Tips on Interviewing for a Director of Nursing Position in Long-Term Care

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The director of nursing oversees the entire nursing staff in a long-term care facility and reports directly to the facility’s top administrator. The DON does most of the hiring for the direct care staff that includes RNs, LPNs, CNAs and orderlies. Recruitment, training and firing also fall under the DON’s purview. The director of nursing ultimately is responsible for the quality of care residents receive and oversees schedules to make sure floors have adequate staffing. Internal policies and government regulations must be followed as well, making the role of DON a vital part of the health care team.

Demonstrate to the interviewer that you understand the importance of accurate reporting and that you're more than competent to fulfill the needs, because a good deal of the work you’ll do is in the form or reports and paperwork. Talk about how you initiated new forms for staffing sheets at your previous job or how your input into the process streamlined the work your DON had to do when it came time for annual reviews. Explain about the incident reports you’ve filed and how your employer used them to maintain low insurance rates at your previous job and how you insist on precise logs for recording infections and resident falls.

Illustrate your desire to move up in your career and maintain the high standards of the facility by talking about your involvement in professional associations, where you keep up with regulatory changes, receive industry regulatory updates and network with your peers. Highlight your participation in groups such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives or the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration. Explain that you plan to continue with your professional associations to improve your leadership skills and find options for staff development.

When asked to tell the recruiter about yourself, talk about your passion for nursing and the various roles you’ve held in your career. For example, you might tell a story about taking care of an elderly woman with whom you built a relationship and how her family thanked you profusely after she died for your commitment to her well-being. Express your desire to improve the quality of life for your residents and your belief that you're now ready to benefit even more patients with the supervisory responsibilities that come with the management role.


Create a professional portfolio that includes copies of your nursing license, additional certifications, letter of reference and additional copies of your CV and cover letter.


Don’t alienate the interviewer with too much industry jargon. As a middle manager in the long-term care industry, you must be able to effectively communicate in writing and orally to facility directors, employees and residents and their families. Assure the interviewer that you understand the need for clarity when writing reports and that you can easily translate complex insurance or regulatory policies to employees and family members.