8 interview tips for your first nursing job

Written by Peter Jones

You’ve worked so hard in nursing school and on your exams, and now here you finally are: ready to embark on your nursing career. Interviews are nerve wracking in any situation, but particularly early on your career for a job that really excites you.

Here are 8 tips about what to emphasize, what to ask, and what not to forget to say.

1. Pay attention.

Take a few moments to absorb what you are seeing in the atmosphere around you. What sense can you get of the work culture? What dynamics can you see playing out? Pay attention also to the kinds of questions your interviewer asks. Distinguishing a vibe in the air or a common thread to the questioning can really help you tailor your answers.

2. Look the part.

Preparation isn’t just coming up with answers beforehand to anticipated questions. It also means presenting yourself professionally and neatly and having an extra resume on hand, plus a notebook and a pen for jotting notes down. Be sure to have two forms of ID in case the facility in question requires it. And, please, leave your phone off and tucked away!

3. Talk about what makes you special.

The most important things to emphasize are the skills that make you uniquely suited for the open job. Everyone applying for these jobs will have the proper credentials. What do you have that they don’t? Talk about your special talents, the diversity of your life experiences, or how low maintenance you are.

4. Ask questions.

This is crucial. First of all, as in all interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. Have a few ready—there’s nothing more uninspiring than a candidate with nothing to ask. You can ask about the fine print—questions about overtime and scheduling—or about the work culture. Ask what their ideal candidate looks like (this will help you show them how you’re it, or help them see you as a solid alternative to their ideal).

5. Know the logistics.

Make sure you know where you’re going, how to get there, how long it will take, and who you’ll be speaking with. This will take a lot of the stress out of the process so you can focus on performing well once you arrive.

6. Take care of yourself.

You’ll be no use if you show up exhausted, frazzled, nervous, or unprepared. Make sure to do your homework, get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and hydrate before the interview. Wear something that is comfortable, but that also makes you feel confident. Feel as polished and professional as possible and you’ll do great.

7. Take your time.

Acing an interview isn’t about rattling off rote answers to questions instantaneously. It has a lot more to do with considering what you are saying and making sure you’re representing yourself in your best light. Rather than thinking of it as an oral exam, think of it as more of a conversation. And don’t forget to breathe.

8. Do your homework.

Learn everything you can in advance about the employer you are interviewing with—their facilities, their staff, the management, their policies, etc. Consider your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to this particular job and be prepared to discuss them intelligently.

About the author

Peter Jones