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Interview Tips for a New Graduate in Nursing

by Ellie Williams, studioD

As a new graduate interviewing for nursing jobs, you’re at a disadvantage compared to more experienced applicants. You can still position yourself as a strong candidate, however, by coming to the interview prepared and knowing how to showcase your strengths. Even though you’re new to the profession, you have knowledge and skills of value to an employer, so focus on distinguishing yourself and demonstrating what makes you unique as a nurse.

Look and Act Professional

Show employers that even though you’re new, you know how to behave in a professional environment. Wear neat, conservative attire, avoiding anything casual or that shows too much skin, as patients and family members will form an impression of you based in part on your appearance. Your clothing should convey that you’re serious, competent and trustworthy. Also, pay attention to your body language. Greet your interviewer with a warm smile, a firm handshake and direct eye contact. Interpersonal skills are crucial to working with fellow health care professionals and relating to patients, and recruiters will likely evaluate you on this.

Showcase Your Credentials

Create a portfolio with all of the documents employers need to evaluate your qualifications. Include a copy of your nursing license, Social Security card, driver’s license and immunization record. Also add two copies of your list of references, one to give to the human resources department and one to leave with the interviewer. Also add a copy of your resume, letters of recommendation, certificates and awards, and information about scholarships, fellowships or other honors you have earned.

Research Common Interview Questions

While the interview process varies by organization, nursing recruiters rely on many of the same questions to help them evaluate candidates. For example, they might ask why you want to be a nurse or why you’re interested in a specific specialty. They might also ask why you want to work at their hospital. They’ll likely also ask about your training, what you learned and how it has prepared you for a full-time nursing role. Also, expect to answer questions about your greatest strengths and weaknesses and why the recruiter should hire you.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

Interviewers often conclude by asking if you have any questions. Ask questions that demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and your commitment to learning what the position entails. For example, ask if you’ll work with a preceptor or mentor. Inquire about technical details such as the shift change process or the hospital’s charting system. You might ask, for example, if all patient records are computerized and what kind of computer system you’ll use. However, don’t bring up salary or benefits if the interviewer does not. If you do, it suggests to employers that you care more about a paycheck than about the job.

About the Author

Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

Photo Credits

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