Interview for NICU position - please help!

  1. Hi everyone,

    This is long and I apologize in advance but I need advice!

    I just graduated in May and have an interview this Tues with NICU in a hospital I currently work in as a PCT in the float pool. This is a Nurse Residency program position, one of only two available in the NICU (I'm also interviewing in PICU). NICU has been my dream since I can remember (I've wanted to be a nurse my whole life; for years I was afraid I couldn't do it thus putting school off until my children were no longer real young-my youngest is almost 13). I have a love and passion for the teeny-tiny ones I can't describe (who am I kidding, I love all babies, newborn on up!). I want this job so much and I'm scared to death of not getting one of the positions! I need interviewing advice from you NICU nurses! I've read through so much about new grad jobs, interviewing, etc on here and taken a lot in but I would love to hear specifically from NICU nurses-what can I do to up my chances? I know that God is going to place me where He wants me, I do have an active prayer life and a very supportive family all routing and praying for me. I do also know the realities of how competitive these NR positions are-I want to stand out (as we all do during an interview!). Let me say a little about my experiences first so you can help me determine what I can use and how, during the interview.

    -married with 4 children (do you ever include personal info for any reason during an interview?)
    -I took care of my elderly father for the last few years of his life (gave and managed his meds, gave breathing treatments, did leg wound care, dressing changes, took him to umpteen Dr. appts and stayed by his side as his advocate through his many hospitalizations, etc...), all before I began nursing school. I buried my father less than 2- 1/2 weeks before I started nursing school (it was tough but my Dad told me many times I was the best "nurse" he ever had, he was proud of me and knew I would get through school-that kept me going too (should I somehow integrate this into the interview? If so, how? While it doesn't count as nursing experience, does it count for anything they would care to know?
    -high B student through all 4 semesters of nursing school (do grades really matter? We do have to bring a copy of our school transcript to the interview)
    -I am a PCT at this hospital I'm interviewing in and have worked in Rehab, MSI (med/surg intermediate unit), CVICU (cardio-vascular ICU), neurovascular, oncology.
    -I also have another current PCT position in another hospital in our area and worked mainly in MS (sometimes caring for 10-12 pts during my shift). At this hospital, we are allowed to start IV's and put in Foleys on our pts, after we were specifically trained of course.
    -I've held both these positions for a little over a year but only worked very part time during my last semester because I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to getting through school
    -I have a friend that works at the interviewing hospital that introduced me to both nurse managers in the NICU recently and they both know my passion for the NICU (hard for me to contain it! )
    -I was also given permission by one of them to shadow an awesome NICU nurse during her shift so I could see nursing for a day (awesome experience!)
    -during OB rotations, I spent one clinical day in the NICU step-up unit, which is actually where I would start out in this position-loved it!)
    -during my last semester I precepted 132 hours on the Mother/Baby floor in the interviewing hospital and loved that too! I loved taking care of the newborns and the families together-this hospital is all about family-centered care.
    -during my preceptorship I did receive verbal and written praise from a mother that I cared for during her and her newborns entire stay. I helped her extensively with breastfeeding techniques and tips (helping the lactation consultant, who praised me and left me in charge a few times!)
    -By the end of my preceptorship I was taking care of at least 4 pts (2 couplets), helping my preceptor with admits and discharges at the same time and managing my time well.
    -two of my patients during this time had fetal demises and though I didn't handle the babies, I did use a lot of therapeutic communication with the moms. I did have to take one of the babies out of the room, though it was in a bassinet.
    -I was asked to go get a baby from a mom's room, not knowing what I was walking into-a mom actually about to be d/c'd back to jail. While the cops were pretty rough with her verbally ("c'mon, hurry up and say goodbye), I gave her a few more moments to kiss her newborn through her sobs and tears It tore me up, brought tears to my own eyes and I gave her a hug and told her we would take good care of her baby-she thanked me. I don't know what came over me, I guess just compassion for a woman that loves her baby, like every other woman does. Some of the other nurses weren't so nice about the situation (comments like, "oh well, she shouldn't have gotten herself in trouble, boo hoo hoo"). I of course kept my mouth shut but for me, it didn't matter at that moment what she did wrong-in my eyes she was still a mom that was hurting and sad.
    -My preceptor did give me a letter of recommendation when my preceptorship was finished
    -I have two very nice recommendation letters from two of my instructors (one of which I had clinical with).

