My GN Interview Experiences

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???


Graduate Nurse Portfolio

I’m going to apologize now for the quality of these pictures but I only have an iPhone and I was in a hurry when I took them (about to go to my first interview) so you get what you get. 🙂 Anyway, I wanted to write a post on how I put together my nursing student portfolio to take to my interviews; also if you click on the picture of my resume and enlarge it, you can see how I set my resume up. I hope it helps some of you out the way that this knowledge passed down to me did!

I bought 15 leatherette 1″ binders with the intention of taking approximately 3-5 to each interview to give to those interviewing me. In reality I took 5 to each interview but only gave one away each time because they didn’t want to keep my beautiful handiwork! LOL!

So, for your portfolios you’ll need 3 things: a nice presentation binder, resume paper, and sheet protectors. These are what I used:

  • INFUSE Premium Leatherette 1″ Presentation Binder, Black
  • Avery Recycled Economy Weight Sheet Protectors
  • Southworth Exceptional Resume Paper, 100% cotton, 24lb, Ivory

Depending on which hospitals you apply at and what they require with your application/interviews, you’ll want to have these documents ready to go (the order they are listed in is the order that I put them in my portfolio):

  • Exemplar (if your hospital requires you to write one…it’s usually a 1-page essay)
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • References
  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Letters of Recommendation. I started asking for these through the summer; I’d recommend asking your professors to start writing them about two months before you’ll need them! If possible, ask them to give them to you electronically that way you can print several copies of them for your portfolios. You’ll probably want around 3-5 LOR; all from current/previous managers (if applicable) and your clinical instructors. Hospitals will specify if they want more and if they want them to come from specific individuals.
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Immunization record (I just printed mine off from my school records)
  • Extras: if you want, you could probably put in any publications that you’ve had, a list of organizations that you belong to, etc. But remember you don’t want your portfolio too long or convoluted!

Please also keep in mind that you want everything printed on the same resume paper, and in the same font & format. Please note how my layout is practically the same on every page. You do NOT want to put “titles” on your resume, cover letter, and your letters of recommendation (what I mean by this is putting the word “resume”  on your resume; they will know its your resume when they start reading over it!).

Pg 1 of my graduate nurse portfolio: order of contents

Pg 1 of my graduate nurse portfolio: order of contents

Up close and personal: order of contents

Up close and personal: order of contents

Pg 2 & 3: exemplar & cover letter

Pg 2 & 3: exemplar & cover letter

Pg 4 & 5: resume

Pg 4 & 5: resume

pg 6 & 7: references & certifications

Pg 6 & 7: references & certifications

Pg 8 & 9: awards

Pg 8 & 9: awards

Pg 9 & 10: awards

Pg 9 & 10: awards continued

Pg 11 & 12: LOR

Pg 11 & 12: LOR

Pg 12 & 13: LOR

Pg 12 & 13: LOR

Pg 14 & 15: unofficial transcript

Pg 14 & 15: unofficial transcript

Pg 16 & 17: unofficial transcript continued

Pg 16 & 17: unofficial transcript continued

Pg 18: student health immunization records

Pg 18: student health immunization records


What I wore:

  • Hair brushed, combed back into a neat ponytail
  • Stud diamond earrings (only 1 pair!)
  • 1″ non-flashy black heels
  • Grey slacks
  • Black blazer
  • Bright pink/black/grey/purple sleeveless top underneath the blazer for a pop of color
  • Black leather nondescript purse
  • VERY minimal makeup; light mascara & eyeshadow with face powder & concealer
I forgot to take a picture when I was actually WEARING the outfit; but this gives you at least an idea of what it looked like! ;)

I forgot to take a picture when I was actually WEARING the outfit; but this gives you at least an idea of what it looked like! 😉


And there you have it! This is my graduate nurse portfolio and I must say I am very proud of it! Hopefully next week I’ll type up a post about the types of questions I was asked as well as which ones I asked myself. 🙂

Keep Calm, I’m…

Going to be a Cardiac Nurse!!!!!

After my PCU and CSU interviews a couple of weeks ago, I was called back for final interviews for both, as well as an interview on my floor and an interview at a CVICU. The interview on the CSU (cardiac step-down unit) was first, and I went to that not expecting much more than to get some great practice with a panel interview and practice with the type of questions that I would be asked.

As it turned out, I met several of the staff and charge nurses on the unit and got great vibes from them, was asked if I wanted to tour the unit after my interview  (which I did, and LOVED), and left the interview feeling like I REALLY wanted to stay on the unit as a new grad nurse. That night found me tossing and turning in bed wanting to be chosen for that job and yet feeling conflicted as to the fact that if I chose that job I’d be leaving a great unit and people that I love at my current job.

I got a call from the manager of the CSU the next day offering me a night position on that unit…a call that I missed and had to listen to on voicemail because I was getting ready for my interview that day, the interview on my floor with my boss!

