8 Tips on How To Prepare for Nursing Job Interviews

If you are wondering how to prepare for nursing job interviews, we have eight tips to help. Some of which include preparing and doing your research on the organization as well as finding ways to stand out among your peers.

woman handing resume to interviewer

If you are getting ready to interview for nursing jobs, congratulations! You’ve certainly worked hard to get here and should feel proud. Once you have graduated from a nursing program, such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program offered by the University of St. Thomas Houston, and have passed your NCLEX to become an registered nurse it’s time to figure out how to prepare for nursing job interviews. To help you ace that interview and land your dream job, we have compiled a list of eight nursing job interview tips.

1. Preparation is Key

Showing up prepared for the interview is half of the battle. Not only will it help you to stay calm, cool and collected, but being prepared demonstrates to the employer that you are genuinely interested in the job and have strong attention to detail.

Always be sure to research the organization before you go to your interview. It will be important that you are familiar with the organization’s mission statement and company values. Connecting some of your past experiences or personal qualities back to the organization’s core values can really help you to stand out against other applicants.

Additionally, be familiar with the job description and the requirements associated with the position. Arriving at the interview with well-thought-out questions about the position, rather than questions that could be answered by reading the job description, shows that you know what you’re committing to and are interested in the job.

2. Tactfully Navigate Phone Screenings and Interviews

Phone interviews are often the first step in the process. The main purpose of these interviews is to screen individuals to determine if they’ll then be invited for an in-person interview. Once you’ve sent in your applications make sure you watch for calls from unknown numbers, as it could be the recruitment team. Sometimes an employer will email you to set up a time to speak over the phone, while others may call you directly. Check that your voicemail greeting is professional in case you miss an unexpected call.

person holding phone while sitting on bed

When you are partaking in a phone screening, take the call in a quiet place where you can dedicate your full attention to the conversation. Because the point of these calls is usually to make sure you are qualified for the position, it is best to keep your answers short yet concise. Also, be ready to schedule an in-person interview. Have some potential dates and times in mind, and have your calendar handy so you can schedule something that works for both parties.

3. Create a Portfolio

While this is not required or expected, bringing a portfolio with you to a job interview can help you stand out. There are several ways to create a portfolio; however, we recommend putting together a binder or folder that contains documents such as:

  • Resume.
  • Nursing license.
  • Diploma and/or college transcripts.
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • Certificates of special training.

A portfolio is beneficial as you have all your documents in one place, and showing up with everything in an organized binder for your potential employer to review will make their jobs that much easier. Additionally, showing this level of attention to detail will help you to outshine your peers.

4. Take a Deep Breath

Once you’re in the interview, it is normal to feel nervous. But remember to take a deep breath; you’ve got this! Remaining calm and appearing confident can help the interview to go much smoother. Even if you don’t feel confident, fake it until you make it.

Stay aware of your body language. While it can be difficult to control your body language when you’re feeling nervous, there are some techniques you can use to appear more confident. One of these techniques is to use eye contact. Be sure to maintain an appropriate amount of eye contact with the interviewers during the interview, as this makes you seem more genuine and trustworthy. Additionally, if you tend to play with your hair or bite your nails when you’re nervous, it may be a good idea to try and keep your hands in your lap to avoid them becoming a distraction. Maintaining good posture is another important technique for showing that you are engaged and interested in the conversation. Finally, a good, firm handshake is a great way to make a strong impression and convey confidence.

woman sitting at table using laptop

5. Show, Don’t Tell

Keep in mind that the primary aim of the interview is not to ensure you’re qualified for the job. If you’ve made it this far in the hiring process, you are qualified, along with everyone else they’ve invited to interview. You must be able to showcase the things that make you stand out among your peers.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during an interview is telling rather than showing. For example, if an interviewer asks you why you want to be a nurse, don’t just say, “I want to help people.” While that is a noble reason, it is not necessarily unique. Instead, use this question as an opportunity to showcase meaningful experiences and accomplishments. Suppose you want to become a nurse to help people. In that case, your answer should follow along the lines of, “when I was volunteering at my local children’s cancer treatment center, I knew I wanted to be a nurse after seeing how our nurses could bring joy and hope to children and their families during the toughest time in their lives.”

Not only will responses like these be more memorable and have a lasting impact, but they also give you more credibility. Being able to evidence your claims of being someone who is engaged and passionate about caring for your community with examples of how you’ve displayed these characteristics in the past will carry much more weight.

Additionally, if you are interviewing at a facility where you completed some of your clinicals, be sure to capitalize on that during your interview. Explain what you learned and accomplished, which staff members you worked with, and why you enjoyed your time there.

nurse helping student with a baind-aid

See ten possible career paths you can take with a BSN.

6. Look the Part

Even though it may not be the most important component of your interview, you’d be surprised at how much consideration employers put into your appearance during first impressions. This doesn’t mean you need to get beauty treatments before your interview, but you must dress the part. But remember, “dressing the part” does not mean wearing scrubs to the interview.

So, what should you wear? Appropriate interview dress is professional business attire. Slacks or knee-length skirts paired with button-up shirts, dress shoes, and possibly a tie, are all safe choices. Try to choose more neutral over brightly colored clothing and make sure it is wrinkle-free.

You must also consider hygiene. This means checking that your nails are clean and trimmed, you’re freshly showered and your hair looks neat and clean. Not only will this show that this interview is important to you, but maintaining good hygiene is an essential part of being a nurse, as this will prevent you from spreading infections to your patients.

7. You Should Be Asking Questions Too

While preparing for all the different questions your interviewer could ask you, it’s easy to forget that interviews are supposed to be conversations, not interrogations. And just as the interviewer is trying to get a feel for if you’d be a good fit into their organization, you should use this opportunity to see if you want to work for them too.

Here are some questions you may want to consider asking:

  • What is the culture like among nursing staff?
  • What is your management style?
  • What does your training period look like for recent college graduates?
  • Are there opportunities for career growth within your organization?
  • What is the salary range that you have budgeted for this position?

Be sure to make a note of how you feel about the interview too. It may be wise to continue your job search if it doesn’t feel like the right fit.

8. Follow Up With a Thank You Note

Just because the interview is over doesn’t mean you can’t do more to boost your chances of getting hired. One of the most significant ways to increase your chances is to send a thank you note to the person, or people, who interviewed you. Be sure to make a note of their names and contact information so that you can send a personal thank you note or email after the interview.

Also, be sure to thank them for their time and consideration, refer to a specific topic you connected with on a personal level, and re-emphasize why you would be a good fit for their organization.

The University of St. Thomas Can Help!

If you are thinking about changing your career to become a nurse, your chance to use these nursing job interview tips may not be as far off as you think. Through our ABSN program, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in as little as 12 months. Contact us today to speak to one of our admissions advisors who can help you to get started on your application. With three start dates each year in January, May, and August, you won’t have to wait long to get started!

What is an ABSN program? - UST ABSN student working with sim manikin

Learn more about what sets ABSN programs apart.