- 08 December 2021
- 18 min read
Nursing Degree Course Interview Tips
Claire gives her top tips for those of you facing a Nursing Degree Interview and explains how to overcome the fears that can trip all of us up.
Topics covered in this article
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another vlog.
So today's vlog is all about hopefully helping you to smash your nursing degree interviews.
And trust me, I get it.
I am the worst person at interviews.
I can give all the advice, I know all the things I should be doing, but when I'm sat in that chair, probably just like you're all gonna be feeling, I go to mush, my mind goes blank.
I don't know what I'm saying.
They could ask me a really straightforward question and I will not have the answer because my mind is just blank 'cause I'm so nervous.
So, here are my tips, in no particular order.
And we're gonna come with tip number one.
This one's gonna sound really simple, I'm so sorry, but be yourself.
Just be you.
There is a reason why they've invited you for this interview.
There's something that they've seen on your application, on your personal statement to get into university and they thought, "Yes, we need to interview this person."
And think about all of the thousands of people, and actually this is something that we never think about.
Nobody tells us how many people have actually applied for Nursing, but thousands of people will have applied for that position.
Thousands of people will have applied for university, to get into Nursing.
And there's only so many spaces.
There might be like 150 maybe spaces, depending on what uni you're at.
Out of a thousand people, they have picked you for this interview.
They have seen something that they like in your application, something in you that they think, "Yeah, we need this person as a Nurse, through our university."
Tip two, sell yourself, sell, sell, sell.
I say this a thousand times, no matter if you're going for a job, university, anywhere you're going, you're applying to, sell yourself, because genuinely, sometimes it is just down to someone selling themselves and whether they get a place or not.
Please don't make that a factor of why you don't get a place.
And the reason why I say this is because that was me, too many times before, I was denied places, because I just didn't sell myself enough.
I didn't have the confidence.
I didn't sit there and say, "Do you know what? Yeah, I do deserve this. I do have all of these skills that I can bring to Nursing."
I didn't do that because I felt awful, I felt really uncomfortable and I still feel uncomfortable now, but I do it because I know I have to.
If I don't sell myself, if they don't see what an amazing Nurse I am, or can be, then they're just gonna give it to someone else, where they've got something more about them, they are gonna sell themself, they're gonna show why they should be employed, or why they should have the space at university.
But absolutely, that was me.
And I'm not lying when I say this, back in 2015, I wanna say, possibly '16.
I applied for university.
I didn't get into university to begin with.
I applied, I didn't get in, and I rang for feedback, which is my next tip, spoiler alert.
I rang for feedback, and every single one of them said, "You just didn't sell yourself enough."
And there was another one as well.
So I went for a secondment type of thing, so it's a fully funded Nursing degree.
I got paid, it was like an apprenticeship type of thing back then.
I'm not sure if they do that type of thing anymore, but they do have the apprenticeships and stuff like that.
Anyway, I really wanted this, but I was so nervous in my interview.
I didn't sell myself enough.
And that's all they said, that that was my feedback.
Again they said to me, "You just didn't sell yourself enough and the next person after you just sold themself so well, that we just had to give them that extra point."
Because everyone's got the same qualifications, everyone's got the same skills, everyone's got the same ideas about Nursing.
They know their stuff about Nursing.
They've done their research.
So, it all comes down to that one thing, what makes you stand out from someone else?
Why should you have it over the next person?
Because if someone's got the same skillsets and same passions and everything like that, how else are they gonna choose?
It has to come down to something, because they can't, unfortunately, take on everybody.
They have to narrow it down to so many people, 'cause there's only so many spaces within Nursing.
So that's why this bit is really important and it's yeah, it's there.
And another time was, I went, I actually, don't know whether to say this. I was torn between doing paramedic and Nursing, I know.
But it all comes down to money, I'm not gonna lie.
It comes down to money.
It was gonna cost me a lot as a student Nurse.
Whereas my paramedic stuff, I was gonna get funded, I was gonna be doing something I love, it was exciting.
And again, I didn't get in. I applied twice and I didn't get in both times. And every single time it was, "You're not confident enough, you didn't sell yourself enough."
And I remember coming out of that interview and I sat in the car and I just cried.
Because this was like the fourth or fifth time that someone had said these words to me.
That I wasn't confident enough, I wasn't selling myself enough and I just broke down because I didn't know how to fix it.
Sorry, a little bit off track.
But I just wanted to show you that the massive importance of you selling yourself, and you don't have to be arrogant or big headed, but just make sure that you're telling them how good you are, all of the transferable skills that you've got, all the really great qualities that you have.
