Published Jun 18, 2009
How much do interviews decide who gets hired when it comes to new grad RNs? I keep getting interviews, but not job offers. I get so nervous sometimes my mind goes blank and I know what to say but can't think of it on the spot, especially when they're questions like "why are you the best candidate?". Does the interview always make or break your chances of getting hired? Even questions I reviewed previously I sometimes go blank on. Any insights/advice?
If you even get to that phase, I'd say the interview is pretty darned critical for anyone, but especially for new grads without nursing experience. There really isn't anything else to measure new grads on on--they don't have real experience to talk about, nor references who can truly attest to their ability to practice nursing.
I am definitely not a smooth talker, nor much of a talker at all and I really struggle in interviews, sometimes saying the wrong thing or hesitating to think. I find that I have the most success when I open up, am candid, smile, and am polite. Try not to get too flustered if you don't know the answer to a question, as it will make you look worse than saying "I'm not sure" or "I would have to look that up." If it's a personal type question and you're really not sure, just BS 'em a little bit. When asked crap like what I do during my off time, I generally am less forthcoming--I figure it's none of their business whether I prefer to go fishing or to strip clubs (it's definitely the former, FWIW).
Some interviewers want smooth talkers, but there are others who will recognize that you're somewhat anxious and will overlook minor blunders if you are sincere and provide an air of competence and integrity. Express your desire to learn and your willingness to do your best even when you have doubts. Make a list of the questions you've been asked that have challenged you and come up with some canned responses. For example, you state that you had difficulty expressing why you're the best candidate, so come up with an answer to that. Ideally, your response to that question would be similar to your response to related questions, and you can adapt your canned responses to the appropriate question.
The reality is that with teh job market the way it is you might be doing fine in the interviews but there are a ton of other applicants who have more relevant experience, have higher GPAs, kiss butt a little better, etc. Good luck.
Isn't the point of an interview to decide who gets the job? If they weren't important, there wouldn't be interviews.
I'm not the greatest at selling myself during an interview. I do ask a lot of questions though. About the facility, the people who work there, what I can expect if I am hired there, etc. It could be a good idea to write something down in regards to the "Why are you the best candidate?" question. Not necessarily to take in an interview with you, but to get your thoughts on paper in a coherent way. Might help you give a smooth, concise answer when it comes up again.
Isn't the point of an interview to decide who gets the job? If they weren't important, there wouldn't be interviews. I'm not the greatest at selling myself during an interview. I do ask a lot of questions though. About the facility, the people who work there, what I can expect if I am hired there, etc. It could be a good idea to write something down in regards to the "Why are you the best candidate?" question. Not necessarily to take in an interview with you, but to get your thoughts on paper in a coherent way. Might help you give a smooth, concise answer when it comes up again.
You're probably right. I think I was hoping to hear it was part of the whole package evaluated and that a bad interview could be overcome somehow. I just hope I get some clinical questions next time around, even hard ones. At least then it'd be in my knowlede bank. I think I'll try to review common interview questions notes beforehand too. Thanks for the advice :)
llg, PhD, RN
I suggest you also practice.
Get a friend or two to pretend to be interviewers. Practice, practice, practice until you can answer questions with relative ease. Then ask someone who is not a close friend to interview you -- so that you won't be so comfortable.
CrufflerJJ, BSN, RN, EMT-P
As others have already said, interviews are very important. I'm of the belief that they aren't just important with new grads - they're important even if you've got 5-10 years of experience.
One main purpose of an interview is to get a "feel" for you as a person. They know that you have such & such a degree, with x amount of experience. That's all fine & dandy, but they won't know from your resume that you can't think of a single thing you'd like to improve in terms of your clinical techniques (not good), or that you left your last job because your boss was a total moron & you knew much more than him/her (REALLY not good).
Interviewers are able to play "mind games" like I used to do when interviewing engineer candidates for my group. I was looking for people who were not afraid to make decisions under pressure based on limited information. When faced with an "impossible" situation, I wanted a candidate to tell me "I'd use my experience & make the best decision I could, given the info available." I also wanted somebody who would stick to their guns after being told that their decision was totally wrong (even though it was the best one that could be made at the time, given the info available) & cost the company $15,000. I did NOT want somebody who came across as timid, indecisive, or likely to play "pass the buck." As the hiring manager, I never knew from the resume itself how I'd feel about a candidate. That took a face-to-face interview.
Going into an interview, I'd hope that you would be able to talk about any challenges that you overcame, accomplishments that you're most proud of, your strengths & weaknesses, what your clinical or nursing lecture instructors said you needed to improve (be VERY careful in answering this one), how you'd handle overtime, how you'd handle conflicts with another employee at work,..... If you're able to talk about your strengths/accomplishments, then you'd be able to segue right into why you're the best candidate for the position.
A lot of this is basic interviewing 101, but it's still nerve-wracking. I know - I went through this as a grad nurse job seeker a month or two ago.
Some basic stuff that might help:
- have a portfolio or notebook in front of you during the interview. You can write brief hints to your answers to the "basic questions" on the first page, along with the questions you want to ask the person interviewing you. This way, even if your mind goes blank, you have a "crutch" which may help you during interviews. NOTE: don't just state at the page & recite word for word....just glance at it from time to time during the interview, as you dutifully write down interesting stuff.
- SELL YOURSELF. Don't depend on the interviewer to "see" that you're a super wonderful new grad & deserve a position. Don't be afraid to go slightly off tangent (or expound upon your answers) when replying to a question. Throw stuff out like your most memorable patients, the most recent journal article you read (even if you don't subscribe to any, find a semi-interesting article), or why you want to work at the Quasimodo Medical Institute for the Criminally Befuddled (or whatever their name is).
A website I found helpful when prepping for my interviews was http://jobsearch.about.com/ .
They've got pages on behavioral interviews ( http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/interviews/a/behavioral.htm ), phone interviews ( http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/interviews/a/phoneinterview.htm ), and resumes.
I didn't sweat it. I was myself but I got hired anyway. So I did it again for another job. It worked again.
mzjennx, BSN, RN
same here. people practice questions and role play. i think yes do that if you must but be yourself! know who you are and sell yourself. its true you dont got experience, but talk about your strong area and what makes you a strong and better candidate then the next one. confidence in yourself and your abilities will get you hired, but not boastfulness. so just show your personality, honesty, critical thinking skills and what your good at and the employer will hire you! you finished nursing school like all the bunch so you gotta prove to them that your the one they want!
The interview is everything.
Many places don't give a crap about your school, GPA, class rank, etc. They just want a feel for you and if they don't like what they see in the interview, then they won't give a second thought to much else.
Interviews are VERY important!
I think majority of the interviews are trying to "feel you out" as a person to see if you are the right "fit" for what they are looking for. Basically, they are looking for if you have the "right" personality and if you are a good "fit" for their unit.
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