Before your first nursing job interview, you can be prepared and stand out from the competition by learning some nursing job interview tips. Learn the most common nursing interview questions, how to prepare for a nursing interview, and even what to wear to a nursing interview.
As you near the end of your nursing school journey, you’ve likely been incredibly busy—studying for exit exams and board exams, finishing your capstone project, and getting in your final clinical hours—but it’s not too early to start thinking about the next step: finding a job. Despite the nursing shortage, which is expected to reach a shortfall of 275,000 nurses by 2030, there is still competition for jobs. If you want to work in a specialty unit like maternity or pediatrics, you must prepare to stand out in your nursing job interview.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offers students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree the chance to complete their nursing education in as few as 16 months. Through the program, students are prepared to become skilled nurses, which sets them up for success in the job search.
Read on to learn some nursing job interview tips and how to prepare for a nursing interview, which will put you ahead of the game when you’re applying for and landing your first nursing job interview.
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1. Why Preparing for Nursing Interviews Is Important
A nursing job interview is often your first chance to make a first impression on a potential employer or manager. The first person you interview with will likely determine whether you move on to another round or get a job offer, so make sure you are prepared and polished.
2. How to Prepare for a Nursing Interview
There are several nursing job interview tips you should follow to prepare for your first nursing job interview. Carefully read the job description for details, and make sure it matches the type of position you're looking for—day shift or night shift; part-time or full-time. You can also start planning what to wear to the interview by looking at what you already have in your closet.
You may also want to research the person or people you’ll be meeting at the interview. Websites, like the hospital’s website or LinkedIn, are good places to learn a little about their background and perhaps some connections or things you might have in common.
3. What to Wear to a Nursing Interview
One of the perks of a career in nursing is the comfortable scrub and tennis shoe uniform, but knowing what to wear to a nursing interview is just as important as preparing for the interview questions.
You’re probably used to wearing scrubs for your nursing clinicals at Mount Saint Vincent and possibly to labs or lectures. Unfortunately, you still need to dress office professional for your nursing job interview. Neutral colors, slacks or a dress, and comfortable shoes are best. Search Pinterest or read Indeed’s Editorial Team’s recommendations for more ideas on what to wear to a nursing interview.
The person interviewing you might be wearing scrubs despite being a supervisor or manager, as these nurses often need to jump on the floor to help the staff. You should still dress professionally.
4. What Questions to Expect in Your Nursing Interview
It may seem easy to go into a nursing job interview and simply talk about yourself. Your family and friends have probably already asked the question “Why do you want to be a nurse?” a million times, but you shouldn’t try to wing the answer in an interview. Spend some time thinking about and solidifying your answers to these most common nurse interview questions:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- Tell me about your nursing school experience.
- Tell me why you are interested in this job.
5. Be Prepared to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Almost every interview, especially for newly graduated nurses, will include questions about your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse. Create a list of two or three of each with examples. If you need help thinking of ideas, ask a classmate or nursing mentor to share their observations of what you excel at and where you have room for growth.
Sample answers: “My strengths include my ability to connect with my patients. I’m a good listener, able to build a trusting relationship that helps when explaining a complex diagnosis or complicated treatment plan.”
“My weakness is delegation. I feel personally responsible for my patients and sometimes forget that I have a whole team available to help me. I have been working on this with my clinical preceptors.”
Avoid cliche answers. It may sound clever, but “My weakness is that I care too much” is not a thoughtful answer and is overused.
6. Think About a Difficult Situation With a Coworker or Patient and How You Handled It
Another favorite interview question for nurses is about conflict resolution. Hiring teams want to know how you navigate challenging situations with patients, patients’ families, or coworkers. Share examples of your cool head and calm presence even in high-stress situations. If you don’t have any nursing examples, use examples from other jobs or your family. The key point is to have your answer concise and ready to avoid the risk of nervously rambling on too long.
Sample answer: “I had a patient who required antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection. I was about to administer the medication when the daughter stopped me and shared that she had learned that taking too many antibiotics would result in ‘superbugs’ (multi-drug resistant organisms).
“I confirmed with the lab the strain of E. coli bacteria that was present and confirmed with the pharmacist that the antibiotic selected was specific for this type of infection. I then explained to the patient and her daughter that we take drug resistance seriously and only use specific therapies when necessary. The patient and her daughter appreciated the additional information and allowed me to administer the antibiotic.”
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Are You Ready for the Next Step?
Now that you have some nursing job interview tips and the most common nurse interview questions in your toolbox, you can send out your résumé and applications!
Remember that it may take several job applications and a few rounds of interviews to land your first nursing job, but now you know how to prepare for your nursing interview, and you will get better and more confident each time. Remember all the valuable understanding you will gain from different nursing experiences and the number of people you will encounter along your nursing journey.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program supports students before and after they earn their degree. Through comprehensive coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations, students are prepared for a successful nursing career. Contact an admission counselor today, so you can reach your goal of becoming a nurse.