Congratulations! You landed an interview! Now you probably want to know what are some great nursing interview tips? Whether this is your first nursing interview, or you are a senior nurse looking for a change, interview tips will help you be the most prepared you can be for the upcoming interview. There are a lot of factors to consider when looking at a new job and the fact that you have made it this far and were invited to an interview is a good sign. Now don’t let this next very important step get in the way of achieving your dream job. The following 50 great nursing interview tips to get hired in 2023 are both general tips as well as specific to the nursing career, so I hope you take the time to read through them carefully to best prepare you for the task at hand.
BEFORE THE NURSING INTERVIEW
1. Do your research on the organization.One of the best nursing interview tips is to know a little bit about the organization you are applying to. It will benefit you to take a few minutes to research the organization's history and mission statement. Knowing even just the basics of an organization can serve you well along the nursing interview process. This will give you an understanding of what they are looking for in candidates and will impress your interview panel with how interested you are in their particular organization.
2. Know your scope of practice.Having a good understanding of what your scope of practice is in your particular state will demonstrate your understanding of what skills you can bring to the healthcare organization you are applying for.
3. Research pay.Researching pay ranges for any position is an important tip because money is what makes the world go round. Your research can be used for negotiations later in the hiring process and can be invaluable time spent if you even find yourself in the position of needing it. If you are open about your salary expectations, it can save you a lot of time in the long run from applying and interviewing for nursing positions that do not fit your salary requirements. If you prepare now and are offered a rate that you are not satisfied with or believe is unfair, speak up. You will also be more prepared for a nursing interview question that may ask what you are expecting to earn in the given position.
4. Do a mock interview!One of the best ways to prepare for a nursing interview is to practice interviewing. Ask a friend or find an interviewing preparation coach or professional. However, you make it happen, MAKE IT HAPPEN. By preparing for an interview, by practicing an actual interview, you can run through all the kinks and make the official interview day the most impressionable.
5. Update your resume.Yes, you already submitted it and got the interview, but oftentimes the application process is months and months before you hear anything about an interview. During the interview, you may be asked about certain components or even asked what you have been doing since your application was submitted. Be ready by having an updated nursing resume printed and ready to brag about yourself.
6. Become familiar with clinical protocols.This is very specific to each nursing unit, but be prepared to think on your feet. Some nurse managers, depending on the setting, want to see that you are able to think on your feet when it comes to clinical scenarios. Have a basic understanding of general protocols like sepsis warning signs, stroke warning signs, etc.
7. Have your favorite go-to stories.As for an interview, having “go-to” stories are an excellent way to answer questions in a more personal way. You are not just answering the question but you’re demonstrating how you have personally experienced this situation and how you handled it. Relate everything back to the nursing job that you are applying for, even if your story does not take place in the medical field. For example, if you are asked in a nursing interview to describe a time when you had an interaction with a patient who was upset with you. Even if you have no medical experience, you could tie any customer service experience back to health care by explaining what you would do if you were in the same situation while interacting with a patient.
8. Know your why.One of the main nursing interview tips is to understand your why. Meaning, why did you pursue nursing as a career and why do you want to work in the position that you are applying for. Both are very important and compelling examples of stories that you can use and have ready when you walk into your next interview.
9. Prepare for the most common nursing interview questions.The more comfortable you are answering the questions to the most common nursing interview questions, the better off you will be. If you have a response for these common questions then you will be setting yourself up for success when you are asked questions during an interview. Your interviewers are also judging how you respond to stress and pressure, so the more confident you appear, the better.
10. Know who you are going to use as a reference.You may have provided them during the application process, however, my tip to you is to have them ready and prepared to provide them to the potential employer again. And to also make sure the people you put down as references know that you are using them as a reference. Think of it as a courtesy to inform them. It gives you a reason to touch bases with them and see if there is any way the two of you can help each other. Often, references are not called prior to an interview and will mostly be utilized following your nursing interview.
11. Learn negotiation strategies.I recommend doing this before your interview because you just never know what the hiring process will be like. I have heard times where this is a part of the nursing interview and other times it is following the interview in addition to a job offer. It will be better to learn some strategies now to better prepare you for either way. If it is not a part of the interview, you will need to learn some negotiation strategies to aid in your success and career fulfillment. Even spending just a few minutes brushing up on negotiation skills could pay off dividends in the long run.
