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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Insecure and Failed Interview

Nurse Beth   (3,219 Views 5 Comments)
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Dear Nurse Beth,


I am a new grad who graduated in August. I have passed the NCLEX-RN and have already received my state license. I thought that the hard part would be over. In an interview recently, I found it extremely difficult to talk about myself and my accomplishments/successes.


I am very proud of all the work that I've accomplished and have received positive feedback from instructors and coworkers (I was a student nursing assistant on an ICU). I grew up in a family/culture that does not talk about ourselves in such away, since it sounds like boasting/bragging. I was given the feedback that I appeared uncomfortable and did not do a great job with answering those questions. I did not get the position. What advice do you have that allows me to answer the question appropriately and authentically without sounding like I am boasting/bragging?

Thank you!

Dear Uncomfortable,

Congrats on graduating and passing your licensing exam!

Think of it this way- boasting and bragging are not the same as telling an employer your qualifications.

"I was the best in my class" is boasting.

"I received the Sarah Johnson Best Nursing Student Award" is telling the employer you were a top nursing student, in a factual, authentic manner.

It's highly important for you to appear confident. Nurse managers shy away from candidates who appear to be insecure. After interviewing an uncomfortable, insecure candidate on a panel interview, the interviewers will turn to each other, shake their heads and say "They'd never survive on my unit". What that means is nurses count on each member of the team to take initiative and advocate for their patients. In nursing interviews, it's extremely important to be seen as a good fit- and that includes being confident and assertive.

During an interview, make eye contact, sit with your back straight and shake hands. Project energy and positivity. You are judged in the first minute by how you present yourself.

You absolutely must practice your answers to interview questions. I wrote my book below for applicants just like yourself, who lack interviewing skills and need to learn how to stand out as a candidate. It includes how to successfully answer the top ten questions such as "What is your greatest weakness?" 'Tell us about yourself" and "Why should we hire you?"

The good news is that you can learn these skills. You succeeded in passing school, and worked as an assistant in ICU- you can do this, too.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth



Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

Edited by tnbutterfly

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Emotionally, focus on the fact that you are providing the interviewer with factual information - not bragging. They don't know you or your history. So, you have to give them the facts. Second, focus on showing enjoyment and enthusiasm in the things that you have done -- smile, state what you learned from that particular experience, why you enjoyed, etc. That combination of factual information about skills, knowledge and accomplishments ... along with joy usually makes a candidate very attractive to a hiring manager.

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You can go online and search for the most frequently asked nursing interview questions.

Look over the questions, and prepare written responses to several if the most commonly asked questions.

Read over those written responses daily. Memorize, commit, those responses to your heart and soul.

Practice those responses.

Once you feel confident in your answers to tough questions, the rest will flow.

Think of a job interview as your opportunity to shine.

Good luck.

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You first have to feel confident in yourself before others will perceive you as being confident. I also graduated in Aug and passed the NCLEX. I recently interviewed for an ER position and had a panel interview. I noticed I started getting anxious and nervous when I approached HR but had to step back and calm myself down.

During the interview listen to what is being asked, take 2-3 seconds to think of an answer then answer slooowly. If they ask a question that you have not experienced "tell me a time you went above and beyond"...simple say "It's not directly related to nursing but...." it shows that you can think on the spot. Nothing is worse than leaving a question unanswered.

I always tend to stumble with the "what are your strengths, weaknesses, areas needing improvement..." questions. I learned to relate these questions to what I have accomplished....

strengths: throughout nursing school, I learned that I can adapt well to a changing environment. I am able to recognize when there is a change and react and then go back to complete a task that I originally started.

weakness: I tend to try to complete a task alone by keeping at it until I succeed, however, in a team environment, I have to become comfortable with delegating and become comfortable asking for help in order to prevent fatigue. Throughout clinical, I had the opportunity to practice this...

areas needing improvement: understand that constructive criticism is healthy

Tell us about yourself - remember to focus on why it relates to nursing. Honestly, don't go too much into where you're from, your personal background, etc. Briefly introduce yourself: I'm from --> went to school in --> did this for a job (emphasis soft and hard skills here) --> this allowed me to want to become a nurse.

why we should hire you: list those soft and hard skills as it pertains to nursing...I DID RESEARCH ON YOUR ORGANIZATION and found that

Ask about onboarding, continuing education opportunities, how many of their staff are certified in that area of nursing you're interviewing for, orientation length and opportunity to extend if needed, etc.

Go in prepared, dress to impress (I was feeling myself when I don my jacket suit and that definitely improved my confidence level), and give yourself a peptalk before going in.

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I have always, for the most part, gotten jobs that I wanted. You have to convince people you can handle the work. Practice interviewing. I have been hired for the same hospital 4 different times in different roles. I always left on good standing. You will figure something out, if you want it bad enough or if you are on the verge of being homeless. I have been homeless btw.

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