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The Nursing Interview: How To Prepare Yourself

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

With the NHS facing its worst staffing shortage in history, it’s never been a better time to secure a nursing position. It’s a candidate’s market, as they say, and with the right skills and initiative, the sky’s the limit for your nursing career. However, first things first, you need to land your next nursing role, and that means nailing your interview.

While it may ultimately be about the skills and knowledge you bring, interviews are all about making the right first impression. Knowing how to convey what you know and are able to do can be difficult in a limited window of conversation with relative strangers, especially when you feel the pressure of trying to impress them.

While a little bit of nervousness can sometimes give you an edge, too much anxiety can rob you of confidence and mental clarity, thus diminishing your chances of having a successful interview. Although it may be impossible to completely get rid of your anxiety altogether, there are specific steps you can take to assuage your nerves, calm yourself down, and allow your personality and knowledge to shine through.

Here are tips on how to prepare yourself before as well as on your big day.


Do Your Research

Do as much advance research as possible about the company or organisation to which you are applying; the more you understand about their mission, values, achievements and challenges, the more confident you’ll be when asked questions probing your understanding of your potential new employer. Being knowledgeable about their needs and issues will not only put you in a position to fill the gap; it will also boost your confidence.

In addition to finding out as much as you can about your future employer, you should also keep yourself abreast of all nursing and healthcare-related news and updates. Websites like Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing Times are fantastic resources for you to take advantage of.

Practice Answering Questions

If you know that certain questions about any anomalies in your education or past work experience might make you nervous or uncomfortable in your seat, practice your responses to those types of questions as many times as possible.

In fact, conducting a mock interview, with a friend or family member playing the role of the interviewer, can be a very effective way of preparing for the real thing. You could even make a video of your mock interview; this will give you the added advantage of assessing your answers as well as your body language.  

In addition to practising the tough interview questions, you should also practice answering the more common ones. Here are some of the routine questions you should be prepared to answer in your interview:

Why you have chosen this field of nursing; what do you know about the role and responsibilities of a nurse in this area?

What qualities do you need to be a good nurse? What qualities do you need to be a professional?

What current issues in nursing/healthcare are of interest/concern to you?

What professional organisations are you affiliated with?

What do you consider to be your strengths/weaknesses? Why?

On the day

Get Proper Rest and Nutrition

In addition to getting plenty of rest the night before, eat and hydrate well on the morning of your interview. The last thing you want before an interview is to feel hungry or faded. However, avoid becoming overly caffeinated or hydrated, and be sure to stick with food that you’re familiar with.

Dress Comfortably

While you certainly want to look good for your interview, wearing a shirt that’s too tight or tights that make your legs itchy won’t add to your sense of calm and poise. Choose clothes that fit well, feel good against your skin, and help you to feel confident and professional.

Know Where To go And How To Get There

Nothing will frazzle your nerves more than driving to a job interview only to realise that you don’t know exactly where you need to go. If at all possible, map out the fastest route to the interview site and drive there a day or two before your big day. Make sure you know where to park, whether you’ll need change for a parking meter and the building where you interview will take place. If possible, check out the inside of the building and learn the exact location of the office or room you’ll need to report to.

Make sure you know how to get to where you need to be with plenty of time to spare, which means planning for contingencies. If your interview coincides with rush hour, research how long the commute should take at that time of day, and add another 30-45 minutes to your travel time just to be sure.

Consider It A Conversation

It’s understandable to be nervous in an interview, but just remember, at the end of the day, an interview is a conversation between professionals. They obviously have something you want, but you also have something they need.  It’s helpful to keep in mind that you are also interviewing them; make sure that you come to your interview armed with questions for your interviewer based on your research. Knowing how your skills can address your future employer’s needs can help set yourself apart from other applicants.

Finally, be relaxed, be calm and be yourself. If you’ve done all of the above steps, then you should be in the best possible shape to make the right first impression. Good luck!





About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial Nursing, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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