Behavioral Interviews

by ana9 ana9 (New) New Nurse


I need some serious help. Years ago I worked for years in a VA hospital. I moved and applied at Mayo - when I was speaking with HR she was asking me stuff like - name a time when blah blah -. I thought it was weird and when I went to interview with the hiring nurse SAME KIND OF QUESTIONS - I thought there was something wrong with them! I worked there for ten years so I was hoping not to ever go through that again. When I interviewed somewhere else, the same thing. I realized that was the new thing. I not only hate them, I think they are so deceiving - like did you really do the things you said you did? I think asking me - what would you do if you came across a patient unresponsive on the floor with pinpoint pupils blah - then you might actually see if I am a nurse. These questions are just easier for the interviewer as they have to do nothing but read the questions. OK sorry for the vent BUT - I need help. I cannot do these interviews. I have been a nurse many years in many settings - med surg, respiratory care unit, jail, prison, detox center etc - I am either really stupid or I am missing some trick. Most of the questions they ask I have never had the experience so what am I supposed to do? See if they asked me what would you do IF you had a disagreement with a co-worker, I could answer that. You ask me to name a time when you used your leadership skills to make a change in a policy - tell me what you did and the outcome and how the new policy was received by your peers and your boss - then I am lost and cannot think. I fumble and come up with some stupid thing that never really answers the question. I need help! Am I dumb? I dont really get nervous, I just cannot make the interview work. Please tell me your tricks.

thank you so much!!!!!

I have found - most of the questions center around team building and how you treat coworkers.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I don't like "behavioral interviews" either - so I can empathize with you on that. But I do understand them a little better than you seem to -- and understanding them might help you perform in them. Here are my thoughts.

1. Those types of questions give the interviewer additional information about you -- not just the facts you give them in your answer. For example, if asked about a time you disagreed with a co-worker and you say you never disagreed with a co-work before then they know you are probably either lying or that you lack insight into your relationships and interactions with your co-workers. Do you really believe you never disagreed or do you just have trouble recalling a specific case?

My suggestion for handling those situations which you can't think of a good example to discuss is to pause for a moment. Don't feel like you need to jump in right away with an answer. Say something like, "Hmmm... I need a moment to think about that. No one specific example comes immediately to my mind." If you still can't think of a good example to discuss, start talking about the topic in general. "If I disagree with a colleague's treatment of a patient or if I thought there was a safety issue involved, I would say something directly to my colleague -- perhaps asking her to step aside for a private conversation -- " etc. etc. say what you would do in such a situation. As you are talking, you might be able to throw in a little example or two. Then you can say, "If the disagreement did not involve a care quality of safety issue, I would be cautious about getting involved in anything that didn't directly involve me. I don't like to create a lot of unnecessary drama." ... or whatever.

The idea is to talk about your usual work behaviors, how you typically respond, etc. while trying to weave some specific examples to weave into your conversation.

2. Review your practice before the interview. Think of the types of behaviors that a hiring manager would be interested in. (Teamwork, conflict management, on-going learning and growth, etc.) Think of specific examples you might use to illustrate your typical behavior related to those qualities. That review will put those examples forefront in your mind to help you recall them as you discuss those types of questions.

3. When asked that type of question, think to yourself, "What does the interview want to know about me? What do I want the interviewer to know about me related to that general topic?" Start your answer there and then as you talk about that topic, your mind will recall the examples that you thought about in preparation for the interview and you can weave one or two of them into the conversation.

llg, PhD, RN - thank you so much for taking the time to help me! I am gonna read your response again and try to do better! maybe it is nerves or why cant I think of anything? thank you again!