12. Make sure you know how to get to the specific interview locations.Hospitals and other medical facilities can be a maze of different departments, parking lots, and hallways. They can easily throw you for a loop and cause additional stress or anxiety that might alter your interview performance. It is a best practice that you arrive on time, or a few minutes early. Often times there will be maps, signs, or security guards who can help you get to the correct location, but not pressing your luck is probably your best option here.
Making sure you are prepared enough to get to your destination on time will look different for everybody. But being on time could play a big factor into your ability to interview. Whether it's a complete practice run from your house to the interview location or just a thorough google search, make sure you feel comfortable enough to get to where you need to go on time.
13. Get a good night's sleep.Another great tip in preparing for a nursing interview is to get your best night's sleep the night before your interview! You know yourself best. You know you will be nervous so take the time to relax before bed and get your mindset straight. You feel more prepared before you go to bed, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep and stay asleep, allowing you to wake up feeling ready to show up your best for your interview. If you are not well prepared you may be up all night with a racing mind trying to prepare answers or worry about the drive. A well-prepared interviewee will have already taken care of all of those things and can get the sleep they need.
14. Know what your deal breakers are.Make sure that you know what your career goals are and what your deal breakers are in each particular nursing interview. By doing a little self-evaluation of this before your interview you will make sure your next position is the right one for you.
15. Clarify if this will be in person, over the phone, or via zoom.Specifically, in the last two years, the platform on which you will be interviewing is really up in the air. Some organizations have continued to keep nursing interviews online as it is easier to schedule, manage and attend. Others have moved everything back in person and will expect you to do the same. If it is not explicitly stated, double-check to ensure everyone is on the same page and expecting the same style of interview.
DURING THE NURSING INTERVIEW
16. Be early.As previously mentioned, especially if the facility or location of the facility you are interviewing at is new to you, be early so that you can get there on time. Your interviewers are already busy and if they are waiting on you, you have already made the wrong impression. Give yourself enough time for an unexpected 20 min delay.
17. Use storytelling.As humans, our brains love stories. So, captivate your audience with your storytelling abilities. Giving your interviewers a reason to remember you is one of the best things you can do to help your chances of landing the nursing job. Your success will be more memorable and these techniques can help you to clearly define yourself within a consistent narrative.
18. Be friendly to all staff from the moment you walk in.Your first impression starts the moment you get to the facility. And doesn’t end until you get home. As big as hospitals may seem from the outside, on the inside, however, everyone is very well connected. It is not uncommon for hiring managers to “plant” people in lobbies or waiting areas so that managers can get an understanding of how candidates act when they don’t think they are being watched.
19. Have multiple copies of your resume with you.Make sure you bring a resume. Even if they don’t require you to bring one, it is a good tool to have at your disposal. You have control of what you put on your resume, so you are in control when it comes to what your interviewees see and know about you. Use your resume as an opportunity to impress your interviewers. Since you went through all the effort to update your resume, bring a few copies with you. You never know who might be stopping by halfway through a panel interview. Being able to slide an extra resume their way can get them caught up to speed without interrupting your current interview status.
20. Be confident.One of the best interview tips for any nursing job is to show your confidence throughout the entire interview. Be confident in your knowledge, be confident in your responses, and most importantly, be confident in yourself. The fact that you are attending the interview shows you are qualified and shows them how serious you are about the position. Be confident in yourself and they will see your potential.
21. Dress for the occasion.This is a professional setting and will not be taking place in the patient care area, most likely. Be prepared in a nice outfit that is not too revealing and comfortable enough to walk around, sit, and stand. Wearing scrubs to an interview is not needed.
22. Expect for delays.You may be walking into a busy medical facility where unexpected things happen daily. Your interviewee(s) may be taking care of a work-related emergency when you arrive for your interview. Do not take any type of delay personally. They have scheduled you in and are expecting you, but expect that something might come up, so plan for a longer interview than they originally tell you. Still get there early and be ready, but don’t be surprised if you are asked to wait on your interviewers for a little while.
23. Know your audience.Being able to read your interviewer(s) and understand who you are speaking with will help with your interview performance. Other nursing interview tips often leave points like these out. Based on who you are talking to, you will be able to gather different information regarding the role of the position and the goals of the organization.
24. Listen and take notes.This is as much an interview for you as an interview for them. Listen to what they have to say and take notes to recall and set other jobs apart from this one. If you have multiple interviews it will be very easy to mix up information or have a difficult time keeping track of who said what during which interview. By taking notes and demonstrating active listening you will show your interest and seriousness about the nursing job, as well as help trigger your memory later down the line.
25. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they aren’t clear on something ask them to clarify.This could be one of your only opportunities to ask questions that will help you determine if the job is right for you or not. This is why it is one of our best nursing interview tips. There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification at any time during the interview. This will help you understand more about your role within the organization and will help them to better explain or rephrase the question for the future.
26. Eye contact.This is your reminder to make eye contact with each person when you are answering questions. Eye contact is a personable way to connect with each person. It not only eludes to confidence, but when you are making eye contact when they are speaking, you are portraying you care about what they say. This can be subjective though when applied in the real world.
27. Handshake.This can be a subjective topic nowadays as well. With everything, do your best to read the room and your audience. Be yourself, and most likely your interviewers will not pay attention to the little details. Whatever type of greeting you would like to start an introduction with, make it sincere and polite.
28. Refresh your body language knowledge.A common interview tip for any job, including nursing jobs, is to refresh yourself on proper body language to appear confident and qualified. Hence, body language can be critical. You can portray yourself as an eager future staff member who cares about your career both personally and professionally just by being aware of your own body language.
WHAT QUESTIONS TO ANTICIPATE
29. What is a weakness?This is very typical in any nursing interview setting. I’m sure you have heard of “flip this to a positive”. Nursing managers want to know where you may struggle so that they can prepare you as best as possible. Whatever it is that is a weakness for you, think about how you can spin it into a positive. For example, if you say your weakness is time management, and because time management is an important skill to have in the medical field, you could explain how your initial lack of time management created an environment where you were forced to adapt through delegation. And from there, explain how the delegation skills that you learned have helped you throughout your career. Delegation is a great skill to have and solves the problem where employers no longer have to worry you will be able to keep up with your job. Acknowledging a weakness is a great first step, but don’t stop there. Tell them how you turned it into a positive.
30. What are some strengths and how have you demonstrated that in the workplace?Expect this to come up along with the previous question. It’s an easy question for interviewers to ask and it gives them a good idea of how you view yourself, and how you are able to connect your strengths (or weaknesses) to the position. Think of a story that you can tell that demonstrates this strength. Saying your strengths are teamwork, organization, and open communication is one thing, but if you are able to connect multiple strengths into a story where you were challenged to use all three, your chances of making a lasting impression are much larger.
31. What would a previous employer/coworker say about you?Another good tip for any nursing interview is to prepare an answer in case you are asked about your current or past working relationships. They want to know how well you fit into the team. Pick a story to demonstrate your strengths. Like before, you might be able to answer this question with keywords like caring, hardworking, or knowledgable, but it will be more impressionable if you think of a story that demonstrates these characteristics from someone else's view.
32. Have an interesting “tell me about yourself” answer.Many nursing job interview tips will tell you this same thing because this is almost a universally known interview question. It is a great conversation starter for interview panels to find something in common with you. Be unique and share something random that they will remember you by similar to above. Most people have a quick “elevator speech” that describes them in a nutshell, but let’s take that one step further and add something unique for them to get to know you better and remember you by.
33. Prepare for a question about future goals like “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”This one can throw people off if they are not expecting it. Take the time to think about a couple of future goals both personally and professionally. Future employers want to know you have goals in your life and continue to work toward them on a regular basis. This can demonstrate a lot about your personality and what kind of employee they can picture you being.
WHAT TO AVOID
34. Don’t go in with a list of PTO demands.Paid time off (PTO) can be an important part of a compensation package in nursing jobs and is something that should be discussed. But you might not make the best impression if you tell them in the interview that you need 2 weeks in summer, a week during Thanksgiving, and 2 more off during Christmas. There will be a time and place to discuss the use of your PTO. The interview is not that place.
35. Don’t ask about when and where employees can smoke.One nursing interview tip I would suggest you avoid is asking when and where employees can take smoke breaks. There will be a time and a place for this to be answered. The interview is not the time to express this as a priority.
36. Be yourself.They genuinely want to get to know you and see who you are to ensure you are the best fit for the position. Show them who you are, not who you think they want you to be. They have interviewed so many people that they will tell if you are not being genuine and that is not what they are looking for.
