How to Ace Your Nurse Job Interview

What a thrill to receive an invitation to interview after spending days or weeks perfecting the resume and hours filling out online applications! However, interviews can be difficult. Even the most highly experienced nurse can be shaken by process. The more you want a job, the more stressful the interviewing appears to be.


Nursing interviews frequently include a variety of questions designed to assess your ability to care for patients and collaborate with a medical team. When preparing for a nurse interview, you can use the following tips to help you consider all of the factors involved, such as what type of questions the hiring manager might ask and how you can best present yourself.


Prior to the Big Day, it is critical to spend some time mentally and physically preparing. We have summed up some steps to take to earn your spot, from doing your research to selling yourself.


Be on Time


Arriving early at the interview site shows that you’re eager for the opportunity. Whether your first interview is a phone screen or an on-site interview, make sure you are on time. It can help you to make any final preparations, such as checking your appearance, checking devices or internet connection for virtual interviews, and last-minute notes recap. 


For on-site interviews, plan to go to the facility early to leave breathing room for traffic and other unexpected circumstances. Aim to arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview so you can check in with the front desk and receive additional directions. You can spend any free time observing how coworkers interact with each other to see what kind of environment and culture you can expect.


Reliability is essential in the healthcare industry, so it is critical that you set the right impression.


Dress to Impress


Dress professionally for the interview to make the best first impression. Unless the hiring manager specifically states that you must wear scrubs or bring any equipment, you may dress in business professional attire.


What exactly does it mean to “dress to impress”? has a very specific list. Regardless of the increasingly casual attitudes toward dress in most professions, an interview requires a specific mode of dress because it sends an instant, visual message the moment you walk in the door. The more professional you appear, the more professional you are perceived to be.


It is suggested that women follow these guidelines:


  • A skirt or pant suit with jacket and button-down collared shirt or blouse
  • Skirts or dresses of knee length, no mini-skirts
  • Avoid flashy colors or patterns
  • Wear pantyhose with skirts or dresses
  • Do NOT expose cleavage!
  • Cover tattoos and remove piercings
  • Do not wear perfume
  • Fingernails should be short and without chips in polish


Men should consider following these guidelines:


  • A suit with jacket and button-down collared shirt
  • Tie is optional but when in doubt, wear it
  • Avoid bright colors or patterns, keep it simple
  • Cover tattoos and remove piercings
  • Do not wear cologne
  • Neat and natural fingernails


Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviews have become the norm. The fact that you have a virtual job interview coming up does not excuse you from dressing appropriately. It is important to note that your preferred dress code should make you look as good as you would in a face-to-face interview. Aside from what you wear, you should also think about your interview background, which will be important in presenting yourself to the interviewer.  Consider using the blurred background feature available in most online meeting platforms


Build Rapport


Break the ice! As soon as you enter the facility, smile and greet everyone you meet. Be polite to all employees because they could be your coworkers in the future. Hiring managers could also ask different team members how they feel about you, so it’s useful to be courteous and friendly.


When entering the interview room, begin by greeting your interviewer with a firm handshake, a smile, and eye contact. Be prepared to engage in some small talk before the interview begins. This is an excellent opportunity to put into practice everything you know about making people feel at ease, so\\ be confident, warm, and engaging. Make eye contact throughout the interview – it’s a sign of confidence, and interviewers appreciate it. Remember to sit up straight and stay focused, no matter how nervous you are. You won’t get the job if you’re slouching or doing unnecessary gestures. 


Do Your Research


Whether you applied through a job board or were referred by a friend, you should do some research on the company’s background and be able to explain why you chose to interview at the organization.


Allot some time researching the organization on the internet. Read through pages on the website, such as the “About Us” page, which should include important staff member bios as well as the company’s values and goals. Look for articles about this organization elsewhere on the internet to see if they’re involved in the community.


You can also spend some time going over the job description again and jotting down some of the main points that you can discuss during the interview. Look for specific skills or attributes listed in the job description that you possess. For example, if the job posting emphasizes leadership abilities, include some examples of your leadership abilities in your responses.


You must have a clear grasp of who you’ll be working for and some of the tasks you’ll have to accomplish. During the interview, you may be asked, “Why do you want to work here?” By being able to cite specific facts about the job or organization, you will be able to effectively illustrate why you want that particular job.


Be Honest


Authenticity shines through in interviews, and potential employers can sense when you’re not at ease. Most professional interviewers will notice your eye movements and body language when you lie in an interview. In many cases, it is fairly obvious because you appear shifty and uneasy.


During your nursing interview, your interviewer will most likely ask you difficult questions that you should be prepared to answer honestly. Prepare to answer questions about your education, employment history, clinical nursing experience, and future goals. Because no one knows you better than you, this should be a breeze. 


In an interview, honesty is the best policy, but avoid exaggerating the perceived negatives in your career. Honesty can set you apart from the competition because it is viewed as a key differentiator in the eyes of an employer.


Ask Questions


We cannot emphasize this enough! Prepare some thoughtful questions for your nursing interview ahead of time. At the end of the interview, interviewers will always ask if you have any questions – this is to gauge your level of interest in the role and your level of preparedness for the interview, so make sure you get a few questions primed.


Examples of questions you might want to ask:


  • What is your patient to nurse ratio?
  • How long is your training for new nurses?
  • What are the challenges your unit is currently facing?
  • What are you looking for in an ideal new nurse hire?
  • What are the chances for advancement?
  • What are your scheduling requirements?


Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! 


We understand that you want to get this nursing job, and interviews can be nerve-racking. In the end, your experience and credentials are important, but so are your preparation, poise, and personality. Putting in the effort to research and prepare for your nursing interview will boost your confidence and demonstrate to your interviewer that you are committed to this position. So, take a deep breath, follow these tips, and smash that interview!