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Interviews for nursing vacancies need to be kept simple. So we do that here - 10 simple snippets of advice to help nurses prepare and approach their next interview
11th October 2010
1. read up on the organisation
This is possibly the most common piece of advice ahead of interview, irrespective of the industry. But it’s often ignored. Find out about the hospital you’ll be nursing in - what kind of NHS Trust or private hospital is it, what’s the funding level, what does it specialise in, does it hit targets, how big is it, who is the Chief Executive etc etc.
2. prepare specific questions about job
Hopefully, as you work through your investigation about the hospital or care home you are applying to you will naturally find there are questions you would like to ask. Asking questions about the vacancy will help you decide if it really is the right organisation for you. Asking questions will have the associated benefit of demonstrating you are alert and interested in the job and in the organisation.
3. know your medication and rehearse care situations
We get told time and again that nursing job interviews will more often than not ask questions based on scenarios. This is to satisfy the interviewer that you know procedure and can adhere to it, that you are up to date on training and knowledge on medication and how to adapt to a likely situation within the environment of the job.
4. what you offer the employer
Even in a market where skills are in high demand, you should never approach a job interview complacently. Think carefully about what you can bring to the role without sounding like a know-it-all. Try not to tell them that they’re currently doing something poorly, or that you do it all so much better! This can suggest you might be a difficult new member of staff or find it hard to follow instructions. It’s more likely that they need a skilled member of staff to help them provide quality care, not a revolutionary!
5. match your nursing skills and experience to the job
Read, and then re-read the job description and person specification. (The job description should outline the role, while the person specification puts the job description into human terms - the kind of person that will be required.)
Now that you’re very familiar with the organisation, the job and the person they need, you need to become the perfect match for all three. And the golden rule here is to use actual situations you’ve been in that illustrate why you are the right person.
So, for instance, if they need a team member as well as a leader, a perfect illustration will be when your line manager asked you to do something and you then got your team to help you follow due process to do it. That way, when they say “are you a leader and a team player, can you explain how” you will be more than prepared!
6. ask about remuneration
We get asked a lot - “shall I ask about pay”? Our answer is, yes. And then move on. Unless asked what you think about the salary, don’t comment. It’s just a simple answer to a simple question. Don’t labour it. Don’t even make a facial gesture! If, after the interview, you decide you can’t take the job at that pay, wait until you’re offered the position. That’s the time to then plan how you should tackle the subject.
7. be honest
Always, always be honest. If you get caught out (which you will eventually) then you’ll lose the job.
8. be on time
Very little reason to not be on time. If the interview is in a city centre then get the train that arrives 2 hours before the interview. You can then relax over a cup of tea. If the interview is a good driving distance away, plan for traffic jams on your way there. If you have already factored in delays, traffic jams, accidents and getting lost and still given yourself time then you’ll not be late. Better to wait a few hours close by than white-knuckle it on the motorway!
We don’t mean you need to turn up in the nurses uniform of your current job! But don’t give them any cause to question your otherwise superlative interview performance because you wore your running shoes to an interview.
10. body language
This is a subject in itself. Since we just have a short paragraph to help nurses and midwives do well at interview we’ll keep it brief!
First up, make good eye contact (but it’s not a staring competition!)
Second, don’t waffle. Waffling is the sign of an under-prepared candidate. Stick to your homework which is your working-life examples you’ve rehearsed. Questions about medication won’t require a thesis. You either know it or you don’t. Procedures, again, should be drawing from training and best-practice. If you waffle through them it will sound like you don’t really know what you’re meant to be doing.
Third, smile. Of course, if you really feel like you’re face is going to crack if you smile then don’t - you’ll only look panicked.
If you’re rehearsed, confident and accepting that it’s nothing personal then it IS possible to enjoy your interview. No, really! Sit upright, hands under control, good eye contact, gently smiling every now and then when appropriate.... and there you are - the perfect, self-assured and experienced candidate.
Go get em!
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