I wanted to call her back right away and accept the position – in my gut, I had a great feeling about the job and  I just KNEW that I wanted to start my career as a nurse on that floor. But I called my mother-in-law and then best friend first to get some advice on what to do, especially since I was about to go interview for the position on my floor, and they both told me to at least interview with my boss first and see what she had to say about the position on my floor.

So I went to that “interview”, which really was more of a Q&A session with my boss (she wasn’t interested in a formal interview since she already knew me) and I ended up telling her about my job offer and the war going on in my heart and mind as whether or not to accept the position I was offered at a different hospital or stay where I knew the unit, the managers, and the coworkers I’d be with as a new nurse. The biggest reason I told her that I was even considering the other job is because the new hospital is 15-20 min away from my house whereas my current hospital is about an hour and 15 min away from my house. I didn’t tell her that I was also considering the other position because the acuity of the floor is higher than the floor I currently work on, and I’m somewhat nervous about staying on my floor and transitioning from a PCT to a nurse; how would the other PCTs react to that?

After I left my interview with my boss, I just knew that I had to call the other manager back. I knew what my decision was and I’d known even before my interview with my boss. I wanted to take the other position.

So I called her back and I accepted her offer to be a new grad nurse in the CSU!!!

The residency starts in February of next year, so that gives me plenty of time to study for and pass the NCLEX once I’ve graduated. And then my life as a real nurse will begin!!

Here are some of the criteria that the CSU deals with:

  • Patients with a primary cardiac diagnosis, or patients with a medical/surgical diagnosis that develop cardiac issues during their stay requiring high acuity cardiac monitoring and/or care.
  • Acute MI (heart attack) patients with or without cardiac cath lab interventions – including post intervention with/without arterial sheaths in place.
  • Patients requiring inotropic pharmacological support.
  • Patients requiring blood pressure support – either for hypertension or hypotension.
  • Post-op cardiovascular surgical patients.

I’m so freaking excited!!! I just want to graduate already and start my job as a cardiac nurse!!!

First Interview Thoughts

Well I thought I’d update y’all on how my very first GN nursing interview went! It’s been SUCH a long week but it’s behind me now and I’m about to start the 4th week of my last semester. HOLY COW!

My interview was last Tuesday for an ER position. I interviewed with two other candidates – which was WEIRD but I actually ended up loving the chance to hear their answers for my future interviews. They were both very smooth and confident with their responses to the questions. I, on the other hand, felt like a bumbling idiot trying to scramble for the words to express what my mind was thinking. It wasn’t pretty. AND, to top it off, before the interview I put on the outfit I was originally going to wear and although the pants fit and the jacket (sort of) fit, the shirt I was thinking of was HUGE on me. It was a tunic! I didn’t really have anything else I liked better but I found a cotton shirt and told myself at least I’d be wearing a jacket over it. Which my hubby told me later looked awful. 😦

So I don’t think I did that well. We were told when we entered the interview room that to make the interview a smooth process we would each take turns answering the questions that were asked of us, with us rotating through who would answer first each time. We were only asked 4 questions before our half-hour was over: “Tell us about yourself”; “What made you choose the nursing profession?”; “Tell us about a clinical mistake you’ve made that has impacted you”; “Why should we pick YOU for this position?”. I feel like if they were to choose out of the three of us, the other two candidates would DEFINITELY be at the top of the list. But hey, I feel like it was a great practice interview…a great one to get the nerves out of my system. AND I learned that I did NOT like my interview outfit, so I fixed that today by buying a new one! And it’s HOT! 😉 We were told that we’d know in about 3 weeks if we were chosen for a 2nd interview. I don’t think I will be, but hey who knows.

But that evening after coming home everything was made better by the fact that I checked my work email and got an email from my boss telling me that the position had been posted for my floor and she was asking me to go apply! If that didn’t make me feel loved at work I’m pretty sure nothing would. I applied right away, of course, and when I checked my application status a couple of days ago I noticed that it said “Interview to be Scheduled.” Sweet!!! I know now that I will SO take that position if offered to me. Crossing my fingers!

I have two interviews scheduled for next week, one for the PCU and the other for a Cardiac Step-Down unit. I really am using these as practice as well since I know that I want to remain on my floor now…but for some reason I’m still nervous about the interviews? Eek. This whole “trying to find a big girl job” thing is nerve-wracking.

I’ll post more later about my first school nursing clinical and my first shifts in the ED at the VA! 🙂


2 Down, 14 To Go

Well my S2 semester has begun and I’m slowly starting to wrap my head around the fact that I am, in fact, in school AGAIN and that this is, in fact, my LAST semester.

The first thing that has been hard for me, right off the bat, is of course the early morning wake up calls again and the fact that I know I can’t just come home at night after school and sit and watch TV. Man how I wish I could.

The second thing that’s been hard has been the fact that I’m still continuing to try and exercise and eat right everyday but all I want right now is CHOCOLATE. Hello, stress. Nice of you to show up again. (I will not let this semester de-rail my weight-loss progress!!)

