The next time you interview for a nursing position, the recruiter will likely assess everything from your clinical knowledge to your personality. She might ask open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about yourself,” in addition to inquiring about how you’ve used specific skills or handled certain situations at previous jobs. No matter the question, your answer should focus on the positive and offer concrete examples demonstrating your qualifications and strengths.
Many interviewers begin with general questions aimed at getting a feel for your personality, motivations and goals. If the recruiter says “Tell me about yourself,” she doesn’t want an autobiography. Instead, she wants to hear about your nursing training, your previous nursing jobs, your professional goals and other details that directly demonstrate how you’re qualified for the job. She might also ask what you know about the facility and why you want to work there. Mention something you like about the hospital, such as its high recovery rate for an especially complex surgery. Also, discuss how working there supports your goals as a nurse.
Recruiters want to get to know you as a person, not just as a nurse. For example, your interviewer might ask about your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Choose a strength that directly relates to the job for which you’re applying and demonstrates how hiring you would benefit the company. When discussing a weakness, describe the steps you’ve taken to address it. She might also ask if you’re a team player or how you handle stressful situations. Offer examples of times when you successfully collaborated with other members of the medical staff or managed a challenging situation.
Many nursing recruiters want concrete evidence of your skills as a nurse. To more accurately predict your future job performance, they’ll often ask behavioral questions. This type of question requires you to discuss how you’ve applied certain knowledge or skills or responded to specific situations. For example, the interviewer might say “Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a physician regarding a patient’s care." When responding to a behavioral question, describe the situation, explain your approach and discuss the outcome.
Prepare to discuss your clinical and technical proficiency in key areas related to the position. For example, the interviewer might ask about your experience working with a specific patient population or treating a certain condition. She might also ask about changes you’ve made or how you contributed to the improvement of patient care at previous jobs. Before the interview, review the job description and note key skills or qualities listed in the ad. If you’re applying for a position in an oncology unit, review the standard cancer treatment protocols so you can demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the kind of treatment you’ll provide.