A Brief Guide for Nursing Interviews


Roswell Park Cancer Institute's former Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Maureen Kelly* knows how anxiety-inducing interviews can be for nurses, especially those who are new to the field. Here are her tips for success when you land that interview!

Be confident! Greet your interviewers with a firm handshake.

At this time of year, many recent nursing school graduates are anxiously scheduling interviews with the agencies they hope to work for. The anticipation can be nerve-wracking, so here are some tips to help you prepare:

Do your homework on the potential employer.

Visit their website and learn as much as you can. Be sure to pay close attention to the mission statement of the organization because a key question may focus on how you can contribute to the organization’s mission.

Consider how your weaknesses can be transformed into strengths.

Almost every interview includes a question about your strengths and weaknesses. Identify a weakness that can be ultimately turned into a positive. An example might be, "People say that I am overly attentive to details. While that may be true, I have found that quality helpful when I will be administering chemotherapy to my patients."

Make sure that your resume is neat, clean and concise.

Check (and double-check) for typos – it may even be helpful to have a friend read it over. A second set of eyes can find errors you may miss. 

Connect your previous work and volunteer experiences to the duties of the job for which you are applying.

For example, if you were a camp counselor and you are applying for a pediatric position, emphasize how that may be relevant. Almost every previous job will prepare you to be a better nurse!

Practice answering interview questions.

Many universities and hospitals post sample questions online – take advantage of these before your interview so that you become more comfortable with the potential questions. Also, if during the interview you don't understand a question, ask for clarification. 

Be confident from start to finish.

Introduce yourself to all interviewers with a firm handshake. At the end of the interview (and throughout, where appropriate), ask questions you prepared before the interview. Some examples might be specifics about duties/responsibilities, procedures, important qualities of the organization and employees, opportunities and challenges, or the culture of the organization. Do not ask the interviewer about the salary unless they ask you what you expect. This is usually a Human Resources function. It is OK to ask about next steps.

Put your best self forward and dress professionally – before you know it you will be embarking on your first (or next) professional journey!

*Kelly is currently an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing.


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