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Fumbled During Interview and Lost the Job

Nurse Beth Article   (1,704 Views 5 Comments 603 Words)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,270 Visitors; 1,755 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth. I adore your last nursing class book! I received my first new grad hospital interview but I was declined. I was quite nervous and fumbled on a few questions. I have so much more to learn. When there's an unexpected question, what is an acceptable amount of time to come up with a thoughtful response and then saying it out loud? Would one minute of thought be way too long?

Fumbled During Interview and Lost the Job

Dear Nervous,

Thank you for the kind words about my book Your Last Nursing Class...How to Land Your First Nursing Job and your next!

It's fine to buy time and give a thoughtful response, but one minute is a long time in that situation. There's a difference between not rushing to reply and freezing.  When you freeze during an interview, you can handle it a couple of ways.

Candidly Own It

"I'm sorry, I'm just having a brain freeze for some reason. Can we come back to it in a moment?" said openly and sincerely.

-gains time and sympathy

Segue

This is my favorite. If you are asked a question you did not anticipate, segue to another topic.

For example, if you are asked "Tell us about a time you broke the rules at work" you can say "I haven't had that exact experience but I do remember a time in school when we were warned never to be late to clinicals. I was rushing into the hospital entrance with just a couple minutes to spare and there was a lady in the lobby looking very lost. I asked her if she needed help and she answered in Spanish (I speak Spanish as well). She was trying to find the ED because her husband had been admitted from a traffic accident. I felt like I couldn't just point the way, so I took her to the ED and found someone to help her. I was 15 minutes late to clinicals."

Sense of Humor

Using a sense of humor in an interview is risky because if you are already nervous, chances are you won't have the confidence needed for an effective (funny) delivery. On the other hand, when humor does work, it's powerful.

"Drawing a blank! My Mom/husband friend warned this would happen if I didn't eat breakfast! Why are they always right?"

This could be funny or lame.

Prepare

The number 1 reason for a brain freeze is not enough preparation. Practice and practice some more with friends. Consider videotaping yourself. There are about 10 interview questions you are very likely to be asked. When you are prepared, you gain confidence.

A couple of examples include:

  • Tell us about yourself (there are some things you must not include)
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What is your greatest weakness? (pro tip- have 2. See book for why)
  • What questions do you have for us?
  • Tell us about a time... (you had a conflict with a supervisor, coworker, observed unethical behavior, broke the rules, etc)

In the book below, I give you the answers nurse managers are looking for - for each one of these and many more, such as the situational question posed to new grads (you are in a room and your patient stops breathing/appears in distress/etc.)

Finally, it's important to control your nerves. Hiring managers do look for confidence and an extreme case of nerves can cause you to lose the job.

Remember, they like you, they've already picked you out among others. Be positive, don't try to be perfect, be yourself, and know that they are people just like you.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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Nurse Beth works in acute care and is the career guru at the Ask Nurse Beth career advice column. She has an award-winning blog, nursecode.com Best wishes, Nurse Beth Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,270 Visitors; 1,755 Posts

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traumaRUs has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN and works as a Asst Community Manager @ allnurses.

14 Followers; 130 Articles; 185,723 Visitors; 20,643 Posts

Such great answers Nurse Beth!  And so right on....

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,270 Visitors; 1,755 Posts

1 hour ago, traumaRUs said:

Such great answers Nurse Beth!  And so right on....

Thank you, traumaRUs

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5,614 Visitors; 722 Posts

I remember fumblinga little during my interview but I stayed confident. I said hmm, well, and let me think, to give my brain time to think of certain situations. All questions don't have to be answered straight away. Give yourself time to process the question and run a quick answer to it in your head before speaking the answer out loud.

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NurseSpeedy has 18 years experience as a ADN, LPN, RN and works as a Nurse.

17,434 Visitors; 1,310 Posts

I was lucky to have several job interviews lined up for the same week as a new grad RN/ experienced LPN. I did not get the situational questions in any of my interviews, but the personality/conflict/attendance/etc questions were common.

 I will offer one hint though. I had three interviews with three different hospitals of the same main company. They had one computerized personality questionnaire that the applicant filled out once but any other job applied for within the company used the answers from the first one you answered so you didn’t have to do it twice. One interviewer let me in on a secret-those questions pre-determined what interview questions I would get, and he was to take notes saying things like “okay, this nurse is great!” Or...”oh, crap! Run!” He would submit to his supervisor and then I would either get a call for another interview or get an email saying, yeah, thanks but no thanks. He was telling the truth. All three interviews had the exact same questions. I could read the responses of the interviewers so I could tell which questions to rephrase my answers the next time. The first interview was awkward and my first rejection EVER for any job in 25 years. The next one went well and the third was actually easy because it felt well rehearsed. I got two offers within a couple minutes of each other on my voicemail. 

So, if your trying for two facilities within the same network and have two interviews, hopefully your first choice won’t be the first interview scheduled because then the alternative can work as a dry run so to speak for interviewing.

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