Please quit wasting my time: Interview Advice from Hiring Manager - page 19

by Teacher Sue | 49,753 Views | 227 Comments

I have spent the last two days interviewing candidates for an open RN position on my floor. Last week I went through the 14 resumes HR sent over to pick out the ones I wanted to interview. Eliminated eight of these for various... Read More


  1. 1
    Quote from alodocios
    You worked hard for your license and staying in an unsafe environment can jeopardize that. New nurses many times take bottom of the barrel to get hired but who wants to stay there. I once put the wrong number on the bott if my cover letter. I prayed they would use the top one. I retread it a million ted and had hubby read it too. Neither of us caught it. No one is trying to waste time on either side especially an unemployed RN. Still good piece. I have wild curly hair. I was told that you can't go wrong with a low neat bun and a small pair of studs.
    Nurses rarely lose their licenses for working in an unsafe environment. They lose licenses for fraudulent charting, substance abuse and criminal behavior. The rest of your post is somewhat incoherent, and I'm not sure of what you mean about the "bott of my cover letter" and "I retread it a million ted."
    wooh likes this.
  2. 0
    Quote from Teacher Sue
    Several people here seem to place a negative connotation on fitting in and on the culture of a nursing unit. This is not always the case. A nurse who feels that the aides are there only to take orders would not fit in on a floor where there is more of a teamwork culture between all staff. And an older nurse who feels entitled to the best shifts would not fit into a floor where the culture is that everyone works their share of off shifts. I know the culture on my unit very well. The staff is diverse, but cohesive. It would be irresponsible of me to bring a new hire onto the unit who might disrupt this cohesiveness. Not only would this affect staff, it would affect patient care as well. I'm just not sure how wanting to hire people who will work well with established staff equates to lateral violence. Of course there is conflict on my unit. It is impossible to have 48 staff and not have conflict. But when it occurs, it is addressed. Please don't assume that all units and all managers are like your previous unit. I for one truly do have both the patients and the staff's best interest at heart. And I think that all of the managers I currently work with feel the same way.

    I totally agree with this. You know I have heard a new nurse grad say, in a condescending way, "I am not there to wipe butts, that's what the aids are for."

    OK, maybe it's b/c mostly I have been an ICU/Critical Care nurse, but honestly, this statement annoyed me. Lord knows that are a zillions things that are high priority that go beyond basic care, but I don't think I am above doing basic care. I don't thing any nurse should think they are above doing basic care. Besides, you can find out a lot about patients during basic care. Beyond that, they are humans will real human needs. How their basic care is addressed affects their pscyho-emotional sense of wellbeing and sense of dignity.

    It's funny how, when a RN moves out of adult care to pediatric or neonatal care or critical care, the basic care issues become no big deal.

    If a person is in need, the person is in need, period. Everyone is an important part of the team.

    Maybe it's b/c long before I became a RN, I was a NA, and as a teen, I was a candy stripper. (LOL. Remember them?) My mother was charge over the MS floor I was assigned, and also worked in ED. She never allowed me to sit with other candy strippers and chit chat. She made sure I understood that it's all about meeting needs. And I remember, at 14 and 15 years of age, going home with aching legs and feet. So, in many ways, my beginning nurse's education started very early.

    Attitude IS important.

    I think early on, I was referring to other things (rather unfair things) that seem to be been categorized under "fit." Such things certainly do not include the things in which you are referring Teacher Sue.
  3. 0
    Quote from AP0525
    Everyone here is getting so defensive over the fact that the original poster said that she looks down on job-hopping. But, I don't understand how any adult, licensed professional can honestly argue what she is saying.

    Yes- ONCE IN A WHILE it's understandable that things happen and a position doesn't work out. But, if you've had 7 jobs in the last 5 years, "not work out," it's probably you that's the problem. Furthermore, if SEVERAL jobs didn't work out because "it wasn't a good fit for you"....several...then it means that you just applied for any position, rather than REALLY researching the position, facility, asking appropriate questions in your interview, etc before taking the job. Which, is unprofessional in itself. As she stated, those individuals are wasting hospital money & resources (such as preceptors, classes, etc).

    Yes- job hopping by an educated, licensed professional will look bad on a resume to just about any hiring manager/HR rep.

    I guess you have to look at each individual separately. Nurses in general are notorious for moving around. In fact, in today's economy, they tell you not to expect to be at the same position or even job for a lifetime. As a manager, to me it would depend on the particulars and how the candidate addressed them.

    Finally we have to face the fact that, unfortunately, there too many toxic environments in nursing. Now if a candidate says their previous environment was toxic, this could look bad for her in an interview, b/c no matter what, you cannot seem like you are badmouthing a place. It may be a 100% true that the environments were toxic, but to say so on an interview looks bad for the person being interviewed.

