Applying for a job? Here’s how to nail the nursing interview!

No matter what job you’re applying for – a promotion, a new internal position, your first job, a nursing agency listing, or a role in a new field, you’re going to, at some point, face a job interview.

As one of Sydney’s most preferred nursing agencies, we see a lot of candidates.
Resumes /CVs are the key to getting on the interview short list. For information on writing a great resume, there are a lot of internet resources. It’s important that you put time and effort into your resume.  Nursing agencies, particularly those who specialise in filling jobs in large capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne, have many candidates on their books. Even if you’re just approaching an agency for the first time, with no particular role in mind, it’s critical that you make your resume the document that speaks for you when you’re not in the room!

Congratulations! You’ve made the interview!

Typically, the ‘best of the best’ candidates will be chosen for interview. Those with the experience, skills, training and personal attributes which match the job description. You will be up against tough competition – in many cases, candidates have similar educations, and professional experience, capability and professional accomplishments. Always remember that for you, the candidate, the job interview process should start long before the interview itself – take the time to be prepared.

Top tips for standing out from the crowd:

  1. Build rapport. First impressions count! Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, a smile and some eye contact. Be prepared for a little small talk before the interview gets into full swing…. This is a good time to put into practice all the things you know about making people feel at ease (Nurses do this daily), so be confident, warm and engaging. Throughout the interview, make eye contact – it’s a sign of confidence, and interviewers like this. No matter how nervous you are, remember to sit up straight and keep focused. If you’re slouching or gazing out a window, you won’t ace the job.
  2. Know your stuff. Before the interview make sure that you know the organisation you’re applying to, whether it’s a health facility, medial practice, hospital, or a nursing agency you’re listing with. Websites and social media sites are an excellent way to prep yourself with the current events going on in the organisation. Showing you have an interest in, and some knowledge of, your potential new employer will hold you in good stead.
  3. Know yourself. So, you wrote your resume – but how well do you actually know it? In any job interview, your resume is under scrutiny from your potential employer. He/she will have read it and formed questions to ask you based upon it. It’s possible that your employer may have even spoken to a referee or two by the time you get to the interview stage. With this in mind, make sure you are an expert on the content of your resume so that you can provide clarity on any aspect of your work history in detail. Speaking intelligently about each of your previous positions is one of the best ways to ace your job interview.
  4. Demonstrate you’re a good match for the position. You’re in the interview to sell yourself and convince everyone that not only do you want this job, you’re perfect for it. So, if the role you’re applying for calls for ‘leadership’ skills or ‘attention to detail,’ ‘ability to make decisions quickly and under pressure’ or ‘build rapport’ then be able to back yourself with concrete examples that exemplify these attributes. Do this for all significant traits or qualities that you identify in the job description.
  5. Be prepared for ‘difficult’ questions. Yes, you know the ones – ‘What’s your strength/weakness?’. ‘Why should we hire you?’ or ‘Describe how you deal with conflict’. It’s important to relate these to your professional history and the job you’re applying for. There are some good internet resources that provide examples of good responses that may give you some ideas of ways to approach these questions in an interview.
  6. Be yourself. At the end of the day, if you’re not a good match to the role, you’re not a good match and there will always be other opportunities. Authenticity shines in interviews, and potential employers can tell when you’re not comfortable. If you’re asked about your personal life, keep it brief. Also remember that potential employers do look at your social media profile. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and that anything on your personal Instagram or Facebook page portrays you in a good light.
  7. Follow up. As soon as possible after the interview, follow up. Send an email thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterate that they are welcome to contact you if they have further questions or need more information as a result of the interview.

Just like everything else, interviews become easier the more you do them, so take heart in all the ones that you went for when you didn’t actually get the job! While most potential employers (nursing agencies included) tend to have a fairly standard interview format, there’s always something new to learn from each interview experience. But, if you’re prepared, confident and suitable for the job, you’ll be sure to shine at the interview and you just may land the job!

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