    I know this is way long and i thank you for reading this far but let me just say, while I've not been a nurse yet and haven't dealt with unruly or rude parents or those who just don't care about their babies, along with all the other negatives I've read, heard and seen in my years of school and many hospitalizations with my father, I am realistic. I know there will be days ahead I cry on my way home or in the bathroom, want to pull my hair out in frustration, etc...I do know as well that I was made to be a nurse, I love people, I love caring for babies and families and I will be passionate at what I do wherever I end up working as a nurse. It's my core, it's my being. I expect a transition phase into the real world of nursing and I'm ready for it.

    This hospital uses mostly behavioral interview questions-yikes! I know to listen to the questions they ask, take my time before I answer them and not say too much (although this is wordy haha!). So, my questions are, how do I use any of this info in the interview? What kinds of questions have you been asked? What should I not say? What kinds of things should I be asking? How do I word my strengths and weaknesses appropriately? I am not a cocky person and dont want to come off that way at all. I would be humbled to get a position like this right out of school. I have oodles and oodles to learn and welcome it-I cant wait for it. Please feel free to give any and all advice necessary. TIA
  2. Visit JRP1120, RN profile page

    About JRP1120, RN

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 160; Likes: 138


  3. by   Love_2_Learn
    Sounds like you have everything going in your favor. Honestly I can't think of a thing to share with you other than to be yourself. I'd hire you in a New York second. Keep your compassion and energy. Say your prayers and as you mentioned, God will place you where you need to be; I have a feeling it will be the NICU. Get a good night's sleep, have a healthy breakfast, and take a few deep, slow breaths before your interview. Be sure to look the interviewer in the eye, smile politely and be the kind of personality you would like to hire. I have confidence in you!
  4. by   nicu4me
    Sounds like you have it all. Our large level 3 likes new grads. Can't understand why no one has ever transferred into our unit from the other floors. I had adult experience as well, but no NICU. It's a whole different game. Great place to start out with no experience. I would ask about their preceptors, the orientation process, if there is classroom time each week, etc. I personally asked how many neo's, NNP, etc. and asked them a question back as to how do the more experienced staff treat the newbies? Each unit has their own culture. You will find the ones that you will be able to go to. Maybe ask about how long nurses have stayed in the unit, (great if there are vetran NICU RN's) it is very much a HIGHER standard of care IMHO, and also a very protective environment. My orientation was great, some preceptors not so great. Actually very few deaths, but we can torture a baby much longer than you would ever think. I would also say that you have been looking at neonatology books (if you have), know that you will have to take NRP, ask about the acuity of the unit, vents, etc. I would google that NICU online if you need to, it often has how many areas they cover. Just get to know the NICU in your hospital. There are people that have never set foot on an adult floor and likewise we are almost like our own little hospital. So anything you can ask back that shows that you have some knowledge. The breastfeeding this is good, we have lacation nurses that are NICU. Trying to get the #'s up of BF moms is always a hot topic. Most nurses in nicu are really uncomfortable with it. I am not. So, long post back, good luck. Your age and maturity will be a plus. LET US KNOW!
  5. by   JRP1120, RN
    Thank you both for your responses! I am "rehearsing" possible questions and my answers, looking into NICU practices at this hospital and taking the other suggestions to heart, praying and hoping for the best too! No one has addressed my questions about the things I listed as to how I can incorporate any of them into my interview, so I'm praying I will be able to keep my positives (strengths) at the level necessary, my negatives (weaknesses) voiced with how I've overcome them (or will overcome them), the realities I know I'll face and my passionate level for being a nurse all balanced properly, all the while letting my personality show too. One of my major weaknesses is not being assertive enough and I'm working on not allowing people to walk on me (I know as a nurse I'll need a much thicker skin!). I just have to find a way to balance being a compassionate and caring nurse and not allowing myself to get chewed up and spit out by whomever wants to do that to me! From all that I do know and have seen of this NICU it seems they are a tight knit "family" who helps one another, takes care of one another, rallies around one another; I also know I haven't been a nurse there yet so I'm not going in with rose-colored glasses either!

