Discouraged after extern interview...words of advice?

  1. So I know I'm just feeling down, but I'd love for all you experienced nurses to give me some tips on how to interview better! I'm entering my next to last semester of an 8 semester long BSN program. After completing an unpaid internship in an Intermediate Care Unit, I started to apply for externships. I had an interview today, and I feel (no...I know) that I blew it.

    For a little background about myself, I wasn't initially a nursing major. I studied English literature for a few years, then realized I wasn't happy and made the switch. I absolutely love what I'm doing and am very dedicated. I have a 4.0 and speak Spanish (I live in Southern CA, so this is a big plus). I love my patients and am an extremely hard worker. I spend countless nerdy hours reading nursing-related material on my own time.

    The thing is, I'm not an extrovert, and I think this stood out a little too much today during my interview. I've worked hard on this and have gained a ton of confidence in nursing school. I'm not "in your face", but I'm friendly, warm, and no longer afraid to ask questions and stand up for myself and especially my patients (and if I am, I hide it!). I prepared quite a bit for my interview, but when I was in there, it was as if all my plans disappeared!

    I was very professional, made eye contact, and thanked everyone profusely for their time. But, towards the end of the interview, I could pick up on the fact that they just weren't that into me! I realized that my voice, which is naturally very quiet, was probably drowned out by the huge fan in the corner...I didn't sit up straight enough....I took too many sips of water....Mostly, I didn't elaborate enough on my good points...the fact that I love to learn, and that I'm so passionate about what I do. If you can believe this, I actually at one point mentioned the fact that "I'm a worrier"...I don't know what is wrong with me. They were asking me what kind of feedback I've received from clinical instructors. I've had nothing but positive feedback, so I started to feel like an a$$ because I thought I sounded conceited, so I blurted out that "What I feel I need to work on is...". They didn't ask for it. I just GAVE it to them, and I don't think I made it sound very good!

    Then I found out afterwards that several other students were offered positions. I'm happy for everyone, and a few of them absolutely deserve it, but the rest are people who I know for a fact couldn't tell you why this or that happens when you give a medication, or how it links to the disease, etc...But, they're bubbly and confident and know how to socialize! Something I'm not great at. I kind of felt like I was in a popularity contest and quickly losing. It's frustrating because although I know that grades aren't necessarily an indicator of what kind of nurse you'll be, I think it's important to know why you're doing things and what the possible outcomes could be. I've avoided several potentially life-threatening situations because I know my pathophys. I just don't seem to have the necessary confidence and interview skills yet.

    Should I be worried about getting a job when I graduate, or should I just write off this day as experience, and hope that I can fix my weak spots for next time? Thanks for reading my long, self-pitying post!
    Signed,
    The Introvert :wink2:
  2. Visit JMG2207 profile page

    About JMG2207

    Joined: May '07; Posts: 14
    Pursuing my BSN full-time; from US

    8 Comments

  3. by   SummerGarden
    first of all, nursing is not only for we extroverts (i am as extrovert as one can probably be) but for all personality types; i have met quite a few so far. in any case, as for being a nurse extern, which i was before becoming a nurse... you will find that it does not matter how much knowledge you have right now. it helps to know how to critically think but the purpose of the job is to hone critical thinking skills and to provide experience where students gain nursing knowledge. so, it is not surprising to me that students with less knowledge then you received offers.

    the bottom line is people get jobs (any job of any career field) overwhelmingly based upon one answer to one question of the hiring manger, "will this person fit-in on my unit?" period. therefore, you will also find that new grads in your cohort with fewer qualifications then you will land positions you won't if the nurse manager likes him/her more. it is not fair, but it is life. trust me, i know!!!

    i am a former good nursing student who was rejected for less then stellar new grads at my hospital’s ed twice. on a brighter note, after working a few medical surgical floors since graduation at the same hopsital that rejected me, i recently received a job at a different hospital in the ed because my new hiring manger loves me! thus, if you do not land a nurse extern or new grad position at this hospital, look elsewhere!

    btw, the nurse extern program helps everyone who participates in varying ways. i have met shy nurse externs who were able to grow out of his/her shell after a year on the job to become confident new grads. i also have met not-to-bright nurse externs who gained knowledge of nursing to pass their nclex on the first try and become good new grads. it is up to the individual as to what he/she will gain from the program. not everyone has the same goals or skills upon entry and not everyone will have the same skills or experience upon completion. gl!

    Quote from jmg2207
    should i be worried about getting a job when i graduate, or should i just write off this day as experience, and hope that i can fix my weak spots for next time? thanks for reading my long, self-pitying post!
    signed,
    the introvert :wink2:
    nah, write this day off as a learning experience no matter the outcome.

