After spending countless hours perfecting your resume and applications, not to mention going through school and training, it’s an indescribable feeling to receive an invitation to interview! And while you may be tempted to start filling your work wardrobe with new nursing scrubs and shoes, the show isn’t over just yet! You’re likely here because you know this, and know that there are still some things for you to do if you truly want to impress. In other words, the more aces you have up your sleeve, the better the show will be. We’ve searched our deck and pulled our aces out for you below – you just have to worry about the sleeves you put them in. But don’t worry, we’ll help with that, too!
First impressions of your professional image are important to consider when it comes to interviews and, because of this, you may be considering dressing in scrubs. Unless it has been specifically requested that you wear scrubs or bring equipment, though, you should actually be aiming for business professional attire. You’ll want to keep it simple to avoid looking too corporate, but make sure not to go too simple either, which can result in a look that is too casual. To do business professional attire, consider simple colors and classic fits and styles. When in doubt, lean harder toward professional than casual, and remember what you’re trying to project with your look. You want to show that you can blend with any unit, colleagues, patients or practice values.
When it comes to your professional image as a nurse, “clean” and “tidy” – while not necessarily fashion terms – should be the star symbols of your style. So besides your clothing being stain- and wrinkle-free, you should be taking the time to ensure that your hair is clean, combed and styled tidily, that your facial or body hair is appropriate, that your skin is fresh and clean, that your oral health has been attended to, that your hands and nails have been scrubbed and that your feet and shoes are odor-free.
Nursing interviews notoriously involve a combination of questions used to evaluate your ability to work as a part of a medical team, your ability to care for patients and your ability to care for yourself and handle stress. So while you may not be able to prepare for every potential question, you can prepare for the types of questions and anticipate common ones that will likely be fired off – along with reviewing the seemingly standard interview questions that have accompanied every interview ever.
A common question you can expect in your interview is: “Why do you want to work here?” If you’re able to jump into specifics about the job or organization, you stand a much better chance of making an impact and resonating with the organization. If they start throwing odd questions at you, this will also ensure that you at least know their core values. Taking the time to learn about the organization you’re interviewing with is also a good idea for your sake. After all, you want to know that you’re going to be a part of something good!
It’s extremely important to arrive five to 10 minutes early for your interview in order to check in at the front desk and receive any additional directions or documents and to make a good impression with staff members at the front desk or in the vicinity. You’ll also want to allow yourself time for any last-minute preparations like a final look in the mirror or to put your phone on silent mode, in order to demonstrate your punctuality and to show your respect for the interviewer’s time. If you end up having to wait the full five to 10 minutes (or more), consider it an awesome opportunity to absorb the environment and observe how employees interact with each other. If your interview is going to be done remotely/virtually, it’s still a good idea to log into the session early to ensure you don’t experience any immediate technical difficulties!
You’ll undoubtedly be asked to produce a copy of your resume, possibly CV and potentially other relevant documents. Not only is this an aspect all on its own to be prepared for, but you should also put a little thought into how you showcase them. If nothing else, make sure to have a duotang or binder to organize your documents and avoid fumbling with or crinkling them. A professional nurse tote bag that showcases your personality will be needed in the future at some point, and will make for the perfect presentation when it comes to producing your documents at the interview – so it may be an early purchase worth considering!
Interviews call for confidence – but be careful not to amp yourself up too much! As a recent nursing graduate, you should realize that the learning hasn’t even begun. Likewise, seasoned nurses should remind themselves of the fact that the learning never stops! Reassessing your attitude will help you to avoid coming across as overly arrogant, and show your potential employer that you’re as teachable as you are educated.
Eye contact is a tried-and-true tactic to demonstrate your confidence and attentiveness – not to mention the fact that it helps to form and maintain a better connection with the person you’re talking to and indicates good social skills. That being said, fake smiles are frowned upon! A genuine smile will include your eyes as much as your mouth, so especially if you’re wearing a mask, you’ll want to make the effort to generate genuine smiles.
If you’ve been invited to an interview, it means that your potential employer has already deemed you qualified for the position. The objective of the interview is to determine if you will be a good fit with their team and values. So make sure that from the moment you enter, you offer smiles and greetings to everyone you meet. After all, they could be your future work family!
When you leave, make sure you finish strong and hold the smiles, thank the people who have helped you and wish them a good day. And try to take a look at the styles of cotton scrubs the other nurses wear as you leave. If you do get the job, you’ll have less anxiety when it comes to dressing for your first day! Even once you’ve left the building and a week has passed, you can be proactive by following up to project that you’re focused, driven, organized and responsible.