The first couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of information overload and assignments and orientations. We even had a simulation already! Our LAST simulation of nursing school!! It was actually super helpful – more so than any other simulation I’ve completed – and I feel like I REALLY learned a lot from it. We covered topics like IV therapy, oxygen therapy (which masks to use and when/why), as well as giving insulin. Then our simulations covered DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism).

I met my preceptor last week for my CCI clinical at the VA Emergency Department. She’s awesome and also a former TWU nursing student! I am going to love having clinicals with her…we start next Friday.

I also met my school nurse at the school that I will be attending community clinicals in this semester and she seems super amazing as well. I’m blessed by having great leaders this semester! I start those clinicals next week on Thursdays. My weeks are going to go by SOOOOO fast!

I started applying to hospitals last week and have so far applied to 20 different positions at different hospitals. And then yesterday when I checked my email after finishing up at school I saw that I had an email to schedule an INTERVIEW for this upcoming TUESDAY!!! Already?! I’m so not prepared for this…I’m so not prepared for this…I’m so not prepared for this…

But ready or not I have an interview on Tuesday! It’s for the Emergency Department. I have to put together my portfolios today to have them all ready to go…good thing I already have my references and my letters of recommendation all prepared already! I’ll upload a blog post with my portfolio details a bit later next week.

AND I have a test on Monday in CCI. It’s hard to believe we have a test already and we’ve only completed two weeks of school. 😦 Our instructor assured us that we know the material and that it’s all review for us but it’s still nerve-wracking since the test is worth 25% and I really haven’t even begun to study.

Well that’s all I’ve got for now! Time to go study for my test (with Stars-Wars on in the background…this is serious stuff y’all). Happy weekend!


Friday’s interview went great!!

I got to the hospital and met up with the nurse manager on her floor – surgical telemetry – even though I was interviewing for a position on another floor (cardiology).

The interview was very conversational and I loved the nurse manager right away. And everyone that I met on the floor leading up to the interview (I had to wait for a few minute as she finished with another interview) was so kind and welcoming.

She asked me at one point why I was trying to get a part time job even though I was in nursing school and a PRN position would be better for me. I told her that I would prefer PRN but I just hadn’t had anyone interested in giving me an interview yet; she then looked up available positions in the hospital and told me that I could interview for a PRN position on HER floor if I wanted to! I of course said yes!!

So after the interview she gave me a tour of the unit and I fell in love right away. I left the hospital EAGERLY awaiting to hear back from them…

…And I didn’t have to wait long! I was called at 5:45pm that evening and offered the job.

I accepted the job, and starting on June 17th I will be a PCT on a surgical cardiac telemetry floor! 😀

Taken the morning of my interview...I got to the interview super early, so I started taking selfless. ;)

Taken the morning of my interview…I got to the interview super early, so I started taking selfies. 😉


I had a great interview today!! I got there about 15 minutes early (although I almost thought I’d be late because of traffic and construction on the highways) and the first person I spoke to was actually a nurse who ended up sitting in on the interview.

The nurse led me to a waiting room and told me to have a seat while I waited for the nurse manager to finish with lunch. After about 5-10 minutes of waiting, the nurse manager found me and introduced herself, I introduced myself, and we had a seat in her office. Then two other nurses joined us, and we began the interview!

It was a pretty relaxed interview and I felt like I “clicked” with everyone present. I even made all three of them laugh at one point! They were pretty concerned with the fact that it is a full time position and I’m also going to school full time, but I feel like I was able to assuage their concerns, because I fully believe that while it will be hard, I will be able to handle it. They asked me why I wanted to be a nurse, and they asked me about how I would handle a difficult patient. That really was the extent of the interview before they asked me if I had any questions!

The nurse manager then set up an interview with the nursing director for next week (Wednesday – EEK!) and the way all three of them kept talking, I got the impression that they felt like I was already a part of the team.

I’m so excited!!!

I really, really, really hope the nursing director likes me as well and they decide to hire me. Hopefully by the end of next week (Thursday or Friday) I’ll know for sure.

Another Interview!

This one is tomorrow actually – it’s a full time position, nights on a med/surg floor. Super excited! I don’t know why, but I have a really good feeling about this interview.

I went shopping today and bought some nice grey dress pants, a royal blue shirt, and a black blazer. Tonight I’m going to straighten my hair (confidence hair!) and I’ll then be ready!

Wish me luck!!


I’m almost afraid to post anything in case I jinx myself…

But I got an interview for a PCT position!!! It’s next Friday; crossing my fingers and offering big prayers that the hiring manager loves me, because it’s on a cardiology unit and I would LOVE to work cardiology!!


Anyway, now that my outburst is done, let me just update you on how my summer has been going (the two whole weeks I’ve been off so far): I’ve read tons of books, straightened up my house, gotten my nails done, gone shopping for new clothes, and have generally slept. A lot.

I love summer.