    I am not sure if this is part of the problem about perpetuating toxicity by not addressing it or not. But the thing is, what is the institution you are applying to supposed to do about the toxicity problem at the former institution(s) anyway? I mean it's a no win approach. From the individual candidate's position, whether true or not, it undermines them in terms of attitude and professionalism. The new instititution can't address issues of toxicity from another institution. They can only choose to limit it within their own institution. So, stating it as a reason for leaving will only be viewed as unprofessional---although I feel for the candidate/s that have found themselves in these situations.

    It's like an unspoken gag order, at least so far as interviewing is concerned. Sadly this is how these generic type of terms like "fit" get stretched and used. Ah, the invention of euphemisms. You have to be creative and find more professional sounding reasons for leaving. It's a tough situation to be in, but that's what you have to do.

    If anyone has any better ideas as to how to handle the "reasons for leaving" questions re: toxic environments, I'd love to hear them. Point is the prospective employer doesn't have all sides of the story, and doesn't really want them.

    At the same time, abuse and horizontal/vertical violence needs to be addressed. It just doesn't make sense to address it in an interview, at least in terms of referring to former employers.
  4. 1
    Quote from Teacher Sue
    Are you suggesting I just pick anyone and then terminate them after the probationary period if they don't work out? This is wrong in so many ways. How would a new grad feel about being fired at the end of their probationary period, and then discovering that I just picked them out and didn't evaluate their skills and suitability for the position? I would think that this would be more devastating than not getting hired at all. Do you think it is fair to established staff to have them put the time and effort into orienting a new person, only to have to do it all over again in six months because I just picked someone? And this is completely irresponsible from a finanacial viewpoint. Depending on the statistics you read, it can cost $30,000 or more to orient a new GN. If I were to be hiring someone new every six months because of this kind of hiring practice, I would be looking for a new job.


    Wow. I am so glad you mentioned this. I HAVE SEEN THIS at certain institutions. They cycle through new grads and even experienced nurses like underwear. Now, this is a huge (nation-wide) hospital system that does this. I believe they do the probationary "preceptorship" orientation for under $15,000. Done the math on that. A lot of the modules and so forth are computer-system based, which nurses are obliged to work on via Intranet into hospital system on their own time.

    Still, it's money and time, and I really don't get why this system does this. It seems idiotic to me. It almost feels like they are using this process to 1. Meet Magnet requirements, and 2. Appear to keep ratios under an appearance of control. It doesn't matter if the orienting nurse is on orientation--they still add patients to the preceptor. Also, mostly the preceptors are, in one way or another, on the hostile side to the preceptees.

    I continue to scratch my head over this. I feel stupid, b/c I truly don't get it.
    gaylarn4 likes this.
  5. 0
    I share the sentiments of so many posters on this thread. I'm left with this observation: either applicants have a desire to fit into the unit and learn it, or they expect the unit to mold to them. Yes, I could express my individuality by showing up in my favorite jammies, but I show respect for the organization and professionalism by wearing job-appropriate clothing (I love the suggestion about going to consignment shops and even thrift shops, BTW!). Someone might like to party hard on their own time, but they should have the sense not to have drunk_every_friday@whiskey.com as their email address, and they can't expect that they won't be looked up on Facebook or even Google. Hiring managers have to protect the investment the unit is about to make, and if an applicant looks like they don't care all that much, the manager isn't going to care that much, either.

    Not every expectation on the part of applicants is so extreme. I'm a new grad with an MSN. I may be green, but I am not naive enough to think I'm going to waltz into my new job next week and start telling them what to do. I do expect to bring my book knowledge with me and apply it to my patient care and learning process. I expect to acclimate to my unit and learn from them; I bring my own strengths, but at the end of the day, I choose to fit in because I want this job. Period. Yes, units have culture. Every group of people has a culture, and fitting in does matter, on some units more than others. In PACU, because of the way the patients flow in and out, we step in and help each other out constantly. If a nurse prefers to work alone, he or she is going to have a hard time, and the patients will suffer for it. On another unit, that type of independence might be necessary, such as in home care. I do agree that you can't always tell how someone will fit in during the span of an interview, but that plus a shadowing day is a decent start.

