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Get that role you want

Nursing job interviews can be tough; do your homework and brush up on how to present yourself if you want to impress.

The one thing standing between you and your dream job: the interview.

Often considered nerve-racking and stressful, a successful interview is key in landing that big role.

Unfortunately, according to a Sydney-based recruitment specialist, many jobseekers aren’t following the basic rules.

“As an interviewer, nothing puts you off more [than] when someone is not prepared and hasn’t done even the simplest bit of homework,” says Martin Steptoe, business manager, specialist and general nursing at Healthcare Australia.

Here, specialists walk us through how to prepare for and ace your next interview.

Prepare to impress

Preparation is key.

“You can’t just walk in there without doing anything because that shows through straight away,” Steptoe says. “You have to stand out from the crowd and you won’t if you don’t do your preparation.”

Researching the organisation or hospital is the first place to start. Visit the website and familiarise yourself with the institution, the role, as well as any corporate values and mission statement.

When preparing, write up a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. This is important in conveying serious interest in the role, as well as ensuring you gain all the information you want or need. After all, you are also interviewing to see if the company and position are good for you.

Also, go through your CV and be certain that everything you have listed is accurate.

“Make sure everything on your CV is true and correct,” Steptoe says. “And make sure you can back it up with the experience and what you have learnt and why you have made those decisions.”

Caroline Porter Thomas, nurse, author, and blogger on empoweRN.com says she finds googling ‘difficult interview questions’ a week before the interview helpful.

“The interviews for nursing jobs are actually quite difficult,” she tells viewers of one of her YouTube videos. “A lot of times you will see a lot of open-ended questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’, ‘What do you know about our organisation?’ or ‘Why do you want to work with us?”

Behavioural analysis

Behaviour-based questioning is common in interviews throughout all professions, particularly in nursing.

As Mary M. Somers of the Johns Hopkins University school of nursing defines it in her guide to successful interviewing, “Behaviour-based questioning is a technique in which employers assess your potential performance based on your past actions and results.”

Plan ahead by understanding the job description clearly; identify parts of the role you have done before and experiences you have in the particular field of nursing or position.

“[Nurses] will need to think about scenarios in their work so they can relate them back to a lot of the questions,” Hays Healthcare regional director Alex Jones says. “[The question] could be, ‘Describe a situation where you didn’t meet your stated goal and how did you handle that?’ So think about broad things that [you] can talk about and use experiences and examples from your previous work history.”

Making a list of your strengths and weaknesses, and being ready to offer examples of past actions and decisions, as well as their outcomes, will help you with your responses.

Interview day dos and don’ts

Creating the right first impression is everything. That means when you arrive, you should be dressed appropriately, and be on time – if not 10 mins early – and be aware of your behaviour from word go.

When meeting the interviewers for the first time, maintain eye contact, use positive body language. Then, make yourself as comfortable as possible.

“If your chair is wobbly, or the sun is in your eyes, then make a point to say that or move, rather than sitting there fidgeting or squinting or whatever, when they might wonder why,” Jones says.

When answering questions, be direct, open and honest. Listen carefully to what’s being asked, and don’t be afraid to pause to reflect or reorganise your thoughts. Jones suggests not going off on tangents and ensuring answers are succinct.

“Don’t give one word answers – try and be as open as possible,” he says. “An interview should be a two-way conversation, so try and be relaxed and try and have a discussion in there. Be honest and keep to the point.

“If you do say something wrong – because people are generally nervous – then you should correct that, then and there. There is no point coming out of the interview and going, ‘Oh, I wish I never actually said that.’ Say, ‘Sorry I didn’t mean that. This is what I meant’, and correct [yourself] on the spot.”

Closing the ‘sell’

In the wrapping up of the interview, be sure to make a point of asking the questions you put together about the organisation, if you haven’t already.

“You should ask what the next stage is from here and when to expect a response,” Jones says. “A good interviewer should be able to give you that information so people don’t go away wondering when they are going to hear back.”

Jones also suggests interviewees remember to use eye contact, shake hands and use the interviewers’ names when leaving.

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