Every nurse, whether new or seasoned, no matter the specialty, will have to interview for a job at some point. Therefore, developing strong interview skills will keep you ahead of those who aren’t willing to put in the time to prepare themselves. We’d like to offer you a way of understanding the types of questions that are most common in nursing interviews, and some ways of approaching your answers that will present you as the thoughtful candidate you are.The book Acing the Interview by Tony Beshara is a classic for understanding the interview process. One nursing candidate we know found this book after she had been searching, unsuccessfully, for a New Grad RN Job for over a year. After submitting more than a hundred applications, she had gleaned only one phone interview. Reading Beshara’s easy steps helped her understand why and land a good entry-level job.In the book, Beshara states that every question can be broken down into one of four categories:
- Do we like you?
- Are you a risk?
- Can you do the job?
- Can we work the money out?
In this post, we’ll take a look at what Beshara calls the “underlying rationale” behind every interview question to help you understand what potential employers are looking to find out from candidates.
Do We Like You?
Some would argue that the first impression is the most important part of the interview, and coming across as professional and hireable is so much more than wearing a suit and having a firm handshake. First impressions happen quickly. In fact, research from Professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University, an expert on “thin-slicing methodology,” suggests that “we make a reasonably accurate assessment of a person from observing just a few seconds, or a thin slice, of their behavior.” Therefore, an interview setting is a perfect opportunity for employers to reasonably gauge a great deal about you. In a recent study, Bernieri “collected a series of videotaped job interviews to test whether it was possible to guess the outcome simply from observing the interaction between the interviewer and interviewee. [The researcher] found that an observer could predict whether or not the interviewee would be offered the job from watching just the first 15 seconds of the tape.”Here are a few steps to take to ensure you make a great first impression at your interview:
- Arrive on time
- Dress the part
- Put your phone away-- even while you’re waiting
- Find a connection with the interviewer(s)
- Mind your body language
Expect questions that help the interviewer get a feel for your personality and what you would be like as an addition to their team. Answer these questions honestly, and don’t be afraid to be yourself!
Are You a Risk?
Human beings have a natural aversion to risk. Since the hiring process is long and costly for companies, they want the people they decide to hire to be relatively safe choices. In other words, hiring managers don’t want to take a chance.Let’s look at this from the perspective of the hiring manager. If you are a new grad from Colorado and you’re applying for a residency program in Los Angeles, what risks do you present? Other than the real-world risks that come with your lack of experience, you also present a very real financial risk, in terms of the costs associated with hiring and training. Finally, you may prove to be a risk in terms of that person’s own job performance; if they are not hiring qualified, competent candidates, then that reflects poorly on them. It’s important that you’re able to recognize when hiring managers feel some sense of risk so you can reframe their perspective and help them recognize you for the positive addition to the team that you hope to be.It’s your job to prove in the interviewthat you aren’t a risk, and you can do this by anticipating and addressing the hiring manager’s potential objections right away.
- “I know you may be worried that I’m from Colorado, and I’m just going to get my year of experience and move back home. But I’ve actually always dreamed of living in LA. I know exactly where I want to live, and I’ve even saved up money to cover the cost of relocating. I plan on living here for the rest of my life”
- “You may be concerned that I have that gap in my employment. I just wanted to say that I had a family situation and, in order to be there for my loved ones, I had to take a leave of absence. That situation is all taken care of now, and here are the names and contact info of all of my employers around that gap in employment; they can vouch for my abilities as an employee.”
How could the hiring manager not hire someone who sounded like that?
Can You Do the Job?
These types of questions are dependent on the type of job you’re applying for. They include any technical questions related to the role or your clinical skills. Because there are dozens of nursing specialties, we won’t go into details for every possible job. Instead, we want to stress the importance of storytelling in interviews when trying to convey the answers to this category of questions. At the end of the day, no one will remember your GPA or the list of flattering adjectives you’ve included on your resume. Instead, what will make you stand out among other candidates are the stories you tell.You can expect the interviewer to ask you at least one question that begins with the phrase: “Tell me about a time when…” Be prepared by thinking ahead of time about stories that might highlight your:
- leadership abilities
- cooperative abilities
- problem-solving abilities
- ability to overcome a challenge
- ability to correct a mistake
Can We Work the Money Out?
Discussing salary in a job interview is never easy. In fact, many sources agree that a candidate too focused on the money-- rather than on the job opportunity itself-- can be off-putting. Still, salary is an important piece of deciding whether or not you’re the right fit for the job and you should know how to talk about it. Employers want to know if what they can offer matches what you might require from a position. When answering questions related to potential salary, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:
- Come prepared with an average salary range you expect
- Answer financial questions based on life priorities
- Keep your experience level in mind
- Be honest about your needs
Now that you have a better understanding of the intent behind each type of questions, click on the links below for example questions and how to answer them!