How to NOT interview for your RN/LPN job!


You are reading page 3 of How to NOT interview for your RN/LPN job!

allnurses Guide


7,058 Posts

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 47 years experience.

As an ER Coordinator, I have seen a few things off in interviews, but DEAR GOD, who hurt you so?

It almost sounds like a vent!

I always just feel sorry for the single mom in jeans who would be wearing dress pants if she could have afforded them, if I had put up a "red flag" I would have turned down one heck of a ER Tech, who is now a ER RN, One of "OUR," not "My" best on staff.

Very few people will bother to ask why someone is dressed inappropriately. When I re-entered nursing and had to do the interview thing again I went to a thrift shop and bought two outfits for under $10.

There is nothing about his list that I haven't read in countless interview tips articles and from Hiring Managers here on allnurses. For you to say it doesn't matter because it doesn't matter to you may cause someone to lose their chance for a job.

The way the economy is -- it could be a very long time before that person gets another chance at it, and that makes it very un-compassionate advice.


131 Posts

Specializes in Chemo.

"Do NOT come with greasy hair, no make up, un-brushed hair or wearing pajamas. I should not even have to type that."

Ok you have to tell us about Pajama person.


131 Posts

Specializes in Chemo.


what it boils down to is how bad you want the job. most managers do not care if people have tattoos or piercings, as long as the tattoos and piercings do not interfere with the job. if one comes in looking like a slob then i would think he or she has no pride in him or herself. it has nothing to do with how qualified he or she is for the job because in this tight job market there will be 10 other people just as qualified and well dressed. most places have a point system for interviewing and a good interview can tell if a person is going through hard times. yes there is a big judgment about a person; in your case you made the right one. would you have the same decisionif this was a male or if a person came in with dirty cloth and was un-kept? what about if you saw the person had not stayed any job for more than a year. interviews are all about judging people

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

as an er coordinator, i have seen a few things off in interviews, but dear god, who hurt you so?

it almost sounds like a vent!

i always just feel sorry for the single mom in jeans who would be wearing dress pants if she could have afforded them, if i had put up a "red flag" i would have turned down one heck of a er tech, who is now a er rn, one of "our," not "my" best on staff.

these judgemental posts about how i am sooooooo much better than you because i follow the book to a "t," and "conform to the upper-crust of this profession" sound so shallow and "god-complex" like.

some of the greatest minds out there have hair just like einstien, or decided to get a tattoo, and i cannot begin to imagine how you differentiate on your patient care according to how they are dressed-or look.

i think you missed your calling for cosmotologist, or a prissy hair dresser!

otherwise, i hope you work in a private, small, uptown hospital where you won't be ashamed by wrangler wearing blue collar workers, but doubt that since you had to post a vent about hair washing, denim, and piercings!

old school is okay, but compassion, understanding, and empathy are still character traits that i would rather see than starch constipated china doll nurses!



perhaps it is a vent, but this is a good place for it. i'm not understanding why you feel the need to excoriate the original poster, whose heart seems to be in the right place. while everyone should know these things, it's obvious that many don't.

the single mom wearing jeans could probably have found a pair of dress pants for under $10 at goodwill or st. vincent de paul. there are also programs at the ywca in many cities where clothing appropriate for job interviews is available for free or for a very small fee. the applicant in pajamas clearly didn't want a job -- probably just wanted to have appearance of looking for a job so she could continue to get welfare or whatever.

i was sitting in hr waiting for my interview several years ago, and several women came in dressed as described in the original post . . . shorts, flip flops, visible body art, dirty hair and accompanied by small children and pets. they asked for applications and filled them out illegibly with purple and pink ink. then they loudly announced that they wouldn't be working nights, weekends or holidays because "i have a life." the hr receptionist told me that these same "ladies" appear every week like clockwork because if they don't "look for work" they cannot continue to receive benefits.

i see nothing wrong with an interviewer choosing the candidate who dressed appropriately for the interview above someone who didn't take the time or effort to be dressed neatly (pjs, for pity's sake!), shampoo and style their hair or cover up tattoos. in this economy, one ought to err on the side of conservative dress, hiding body art and being as neat and clean as possible. not everyone is as dismissive of these basics as you seem to be.

Specializes in ED/ICU/TELEMETRY/LTC. Has 20 years experience.

Hiring is an opinionated thing. First you have to realize that it is not a "fair" thing.

You will be judged. That is what the hiring process is all about. Gone are the days when you could show up with an unblemished license and no criminal record and get hired. It's a buyer's market.

The buyer (hirer) has her/his choice of many qualified applicants. You should show up looking neat, clean, presentable, and not looking like you are a circus freak who just crawled out of bed.

