How to have a successful staff nurse job interview

Written by noelle cunningham
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How to have a successful staff nurse job interview
First impressions are the strongest. (nurse chris image by John Keith from

Though a national shortage of nurses is still in the long-term forecast, the nursing job market has tightened considerably. Newly graduated RN's are having a hard time getting work because of the recession, and those nurses already working aren't moving up to the better jobs they had anticipated. To get a desired position, nurses will need to be flexible about location, shifts and preferred positions. For nurses, obtaining and successfully completing an interview is more crucial now than ever.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Identification
  • Resume
  • References
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Licenses or certifications
  • List of questions

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  1. 1

    Familiarise yourself with the nursing employer. Research the facility and the job position. Learn about the goals, values, future plans and direction of the agency. Find out the demands of the job and the patient base. You will be able to use the information you learn to create good answers to the interview questions. You will also be able to use your knowledge to develop questions of your own for your employer. The Internet is a good resource to research your information. Don't be afraid to confront the established staff. This will give you a practice run and help you to develop a rapport.

  2. 2

    Take with you all of the documentation you may need to the interview. Be sure to bring your resume along with a complete list of references and any letters of recommendation. Any identification, certifications, licenses or additional qualifications will be important to have with you. Also bring a pen and a pad of paper. It will be wise to have a list of questions for the employer. Any considerations or concerns you may have should be addressed in the interview.

  3. 3

    Prepare good answers for your interview questions. You can expect questions on a number of topics. Your interview will explore your training and qualifications, your previous employmentand work history, key competencies you will be required to have for the job, your motivation for the job, and general nursing questions related to the position. You will need to explain your experience in nursing as well as your desire for the position and why you should be chosen to fill it. Defining your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse will be expected. Do your research and anticipate any questions that may get thrown at you. In turn, have relevant questions to ask the employer. This will show that you are prepared and professional. Your questions should be insightful and enforce your motivation.

  4. 4

    Dress professionally. You want to make an excellent impression. It is important to give the image that you are trustworthy and competent. You may expect to wear scrubs on the job, but appropriate attire for a nursing interview is business or formal. A pantsuit, skirt or dress paired with a jacket would be proper to wear for the interview. Low-heeled, closed-toed shoes are best. For male candidates, a dark blue or grey two-piece suit is recommended. Neckties should be silk with a conservative pattern, and shoes should be clean and polished. Make sure all of your interview clothes are clean, pressed and tidy. This attention to detail is essential for the nursing candidate.

  5. 5

    Send a letter to follow up with your interviewer. Just because you say goodbye, it does not mean the interview is over. Write a short letter thanking the employer for her time and include emphasis of your interest and commitment. Be sure the employer has the finished letter as soon as possible, preferably by the following morning. You may fax, e-mail, mail or personally deliver the note. The quicker the interviewer receives it, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome. If you interviewed with multiple persons, make sure that each interviewer receives a letter, and that each letter is different from the other.

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