Interview Tips for the Older New Graduate

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I would love to have some interview tips for the older new graduate/RN? Preferably for the growing population of 50+.I have limited experience in the medical field and need to stand out among my younger peers. I also was surprised with a family late in life so I was a stay at home mom since 2002. This is really like my 1st career! Any advice on this dilemma would be greatly appreciated!

    Dear 50 Plus,

    This is a great question because many applicants believe there is age discrimination in the workplace.

    The truth is that older candidates bring unique skills. Candidates with life experience know how to play well with others in the sandbox. They are typically reliable and definitely won't be taking lengthy maternity or baby bonding leaves.

    Amazingly, some candidates shoot themselves in the foot by putting themselves down. Don't draw attention to your age and especially do not disparage yourself. Some older people tend to point out their age in a negative manner, such as remarking about their vision, or lack of tech skills. Sit up straight and project energy.

    To stand out from other applicants, show that you are a savvy interviewer by weaving in your knowledge of the importance of improving patients satisfaction scores and reducing readmissions. These are issues and metrics that nurse managers are faced with on a daily basis. Very few new grad candidates will speak to these topics and by so doing, you will stand out.

    Know what EHR platform the hospital is using, and speak to your experience with that platform (Cerner, Epic) if able.This will allay any concerns around your computer skills.

    Stress that you have roots in the community if you have family, are married, or own a house. This will allay any concerns around being a flight risk.

    Know the mission and values statement and refer to how it aligns with your personal values when given an opening, such as "Why should we hire you?" or "Why do you want to work at this facility?"

    I urge you to check out my book below. It has multiple examples of how to answer the top interview questions to WOW any interview panel.

    Good luck! and keep us posted.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,567; Likes: 4,706
    Nursing Professional Development Specialist; from CA , US
    Specialty: Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho

    7 Comments

  3. by   Neats
    Age is just a number, what I look for is your skills/competency or the ability to learn those skills and the ability to get along with others.
  4. by   Alex_RN
    Quote from Neats
    Age is just a number...
    That is a nice sentiment but at my age, I think a box of Clairol Medium Brown, skillfully applied, is just as important as my ability to communicate my finesse with e-charting and multiple platforms.
  5. by   llg
    I recommend projecting the image of someone who is looking for a long-term job rather than just a brief stepping-stone to other jobs. Emphasize your roots and ties to the community, etc. That willingness to commit to a job for the long-term is an advantage that older nurses have over younger ones who have no plans to stay on the job for long. Make the most of that advantage.

    Of course, you may be only looking for a short-term job just like a lot of the younger nurses -- but nobody has to know that.
  6. by   Lil Nel
    Realize that many hiring decisions are based on "who you know, not what you know."

    Keep in touch with nursing school classmates.

    Where are they getting jobs?
    Do they like those jobs?
    Will they recommend you?

    Nursing school instructors are also sources of job opportunities.

    Worry less about age, and concentrate on those human connections!
  7. by   BouldeRN
    I graduated from nursing school at 58. Prior to that I had a few years as a part time unit secretary. What got me my first real nursing job was volunteering 4 hours every Sunday afternoon in the ED of the hospital where I wanted to work. Every Sunday. On time. For four months. Worked hard. Good with difficult patients and people. Not nursing work, but did things nurses were thankful to have help with.
    At one point, my 28 year old male EMT supervisor expressed his gratitude and asked if me to tell him if there was anything he could do for me. I told him I was applying for jobs at the hospital and he wrote recommendations and made calls for me. I applied for 10 different nursing jobs and got 4 offers from 4 interviews.
    In other words, give them a free trial run so they can see you in action!
  8. by   Lil Nel
    Quote from BouldeRN
    I graduated from nursing school at 58. Prior to that I had a few years as a part time unit secretary. What got me my first real nursing job was volunteering 4 hours every Sunday afternoon in the ED of the hospital where I wanted to work. Every Sunday. On time. For four months. Worked hard. Good with difficult patients and people. Not nursing work, but did things nurses were thankful to have help with.
    At one point, my 28 year old male EMT supervisor expressed his gratitude and asked if me to tell him if there was anything he could do for me. I told him I was applying for jobs at the hospital and he wrote recommendations and made calls for me. I applied for 10 different nursing jobs and got 4 offers from 4 interviews.
    In other words, give them a free trial run so they can see you in action!
    Your story illustrates my point.

    Human connections!

    I graduated from nursing school at age 55.

    My first nursing job was CVIU.

    What got me the job was my outgoing personality and customer service skills.

    I had a 10-person panel interview, and the nurse manager said half the panel wanted to take me home with them, and the other half, wanted to help me take care of my horse.

    Yes, I talked about my horse in the interview.

    I started interview with: If you want to know who I am, let me tell you about my horse.

    He is my example of facing and conquering fear, and demonstrating deep commitment, no matter what.

    Yes, age is just a number.
  9. by   llg
    While people like to say that "age is just a number" ... the effects of aging on our bodies is real. I am in my early 60's and my body is not as strong and flexible as it once was. Also, you might not be willing to put up with some things later in life that you would have been willing to tolerate when you were younger (e.g. rotating shifts, working holidays, etc.)

    Be realistic. Consider what you can realistically do and what you are willing to tolerate as you choose jobs to apply for.

    1. If being on your feet doing vigorous physical activity for 12 hours straight for 3 or 4 days (or nights) per week is something that is going to give you a problem, then don't apply for jobs that will require that.

    2. If rotating shifts are going to cause you problems, then don't apply for jobs that will require that.

    etc.
    Too many nurses (especially new grads) are overly optimistic when they apply for their first job. They declare they can do anything, work any shifts, any schedule, etc. ... and then at 3-6 months, they quit because the job was harder than they thought. Use your maturity and wisdom to be assess the avaiable jobs and your abilities and preferences to find a match. Don't make the mistake of being naive about the realities of the jobs you are applying for. Pick jobs that fit you well and then show the Hiring Manager that you are a good fit.

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