For those of you that conduct interviews

  1. I have an interview tomorrow for a summer nurse internship. I have not been to an interview for like 9 years! I am a little nervous but luckily pretty calm in these situations. i just would like any advice about what I should focus on in the interview. I have been a stay at home mom the last 4 years and previously I was an engineer. I have a bachelor degree in engineering and 6 years experience. I have been a part time student for about 3 years. Since my work experience is quite a while ago, should I try to focus on recent things I've done, or is it ok to talk about things I've done in my previous career? WHat would you like to hear from someone like me??? I am 32 yr old with 2 kids. I have a lot of experience working with people, solving problems, communicating etc. any tips or advice would be wonderful. I've already researched possible questions and tried to prepare myself. I also have not come up with what a good answer is for my weaknesses. I hate that question and never know what to say!!! I know I have weaknesses but how do I make it sound professional???
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   hospitalstaph
    I have been to a few interviews lately and I can relate to many of your concerns. I had no work history for over 7 years. To be honest that has not been a problem, particularly since my past work history was not health care related at all. I was surprised at some of the questions though. For example, "Tell me about a time in your life that you felt scared and how did you deal with it?" or "Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with someone and how did you handle it?". I was really caught off guard by these questions and I am honestly not sure how this is a relevant tool in evaluating potential employees.

    I much prefered the interview when I was asked why I had persued nursing and what experiences I have had that I learned from. These questions seemed much more relevant but be prepared for both types of questions.

    Also know a little about the hospital before you interview. Like awards received, trauma designation, etc. I think that employers want someone that wants to work there not just anywhere.

    Lastly, don't wear scrubs to the interview, smile, and put on your friendly face.

    Hope this helps,

    TL
  4. by   llg
    I run a summer nursing student extern program and talk with lots of students interested in it -- and do many of the official interviews for the program.

    Reading your e-mail, it sounds as if you are thinking along the right track. The people doing the hiring are probably going to be interested in what type of person you are and what strengths you have as a person. They know what your level of nursing knowledge/skill is. You are a beginner, still in school. Your recommendations and transcripts will give them an indication of whether or not you are a good student or not.

    So ... be prepared to talk about your previous experiences (both within nursing and not in nursing) that show you are a good worker, get along well with other people, are flexible, can problem-solve, etc. Those types of skills will be the ones that separate you from all the other beginner-level nurses and nursing students. I would aim at a balance of nursing and non-nursing examples. If you have a good example of a skill used in a nursing context, use that example. If you don't have a good nursing example to highlight one of your talents, don't be afraid to use a non-nursing example -- and then mention how you might adapt that skill to be useful within nursing.

    Be prepared for 2 types of interview questions that you might not have encountered before. The first type asks you to respond to a general scenario. The scenario will probably not require a lot of clinical knowledge, but will demostrate your mastery of basic problem-solving and communication skills. For example, you might be asked, "What would do if if you were asked to give a medication ... or perform some task that was not within your job description ... or some such thing?." They will be looking to see whether or not (and how) you would speak up and not do something that you weren't supposed to do.

    The second set of questions are those that ask you ... "Tell me about a time in which you ... blah blah blah." They are similar to the scenario questions except that you have to supply the scenario.

    In both cases, the interviewing is looking primarily at your ability to behave professionally in difficult circumstances. Don't be afraid to pause a minute to collect your thoughts. Remember that assessment is usually the first step in addressing the situation. Don't forget to use your resource to ask for help or look up any information. The mistake some people make answering such questions is that they jump right to an intervention as if they have to save the world all by themselves. That's usually a mistake.

    I'm sure other people will have other suggestions. I just thought I would get the ball rolling.
  5. by   llg
    Oh ... and about the "What are your weaknesses?" question.

    Give an honest answer that does not sound "made up." An experienced interviewer can recognize those "pat" answers and it makes you look bad. It makes you look as if you can't be honest with yourself and with your supervisors and will therefore be unlikely to improve.

