I completed 4 separate interviews and 1 call-back interview before I accepted my job offer, so I thought I could talk about my interview experiences to give you an idea of what might happen/what you may be asked. Now keep in mind that every single interview experience is going to be different for every single person so this may or may not be along the lines of what you experience yourself. But at least I hope it’s a general idea.
Only one of my interviews was a one-on-one interview with just myself and the manager. All others were me with at least 3 people interviewing me, and that first interview that I talked about – the ED interview – was me and two other candidates with the panel of interviewers (that was the one and only time that occurred but it was SO weird!). So don’t be surprised if you interview with other candidates, and don’t be surprised if most of your interviews are panel interviews with multiple people interviewing you. All of the interviews I went to were just the “preliminary” interviews to be followed by “final” interviews if you received a call-back for it. I received 2 call-backs total and only attended one before I accepted a job offer. I do know, however, that some hospitals (like the one I currently work at) only interview once and then base their decision off of that one and only interview. And I’ve heard of some hospitals that interview up to three times before choosing a candidate! So at the end of your interview I would suggest asking those that interview you what the process is on moving forward. When I asked that at each one I learned that there would be a second interview – if they liked me – and then they’d decide after that.
At each interview I made sure I was presentable, polished, and professional appearing. Unfortunately I’m the type of person that flushes really bad when excited/angry/nervous/pretty much any other emotion, but there’s nothing I can do about that except to pretend like it’s not occurring and move right on along with my interview. I don’t let that one issue affect my confidence, even though I HATE that it’s happening at the time. But it’s a fact of life for me and I promise they are not looking at your physical appearance as much as they are paying attention to your answers…because that’s what counts. As long as you are very-well put together and make a good first impression, your spirit is what matters to them.
Ok so here’s what I know you’ve been waiting for: what was I asked during my interviews??
I’ll put it in bullet-point format to make it easy to read; essentially these were all the questions that I was asked during interviews. All my interviews except for my call-back final interview for the CSU were about 10-15 minutes long (one of the managers called it “speed interviewing,” saying they were really just trying to get an initial first impression to determine whether or not to call-back for a final interview).
- Tell me about yourself.
- What made you choose the nursing profession?
- Tell me about the time you made a clinical mistake and how it impacted you.
- Tell me about a conflict with your coworker and how you resolved it.
- Why do you want to work on (whatever unit you applied to)?
- Tell me about a time that you worked with different cultures and how that impacted you.
- Tell me about a time that you were extremely stressed and how did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time that you showed caring behavior for a patient.
- Tell me about a time when you had communication difficulties with a patient and how you resolved them.
- Tell me about a time that you did something to boost the morale in your workplace.
- Have you worked night shift before? (If you’re applying for nightshift they want to know that YOU know what you’re getting into and that you can handle it.)
- Tell me about a time that you had to find a solution to a difficult situation.
- Tell me about a time when you saw a coworker doing something wrong and how did you handle it?
- If you had a patient with a blood pressure of 200/100, a patient with a blood glucose of 47, and a patient who urgently needed to go to the bathroom, who would you see/help first? Give your rationale for your answer.
- Tell me why we should hire YOU.
I feel like there were more but I will say that a lot of these were repeated at each interview. They’re very behavioral based questions to try and get to know you. I never got a question like “what are your strengths?” and “what are you weaknesses?” so just remember you could prepare all day long for some popular interview questions and yet they never get asked at all (I was ready to go if they asked me these questions, lol!).
Here are some of the questions I asked at the end of the interviews – always ask questions at the end!! Doing so shows that you’re interested in the position and that you’re making sure it’s a right fit for you as well.
- What qualities/personality are you looking for in a new grad nurse on this unit (whatever unit you’re interviewing for)?
- If I’m selected to move forward in this process, what comes next?
- What are the expectations, responsibilities, and duties of the nurses on your unit?
- What happens when census is low on your unit?
- How often do nurses on this unit float? And relatedly, how soon in my job will I be expected to float?
- How do night shift and day shift differ as far as workload and keeping busy?
- What is the RN/patient ratio when there’s proper staffing? What happens when staffing is low? (Ask for differences between day shift/night shift if you applied to both positions.)
- What is your average patient population on this unit? What is the acuity of the patients on this unit?
- Staff: how do you like working on the unit? Do you have good teamwork/team morale? How long have you been working here?
- Manager: what is your management style?
- What is the average length of nurse tenure on your unit? (AKA how many years do nurses stay on the unit? If there’s fast turnaround then that’s not a good sign.)
- What are the reasons given when nurses leave this unit?
- What type of professional development opportunities are available?
- How does the orientation process work and how long does it last?
So there you have it! Remember that your interview experiences will differ from mine but the biggest point I hope that you take away from this is that you have to give a good first impression and you need to be prepared! Come prepared with your own questions to ask your interviewers based on the unit you are interviewing for and what you want to know about it. Don’t ever NOT ask questions at the end because it looks like you are uninterested. And if you have time, don’t just ask 1 or 2 questions because then you look like you’re only asking them to fulfill the requirement of asking questions at the end. Have a good list ready and whatever isn’t answered in the interview process – ask!
And remember to trust your gut instinct. If you get a job offer but you had some reservations about the staff and the manager in the interview process, you might want to get more information before accepting that job. Especially if you have to sign a contract for that job – you don’t want to be stuck at a place that you don’t mesh well with for years on end!! The interview process is just as much about them trying to feel you out as it is about you trying to feel them out.
So, next week when I’m done studying for the two tests that I have on Monday (AAAHHH!!!) I will give y’all an update on how my semester is going thus far…Almost done with week 6 already!! WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE???