How to Prepare for your Nursing Job Interview

A nursing job interview is like any interview - you have to treat it as professionally as you want to be perceived.

That requires preparation: the worst you can do is waltz into an interview thinking you can wing it. You may sound good to yourself, but a professional recruiter will know.

A few interview preparation tips

These few tips will get you started so that when you do sit down for that travel nursing interview, things will feel familiar.

1. Prepare some questions for your future employer
Why is this first? This is often something interviewees completely forget, and your interviewer will inevitably ask you whether you have any questions. Not having any makes you look a bit... bland and disinterested, and unprepared.

2. Research the hospital or facility
Start with their website, which will have more than enough information for you. Become familiar with the basics: how large they are, where they have offices, what their tone is like. This way you will look as though you are keen enough on the job to have prepared. No one wants to hire someone who is less than enthusiastic.

3. Be prepared
You might be asked about anything and everything on your resume. Did you have an unexplained gap? Have an explanation ready. Did you take longer than expected to finish school?

4. Your downsides
You'll probably be asked about your weaknesses, so be ready for that. Stay honest, but that doesn't mean admitting to being a chronic liar or perennially late (who will want to hire you?) Find a weakness you - and your future employer - can live with... something innocuous, like perfectionism (it hints at someone who will do well), or impatience (this also hints at your desire to excel). Neither is a huge weakness, and both have a positive side.

5. Your more personal side
An interviewer will want to know about who you are, your personality, and how you approach your job. She might even ask you, “Tell me about yourself.” Try answering that! You will probably be asked a few 'trick' questions - they're not really tricky but they are difficult to answer off the cuff. These could include: Can you describe a time you really rose to the challenge? How you put patient satisfaction first? How you handle disagreements with coworkers? What you liked/disliked most about your previous position?

6. What can you offer?
Why do you want to work for them? What do you have that they need? How do you fulfill their stated requirements? First and foremost, an employer needs to know you’ll give them exactly what they are looking for, and more.

7. Your goals
Come prepared with a plan of where you want to be in a few years, or in five years. Your employers want to know whether you are ambitious, or whether you'd prefer to stay at your level. There is no right answer here - some want to see you fly high, others don't want to train you so that you end up leaving your job quickly to climb the corporate ladder. Be truthful.

Some final tips

  • Remember, this will probably be a phone interview, or it might be on Skype. If it’s over the phone, make sure you find a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted and talk slowly and clearly. Stay away from barking dogs, noisy children or ringing bells.
  • For Skype (or another video-chat platform) make sure you dress professionally (and don't wear shorts!) You never know if you’ll have to stand up. Make sure your background is clutter-free, and that you won’t get any intruders.
  • In either case, have a copy of your resume with you and a pen and paper to take notes. The interviewer may raise some points you might want to clarify when it’s your turn to ask questions.