22 Aug 7 Tips to Ace your Nursing Interview

7 Tips to Ace Your Nursing Interview


Most people find job interviews daunting. Competing for a job in a skilled profession like nursing comes with its own challenges; yes, you have the relevant qualifications and vocational experience, but so do all the other candidates. So, how do you beat the nerves and make sure you stand out from the crowd? Here’s our expert tips to ensure you ace the interview and get your pick of the best nurse jobs going.

1.   Know What to Expect


The interview process will vary depending on whether you’re going for private or NHS nursing jobs as well as the specific institution to which you are applying. It’s vital that you do your research and find out what to expect in advance. Preparation is key to any job interview and knowing the process will allow you to prepare effectively. Consider the following:

  • Who will be interviewing you? Will it be a panel or individual?
  • How will your interview be structured? Some interviews simply require you to answer questions, whilst others are structured in various stages to test different skills and competencies.

Most HR departments will give you this information when inviting you for interview, but don’t be shy to contact and ask clarifying questions – this can even show that you are taking care with your preparation and are keen to impress.

2.   Research the Organisation


As well as being expected to demonstrate competency for the role, you will almost certainly be expected to show a good understanding of the organisation to which you are applying. It’s crucial that you research the organisation as this will help you to answer questions like ‘what do you know about our company?’ and, more importantly, ‘why do you want to work for us’? When up against evenly matched candidates, your answers to questions like these can give you the edge so don’t underestimate the importance of doing your research in this area.

3.   Practice Your Answers to Potential Questions


When given a little thought, it’s not too difficult to guess the types of questions you are likely to be asked. When looking for clues, the key place to start is with the job description and person specification. These will contain all the information about what they are looking for and, therefore, the areas in which you will be required to demonstrate competencies.

You will certainly be asked a series of competency-based questions, which are designed to test whether you have certain key skills such as organisation, leadership and communication as well as industry-specific skills relating to patient care. Many people go wrong by not providing adequate answers to these types of questions. It is vital that you give clear answers to these questions, with specificexamples. An obvious competency-based question, for example, would be something like ‘can you tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?’. To answer this effectively, you would briefly outline what the situation was, then describe how you used the specific skill and then briefly state what the outcome was, which gives you a chance to show there were positive consequences to your actions. Not all such questions will be worded in such an obvious way, so it’s important to take your time to think about what each question is really asking of you before you answer.

When preparing for your interview, try to pick out the key skills and qualities they’re looking for from the job description and person specification and think about the best examples you can give of a time when you demonstrated each one. For skills specifically related to nursing, you can draw from your training and professional experience. For general skills, you can draw from any other personal or professional experience you may have had. This will give you lots of potential responses to questions that you are likely to be asked.

4.   Consider Your Appearance


First impressions count. Healthcare jobs, in particular, require a high level of cleanliness and organisation and your personal appearance could be seen as an indicator of this. Make sure you attend your interview as the best, cleanest and smartest version of yourself. Plan what you are going to wear beforehand, ensuring that it is smart, clean and appropriate. As well as your outfit, take care on your hair and nails or any make-up or facial hair – where these apply – as they will say something about you and your personality.

5.   Prepare Questions for the Interviewer


The questions you ask the interviewer can say a lot about you and what the job means to you. You don’t have to ask questions, but it gives you the opportunity to make an extra impression at the end of the interview. Asking the right questions here can show that you’re really passionate about the job and/or organisation. Your employer will want to hire someone who is dedicated to the job and will be a loyal employee, so asking something related to the future of the company or possible career progression could help you to tick the right boxes.

6.   Plan Your Journey


Turning up to your interview in good time is a must. If you can be late to an interview, you can be late to work which is not what any employer wants. Make sure you plan your journey in advance; use google maps to plan the best route, travel method and find out how long it should take. Always plan to get there earlier as this will allow you time for any unforeseen delays or disruptions to travel. On the morning of your interview, check in good time that there’s no problems with your planned route so you can adjust it if necessary.

7.   Conduct Yourself Well


Just as your appearance will say something about your personality, so too will the way you conduct yourself at the interview. Body language is key, so be conscious of this before you enter the building. Approach anyone you have contact with in a friendly and polite manner, remembering to smile. Keep tabs on your posture. Standing and sitting up tall with your shoulders back exudes confidence. Leaning forward very slightly can make you appear interested in what the interviewer is saying. Open hand gestures when you’re talking indicate that you are welcoming, friendly and trustworthy in what you are saying. Touching your face and especially nose whilst you’re talking indicates that you are not being truthful.

Eye contact is a must, but don’t stare! If you are being interviewed by more than one person, be sure to take it in turns looking at each of them when you are talking, but always keeping your attention on the person who is talking to you.

As well as your body language, make sure you turn off your phone or put it on silent before you go in to your interview as any distractions will be embarrassing and knock your confidence. Make sure you always remain polite, waiting to be asked to sit down and listening attentively when your interviewer is speaking without interrupting.


Following these top tips will ensure you make a great impression at your next nursing interview. Try to be confident – remember, you must have already made a good impression to have gotten to the interview stage so congratulations and good luck!