    -new grad rn heading to the ed soon!
  4. by   jollydogg_RN
    I don't want you to take any of this the wrong way, but hopefully, from my experiences in getting a Nurse Externship and talking to my manager afterwards on how she decided the hiring process for the posistion, maybe you can take away something from it!

    "I was very professional, made eye contact, and thanked everyone profusely for their time. But, towards the end of the interview, I could pick up on the fact that they just weren't that into me! I realized that my voice, which is naturally very quiet, was probably drowned out by the huge fan in the corner...I didn't sit up straight enough....I took too many sips of water....Mostly, I didn't elaborate enough on my good points...the fact that I love to learn, and that I'm so passionate about what I do. If you can believe this, I actually at one point mentioned the fact that "I'm a worrier"...I don't know what is wrong with me. They were asking me what kind of feedback I've received from clinical instructors. I've had nothing but positive feedback, so I started to feel like an a$$ because I thought I sounded conceited, so I blurted out that "What I feel I need to work on is...". They didn't ask for it. I just GAVE it to them, and I don't think I made it sound very good! "

    i know it sucks, it just didnt sound like you sold yourself very well. your resume can say all it wants too, but if your words and answers dont back up what is on paper, then they might think that something is up. i myself am an extrovert, but i knew plenty of introverts and the problems they first went through in nursing school. you can do it! dont give up on applying for externships, because i think that is something that will help you out TREMENDOUSLY becoming more extroverted. i had been a server in food industries for forever before nursing school, but the externship really honed my interpersonal skills in a hospital setting. it helped me apply the knowledge i learned to giving patient care in the hospital.
    also, you say you thanked them profusely. how much is profusely? ;p i think one sincere time is enough for everyone. anymore they may think you're extremely nervous or something. they want to see confidence.
    also, next time if you have an interview, if a fan is making too much noise, dont be afraid to ask them to turn it down or off!! if anything it shows them you can voice your concerns or have the confidence to ask. that is just my opinion. i wouldn't have been afraid, or i would have said something such as "man thats loud, im sorry i'll just have to talk louder" to get the hint across to them something subtle.

    one tip i had for interviews is always ask "why this location? why this hospital?" i wouild ALWAYS have an answer for that one. for example... during the last semester of my ADN program, i had an interview for a M/S position at this hospital near my house. this same hospital i had a doctor at for a good 10-14 years.... so i used that as the reason. ive been a part of that hospital for so long, so how cool would it be to give back to it?
    also, have different friends prepare different random questions. you never know! maybe one of those questions will be similar to something they ask you!
    also, some people are just natural interviewers. it helped that i was once a theatre major

    good luck! it sounds like you are working extremely hard on this matter. it also sounds like your heart is in it, and as long as thats so, you'll be fine!
  5. by   ceekitty
    hang in there! you've obviously done a good job of analyzing and looking at ways to improve yourself in an interview. but don't overanalyze! believe me - i am no good in interviews either. i think i am middle of introvert/extrovert. my introverted side comes out in interviews, though, and it's something i keep in mind beforehand. you do sometimes have to be more assertive and act more confident than normal, but don't overanalyze or stress about it.

    my last few employers told me i came across very meek in the interview and they wondered if i'd be 'tough enough' for the job. but upon hiring me, they found out that i'm an excellent employee and a hard worker. i definitely exceeded their expectations and they tell me that all the time. now they're doing everything they can to keep me here LOL.

    so i have confidence that you are an amazing nurse and employee; don't be so scared of the interview. i have been on the other side, now, interviewing people for positions. everyone is a little nervous; it's an awkward situation - trying to sell yourself. but that's what's needed.

    don't let this hurt your confidence - take this experience and learn from it and you WILL do/feel better next time! good luck!
  6. by   classicdame
    for heavens sake! Take a breath. I have interviewed plenty of people and never even considered the things you thought were terrible sins. When people don't mesh it can be as simple as chemistry - and you would not have been happy there anyway. Keep smiling. Your place is out there and you will find it soon. Good luck.
  7. by   Dreamer-RN
    I'm a strong introvert. My first suggestion is to not see your introvertness as a weakness or negative trait. There are positives to being introverted, despite the world at times label our introvertness as an impairment.

    Over the years, I have learned to adapt myself to be a little more extroverted when engaging with the external world, although my preference is to be introverted. I think I've done well because I easily fool folks in thinking I'm an extrovert. However, interacting with people can drain my energy stores at times although I do enjoy getting to know and helping people. So when I return home, I have to have my alone time in order to recharge my emotional energy.