    What I do find interesting is how nurses have told me for years how great the field is because you can change to a different specialty so easily. If it is being perceived as job-hopping, I don't know how easy it really is. How long is long enough? Also, given the unspoken and not-universally-enforced rule about doing a year of med-surg before moving into a specialty (and the lack of uniform requirements from one hospital to another), a certain amount of job-hopping is inevitable. You tell me I need to work a year of med-surg before working in the area I love? You bet I'll put my year in and be out of there when I find what I want. I can give the pretty answer in the interview as well as the next person, because what manager wants to hear "I'd rather be working in the ED, but I need a year of med-surg experience first"? But that doesn't change the fact that both the manager and the applicant are set up for a less-than-satisfying relationship for the next year or so. This is why I always advocate for more defined paths to specialties, more like medical internships and residencies. I think you'd eliminate a lot of job-hopping by requiring job shadowing and setting a clear path to new nurses' areas of interest and skill.
  6. 4
    So many here seem to want to argue with Teacher Sue about how wrong she is in what she wants to see in an interview. That energy would be better spent in fixing up your resume and prepping for interviews so that you can better fit those expectations. Do any of you really think Teacher Sue (or any other hiring manager that reads this thread) is really going to see your complaints about how YOU had a good reason to be job hopping and will turn around and hire someone that had 7 jobs in 5 years? That they'll hire the person that can't fake confidence or a decent attitude because they might be nervous (unlike every other job applicant that just sooooo enjoys the job hunting process)? That they'll just pick a random person without using any criteria whatsoever because they won't want to miss out on the person that might be a great nurse even though they can't piece together a coherent resume or job application? That they'll quit requiring a drug screen because some people are great nurses even if they were stuck in a room with a group of pot smokers last week?

    You've gotten an inside look at what it takes to get a job. Instead of complaining about the criteria, use the tips to mold yourself for a few hours into the perfect candidate. An essential part of nursing is acting. If you don't believe that, then you've obviously never had to change out a ostomy bag on an alert patient without pretending that it's not the worse thing you've ever smelled.
    If you're an introvert/shy/uncomfortable/nervous, practice on friends and family until you can fake being an enthusiastic job seeker long enough to get the job.

    Don't hate the player. Hate the game. But don't expect the game to change just because you want it to, you're going to have to learn to play it or settle for working at your local fast food place that will hire you just for walking in.
  7. 0
    Quote from wooh
    (unlike every other job applicant that just sooooo enjoys the job hunting process)? That they'll just pick a random person without using any criteria whatsoever because they won't want to miss out on the person that might be a great nurse even though they can't piece together a coherent resume or job application? That they'll quit requiring a drug screen because some people are great nurses even if they were stuck in a room with a group of pot smokers last week?

    You've gotten an inside look at what it takes to get a job. Instead of complaining about the criteria, use the tips to mold yourself for a few hours into the perfect candidate. An essential part of nursing is acting. If you don't believe that, then you've obviously never had to change out a ostomy bag on an alert patient without pretending that it's not the worse thing you've ever smelled.
    If you're an introvert/shy/uncomfortable/nervous, practice on friends and family until you can fake being an enthusiastic job seeker long enough to get the job.

    Don't hate the player. Hate the game. But don't expect the game to change just because you want it to, you're going to have to learn to play it or settle for working at your local fast food place that will hire you just for walking in.

    Well, that's certainly not what I've been saying. I don't know how long you have been in nursing, but I've been in the field for a long time. I surely acknowledge the game.

    And here's where the word "fit" should be used. . .from the applicant's perspective---I know you need a job--but be careful about taking a position where your beliefs, ethics, professional philosophy, etc, do not seem to meet the particular environment. It's a given though, that you won't necessarily know about that until you are immersed in the environment. If you can get a feel for this before hand, think twice about accepting the position, b/c things are not likely to change--or at least there is a long road before they do. Can you hang on in that environment not knowing when and if it will change for the better???

    OTOH, sadly, this issue of horizontal/vertical violence is pervasive enough that it's so hard to not get a position and see this to some extent.

    I only wish this were not the case, but I am glad that Teacher Sue tries to screen for attitudes and such with the potential for this negativity. Once it gets into the culture, it's like a cancer. It's just that a lot of it is a cancer that is covert and slow growing--so it can take a long time to get to the point where management and administration MUST face it's existence.

    I am finding that this kind of work environment violence is also why a numer of experienced nurses go into home care. Seriously. You have some very strongly experienced nurses going this route, and they actually take a pay cut to get away from the toxicity. It's the same thing with why a number of nurses bite the bullet of working night shift--other than b/c they are new or b/c it's expect that they pay their dues or whatever. Many strongly experienced RNs work nights b/c, in general, there is much less toxicity--of course depending on various things. But they don't work that God awful shift b/c they are lazy. (Some folks don't realize how crazy nights can get--with less help--mind you.) Many work it b/c there seems to be less gunner(ism) among nurses at night---of course this is not always the case, but in general it can be. It's an interesting dynamic to me. Perhaps, in general, working nights forces people to work more as a team, b/c there is less help and support.