    So ... to come up with an answer to that question, you should do an honest assessment of your strengths and weakness. Then take those weaknesses and state them in terms of learning needs rather than fatal flaws. For example, instead of saying "I am terribly disorganized," you should say, "I am still working on my organizational skills. I can stay organized and on schedule in most situations, but sometimes find myself falling behind when things get really crazy. I am actively working on that this semester and look forward to improving those skills soon."

    Instead of saying, "I am a procrastinator," say something like ... "I tend to proscratinate a bit. It seems like the pressure of an approaching deadline spurs me to do my best work. I would like to learn to not procrastinate quite so much. One thing I like about nursing is that most tasks are on a set schedule and sticking to that schedule is important. That gives me a lot of mini-deadlines throughout the shift and keeps me on track."

    See what I mean?

    Good luck.
  6. by   meownsmile
    I have sat in many group interviews. Dont let that intimidate you. ditto what llg said. Be honest and try not to repeat yourself. I think that is one thing that ive seen a lot of, people tend to want to repeat the same story or answer they just gave for the question prior.
    Just take a breath,,relax and answer honestly.
  7. by   jamonit
    i just had an interview for my new grad job a couple weeks back. it wasn't so bad. she wanted to know why i wanted to be a nurse, why i wanted to work in the PICU, how i handle stress, some strengths/weaknesses. that was about it. make sure you wear a nice suit, smile, make eye contact, send a thank you note. i don't know if that helps, but it worked for me. go to monster.com to get some great interview tips and read up on the hospitals mission statement (google it) and know the job description really well.

    BEST OF LUCK!
  8. by   RunningWithScissors
    As a former interviewer, I can tell you that it's not JUST the answers to the questions, but the entire dialogue and feel of the candidate throughout the interview that gives the thumbs up or down.

    If the nurse is uncomfortable and fidgety, and not assertive during the interview, she would not get called back.

    Also, those rehearsed answers WILL be noticed!! But again, if you are comfortable with yourself, show eagerness and assertiveness, you're in like flint!
  9. by   Lacie
    Quote from llg
    Oh ... and about the "What are your weaknesses?" question.

    Give an honest answer that does not sound "made up." An experienced interviewer can recognize those "pat" answers and it makes you look bad. It makes you look as if you can't be honest with yourself and with your supervisors and will therefore be unlikely to improve.

    So ... to come up with an answer to that question, you should do an honest assessment of your strengths and weakness. Then take those weaknesses and state them in terms of learning needs rather than fatal flaws. For example, instead of saying "I am terribly disorganized," you should say, "I am still working on my organizational skills. I can stay organized and on schedule in most situations, but sometimes find myself falling behind when things get really crazy. I am actively working on that this semester and look forward to improving those skills soon."

    Instead of saying, "I am a procrastinator," say something like ... "I tend to proscratinate a bit. It seems like the pressure of an approaching deadline spurs me to do my best work. I would like to learn to not procrastinate quite so much. One thing I like about nursing is that most tasks are on a set schedule and sticking to that schedule is important. That gives me a lot of mini-deadlines throughout the shift and keeps me on track."

    See what I mean?

    Good luck.
    I'm also dealing with similar issues now for interviews as I havent had to interview for a position since 1995 lol. I have had my own business for over 8 years now and have been doing the interviews instead. Now I am returning to nursing since kids grown and gone. The above advice I found most helpful to me in that it's nice to see "how" others may answer many of the questions and working them to fit your own personal attributes. I had an interview the other day and had felt I prepared myself well for such questions but soon as they through them out I was literally blank and had to pause to rethink. I believe mine went well but maynot be the job for me actually. So I'm off to seek other areas but still am very nervous about many of the questions. Particularly I left my last hospital job without notice as I had a sick child in hospital and they wouldnt give me the time from work to be with him. He had Kawasaki's Disease and also was undergoing spinal taps and numerous testing. I was a single parent with no family in the area to help. The following job I left as I was working in the insurance industry and was being prodded to false bill for services. I did give 30 day notice of resignation but the next day they fired me instead LOL. I did collect unemployment though with no difficulty as they were wrong. So pretty much my last two employments I left. How do you approach those questions why you left? I was surprised to see they did call and check references for those old jobs in 1990 and 1995! But I know it looks awful that I quit without notice on one and the other is saying I was terminated (although a retalitory termination).
  10. by   llg
    Quote from Lacie
    . So pretty much my last two employments I left. How do you approach those questions why you left? I was surprised to see they did call and check references for those old jobs in 1990 and 1995! But I know it looks awful that I quit without notice on one and the other is saying I was terminated (although a retalitory termination).
    I think you have to be honest about why you left your last jobs -- but spin it in as positive a light as possible. If there is something that "looks bad" to a prospective employer, acknowledge it and say that you hated to have to end your last job that way, but that at least one of the 3 things below is true:

