reviewing the most common interview questions may help you get a sense of what to expect. Writing out your responses, especially to complex questions, may help you clarify your thoughts.

Engage in practice interviews. Reach out to friends to see if any are willing to help you by being a mock interviewer. If you've built up a strong professional network of fellow nurses, getting assistance and advice from them would be useful, as they may have successfully navigated the process you're about to go through. Taking part in mock interviews can get you immediate feedback, and help you identify areas of strength and weakness. If you followed the first tip and wrote down responses to the toughest questions, a mock interview is an ideal opportunity for you to test them out and build confidence for future job interviews.

Organize your documents. Bring copies of your nursing license, along with a list of references, letters of recommendation and a few extra copies of your resume. Though your interviewer will likely have your resume on hand and may not need references yet, being prepared and able to produce them on the spot will show your attention to detail and interest in the position.

Choose your interview attire. Though nurses typically wear scrubs to work, you shouldn't wear them to an interview. First impressions are important, and clothing is one of the first things people notice.2 When interviewing for a nursing job, it's usually better to err on the side of formality. A business suit is generally ideal for an interview; choosing one takes a lot of guesswork out of the process because a suit comes in a set, which removes any concern about putting together a well-coordinated outfit. During the interview:

Try to relax. This may seem like a silly suggestion, but when you have an interview it can be easy to let pressure and anxiety take over. You've done your preparation, and now you're ready to show your prospective employer that you possess the knowledge and personal characteristics one needs to be successful in the position.

Ask questions. During your interview, you may find topics to inquire about coming to mind. Preparing a few questions in advance is also a good idea. Conducting some research into your potential employer during the preparation process may help you pinpoint some things to discuss.

After the interview:

Send a thank-you note. This is a custom which seems to have fallen out of vogue, but in a climate of tough competition, doing something to help you shine is worth the investment. Writing a thank-you note also gives you a great opportunity to assert yourself as the best candidate for the job, fix any mistakes you may have made during the interview, expand your responses to important questions, and show your enthusiasm for the position, all of which can help you stand out in the applicant pool. 3

Keep sending your resume to prospective employers. When you've had a strong interview, it can be very tempting in its aftermath to stop looking for additional openings. But until you've been formally offered and accepted a position, nothing is certain. Plenty of people have had great interviews, only to be issued a polite rejection instead of an offer. Maintaining momentum by seeking out additional opportunities will help you remain optimistic should you be passed over for a job.

Finally, remember that a job interview is not really about you, and what you want from your career, though you might get a question alluding to that. A job interview is really about the organization, and how your unique skills and abilities can enhance and support it. The above interview tips for nurses can aid in the preparation process, and may increase the likelihood of landing the nursing position that you want.

Read more about pursuing additional nursing education at CTU.

1 "Fifteen Toughest Interview Questions." Retrieved from (Visited 04/19/16)
2 Smith, Jacquelyn. "How to Dress for Your Next Job Interview." Retrieved from (Visited 04/19/16)
3 Helmrich, Brittney. "Thanks! 22 Job Interview Thank You Note Tips." Retrieved from (Visited 04/19/16)

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*Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee that students will graduate, achieve licensure, find employment or the desiredsalary. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures at Financial aid is available for those who qualify.