Are you a RN who is looking for employment?  Maybe you are seeking an opportunity with a new organization or maybe you have recently graduated and are searching for your first job.  Either way, the interview process is a crucial step to landing the position you desire.  As a nurse manager who makes decisions about hiring individuals, it is very important to me that candidates come prepared to sell themselves.  I have conducted some interesting interviews over my years as a manager.  Interviewing is a skill that develops with practice.  I have outlined some tips for what will help you have interview success.

Dress for success:  You should always come to an interview in business attire.  You are a professional and should present yourself that way.  Dressing well says that you are proud of yourself, you take time to focus on details and shows that you care about how others view you.  When you work for an organization, you represent it.  If you can’t take the time to dress professionally for an interview, how will you be a good representative of the organization on a day to day basis?

For a nurse seeking a patient care position, wearing scrubs to your interview is appropriate as well.  If you are going to wear scrubs make sure they are solid in color and match appropriately.  Conservative colors such as white, navy blue, black or maroon are good choices.   Cartoons or printed tops may cause some hiring managers to not take you as seriously.  Your scrubs should be wrinkle free and dawning a nice lab coat or nursing jacket adds a professional touch.

Resume is a must:  Always bring a resume to an interview.  Be prepared to discuss past experiences and how these will help enhance your nursing practice.  It is very impressive to have a nice folder or portfolio containing a few copies of your professional resume and also possibly a cover letter and letters of reference.  Again, this shows that you pay attention to details and want to present yourself as prepared and polished.

Prepare your questions:  You should always have about three to five questions to ask about the job.  These may include:  schedule and benefits, details about the unit such as types of patients and how many beds the unit holds, what orientation is like, educational opportunities, staff dynamics and what the manager’s expectations and leadership style is.  When you ask questions in an interview it says that you are consciously making a decision and in order to do this, you need as much information as possible.  It is important to make sure the unit and organization to which you are applying is a good fit.

Know your stuff:  It always amazes me when I ask what a candidate knows about our organization and I get the blank stare.  Often individuals will become uncomfortable because they really don’t know much of anything.  This says to me that the candidate is only interested in obtaining a job and doesn’t really care where.  Take some time to research the organization.  Understand their mission and vision and be prepared to discuss how these philosophies will fit well with your personal nursing practice.

You should also be prepared to discuss HCAHPS and quality initiatives.  HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), refers to federally mandated survey questions that are asked of individuals who have been inpatients in the hospital.  A hospital’s HCAHPS scores determine a portion of their Medicare reimbursement each year.  Along with HCAHPS, CMS (Centers for Medicare Services) also monitors quality initiatives.  Fall and pressure ulcer prevention, HAC (hospital acquired conditions) such as infections that happen during a hospital stay and meeting standards of care for stroke and various other core measures are all vitally important to producing excellent patient outcomes.   Knowledge of HCAHPS and quality is important as this is the foundation for your nursing practice.

Body Language speaks volumes:  All of your non-verbal communication provides the hiring manager with an abundance of thoughts about your personality and confidence.  Smiling and good eye contact is a must.  When you meet your hiring manager and anyone else in the organization, reach out with a firm handshake.  A firm handshake says, “I’m a go getter!”  While a timid handshake tells others that you are likely unsure of yourself and might lack the confidence to do the job.

In order to help you further in preparing for a successful interview, I have created an interview questions template.  It is yours free!  You can download the template here.

Are you a nurse leader who hires associates?  Are your preparing for an interview or have you recently experienced the interview process?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to comment below!