How to Prepare for Your School Admissions Interview: Set Yourself Up for (Online) Success

This article explains what you can do to prepare yourself for a successful Zoom/online admissions interview. Nursing Students General Students Article


How to Prepare for Your School Admissions Interview: Set Yourself Up for (Online) Success

I know this waiting period between submitting your application and an interview invitation can be quite anxiety-provoking. I've been there. But there is something you can do about it. There's often a very short turnaround time between when you receive the invitation and when you actually interview, especially now that interviews are conducted online. I've had clients go from invitation to Zoom interview in less than a workweek. You will save yourself a lot of stress, and set yourself up for a successful interview if you start preparing for it before you are invited. 

I like to break down interview success into three components. Let's call them the 3 Rights of Interviewing:

  1. Right Set-Up
  2. Right Preparation
  3. Right Execution

With interviewing happening online rather than in person these days, set-up has become an even bigger factor, so we'll start with Right Set-Up.

Here's what you can do to create the ideal set-up for your online interview:

Make Sure Your Space is Well-lit

Ideal lighting comes from behind your webcam, towards your face. If you're backlit the interviewer won't be able to see your face (important for communication and connection). This means depending on the time of day, you might want to avoid having a window behind you. If you only have a light directly above you, it tends to look like an interrogation and can make you look tired. The easiest way to fix both of these is just to move a table lamp to an area directly behind your computer.  

Find a Quiet Space

You don't want to be distracted by noise and you don't want to worry about your mic picking up background noise. Be sure you are somewhere you feel comfortable speaking with your natural, full-volume voice. Speaking in a quiet voice can be perceived as being timid or insecure. If you are worried at all about noise, consider using headphones/earbuds during your call. This is a completely acceptable thing to do. 

Create Eye Contact

This is probably the most common issue I see during mock interviews and an incredibly easy one to fix. We all understand the importance of eye contact when connecting with someone, but not as many of us consider how this translates to webcams. For best results, stack your computer on some books until you are eye level with the webcam. When it comes time for the call, try to move the image of your interviewer as close as possible to your webcam. It makes such a big difference!

Keep a Clean Background

Try to keep it simple and avoid having clutter and distractions in view of the camera. You can use a blank wall or just make sure you have minimal stuff in the background. (If you want to see examples of what this looks like, check out the backgrounds of successful Youtubers.) 

Have a Plan B for Connectivity

There's nothing more stressful than having connection issues during an important interview. If you're using a different space in your house for your interview, make sure you get a strong wifi connection there. Still, things happen. Have a plan B in mind and test it out before the call. Most smartphones can be used as hotspots for your computer if your home wifi goes down. 

Dress the Part

Yes, you should be dressing exactly the same as you would for an in-person interview (minus the uncomfortable shoes). Like all the other general interview advice, I agree that it's best to keep it simple and classic. Super busy patterns and bright colors can sometimes be distracting. The only added online interview issue might be with glasses. Try to avoid lighting that creates a glare so strong they can't see your eyes. 

Best of luck with your interviews! Feel free to message me with questions. And, stay on the lookout for the next article where I'll share what I've learned about the best ways to prepare for admissions interview questions.

NursingMentorPRN has 7 years experience as a BSN, MSN, NP, CNM and specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring. I have a mentoring and tutoring business, but I'm really in this forum just to stay up-to-date on things in the nursing world, and to be helpful when I can.

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Specializes in N/A.

What are some typical interview questions?  

What are the harder questions?

....that are asked in the interview.

please do share your experiences.

Specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring.
On 12/29/2021 at 6:11 PM, Sun1 said:

What are some typical interview questions?  

What are the harder questions?

....that are asked in the interview.

please do share your experiences.

This is a really big topic and super school-dependent. If I could give general advice to cover most questions, it would be to be prepared to answer in detail why you want to attend that particular school, and have a clear understanding of the role of a RN/NP is. If you are applying to an NP school, it helps a lot if you are able to talk about career goals working with a specific population within your specialty (your desired "niche"). A lot of schools are asking about ethics and diversity during interviews now, so be prepared to talk about that. I have a pdf of common interview questions for NP programs on my website, and I'll be publishing another article to cover some of this topic as well.