    Thank you for the questions to ask them as well-I have to remember that I am interviewing them as well

    The nurse recruiter told me she hoped to give offers this Wed! Please be thinking of me tomorrow afternoon and I will let you all know!

    Thanks again
  6. by   JRP1120, RN
    Just an update-I took all advice to heart during my interviews last Tue. went in there with confidence and came out feeling OK. It sure was hard but I survived. I think they liked me and my answers but, I still haven't heard either way if I did or didn't get selected I do know that one of my classmates did get selected and was called this past Friday but the word is they are still making calls. I'm not feeling hopeful at this point that I was one of the ones chosen for a position in the program and have been waiting for the dreaded form letter in the regular mail but haven't received it yet. I do take my NCLEX this afternoon and am not letting this other issue cloud my thoughts today. My phone is off and I'm about to leave for the testing center in a bit. I do know, that again, God has me in His hands and He knows my future and what is best for me! Keeping my faith at the forefront!

    Thanks again! I love Allnurses!
  7. by   studystudy
    Well, how did it go? Pass NCLEX? Get the job?
  8. by   JRP1120, RN
    Hi all,

    Yes! Passed the NCLEX! YAY! Im extremely excited! Have my license in hand Sadly, did not get a position in the NICU or PICU this go around. Both my interviews went very well and in talking with the nurse recruiter, all the managers interview notes were positive, they just didn't have a slot. Over 100 applicants and 20 slots available hospital-wide. Most slots went to the Aides working full time on the units. I was in the float pool and had been told this was the better option. Guess I was told wrong

    There is another residency in Dec. and I've been encouraged to reapply; all of us that have been Aides for the last year have been given the option to stay as Aides for more pay and will be offered unit positions as an Aide, but I need/want to work now! I'm extremely down about this and feel like my interviews were a waste. I don't know what to do I do have other resumes in at other hospitals and will be having an interview with one of them with a new grad program soon I hope but I just don't know what to do-I guess I will take anything I can get and hope to someday make it into a NICU somewhere. *sigh*
  9. by   nicu4me
    Chin up! You passed NCLEX! Keep applying. Our NICU only takes new grads or someone with experience. Very easy to get into as a new grad. They usually hire 3 or 4 groups of 5-6 per year. Orientation is about 3 months. I shouldn't say only takes them. In the years I've been at this big hospital NO ONE from another unit has ever even applied. Get your foot in the door at a hospital WITH a NICU, easier than a hospital without. Take what you can get for now, volunteer with Planned Parenthood, or something maybe with March of Dimes, idk, many places to volunteer with kids as the focus. Get a job, start paying some bills and keep applying. You sound like you would be a wonderful coworker. Good luck
  10. by   JRP1120, RN
    Nicu4me, thanks for the words of encouragement! We only have one hospital in our area with a NICU and the next new grad openings aren't until Dec. of this year Relocation is not an option for me so I'm pretty much stuck here. I've been applying to jobs, any jobs, like crazy and have one interview coming up this week-for an ICU position in another hospital that doesn't have a NICU. *sigh* I thought my age and maturity would've helped me by now get something but, it really appears to be who you know in these hospitals, not what you know (which isn't too much as a new grad), and life experience means squat pretty much. Thanks for saying you think I'd be a great co-worker I think I would too! LOL. Just want a chance to be a nurse, want to live out my passion, been working so hard to get to here, just bummed I don't have an RN job yet! Holding on to hope and prayers I'll get something soon!
  11. by   JRP1120, RN

    I went from no job bites anywhere to 3 job offers in one week (Murphy's law? Lol). Took the first offer in an LTAC hospital but then totally unexpected, got two offers from the hospital I originally wanted to be in (and have worked in as a PCA) and decided that residency would be a better fit for me. I start Monday on the rehab floor and I'm excited. Nope, it's not NICU but I'm at the hospital where the NICU resides and someday, I hope to be a nurse there. Right now, I'm content to have a job where I can begin my nursing career. I feel confident this is where God wants me for now, for whatever reason