And a little tip alongside this is ask your family, ask your friends, put it out there on social media, say, "Okay, what qualities do you think I have that make a great Nurse?"
And use them, build them up to adapt in your interview.
So use that to the best of your ability.
Research Is Key
Tip number three.
Do some research around the university that you're having your interview at, because one of the questions they might ask is, "What is it about this particular university that made you want to apply?"
So, just think of something that you can really sell it again in your interview and just something that's gonna stand out.
Like pick something really random that you found on the website.
Something that's gonna make them think, "Oh, okay."
And yeah, just make sure you know the university, make sure you know what the course entails, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into, the pressures of Nursing as well.
Examples Are A Good Tool
Tip number four.
So, make sure when you're answering a question, give an example so you show that you fully understand what they're asking of you.
So for example, if they ask you something like, "How do you handle a complaint with a patient?"
Or, "How do you handle an aggressive patient? What steps would you do?"
So then you're gonna reel off your list like, "Ah, take them to one side, stay calm, remain composed and professional."
All these little things that are good buzzwords to use, but they wanna know, okay, "Give us an example of when you've dealt with that?"
So, if you can find anything that you've done before, it doesn't matter what role you're in before, you might might've had to deal with aggressive, angry patients, angry customers.
You might have had some conflict between colleagues that you've helped deal with.
Use that and bring that in as an example, and how you handled the situation and what you did.
That looks far, far better, and that's exactly what they want.
They want that extra information, to show that you fully understand and to show that what you would do in that situation, in future, instead of just reeling off a list that they wanna hear. If that makes sense?
It's just gonna look way better for you.
Tip number five.
That last question they always ask; "Do you have any questions for us?"
Please think of something to ask them.
And there's loads and loads of stuff, to be honest.
I'm not gonna lie, I had a Google of this question, and I found some really, really good answers as well.
So some of the things that I was finding was, "Okay, so what do you love about your job?"
Like ask them about, "What do you love about working here? What do you love about the university? How are you going to support my learning needs?"
Them sort of things.
Don't be afraid to ask them a question.
So many times in an interview when they've asked that question I've been like, "No, I can't think of anything."
I mean, genuinely, if you genuinely can't think of anything and they've covered every single basis by talking to you, and talking back and forth in the interview and stuff like that and you genuinely don't have any questions, then that's okay.
So this tip is all about group presentations.
I know some university do group presentations, or group discussions, or group talks, where they sit you into separate little groups and they give you a topic to talk about.
So let's just say, smoking, for example.
They'll give you this and they'll say, "Okay, talk amongst yourself about the harm that smoking does to a patient." or something like that.
And then you'll just have a little conversation between yourselves and they'll be observing and making notes and things like that.
And this is just normally, it's just a situation they put you in to see your communication skills.
So, they're looking for your listening skills, your talking skills, how you're responding and how you're respecting each other.
You're not going in all guns blazing, I'm right, I'm doing this, I'm doing that. You're having that mutual respect between healthcare professions.
Because this is what we're gonna be doing as Nurses.
We're gonna be talking and communicating with so many different people.
And it might not be something that we agree on, but there's a way of talking about something, and you can have an absolutely healthy debate with somebody, but as long as it stays professional, you're respecting the other person, and their thoughts and their views and their values as well, which also comes into patients as well.
'Cause they'll have very different values to what you have.
Think about those communication skills.
Maths And English
Now, some universities do the numeracy and literacy, or the maths and English exam at the start.
I know when I very first applied, that's what we had.
I think a few universities have stopped doing those, so just check with the university first.
And to be honest, in their email, with the interview offer and stuff like that, they should prepare you for that.
And just let you know what's gonna happen.
But this is, please don't worry, it's literally just basic maths and basic English. It's normally set at level two.
What To Wear
Oh, I almost forgot to cover, what to wear to your interview.
Why haven't I done that?
First impressions is everything.
I'm sorry, I am an over-the-top person. I go in a full suit when I go to my interviews.
I will go in a suit.
Actually, one time I had a suit dress.
So I had a really nice royal blue, 'cause I thought I need to look like a Nurse when they see me, and then it might make them want to hire me.
Or take me on as a student Nurse.
So, I had my royal blue, had my blue dress on, I had a little jacket, I had a blue satchel.
I was all matching, I went all out for my interview.
I remember actually having an interview at one university and I was the only person that wore a suit.
Everyone else had flip-flops and summer dresses, and they were chilled and I was just like, "Why doesn't anyone take this seriously?"