    a. You did everything in your power to avoid it
    b. You had no choice
    c. You have learned the following lessons from your mistake and will not make it again.

    That's all you CAN do. If you only have 1 or 2 "black marks" on your record and the rest of your professional track record is positive -- and if you impress the hiring manager as being otherwise a strong candidate for the job -- there is a good chance that those 1 or 2 previous problems will not prevent you from being hired. However, if you have a series of "black marks" working against you and/or do not make a good impression as a person who would be a good fit for the job, then that gives the employer a legitimate reason to have serious doubts about hiring you. In such a situation, they may well choose to play it safe and look for someone less risky to hire.

    Another thing I STRONGLY recommend that everyone do is to collect your old employee evalutions -- particularly the positive ones. If you don't have the key ones you might need, I would try getting a copy from the HR department of your former employer. If you can show prospective employers the positive job performance evaluations, they will be more like to believe that you were fired or left suddenly because of the reasons you state. If they have no evidence to look at, how would they know that you were not fired for incompetence?
  11. by   Jules A
    [quote=llg;2002725]Another thing I STRONGLY recommend that everyone do is to collect your old employee evalutions -- particularly the positive ones./quote]

    What a great point. I got copies of all my clinical evaluations from nursing school just in case also. It shows the skills I got signed off for as well as comments from my instructors.

    Its been quite some time since I've done any interviewing and I got surprised the other day on a student externship interview with a rapid fire question right after the introductions: "what would you do if you walk into a pt. room and find them unresponsive?" I was like, uuhh, doh "well I'd call for help, yes while I was assessing the pt of course, I'd call for help" so they say "assessments..such as airway?" and now I'm on a pathetic roll: "yes, ABCs, check the ABCs!" Geez I felt like such a dope but the rest of the interview seemed to go well so hopefully they weren't too put off that I was a bumbling mess upon finding a coding pt.
  12. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    Just a couple of questions for you llg, and anyone else.

    Do you think it will be looked down upon if I call the hospitals I am interested in working at and ask when they except new grad applications? I graduate in May 07 and am not sure when to start applying, some people say wait until April and others are saying start to apply for jobs now. So you input would be appreciated.

    swtooth
  13. by   RunningWithScissors
    Best way to get your foot in the door is to call the manager of the unit you are interested in working and speaking to her/him directly. (for a staff nurse position).

    Going through HR, they have a habit of losing applications, believe me! Don't know why those Bozos aren't held accountable, esp. in this nursing "shortage"!
  14. by   llg
    Quote from swtooth
    Just a couple of questions for you llg, and anyone else.

    Do you think it will be looked down upon if I call the hospitals I am interested in working at and ask when they except new grad applications? I graduate in May 07 and am not sure when to start applying, some people say wait until April and others are saying start to apply for jobs now. So you input would be appreciated.

    swtooth
    No, just the opposite. I strongly recommend that people check with the hospitals and ask them what their preferred timetable is. Many hospitals are already beginning to look ahead to next summer and can at least tell you when and how to apply. While it's OK to contact the unit manager, don't overlook the hospital's proper channels. Make friends with the recruiters and they can do a lot to help you. While some are better than others, don't assume they are all un-helpful just because a few are. It pays to give everyone their due respect and consideration. The more friends you make, the better it is.

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