    You can learn a lot from this interview experience. You have received many good suggestions from the above posts.

    Just learn from your mistakes and make the changes needed to successfully interview in the future. I think anyone can become a bundle of nerves when interviewing regardless he/she is an extrovert or introvert (even more so if the job is something they truly desire). With practice, your interviewing skills will improve and you'll become more confident with answering questions.

    I suggest to practice answering interview questions with a trusted friend/family member and ask them to give you constructive feedback on your responses and body language. Take notes on what went wrong with this interview and use this information to improve and prepare for the next interview opportunity. Also, if you do not do so, smile while interviewing and make sure to maintain good eye contact. You do not have to be bubbly but definitely add a genuine smile here and there while interviewing so that the interviewers will perceive you as a friendly and approachable person. Eventually, you'll get the job that is meant for you. Best wishes!
  8. by   Diaper
    Another interview tip is: Speak Slowly ! I learned that from my previous interviews that if you speak slowly, you can pause and alter your mistakes. The interviewer probably just thought that you're thinking and didn't know that you've almost made a mistake.

    Another tip is that: Even though the manager offers you a drink or candy, don't take it ! If you drink or eat, it can be distracting to the interviewer.

    Anyhow, don't think too much and just focus on the next interview. Good luck.
  9. by   gonzo1
    It sounds to me like you would benefit from lots of interviewing practice. Apply for some jobs that you might not even be interested in, like at a local doctors office or clinic etc.
    The more you interview, the more comfortable you will get at it. Also, if you are interviewing to view it as practice, at a job you don't really care about, you can be more relaxed. After each interview mentallly go over it and think about what you would change. Fine tune it.
    Who knows. You might even get the "perfect" job offer from one of those practice places that you think you don't care about.
    That happpened to a friend of mine and she has happily worked at this place for 8 years now and loves it.
    You never know what is out there unless you stick your neck out and try something different.
    Good luck with all
  10. by   saintplatypus
    Well you answered your own problem area several times in your article. You apparently lack self-confidence. And unfortunately there is no way to get it except by telling yourself over and over until you are convinced, that you are a capable nurse with all the skills, qualities etc to adequately handle the position for which you are applying. Perhaps you are jumping into something you aren't quite ready for, go back and work the floor some more. Med surg, telemetry. whatever will help you become more confident in your skills. You haven't been out of school long you say, that tells me you have much yet to learn. Nursing school tellls you the basics, but it is the actual hands on experience that gives you the real knowledge. And nurses learn their entire careers, there is never a time when you will know it all.

    I am not an RN but as an LPN I have trained many an RN fresh out of school. They don't teach you nearly as much about bedside care as they do LPNs from what I can tell. You may know more about the reasons and whys of the rationals we use, more deep knowledge about the labs and values and what they mean, and why some tests are better than others for different people even if diagnosis are similar and the result of the tests would provide same outcome. I am a total illiterate in this sense, although I have learned alot over the years. RNs need in my opinion at least 2 or 3 years working the floor, doing the basic nursing stuff before moving up into higher positions of authority. I know you have your BSN so I assume that this is what your goal was from the beginning. But in order to supervise, you must know what your staff is supposed to be doing, how the proper way to do it is, alternate ways of doing it if the textbook way is not attainable, and how to direct your critique to your employee in a manner that does not demean them, but explains to them in terms they understand.. what the problem is, what steps could be taken to solve the problem, your personal experience in the same or similar situation and how you handled it, and after that then explain the consequences which could occur if the problem is not solved swiftly and in a manner which suits you and the company. And by being the employee for a while you also gain inside into the rights and wrongs of how to approach your staff, what the personality types are and how to handle each one differently. and you will learn how complimenting your staff will go along way toward creating good relationships with those you supervise. I feel if a supervisor only speaks to their employees when a negative situation occurs they are only harming their own efforts at improving any problems they have. In nursing, morale is a large problem, conflict between employees, and entitlement issues some nurses feel they are due because of the letters behind their names.

    I don't know if any of this helps or not, but if nothing else do what I was taught years ago when I went to AA. Write a list of positive affirmations about yourself. This will be hard as we all are our own toughest critic. Place this list in several places where you will see it frequently throughout the day, ie. bathroom mirror, dash of car, inside wallet, on top of desk, in locker at work to name a few. Read these over and over and over, and believe it or not..... at some point you will find you actually are starting to believe they are true. The longer you do this the more positive and confident you will be come with who you are as a person and as a nurse.

    Good luck to you.

    PS, you might also look into courses which teach one how to handle themselves during an interview. Most colleges offer them as a misc class with no credit value, might cost $50 or so,

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