An interview can often be the last hurdle standing between you and your ideal nursing role. Whilst interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, with the right preparation, you can maximise your chances of success. Here’s our guide on how to prepare for a nursing interview.
There’s no way of knowing exactly what questions will come up in your nursing interview, so preparing yourself in advance is key. Take some time to think about your relevant experiences, what makes you stand out and your strengths and weaknesses, as you may need to draw on them to answer any questions you weren’t expecting.
Also take some time to rehearse your interview technique as this can help you deliver concise and accurate answers to questions. There are many different techniques you can use to answer an interview question, with one of the most popular being the STAR method, where you describe a situation, your task, an action you took and how it turned out.
When it comes to preparing for individual questions, it’s worth having answers ready for some of the most common questions you could be asked. Here are some typical nursing interview questions and how you could answer them:
Why do you want this job?
This question tends to come up early on in an interview, and can be a challenging one to answer if you aren’t prepared for it. Remember to talk about your passion for nursing, why you’ve decided on it as a career, what you enjoy most about it and why the organisation you’re interviewing at is a great fit for you.
How would you handle a difficult patient?
You will need to demonstrate that you are a compassionate person regardless of the circumstances that you’re in. Whilst rare, it can be the case that some of your patients might not want to be treated, or may be rude to you. You should highlight how you stay calm under pressure and can always remain attentive to your patients’ needs.
What makes a good shift?
You can answer this question in a few different ways. On the one hand, your interviewer will be looking for you to say that a good shift involves you delivering the best possible care, seeing patients recovering their health and enjoying the work you do. At the same time, your interviewer will also appreciate you being honest about some of the difficulties or stresses that can impact your shift and how you might manage more challenging days at work.
Have you ever had to deal with a mistake?
Everyone has had to deal with a mistake at some point in their life, and whilst it might shake your confidence at first, it will have made you a better nurse further down the line. Be open about a mistake you have made, but make sure you highlight what you learned from the experience and how it has benefitted you and helped you develop your skills in the long run.
Why did you specialise in your current field?
This is an opportunity to go into depth about why certain areas of medical practice are appealing to you. If you have specialised in a particular field, talk about why you’re so passionate about your specialty and what drew you to it in the first place.
What are some issues faced by healthcare providers?
Beyond your own skills and experience, your interviewer might ask you this question to assess your knowledge of the broader healthcare field. They will be looking to understand your awareness of the challenges that medical providers face and how these challenges might impact you during your time as a nurse.
What do equality and diversity mean to you?
Employers such as the NHS expect its staff to have a clear understanding of equality and diversity, and how they should be upheld in medical practice. Your interviewer may be looking to find out about your commitment to championing equality and diversity in your role as a nurse.
What should you wear to a nursing job interview?
It’s important to present yourself appropriately for the role that you’re looking to apply for. If you’re applying for a junior role, it’s appropriate to wear business formal attire, whereas if you were applying for a more senior role, you might be expected to dress more formally in a suit. If you’re not sure what to wear, you could research the organisation’s dressing policy, or opt for formal dress. However, there’s generally no need to wear nursing uniform or scrubs.
You should also ensure that you look professional, and you might want to consider removing piercings and concealing tattoos. Whilst tattoos and piercings are becoming more acceptable in medical environments, you might want to avoid taking the risk until you know more about the organisation you’re interviewing at.