Preparation is vital if you want to stand out as a candidate:
Keep Your Nursing Knowledge Up-to-Date
Make time to sharpen your nursing knowledge before the interview. Knowing about topical issues, developments in nursing and forthcoming legislation shows the interviewers that you have an in-depth understanding of the sector. Plus, having more information to hand will help you tailor answers to the interviewer’s questions.
Research The Employer
Researching the hospital, home or clinic you applied to is extremely important. You could find out their funding levels, and how often they hit their targets. Check if they have had any recent press coverage, and recent inspections from the CQC – this information may affect the position you’ve applied for.
Interviewers expect candidates to have looked into their organisation beforehand, and being able to use this knowledge at interview will make you a stronger candidate.
Compare Yourself To The Job Description
Comparing your CV to the job description and person specification will help you prepare. Your interviewer will be assessing how well you meet their requirements, so identify your strong points and areas for improvement in advance. Be as critical as possible when you do this.
This may allow you to anticipate your interviewer’s questions, showcase your abilities and help explain where you need to develop. Also, think of previous examples – for instance, a time when you showed leadership on the ward, or the voluntary work you did to address your lack of post-qualifying experience.
Expect Certain Topics
The interview will likely feature questions related to your area of practice, coupled with more general questions on nursing. For example, they may ask you what you think the most important nursing skills are, or to name a nursing issue you’re passionate about. Answering these open-ended questions will help the interviewer identify your level of competence and whether your working style will suit their organisation.
Preparing for this type of question in advance means you can give stronger answers if they do come up. However, you should avoid scripting your answers too tightly – focus instead on being able to confidently discuss these topics at length.
Familiarise yourself with your CV beforehand as your interviewer will likely base their questions on what you’ve included, so ensure that you aware of what it contains.
Anticipate Competency-Based Questions
You may be asked competency-based questions during your nursing interview. This common style of questioning involves you describing a situation from experience, what action you took, why you took it, and the outcomes. A competency-based question allows you to describe your skills and abilities and apply them to a past event. An example of this would be the interviewer asking you “describe a time you disagreed with a colleague over the management of a patient,” and then go on to explain what happened.
In these circumstances, remember the STAR technique. Describe the Situation you were in (S), the Task you needed to complete (T), the Action you took (A), and what the Result was for you and others (R).
Ask Questions Yourself
An interview isn’t a one-way street – you should be asking questions too. Prepare your own questions in advance, so you can find out key details about the team, the role and the organisation’s practices. This information can help you understand the role and whether it’s the right fit for you. It can also help you answer and give context to the interviewer’s questions.
Make sure your questions are relevant to the job, and not just about wages, holidays or benefits. Asking insightful questions will help you stand out as a candidate. You could ask about the nurse-to-patient ratio, and what the orientation process involves, for example.
You could even write your questions on a notepad and take it into the interview with you. This would act as a visible sign to the interviewer on how seriously you’ve prepared, and can be a useful prompt so you remember what to ask.
Here’s what to do during the interview to secure the post you want:
Take Your Portfolio
If you have a portfolio, take it to the interview. This document proves to your interviewer that you are continuing your professional development and keeping your skills up-to-date. Presenting an up-to-date version shows you are hard-working, and could help you stand out.
Being late can lead to a poor first impression. The interviewer doesn’t want to hire someone they can’t guarantee would turn up on time, so be punctual. Arrive at least five minutes early, as this shows you are well-organised and prepared.
Also keep in mind that the interview does not just take place in the interview room – it starts as soon as you arrive at the building. So be polite to the receptionist, and if anyone engages you in casual conversation, be friendly and professional.
Your clothes play a big part in making a good first impression. Even if you don’t have to work in uniform, showing you can look presentable will make you look a stronger candidate. If the organisation has a slightly more casual dress code, still wear something slightly smarter than you would regularly wear to work.
Turn Off Your Mobile Phone
Your interviewer will not be pleased if your mobile goes off in the interview, so avoid this by turning it off. Knowing your phone won’t interrupt anything also means there’s less to distract you from showing why you’re the best person for the job.
Consider Your Body Language
Effective communication is not just about what you say – it’s also about how you act. Sitting up straight in your seat, maintaining eye contact and adopting an open pose shows you are confident and enthusiastic. On the other hand, fidgeting, slumping in your seat and over-using your hands may prove distracting to the interviewer.
Find Out About the Working Environment
Treat your interview as an opportunity to find out more about the organisation’s working environment. Nursing is a very broad profession, and each organisation’s work culture may be extremely different. Asking questions such as what the normal working day entails or how busy the ward, home or clinic gets may give you a better idea of the position and whether it’s right for you.
This is especially important if you are thinking of moving into a very different area of nursing, such as moving from A&E to a care home. Don’t be afraid to ask these sorts of questions – it’s always better to have more information before taking such a big decision.
Engage With Patients/Residents
Many nursing interviews involve a tour of the organisation’s premises, and you can use this as an opportunity. Talking with residents/patients is an excellent way to do this, if appropriate, as it will show that you are friendly, willing to engage and can build rapport. Demonstrating these qualities is extremely important in any nursing role, and particularly in management positions.
Listen carefully to the interviewer throughout. This will give you a good idea of what the role will actually be like, and give you useful details to help shape your own questions and answers.
Also, make sure you’re answering the question they have asked, rather than the one you prepared for. If you didn’t hear or understand the question, feel free to ask them to rephrase it, repeat it or explain it.
Be Calm and Collected
Even the most experienced nurses feel pre-interview nerves, so don’t worry if you’re anxious. Overcoming these nerves will let you give the best possible interview, so take a deep breath and speak clearly when answering questions.
The interviewer knows this is a stressful situation, and wants you to succeed. If this means taking a moment to compose yourself so you can give your strongest answer, then they won’t mind. Similarly, try not to talk too fast, and if you find yourself going off-topic, start again.
Use Your Consultant
Liquid Healthcare’s consultants are nursing experts with an in-depth knowledge of the recruitment processes. If you’re looking for more tips on how to present yourself as someone interviewers would love to hire, contact our consultants ahead of the interview. Their insight can help you stand out from applicants, so be sure to get in touch.