You can’t read a nursing recruiter’s mind to determine what she’ll ask during your interview, but you can prepare for commonly asked questions. Interviewers typically strive for a big-picture view of each person’s qualifications and personality. Instead of focusing only on your experience or your ability to measure vital statistics, for example, they’ll also assess how well you work with others or how you handle challenging situations.
The interviewer will likely begin by asking you icebreaker questions designed to evaluate your background and set the stage for a more in-depth line of questioning. For example, she might open with “Tell me about yourself.” She doesn’t need your life story, so hit just the highlights. Discuss your nursing training, your professional goals and your work history. She might also ask why you want the job. Mention one or two things you like about the position or the facility and also note how the job fits well with your long-term career goals and interests.
Nursing recruiters need proof that you’ve successfully dealt with the kinds of circumstances and challenges you’ll encounter every day if hired. They often use behavioral questions to evaluate everything from your working style to your response to stressful situations. With a behavioral question, the interviewer will describe a specific event and ask how you’ve handled it at previous jobs. Be as specific as possible when replying. Describe the situation and the challenges you faced. Then explain the steps you took, the results that followed and what you learned from the experience.
Even if you have 20 years of nursing experience, a long list of certifications and an advanced degree, recruiters won’t make assumptions about your skills based solely on your resume. Instead, they’ll want to hear from you what you’ve achieved and how you apply your knowledge. For example, your interviewer might ask how you helped improve patient care at your previous positions. If you’re applying for an oncology nursing job, she might ask about your experience administering chemotherapy or treating the side effects of common cancer drugs. Offer as much detail as you can and outline exactly how you approach each aspect of your job.
Nursing recruiters consider your personality, integrity and work ethic as strongly as they do your knowledge and training. For example, your interviewer might ask how you cope with stressful situations. Because a patient could take a turn for the worse at any second, nurses must remain calm under pressure and concentrate solely on the patient’s needs. Describe how you stay focused so you can think quickly. The recruiter might also ask what a former boss or colleague would say about you. Choose a positive quality a past co-worker commented on, such as “My last supervisor always praised my ability to put patients at ease.”