As mentioned in my last post, today's topic is interviewing.
Now it doesn't matter if you are interviewing for your very first nursing job straight out of undergrad, your first APN job after already having been a nurse, or even your 20th interview as a medical professional, interviewing can be tough.
Without the right amount of preparation, good intentions can really go south in the interview room.
So here is a list of 5 things that I have done, or read about, or seen as I have interviewed others, in order to best prepare you for that big interview and get you that job!
1.) Know Your Stuff: Know the company that you are wanting to work for- what is their mission and vision? What are some of their values? What is the culture like? Most of this information can be found on a hospital's website and will be valuable as you go throughout your interview. When your professional mission, your vision, your values and goals align with the business, this is very attractive.
2.) Dress Professionally: This is just my personal opinion, but I think that whether you are interviewing for a nursing position or APN position, you should dress to impress. And this generally means a suit. Some people will say it's ok for nurses to wear dress pants and a "nice shirt" but I think if you really want to make an impression, the full suit will make you stand out.
For one of my interviews I wore a pencil skirt with a button down shirt, and suit jacket. Another intverview I wore the same jacket with a different shift underneath, and black dress pants. And let me further tell you, just because you have an interview and need to dress professionally, does not mean spending a ton of money before you are even making it. That pencil skirt and suit jacket that I wore above cost me $12 at a thrift store in my area. There are deals all over...you just have to find them!
3.) Make an Impression: You only get one chance to make a great first impression. That's part of my reasoning for dressing in a suit. But the other parts of making a great impression include making eye contact from the very first greeting, shaking hands with a firm handshake (really, who likes shaking a limp noodle!?), smile, breathe and relax.
The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to listen, and since you will be so prepared for the questions (we'll get to that in a minute), you will come across as confident. Who doesn't want to hire someone who is dressed professionally, has a firm handshake, smiles a lot, makes great eye contact, and throughout the interview breathes easy, appears relaxed and attentive, and answers each question confidently??? Oh yeah, you are so getting this job!
4.) Prepare for Questioning: One of the nice things about interviewing is that many of the same, or similar questions are asked. This is not to say that a curve ball can't be thrown at you, but with preparation of common questions, if a new one does pop up, you will be prepared for it. And one of the best ways to be prepared for answering these questions is to practice. Practice by yourself out loud, practice in front of the mirror, and practice in front of family and friends who can give you some feedback.
So what are questions to be prepared for???
*"Tell me about yourself"- this is a common opener. The interviewer wants to see how you will handle a very open ended discussion. This is not the time to tell your entire life story. Rather, keep your answer concise, but include information about your education, your pertinent work experience, career goals, and a little bit about your personality. It is essentially like doing a quick run through of your CV/resume.
*"Why did you go into nursing?"- this is your time to be honest and give a good story. Certainly "for the $" is never an appropriate response, nor is that the truth...if you think you'll be a baller you may want to turn back now! Let them know why nursing is your calling, because truly this is the case for nurses.
*What would your previous boss/co-workers/peers say about you? How do people describe you?- This is a time to discuss your positive traits that will make you an asset for their team. Things like team player, hard-worker, dedicated, loyal all reflect well. But only discuss things that truly are reflective of your personality.
*Describe a difficult situation and how you handled it?- this one should be rather easy...if you've gone through nursing school you've most likely had a difficult family member, nursing mentor, preceptor, etc. Just describe the situation, but most importantly show how well you handled it using team work, honesty, great communication, etc (whatever is appropriate for the situation).
*Describe a situation in which you had conflict with a co-worker and how you handled it?- and really, who hasn't had a co-worker who hasn't given you problems. BUT- if you haven't, you can always describe a situation in which great communication was required to work things out. Employers love to hear and see an employee who knows how to handle themselves with grace, and has great communication.
*What are your biggest weaknesses?- Now is definitely not the time to pretend to be perfect...you don't want the interviewer to add "Liar" to your list after you've stated nothing! Everybody has flaws, and the interviewer is trying to understand what yours are and more importantly how you respond to them. However, you can present the flaw, or weakness, as a positive.
Eg: At times, I can be a "people-pleaser" which doesn't always translate in me standing up for myself, however it allows me to focus on providing great service to my patients. (for those of you that know me, I'm certainly not a people pleaser, but this is just an example).
Another example: I have a type A, perfectionistic personality which can come across as intimidating to peers, and I tend to hold others to the same high standard, but I get the job done excellently.
*How would you handle a parent of a patient who is not happy with the care received?
*How would you handle a patient who constantly complains of pain?
*What are your career goals?
*How do you handle stress?
*What is the most rewarding about being a nurse? The least rewarding?
*Describe your ideal job and work environment.
There are going to be a lot of questions thrown your way. Again, preparation is the key here. Just make sure to listen to each question, take a deep breath, and answer confidently.
5.) Leave a lasting impression- not only do you need to make a great first impression, but you need to make a lasting one. This includes asking great questions at the end of the interview, continuing to make eye contact, staying positive throughout the entire interview, and ending with another smile and firm handshake. Then, its a great idea to send a thank you. In today's age of technology, a simple email after the interview to thank them for their time, and remind them how you would be the perfect candidate for the job is appropriate. However, this is only the first step. A hand written note 3 or so days after the interview will make a big statement. Again, it's all about making yourself stand out from the rest, and leaving that lasting impression.
So there it is...my 5 tips on acing your nursing or APN interview. I'd love to hear from you if you've recently gone through this. What were the things that helped you the most? Anything you'd do differently??