If you don't like it, too bad. As I said, it's a buyers market. You are the seller. You have to make the package resemble what the buyer needs AND wants. Period.

For me it's all of those things mentioned and shoes. If I see someone come in to interview with nasty shoes it shows a clear lack of attention to detail. Not interested, thanks.

country mom

379 Posts

Has 16 years experience.

Just wanted to say thanks for the original post. It should be framed and placed in the office of every guidance/career counselor's office. For the one who replied about the single mom with jeans who got the job and turned out to be great- she was dog-gone lucky to get someone who would give her a chance. Everyone else, I wouldn't take the risk,the interviewer is not likely to be as understanding and forgiving as that one was. Like it or not, if you're going out job-hunting, you've need to have something else in your closet besides scrubs, jeans and pj's. If you're trying to move up in the world, you need to look the part. That's really what you're doing- you're auditioning for a part and the interviewer is trying to decide in a few minutes if you're the one who should play it. That's every reason to give yourself an advantage.

Agree with OP about the tats and piercings- however you feel about it, the employer has to play to the likes and dislike of their customer base. So, until you know more about the organization and how they feel about body art, you best hide it.

The point about not complaining about others is valid as well- red flag to anyone who breathes a hint of conflict and difficulty at their previous job, unless you're going to tell how you championed the situation and made everyone live at peace with one another. Blessed are the peacemakers.


2 Articles; 1,406 Posts

Specializes in nursing education.

Agree with OP about the tats and piercings- however you feel about it, the employer has to play to the likes and dislike of their customer base. So, until you know more about the organization and how they feel about body art, you best hide it.

This is the best concise explanation.

And I'll re-think gum chewing if you offer compassion (the same as you would to a patient who has dry mouth) and offer another interview-friendly solution? It's more discreet than a water bottle...


28 Posts

Just for curiosity sake; can one be overdressed for an interview? Now, I'm not talking tuxedo here, but would a nice business suit be a little too much or should I go a bit more casual? I just wonder because I am starting some volunteer work in the near future at a cancer center and this happens to be at the hospital that I would like to work for, possibly for the duration of my career (the staff here were excellent when delivering my daughter via emergency c-section). I just don't want to be looked at like a clown.


689 Posts

hlr2752, you will not be looked at like a clown. Its ALWAYS better to be overdressed, then underdressed (that goes for anything you do). To me, its a sign of respect that the applicant put in the extra effort and takes pride in themselves. Hopefully that pride carries over to thier work.


90 Posts

Specializes in OR, public health, dialysis, geriatrics.

If you want a job you need to look and act the part. No one is looking down on anyone here-what they are doing is venting and trying to help the next person. Nurses are expected to look and act in a particular way. How often do you see a physician with blue hair and multiple piercings? You don't because this would make them an outsider and patients would not take them seriously. If patients don't take you seriously, it doesn't matter how great you are at your job because you won't have a job.


90 Posts

Specializes in OR, public health, dialysis, geriatrics.

goats'r'us- As long as the nose piercing is small and discreet it really isn't a problem. It is the multiple eyebrow piercings, the tongue piercing that constantly clacks against the teeth or that you can't stop playing with that are distracting during the interview process.

I wouldn't mention it during the interview. If you are offered the job, the time to ask about dress code/personal appearance policy will be when talking to HR.


997 Posts

Specializes in Peds(PICU, NICU float), PDN, ICU.

I have a problem with the make-up requirement. All the others I do agree with. Why would you expect someone to wear make-up? Some of us don't need make-up and have a nice complexion without it. I choose not to wear make-up because my skin looks fine without it. Make-up is damaging to skin and puts chemicals on my skin that I don't want. Check out lipsticks having lead in them!! Also, do you really want a nurse wearing make-up so that while they are working (and probably sweating) the make-up will run....or worse...drip down on a patient?!?! I prefer to present the person I am....not the person someone wants me to be. If someone wouldn't hire me because I didn't have make-up on....they are probably not someone I want to work for. Do you want someone that looks a certain way? Or someone that can do the job right? BTW, I've been complimented in many interviews for my professional appearance without make-up. When I see someone with make-up...especially tons of makes me wonder why they are trying to hide behind a mask and what else they are hiding or are fake about. I'm at work to work, not win a beauty pageant.

I don't have piercings or tattoos. However, if the person can do the job....tell them to cover it up. Typically the cover ups are more obvious and annoying than the actual piercing/tattoo.

If you stop basing your opinion on looks and really get to know someone, you will meet and get to know some really wonderful people!! You can't change a personality...but you can work with an employee on their appearance if they are the most qualified for the job.