Maybe I'm too, maybe I'm just too passionate about it, I don't know.
But honestly, don't go OTT, you don't need to go OTT.
ust look presentable, look professional, look smart.
First, to me, I always think first impressions go a long way.
Be comfortable, you have to be confident in what you're wearing.
'Cause when you put on an outfit, and if you're not comfortable, you're not gonna be confident.
It's gonna make you feel uncomfortable in the interview 'cause you sat there worrying about it.
I have also done this as well.
So, you need to put something on that you feel super-confident in because if you look confident, you feel confident, you're gonna do so much better I think in your interview, if you've already got that foundation there, and you're feeling good and you're looking good, and you're thinking, "Yeah, okay, I can do this."
Because your personality, your skills and everything's gonna shine through, regardless of whether you wear your flip-flops and summer dress, or if you go in suited and booted, you can go suit and booted, you might not have anything about you.
And they might just think, "Oh, my God, this person has no skills to be a Nurse."
So, you have to have a bit of everything, I think, is what I'm tryna say.
I think I've made you all panic now.
I'm so sorry, guys. Please don't panic, okay?
It doesn't matter what you wear, as long as you go in there, sell yourself, show your passion, show them why they should be taking you on.
You've got this.
And I just wanted to end on one final bit about the type of questions you might get at university.
Because this is something that I see everywhere.
What am I gonna be asked?
And I think it's the fear of the unknown.
But from what I've experienced myself in applying to different universities, what I've seen on social media as well, and the type of questions that other people are getting asked, are firstly, the very standard questions.
Why do you want to come to this particular university?
What is it about this university?
What skills do you have?
What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Is a very, very popular question, not just for university, but for job applications as well.
And they're not trying to trick you by asking your weaknesses.
This is a little tip.
They just want you to know that you recognize that you're not just this amazing wonder woman, that you're human, you have weaknesses.
You don't have all these strengths without any weaknesses.
You have to balance it.
So, when you talk about your weaknesses, think of something that you're aware of, but something also that you're putting in place.
So, for example for me, I take on way too much.
I'm go, go, go 24/7, I never stop.
I take on too much responsibility, I get burnt out.
And that's something that I've recognized in myself, so I said this in my interview.
But then something that I was aware of is firstly, I was aware that I was doing this, secondly, I figured out that I felt guilty whenever I said no.
So, I just worked out new ways of saying no.
Without saying no, if that makes sense.
So, I've stopped taking on all of the responsibility, looking after myself, I'm taking a lot of self care now, to reduce that burnout, but also I'm finding new ways to say no to people, and focus and prioritize on the things that really matter to me.
So basically, as long as you can show, "Yeah, here's my weakness, but here's what I'm doing about it."
You are gonna get brownie points for that.
Some other questions they might ask is how you cope under pressure?
Have you ever dealt with any conflict before?
Any angry patients, customers, anything like that before?
How you've handled it. they'll go through some scenarios, there's always scenarios thrown in there, wherever you're going, whether it's university or jobs again, there will always be some scenario-based questions to answer 'cause they wanna see how you would respond to different situations.
So again, things like, "If you had an aggressive family member come up to you, how would you handle the situation?
If someone was refusing to take their medications every single day, how would you handle the situation?
If someone had different communication needs, how would you handle the situation? What are the communication needs are there available that you could use?" Some nicer questions they might ask, are things like, "What are you proud of? What is your biggest achievement to date?"
Those sort of little questions, I really liked those questions, because I like thinking about achievements, because that's what keeps me personally motivated.
I think about how far I've come, how I've overcome stuff and think actually, do you know what, I can do this.
So, I like those types of questions. Another little question that they might ask you, is recent news and events. So, anything that you've seen on the news recently to do with Nursing, they might ask how you keep up to date with news around nursing and politics and stuff like that, because they like you to be aware of the current situation, and the current crisis that we're in, and the amount of pressure that's on our NHS.
They like to know that you know, what you're getting yourself into basically, before you start university.
That sounds awful, I hope that doesn't put you off, but there is a massive pressure on nursing at the minute.
And it is tough and there is a lot of press in the news at the minute, especially with COVID, and everything like that that's going on.
Anyway, I think that's enough for Nursing interviews.
I think that's everything I can think of that I've been asked and just some little tips that I've learned along the way.
If there's anything I haven't covered, if you've got any more questions, please leave a comment below, I will get back to you on it, but I hope that this helps you.
Please, if you don't take anything else away from this video, please remember that one thing, they want you, they've invited you for this interview.
There is something special about you, go and sell yourself.
You've got this.