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How to Pass a Panel Interview for the Nursing Field

by Ruth Mayhew, studioD

For a panel interview in the nursing field, be prepared to discuss clinical procedures, student nursing experiences if you're a recent graduate, your interest in health care and your knowledge of the health care facility for which you're interested in working. Interviewing successfully in a panel setting is relatively simple, provided you give attention to every member of the panel, give complete answers without showing bias and send post-interview thank-you notes to every interviewer.

You Needn't Dress Like a Nurse

The health care field is relatively conservative, so be mindful of your appearance and wear either a suit or coordinated separates for your panel interview. Dressing for a panel interview means impressing three to five people -- not just one interviewer at a time -- so refrain from attire that's anything but neutral. If you're already in the nursing field and your interview is for another position with your current employer, never wear your uniform to the interview. Take a change of clothes with you and slip into typical interview attire after your shift ends.

Know Your Interviewers

Before the interview panel members even begin introductions, you should know who's on the panel. For example, if you're a staff nurse looking for a leadership position, you'll likely interview with a panel that consists of the charge nurse, an assistant director of nursing, maybe a physician and an HR staff member. The number of panel interviewers and their positions really depends on the health care facility's selection practices. When you learn that you'll be interviewed by a panel, research their roles to learn more about their health care background, philosophy and work styles. Armed with this information, you're prepared to answer the questions in a way that appeals to the panel member individually, and it shows your interest in the organization, as well as the people who will be your colleagues, supervisors or peers.

Introduce Yourself, Too

It's common for panel members to introduce themselves at the beginning of the interview. Otherwise, you'd have a difficult time remembering who's who when you give your answers. In addition to collecting their business cards -- or, just their names and positions if they don't offer you a card -- quickly jot down their names in the order of where they're sitting. This way, when you give a response, you can address the person by name when you make eye contact. In addition to their introductions, introduce yourself as well. Tell the panel members who you are, what your current role is and that you're pleased they are taking time out of their schedules to meet with you.

Round-Robin Interviewing

In many panel interviews, they ask questions in round-robin fashion. The questions might include, "Why did you enter the nursing field as opposed to being a physician?" "Describe the way an ideal health care team collaborates to provide the highest quality of patient care," or "Where do you see yourself in the nursing field in five years?" In round-robin fashion, Panel Member 1 asks a question, you provide an answer, then Panel Member 2 asks the next question and so on. You'll impress your interviewers if you make a few notes while the interviewer is posing the question. This ensures you're conscientious about providing a complete answer. However, when you're making notes, don't concentrate so much on writing that you're not listening carefully and making eye contact with the interviewers.

STAR Responses

You're likely to pass the panel interview if you give complete, well-thought-out answers to questions using the STAR technique. STAR responses explain the situation, task, action and result, which when combined, fully respond to behavioral interview questions. In the nursing field, where the combination of clinical expertise, attention to patient care and the nurse's professional traits are essential, the STAR answer covers all the bases for a comprehensive response to practically any question.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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