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Tips to Help You Ace Your Next Job Interview

Special Student Issue

Are you a student nurse with an upcoming job interview? “In many ways, nursing interviews aren’t all that different from other types of interviews,” said Donna Cardillo, RN, MA and columnist at’s advice column Dear Donna. “Nurses need to follow many of your standard rules of interview etiquette and be knowledgeable about the position they are applying for. The tip to standing out is to go above and beyond in portraying professionalism.” Here are a few tips and best practices to help you beat your pre-interview jitters and ace your next interview.

Before the Interview

  • Make sure your ringtone, voicemail message and any other identifiers a recruiter might come in contact with are professional and polished. This includes social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Practice mock interviews with your friends, parents, peers and nursing instructors. If your school has a student services department, take advantage of those resources.
  • Create a professional résumé that profiles important coursework, clinical experience and any early nursing career highlights. List your job positions or clinical rotations, key responsibilities, accomplishments, rewards, recognition, credentials, licensing and education.
  • Secure professional references that can speak to your qualifications as a nurse.
  • Find out as much as you can about the facility where you'll be interviewing by visiting their website or picking up literature from your nursing school's career center.

During the Interview

  • Dress appropriately in professional attire. A first impression can only be made once.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early. The security of knowing that you've safely arrived on time can allow you to relax and take some time to review your notes and practice your interview responses.
  • Remember to smile and be positive. Most people you encounter at the interview location know why you're there. The person greeting you may be asked his/her opinion even though he/she is not directly interviewing you.
  • Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions. Use this time to ask questions that have not already been addressed (e.g., What charting system is used? How will you be oriented and assimilated? Is there a formalized mentorship program?)

After the Interview

  • Thank-you letters are a true indicator of interest and thoughtfulness. They can reinforce a favorable impression and win the job for you. Write a letter and send it within 24 hours of the interview. It is acceptable to send a formal, typed letter or email. Remember to check for spelling errors!
  • If you find yourself waiting for a call back from the recruiter more than a week after the interview, call to convey your continued interest and ask if there is anything else you can do to help the selection process.
  • If you don’t get the job, don’t give up, and maintain a positive attitude. Instead of dwelling on your disappointment, keep your mind focused on other opportunities and continue to present yourself to the best of your ability.

For more tips and best practices for landing your dream job, visit

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