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Nursing Interview Tips

When you apply for nursing jobs, you cannot always rely on your resumé alone to secure future employment. Recruiters and hiring managers often base their decisions on interview questions and answers, so preparing for nursing interviews may set you apart from other job seekers. Discover the following interview tips to help you prepare for interviews in the nursing field:

Explore Both Soft Skills and Hard Skills Related to Nursing

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According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), nurses should consider practicing their storytelling skills before they enter into an interview. The ANA encourages nurses to discuss their soft skills and their hard skills. For example, soft skills could include the following:

  • Written and spoken communication
  • Active and attentive listening
  • Friendliness and good manners
  • Diplomacy and respectfulness

The ANA recommends preparing one or two anecdotes that demonstrate your soft skills before interviewing. You could tell a specific story about how you comforted a patient, helped a physician manage a challenging situation, or assisted a colleague during a difficult procedure. In an interview, you may not be provided with an opportunity to demonstrate your soft skills unless you take the initiative.

On the other hand, an interviewer may be more likely to test your hard skills, such as computer skills, during an interview. Other hard skills that nurses might need to demonstrate could include procedures that a nurse may need to perform on the job, managing electronic health records, or helping patients during dressing changes.

Dress Comfortably But Professionally for Nursing Interviews

In addition to illustrating your hard and soft skills, make sure you dress professionally for nursing interviews. Writing for, Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, offers several tips for preparing your interview attire, including the following:

  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and avoid facial jewelry entirely
  • Wear close-toed, comfortable shoes, and never attend an interview in flip-flops or sandals
  • Demonstrate your personal style with accessories, such as scarves, earrings, or ties
  • Avoid wearing scrubs and other nursing clothing during job interviews. Instead, focus on dressing in business professional attire

Hess also recommends silencing devices, such as Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets. He advises nurses to give the interviewer and other potential colleagues your full attention during all interviews.

Prepare for Phone and Skype Interviews

Writing for, community health nurse James Huffman, RN, reminds nurses that not all interviews take place in person. According to Huffman, many recruiters and hiring managers today prefer to speak over the phone or through Skype, at least for the first interview.

Huffman advises nurses to prepare for phone and Skype interviews as they would for in-person interviews. He suggests finding a quiet place where you will not be disturbed or interrupted and to dress as though you were appearing in person, even if the interview only takes place over the phone.

However, you cannot always control your environment. Huffman states that facing an unexpected disruption during a nursing interview can actually work in your favor if you handle the interruption well. Remain calm, politely ask the interviewer to allow you to take care of the problem, then return to the interview.

Prepare a List of Questions to Ask Interviewers

Keep in mind that most nursing interviews involve two-way communication. Writing for Nursing Times, Jenni Middleton reminds nurses to prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer. In most cases, your opportunity to ask questions will come at the end of the meeting.

According to Middleton, NHS Employers Chief Executive Danny Mortimer recommends asking if the interviewer has any concerns about you. If the interviewer worries about your long commute, your lack of experience in a certain area, or some other issue, this question allows you to address concerns so that your name does not get discounted the minute you leave the room. If your answer impresses the interviewer, you may receive the job offer when you otherwise would not.

Practice Answering Common Nursing Interview Questions

As you attend multiple nursing interviews, you may notice that similar interview questions appear at each one. While you cannot always guess what questions an interviewer may ask, you can prepare for a few of the most common questions, such as the following offered by

  • What do you know about your specialty? You can use this question to tell an anecdote that positions you in a positive light or allows you to illustrate your passion for the specialty.
  • What would past supervisors say about you? Consider using this question to offer a direct quote. For example, if your previous supervisor gave you a compliment, repeat your supervisor’s words exactly to give the answer more gravity.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Try to give honest answers to both parts of this question. If you claim to have no weaknesses, the interviewer may not highlight your integrity and may not trust anything further that you say.
  • Why should we hire you? Prepare a distinctive answer for this question that demonstrates what qualities set you apart from other nurses, such as your compassion, extensive education, or advanced experience.

If you stumble over a question during a nursing interview, consider practicing alternate answers for future interviews.

Know What Qualities You Possess as a Nurse

In an article for The Guardian, journalist Tamsin Rutter interviewed several recruiters and hiring managers in the healthcare sector and asked about what elements they look for specifically during nursing interviews. Ann Duncan, Matron of the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, stated that she looks for six specific characteristics: “care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.”

According to Duncan, she incorporates those characteristics into interview questions: “We want enthusiasm to shine through — you can see when someone’s energised (sic) by the work they do.” If you know what makes you a strong nursing candidate, you may impress your interviewer with your dedication.

Research Healthcare Facilities Carefully

In addition to knowing what makes you an excellent nurse, knowing some key information about the healthcare facility at which you apply can also help. suggests researching the hospital, physicians’ office, or other institution before your interview. Knowing how the facility operates may help you connect more meaningfully with the interviewer.

Obtaining a great nursing job can help you feel more stable and secure in your career. Consider advancing your education through a BSN to DNP online program. Visit the Maryville University Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program to learn more about the curriculum and its approach to providing professionals with a holistic view of nursing leadership.