37. Don’t have pre-rehearsed or scripted answers.Don’t come with scripted answers to different questions. This nursing interview is for them to get to know you, not who you have prepared to be. Scripted answers can be boring and set the tone of you being over-rehearsed to a point that you might be trying to hide something. You may have noticed a lot of the time I have said to “be prepared” this in general is just having go-to responses that you can speak to on the fly and apply to multiple situations and not just having a line-by-line memorization that only fits one question being asked.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR INTERVIEWER
38. Ask about what the standard nurse-to-patient ratio is.An interview is a first impression to see if the company thinks you will be a good fit for the position, but it is also the first impression to see if you think you will be a good fit and enjoy your time working on that unit. Nursing interview tips like these may seem a bit intrusive, but the interview is a great opportunity for you to understand the dynamic of the department a bit more. If you’re comfortable asking questions like these you will be set apart from other applicants and see how they respond with their answers.
39. Ask to speak with a nurse who is on the floor.This is a great way to open up the conversation to know what the current staffing situation is like and get a feel if it will be a good fit for you. It gives you the opportunity to get answers from the source. It’s one thing to hear a manager or unit director talk about the working conditions, but it's best to go straight to the source many times.
40. What does employee retention looks like?Again, this is a great indirect question that will give you a lot of insight into what you will see if you are offered the position. If the turnover is high, ask why. If the unit you are interviewing for has high turnover, it could be a red flag that there is an underlying systemic issue at play. Most of the time, when employees are valued they don’t leave constantly.
41. What are some changes within the unit that are happening now?Asking your interviewer(s) questions like this is one of the most important nursing interview tips. Ask about what they have going on behind the scenes. Often these are not things they offer up in an interview, but when asked they will be excited to share. Maybe it’s the feedback they got from a survey and they are making changes based on what staff has expressed interest in. Maybe it’s new construction within the department to improve patient safety and the longevity of the facility. Regardless, there should always be changes happening, and if they say nothing, it's probably a red flag.
42. What is the structure of the training?It may seem early, but this is a good question to ask when you are genuinely considering working for any organization. It is important to know what your expectations will be and how much support you will have from the very beginning. Asking about this now will also help you be more prepared when you are offered the job and already have an idea of where you will begin. Poorly managed healthcare facilities will have very brief and inadequate training for you so asking these questions can not only give you good insight but can help gather your red flag data for when it’s time to make a decision.
43. Ask about a starting date or general time frame of what to expect.Is the nursing position currently open and needs to be filled immediately or are they interviewing for a position that they are anticipating they are going to need in a few months from now? This question allows you to take the entire picture into consideration and will set you up for what to expect and when. Take note of their response and make sure it aligns with what you are looking for.
44. Ask about the onboarding process.Every HR department does things slightly differently. Asking about this in the nursing interview will give you a great idea of what to expect, but will also tell you how organized the organization is in its process to ensure it is the best fit for you.
45. What does the unit orientation look like?Once hired you will likely have department-specific orientation and training. Ask about what this looks like and what expectations they have for their employees. Are you expected to float to other departments? If so, will you have a training day for each of those departments? How long will you have a preceptor on your home unit? The unit orientation is your chance to understand the ins and outs of your unit. And most likely there is a lot to cover so making sure the unit you are getting hired onto will set you up for success is important.
AFTER THE NURSING INTERVIEW
46. You have the ability to say no.Even if you are offered the nursing job, you are not obligated to say yes. This is one of the biggest nursing interview tips I can give you. If you do not want to work for an organization, or you got a weird feeling during the interview, you don’t have to take it. If you have any uncertainty, reconsider what your values are and apply them elsewhere. There are PLENTY of other nursing positions for you and you do not need to settle just because the job was offered to you.
47. Follow-up with someone from the department.If you have any sort of contact information, even if it’s only the one who set up the interview, reach out and follow up regarding the interview. Say a polite thank you for their time and get your name on their radar one last time. This does not need to be long or anxiety-provoking. I would suggest an email 1-2 days after your nursing interview.
48. Do a little research. Is this really where you would want to work?Immediately following the nursing interview if you have a good feeling about the position, do some more research on the organization and department if you can. There might be additional information you find that might not be as pleasant once you know who you will be working for.
49. Network.Use your network to get inside knowledge of the organization, the hiring process, current, and future position openings. If you are being hired for a position that is not your dream spot, something might be opening in the future and you would already be in the system. Depending on a lot of variables it is even possible that a position could be opened for you if you are the desired applicant for that nursing position.
50. Take a deep breath, you qualified for the interview.And you probably knocked their socks off! Congratulations, you have made it to this point. Take this as your time to relax and wait for the good news.