Competition for nursing roles can be fierce, particularly at interview stage. If you want to stand out from other candidates, you need to be remembered for the right reasons.
Here are six interview tips that will help put your name at the top of the recruiter’s list.
1. Know who is interviewing you
Once you’ve found out who is on your interview panel, look them up online.
‘Knowing who is going to be interviewing you can give you a distinct advantage,’ says Matthew Jennings, Editor of Britain’s Nurses.
‘You never know what things you may have in common (you may find that you worked/trained at the same healthcare trust or LinkedIn may reveal shared contacts), and knowing a bit about their interests, opinions and experience will give you something to talk about on the day.’
And if you really want to stand out from other candidates? ‘An informal visit pre-interview is an outstanding way to be remembered and get a feel for the place,’ says Matthew.
2. Highlight your soft skills
Employers want to know that you have the qualifications, clinical skills and relevant experience to do the job, but don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills.
‘Leaders are now looking more closely at wider skill-sets when recruiting. Effective time management, ability to influence, and relationship management skills are all likely to be considered,’ says Nick Simpson, CEO of nursing agency MSI Group.
Don’t wait to be asked “about a time when you demonstrated leadership or influenced others” – convey your soft skills throughout the interview by giving concrete examples of your leadership, communication and influencing skills.
3. Show how your values and vision match those of the employer
Don’t just think about what makes you right for the job. Take time to align the employer’s organisational mission, vision and values to your own knowledge, expertise and experience.
Heike Guilford, Managing Director of The Coaching Nurse, explains: ‘For example, if working in partnership with clients towards independence and choice is listed, think of times when you have been involved in this yourself and achieved a positive outcome.’
Heike suggests reflecting on your past successes and challenges in order to come up with a list of your key qualities and strengths. ‘Then check the CEO letter most companies have on their website and consider how your skills and abilities could support the organisation in achieving their goals and vision.’
4. Check the “scores on the door”
While you’re busy doing research, Heike suggests checking the employer’s Care Quality Commission ratings to see how you can help the organisation meet its goals.
‘Look at their “scores on the door” to see if there’s scope for innovation and improvement, or any specific areas of concern. Then consider what skills, knowledge and experience you have that could contribute to developing outstanding service to clients and internal and external stakeholders.’
5. Know why you want this job
Employers want to know that you’re interested in the job they are advertising, not just any job.
Matthew says: ‘Find out about the department you are applying to, and make sure you have an intelligent and thoughtful response to the question: “why do you want to work here?”’
It can also help to talk about the job in relation to your career ambitions.
‘For instance, you might say: “I’m interested in working with renal patients and am attracted to this hospital because of the innovations in your renal department, particularly your new outreach service,”’ adds Matthew.
Nick says there’s another reason you should convey your longer-term career goals.
‘If you are working towards an MSc in Advanced Practice, for example, let them know – you may not yet be qualified as an ANP, but the commitment shows passion. Furthermore, the employer may begin to consider how you can grow with their team professionally.’
6. Ask intelligent questions
Finally, asking well-considered questions can set you apart from other candidates.
‘Prepare a set of questions that are specific to the role, as they will act as testament to your knowledge of the position. Where possible, you should also ask things that further demonstrate your suitability for the job,’ says Nick.
Posing questions can also be a good way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment.
‘Ask if the trust has a mentoring program, or what extra projects and training opportunities are available, as this demonstrates your eagerness to develop professionally,’ adds Nick.
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