It doesn’t matter what part of the nursing or healthcare profession you specialise in, job interviews can be stressful – especially if you really want the job you’re going for. But there are a few basic rules that will make your interview slightly easier, and show the interviewers that you’re keen to become a part of their team. So we’ve put together some top tips for your interview in nursing to help you along the way.
It’s always a good idea to read about current issues in nursing in case. Check out a few nursing websites, such as the Nursing Times or the RCN, to refresh yourself with general news as well as what’s happening in your specialist area. If you can quote current research on your specialism, so much the better, especially if you use it in the context of your day-to-day role. Doing a bit of research will indicate your commitment to nursing and show you understand the importance of evidence-based practice.
Try and anticipate some of the questions you’re bound to be asked and make some notes in advance. The job description is a good place to start as it outlines the qualities and experience they’re specifically looking for. In a nursing interview, it’s likely that you’ll be asked about instances that you’ve encountered, such as how you handled a difficult situation, e.g. with an awkward patient, unreasonable behaviour from families, an angry doctor or a problem with other nursing staff. And if you haven’t encountered anything like that yet, tell them how you think you’d go about solving such a problem.
One question you’re bound to be asked – and one that many people find difficult to answer – is ‘tell us about yourself’. This question isn’t designed to find out about your experience and qualifications because those have already been covered from your application and CV. What you need to talk about is why you enjoy nursing, what your strengths are and how they apply to your role, e.g. how your enthusiasm and positive outlook help you deal with patients; how you use your professional, and personal, interests to help you in your job.
Other questions they’ll cover are ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ and ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’ (NB: ‘caring too much’ or ‘working too hard’ are not acceptable answers!). Your answers to both questions need to have a positive spin and/to show that you have drive and commitment as well as the ability to overcome difficulties along the way.
Don’t assume that the interviewers will cover everything you want to know about the role – they want to hear from you too, so don’t be afraid to ask questions as they occur in the interview. It’s also a really good idea to take in some prepared questions to ask at the end. These can be anything from a nursing perspective, about training and CPD, procedures, or about the team you’re hoping to join. You can guarantee that you’ll be asked the question ‘is there anything you want to ask us?’, so make sure you’ve got something to ask.
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