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Help me with questions I should ask in my ED interview

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by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

Thanks so much for your time and your advice! I have one question. I have a final interview with an ER manager at my dream job location. I was wondering if you had any examples of questions that are unit specific I could ask her. I want to leave a good impression as there are so many applicants. But since this is a new grad residency program I haven’t worked in the ER I’m kind of stumped. Thanks again nurse Beth!

Dear Dream Job,

The questions you ask at an interview are important, and they give you one last chance to make a memorable impression.

You need to prepare several questions ahead of time. Managers typically ask "What questions do you have for us?" at the end of an interview, at which point they may have already addressed your question.

So if the manager has already talked about visits per day (ED metric for volume) or throughput (getting patients up to the floor) during the course of your interview, and your questions were "How long do you typically hold patients while waiting for an inpatient bed?" or "How many visits per day do you have during the Winter months?", then you would not be able to use those questions.

Also, remember, the ED manager does not expect you to know the inner workings of the ED. Experience is not what they are looking for when hiring a new grad.They are looking for someone who will fit in, be teachable, and be a safe practitioner.

Here's a couple examples of questions you might ask:

"I've always been told by my instructors that teamwork is one of my best strengths. What qualities do you look for in a candidate?" (tells them you're a team player).

"As a new grad, I have everything to learn. If I were to get hired, what are the best ways to grow my skills in your ED?" (shows teachability and interest).

One way you can use this question to your advantage is to show you have researched the hospital. "I know the mission of the hospital is to improve the health of all the patients served through excellent care. Can you tell me about the culture of the ED?" (shows you have looked up the mission statement).

A couple more tips:

  • Ask only open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a "Yes" or a "No".
  • Do not ask questions about salary, benefits, vacation time or any perks at this stage of the process.
  • Ask one question at a time. Avoid multi-part questions, such as "If I were to get the job, would I receive regular feedback on my performance, and is there opportunity to take more classes to improve my skills down the road?" (should be asked as 2 questions).

Good luck on your interview!!

P.S. Follow up with a thank-you note 🙂

Nurse Beth

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