    I agree that you have to make the best presentation and learn from what Teacher Sue is saying.
    But there are other perspectives worthy of consideration as well.


    Come on already. If a person is idiotic enough to go to an interview dressed as Teacher Sue initially described, really, what can they expect? It's true. You just wasted that manager's time, b/c she CANNOT take you seriously.


    Serious applicants should know better. Did they attend clinicals in their PJ's or jeans? I don't think so. What would make them think a nursing position interview would be any different.

    Scrubs aren't usually appropriate either, unless, say you work in the facility, and you have cleared with the manager that you have worked all night before the interview. Some folks would even say, bring your suit with you, and change at work. Why? Well, it's supposed to be a professional role, and you need to look professional.

    Yes, you have to comb over your resume. Read it aloud and get another professional person to read it and edit it.

    This is really no brainer stuff.
    Last edit by samadams8 on Sep 5, '12
  8. 0
    I agree with Sue. I think the schools and educators need to stress the importance of professionalism in behavior and dress as well as employers need to enforce the same. Some nurses and CNA's forget that we need to behave as professionals. It is a big mistake by not stressing enough the importance of conducting ourselves in a professional manner. This includes all aspects of behavior, attitude and dress. When I was in nursing school we were taught that nurses are one of the highest respected jobs there are and we were to conduct ourselves as professionals ie: keep fingernails short and manicured, no nail polish unless a very light color. Never to wear nail tips or artificial nails as they are a breeding ground for microorganisms, no jewlery (another breeding ground), except wedding bands and small earrings in good taste. Shoes were to be clean and polished, Uniforms clean and pressed, hair neat and if long pulled back. Never to display horsing around, loudness or swearing. I have experienced in the work place, and as a visitor to hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities, uniform pants are dragging on the floor that are dirty and frayed, shoes that are filthy, artifial nails, heavy make-up, large earrings and many rings on the fingers. It is sad to see the employee look like she/he just crawled out of bed, slept in their uniform and didn't bother to fix her/his hair. If they are this sloppy in they're appearance it make be wonder about their ther patient care.
    Last edit by sunshine-58 on Sep 5, '12
  9. 0
    Quote from sunshine-58
    I agree with Sue. I think the schools and educators need to stress the importance of professionalism in behavior and dress as well as employers need to enforce the same. Some nurses and CNA's forget that we need to behave as professionals. It is a big mistake by not stressing enough the importance of conducting ourselves in a professional manner. This includes all aspects of behavior, attitude and dress. When I was in nursing school we were taught that nurses are one of the highest respected jobs there are and we were to conduct ourselves as professionals ie: keep fingernails short and manicured, no nail polish unless a very light color. Never to wear nail tips or artificial nails as they are a breeding ground for microorganisms, no jewlery (another breeding ground), except wedding bands and small earrings in good taste. Shoes were to be clean and polished, Uniforms clean and pressed, hair neat and if long pulled back. Never to display horsing around, loudness or swearing. I have experienced in the work place, and as a visitor to hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities, uniform pants are dragging on the floor that are dirty and frayed, shoes that are filthy, artifial nails, heavy make-up, large earrings and many rings on the fingers. It is sad to see the employee look like she/he just crawled out of bed, slept in their uniform and didn't bother to fix her/his hair. If they are this sloppy in there appearance it make be wonder about their ther patient care.

    I thought they did this. I know in my first program, now quite some time ago, they did. Seems strange.

    About the nails. There was this war on it in the hospitals in the mid 90's--nurses defended the artificial nails with their lives. LOL I always felt it was nasty to have the fake nails and such. What we would always get was "We use them as tools." This always upset me. I saw nurses messing with umbilical lines with these claws, and I don't care how much they scrubed up before hand, those artificial nails carry microbes, and they can scratch delicate baby skin and delicate lines, or even delicate elderly skin.

    So not worth it IMHO.

    Do you remember when we had to wear nurse's caps? I was never for them. Luckily my school said they were no longer necessary in the middle of my program. One more thing to carry in a vinyl "cap box" or worry about in terms of having it fall into a patient's open wound during a dressing change.

    Remember having to polish those white nursing shoes? LOL
  10. 0
    I don't remember nursing caps. TG! It was only 18 yrs ago I graduated but I remember we were trained well. It floors be when I see behaviors and dress that I would expect coming out at the Sat. clubs on the floor of the hospital. Unbelieveable. My daughter is in nursing school now and I have talked with her about it. She feels that there are some of her classmates that do dress unprofessionally. Maybe time to have a "What Not To Wear" for medical personal. LOL


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