By: J. Peperone
I don’t like interviews. That’s the conclusion I came to after going on many job interviews and, I am embarrassed to admit, not doing as good as I could have if I prepared. However, with time (and much reflexion) I started to analyze and research what I could do to improve. Because of competitiveness within the nursing job market, it’s now more crucial to have knowledge about the interviewing process and develop self-awareness that will help analyze your interests, abilities, talents, and unique skills that only you poses. The job interview is where you must set yourself apart from other nurses by hi-lighting your unique skills and talents to sell yourself. Every effort should be made to display your gifts, training and experiences that will be an advantage to the company. Here are the ten interviewing rules to get the job that I came up with to help you prepare for your next job interview.
Research the Company
First- and most important, do research on the company you are interviewing for. Be familiar with their mission statement and knowledgeable about the history of the company. Be able to explain the company’s values and purpose in a straightforward, simple manner and be sure to let the interviewer know you understand the company’s purpose, goals, and mission.
Mention the soft skills you possess during the interview
Communication, collaboration, adaptability, and problem-solving strategies are all soft skills. These soft skills can be developed and learned through mentors, courses, training programs, and books. Soft skills are valuable to employers because it communicates that you are a team player and can communicate and work well with others. If given a case scenario during the interview, mention your strong soft skills and how you used it in a situation.
Keep your answers brief and concise
Don’t give narratives of your private life. Employers do not want to know the fascinating details of your personal life, unless asked (and most interviewers will not ask). And, even if you are asked about your private life, keep answers brief and concise (ok, I am guilty of violating this rule!). In general, your answers to questions should be two to three minutes per question. Also, It is important to practice answering interview questions with a friend or family member. Here is a list of some interview questions. Recording yourself and timing yourself can provide feedback that you can use to prepare yourself for the interview. Remember, the more prepared you are, the better you will do.
Maintain good nonverbal communication
It is important to maintain a good conversational flow through nonverbal communication. Good body language, eye contact, and voice tone is important to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are comfortable, confident, and have enthusiasm for the job. A common reason for poor eye contact and fidgeting during the interview is unnecessary anxiety.
Make a first good impression
All professional nurses (and all professions) should wear conservative business attire. This is just a gold standard job interview basic 101 rule (but I am going to mention it because I have personally seen it broken). Avoid short skirts, tight clothing, unkept hair and chipped nail polish. Having a professional appearance shows that you care about yourself and the impression you leave on others. With so many affordable fashion options available today, there is no excuse to break this basic rule. You don’t have to break your budget by spending an absurd amount of your hard earned money on clothing you will probably only wear a few times-most nurses wear scrubs! You can even rent business clothing at a reasonable price if you are on a tight budget.
Put yourself on their team
Read any literature, news articles, products, and services that the company has. If you or a family member used their services and was satisfied with the care, it is an advantage to mention it. Also, if a company received certification or participated in community events, do your homework and mention how you support and have experience in this area. Only mention your personal experience and support for community events that the company sponsored, only if positive and true (don’t make up a story). You can’t fake being authentic during an interview. If a friend or family member had a bad experience with the company it is best not to mention it. Mentioning your positive experience with the company will demonstrate to the interviewer how you will fit in and bring value to the company. Also, be careful not to mention religion, politics or sensitive topics that could be taken negatively or offend someone. It will just eliminate you from getting hired.
Ask good questions
Ask appropriate questions that apply to the job. Don’t ask about pay rates and benefits because it will be discussed after you are hired. Questions should be thought out in advance and demonstrate your genuine interest in the company such as, “How many patients am I expected to see in a day as a new nurse practitioner?”
Use action words
Use a few action words to emphasize your strong attributes during the interview. Some good action words to use during an interview are: collaborate, advanced, and achieved. There are many action words to choose from just do not overuse action words. It is salient to be authentic when using action words describing yourself. You should use action words on your resume or CV.
Have a success story (your story)
It is a prerequisite that you explain why your strengths will benefit the company. This is where you talk about your accomplishments in relation to the company’s goals. Mention professional nursing organizations you are actively involved in or community volunteer work you participated in. If you don’t have a success story, create one by joining a professional nursing organization, starting a nursing blog, or volunteering for a charity that you like (its never too late). Many professional nursing organizations have committees you can serve on and career opportunities sponsored by the organization. If not a member of a professional nursing organization, join one and take advantage of the opportunities they offer for every level of nursing. There are over 100 professional nursing organizations you can join!
Thank the interviewer
It is important to send a hand written thank you letter to the interviewer that interviewed you (yes, even if you were not hired). Even if the position fell through, writing a thank you letter will make your name remembered if another position opens up, and it does happen. Chances are, the interviewer will remember that one nurse that wrote a sincere thank you letter. From my personal experience, I know someone who did this and was notified a month later that a new position was available if she wanted it. And remember, don’t take it personally or beat yourself up if you didn’t get the job. In many cases, it was because someone was better qualified, already worked for the company or had more experience in that specialty and not because the interviewer didn’t like you. Take the lessons learned from it to become better for the next interview.
Written by: J. Peperone BSN, RN