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Director of Nursing Interviewing Tips

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Whether you are interviewing for a director of nursing or another position in another field, your success during the interview process is critical. Interviewing techniques for hiring a director involve traditional and behavior-based questions. It's important that a candidate for a director of nursing position possess outstanding nursing skills, critical thinking skills, organizational skills and interpersonal skills. Practice your interviewing skills with a friend. Preparation before the interview will add to your confidence and lessen your anxiety.

Traditional Interview Questions

Traditional interview questions are more homogeneous than behavior-based questions. These questions help to gain insight into your personality, previous work experiences and future career plans. Initially the interviewer may ask you, " Tell me about yourself". When responding, keep your answer to two minutes. Include relevant work experience, awards and achievements. Avoid personal details about family, church and hobbies. Another common question is "Where do you see yourself five or 10 years from now?" An appropriate response includes how you will be successful in the position as director of nursing. Aspirations for higher positions should only be discussed within the context of your success as director of nursing being a catalyst to additional responsibilities or promotions. In all interviewing situations it is important to be yourself, be honest, be enthusiastic and be pleasant.

Behavior-Based Interview Questions

Behavior-based questions are used to determine how you will behave in future situations by learning how you have behaved in the past. The interviewer is looking for specific workplace situations that you have encountered and how you dealt with them. Coming up with a hypothetical is an inappropriate way of answering these questions. For example, if you are asked, "Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another member of the nursing staff in your current position. What happened and how did you handle it?" Your response should demonstrate your interpersonal skills and ability to exercise good judgment. You must give a specific incident such as "Last week one of my nursing staff came to me and said that she had to have Friday off to attend a wedding. I was not able to give her Friday off because another staff member was out having surgery. I explained to her that it just wasn't possible to grant her the day off, but that she might be able to get another nurse to switch shifts with her. She came to me the next day and said that my solution had worked and thanked me." A complete answer to a behavior-based interview question includes the problem, action and result or "PAR".

Nonverbal Communication in Interviews

Your nonverbal communication will send messages that you may or may not intend. As a future director of nursing who will undoubtedly manage people, your nonverbal communication should reflect confidence and a pleasant, approachable demeanor. Dress professionally. Although you may wear scrubs on the job, it is important to dress in professional business attire for the interview process. Be slightly but not extremely early for the interview. Be concise in your responses and look the interviewer in the eyes. Good posture reflects confidence, so sit up straight and on the edge of the chair.

Study the Job Description

The job description can offer crucial insight into questions that may be asked during the interview. A typical job description for a director of nursing may entail responsibility for adhering to federal and state regulations, hiring new nurses, implementing and maintaining budgets and evaluation of nursing activities. As you prepare for the interview, make notes about your experiences in all of the areas covered by the job description and be prepared to answer questions about those experiences.


As an educator, television producer and public relations/human resources professional, Mary Tucker-McLaughlin's work has been broadcast on radio and television with affiliates in the Midwest and the South since 1992. Her work has also been published in the "St. Louis Suburban Journals." Tucker-McLaughlin is an assistant professor in eastern North Carolina with a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of South Carolina.

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