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  • 09 October 2018
  • 8 min read

Interview tips by a qualified nurse

  • Grace Barry
    Paediatric Critical Care Nurse

"As a nurse it's always difficult to know your strengths and weaknesses. Write them down prior to your interview..." Grace shares her tips for nursing interviews

Play video: Grace unveils her top tips for nursing interviews

Abbreviated transcript

It could be that this is your first job interview as a qualified nurse, or you just need a little refresher because you haven't had an interview in quite a while - this tips video will definitely help you to feel more confident in your nursing interview and hopefully equip you with the skills to get the job that you want.

Be punctual

Before you even actually get into the interview itself my top tips for pre interview preparation are to fiercely be on time and know your route.

If it's a hospital or a place that you haven't been before for your interview look it up online the day before.

Make sure that you can use your Sat Nav or Google Maps on your phone to get there and leave a little bit earlier than you need to, to make sure you have plenty of time to park your car and get your bearings on where you're going.

Do your research

The next tip is to research the organization that you are going to interview for.

Whether they are a trust or a foundation trust, if you're going for interview at a private nursing agency; go on their website, go on their social media accounts and read up about the business it's vital that you have a little bit of background information about the business that you potentially would like to work for and as well as researching the organization.

Practice makes perfect

Practice some of your interview questions the day or two days before with your partner, family or friends, just get them to test you and know how it feels to be on the spot and be prepared for difficult questions.

Stay full and hydrated

Finally on the day of the interview make sure you eat a good balanced breakfast and take some water with you.

You're probably going to be very nervous on the day of your interview and taking water with you will help with your concentration.

Appearance

You also want to decide in advance what you are going to wear to your interview and prepare that and iron it the night before wear something that you feel comfortable in but that is also smart clean and presentable prior to your interview.

You will have hopefully been prepped by the company at least a little bit and know whether you're going to have a panel of interviewers or a scenario style interview maybe both you might have an exam as well just be sure to check with your employer the day before if you're not entirely sure what your interview situation will be so that there's no nasty surprises when you get there.

Behaviour

You're bound to be nervous going into an interview, especially if it's a job that you really want.

The panel are likely to be sympathetic of nerves and especially if you just say to them at the beginning acknowledge that you are a little bit nervous if you need to; this will hopefully help the interviewer to understand that you really want the job and that nerves are just all part of the process.

For me I think the way you present yourself when you walk into the room is very important.

My favorite tip to give anybody when they're going into an interview if they have a panel walk up to every person on the panel shake their hands say hello to them and repeat their name back if necessary.

This physical contact an engagement right at the start of the interview automatically gives people a good impression of you and I believe that a handshake goes a long way.

Taking these few moments can also help to diffuse your nerves before you sit down in your interview chair.

If you haven't been offered water at this point it might also be necessary for you to take your water in with you in case you get flustered or you just need to take a moment to have a drink.

Make sure you take a positive outlook and an enthusiastic attitude towards the role that you're going for.

When you go into interview employers will see this as an ideal trait to have within their team.

Your body language is also key in an interview situation; make sure you sit with an open body language, make eye contact with the interviewers but try not to stay still.

Sit with an open welcoming stance, try and keep your answers concise if you're not sure how to expand on a question that they've asked you because this is better than nervous waffling.

Be yourself but be completely honest about the experience that you've had, whether you think you could be suitable for a role or not and know your strengths and weaknesses.

What you will be asked in your nursing interview nurses

The first theme or topic that you should look at is the trust values. Every trust that you go and work for will have their own unique set of values.

The core values of a trust are very important to them and if you know them in the interview or you are able to relate back to them in any way answering questions during the interview this will definitely go in your favor.

Know the job description

The second thing to know is the job description. Make sure you've read the job description in detail - I personally like to print a copy off, get a highlighter pen and highlight all the key points for the job role that I am going for and relate back in the interview how you fit the job description.

Be conversant with current affairs in nursing and the NHS

Knowing about topical affairs in the nursing industry is also really important.

In your interview the interviewer might ask you questions or relevant or current topics that have been in the news of our nursing knowing about issues and topics within the NHS over the winter period it's been staffing hospitals on red alerts as usual and also having a little bit of insight into any inquiries that have been going on.

Be clear on what you know

Next, know why you want the job and what you can offer the employer. As a nurse it's always difficult to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Write them down prior to your interview; know what you're good at and what you need to improve on and whenever you're asked about your weaknesses make sure that you always end on a positive or how you feel you're improving these weaknesses, as this is always a really difficult topic to cover.

You might feel that you're just telling the employer why they shouldn't employ you but that's not the case; having perspective on your own practice and where you need to improve is the sign of a good nurse.

Rehearse scenarios

You're also likely to get a scenario-based question. This is often around a violent or difficult family member or patient, or it could be regarding safeguarding, or an emergency situation where a patient comes in and you need to give them emergency care.

Again, practice scenarios with your family and friends before you go for your interview quite often and HSP banding is very clear but if you do need to ask about pay for whatever reason make the question quick and direct move on from it but you do need to ask about your pay if you don't know what you're going to be getting every month.

Think about your career journey and aspirations

Finally you will probably have an opportunity to talk about yourself a little bit and this is your time to shine. You can discuss what you want from your career, where you see your career path going and your future development. This is really promising for employers.

Ultimately they want good nurses that care about their career and want to progress either on to a management path, a nurse practitioner, furthering your education by doing your masters.

There are so many avenues you can discuss so discuss here briefly what you feel passionate about and where you see yourself in five or ten years time.

Good luck with your interview!

About the author

  • Grace Barry
    Paediatric Critical Care Nurse

My passion within nursing has always been in critical care and helping teach others since qualifying in 2015. I create YouTube content for nurses and aspiring nurses to provide education with a healthy twist.

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  • Grace Barry
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About the author

  • Grace Barry
    Paediatric Critical Care Nurse

My passion within nursing has always been in critical care and helping teach others since qualifying in 2015. I create YouTube content for nurses and aspiring nurses to provide education with a healthy twist.