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  • 04 October 2018
  • 6 min read

I just had my first nursing job interview and here's what I learned

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Laura recorded this video just hours after her first job interview as a qualified Mental Health Nurse. Here's how it went and what she learned.

Play video: Laura's happy after her first nursing interview landed her the job. Here's what she learned...

Here's an abbreviated transcript

I want to talk about my interview experience for my first ever job as a qualified mental health nurse. It's a preceptorship role. I actually just did the interview today and it went really well! Two hours after I left the unit I received a phone call to say that I'd got the job and I accepted it!

So I am super excited.

However, I know how nerve-wracking it can be preparing for an interview especially if it is your first one like today was mine.

So I thought it would be good to put together a little video just talking about how I approached the situation and give some tips that I found useful.

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My experience

The interview process for me wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be.

I went into the psychiatric hospital unit, I sat down in the waiting room and then I was called through.

It was like the clinical lead of that Hospital site and there were two people and that was that woman and then another woman who was the clinical lead for another site.

They talked to me a bit and went through the the necessities of am I fit to work and they talked about salary and annual leave all that and then they gave me eight scenarios - I'll give you one example: they said ‘you go into a patient's room and you find them unconscious on their bed and you're unable to rouse them - what do you do?’.

They also sort of tested my knowledge on things like the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.

It was really good but also they were so friendly it made it a lot easier. When I did get a bit stuck, because there were a couple of questions where I was getting stuck with what to say, they didn't just sit there they prompted me and they knew that I knew it and they were assisting me in demonstrating.

Look at your application

So if you have been invited along to the interview, chances are you've already filled out quite a lengthy application in which hopefully you looked at the qualities and skills you need to possess for the role so that you can incorporate it into your personal statements.

What I did is when I started preparing for this interview is I went back onto the application and wrote them all down so I could see where these qualities and skills would fit into my answers.

I didn't want to rehearse my answers because I wanted to be natural and I wanted my dialogue to flow, so I don't recommend doing that, however I think familiarizing yourself with what they are going to be looking for is really helpful.

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Do your research into the NHS Trust or employer

Something else I really recommend doing is looking up information about the trust in which you are applying to work in.

I looked at their objectives, their short term priorities, long term goals, their visions, their values and their care standards.

Whilst I personally wasn't asked questions about these things it's good to know because they might ask you questions about it and also incorporating some of that into your answers can only help.

Research your role

When it comes to researching things about the job role, I delved right into the information provided with the interview invite.

I found a table with all the areas that I needed to show knowledge in and I'm sure most people will get this with an interview invite or an application and they actually specified which areas are likely to be tested in the interview.

For example on mine, possible areas of discussion for interview were listed as ‘demonstrate development of leadership skills eg motivation facilitation’, ‘demonstrate up-to-date evidence-based knowledge for mental health nursing’ and ‘demonstrate an awareness of work based legislation’.

I researched any that I wasn’t familiar with just to really familiarize myself with those topics and whilst the chances of these specific things coming up a really were slim I found that just being more confident as a whole sort of walking into that interview really helped me.

Being prepared I made an interview info pack for myself.

I wrote exactly where I needed it to be, exactly when I needed to be there and below that I put it to the list because the morning of the day of your interview you're gonna be stressed you're gonna be nervous and it can really help if you've already prepared all for yourself in advance

I had to bring documents like my passport, my driving license for the DBS and also proof of address.

Also I had to take along all my certificates for education. I really recommend having everything together in one little folder - it's a really good way of documenting your achievements.

For people who are applying for preceptorships or their first nursing job after qualifying, I recommend taking along your student nurse portfolio.

Whilst I wasn't told to do this or advised to I thought it might be a good idea because if they asked me to give an experience of how I dealt with a certain situation, I could show them feedback from mentors.

As it happens I didn't end up doing that but every interview is different and within any hospital every Trust is different.

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Allow yourself time beforehand

I allowed myself loads of time to get there as well - I’m glad I did because traffic was bad, and then when we got there parking was a nightmare, and then we couldn't find the building.

Luckily we got there on time so I really recommend leaving really early.

Pack your Kindle and a drink or go find a coffee shop to relax you. There's nothing worse than when you’re feeling nervous and you're stuck in a traffic jam and you just feel sick, and it's going to affect your performance going into the interview.

Remain calm

My final tip is to just try and remain calm and confident and have faith in yourself because that will show in your body language.

Nerves are normal if you didn't have any then it’s probably a sign you don't really care and that's not a good thing, but just try and remember that you're clearly capable because you either about to qualify or you are qualified.

Sadly there are a lack of nurses out there at the moment, but that does sort of work in our favour a little bit because you know people want us.

We are a valuable asset at the moment.

Try and stay positive and have faith in yourself!

Get more help and tips - our Complete Guide to Answering Nursing Interview Questions

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About the author

I'm passionate about opening up conversations around mental health. I'm also a mental health nurse. I've studied Psychology (BSc Hons 1st Class) and mental health nursing. In addition to nursing, I've held volunteer roles including ones that seek to assist with mental health support.

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