Congratulations! You’ve scored an interview with an institution you’re really interested in joining. If you’re being interviewed, you’re halfway there; no recruiter wastes his or her time on people who aren’t qualified. You met their needs on paper, now it’s time to sell yourself. Not comfortable tooting your own horn? Consider this: if you do it right, you get the job; if not, you probably won’t ever see that person again. What have you got to lose? To increase your chances of landing that dream job, practice interviews and prep can give you a leg up on the competition.
First impressions matter
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure yours says what you want it to say – that you’re a serious contender. Even though the opening you hope to fill will wear scrubs all day, you don’t want to wear them to the interview. Clothes reflect respect for the institution and the process. Unless you’re an executive (or hope to be), a three-piece suit isn’t needed, but jeans aren’t appropriate either. Clean, pressed dress clothes (not yoga pants or sweats) are sufficient. A good pair of pants or skirt, a woven shirt (not a polo or graphic tee) and shoes (not gym shoes, no matter how expensive) that say work time, not party time (read 4 inch heels) are all you need to let the interviewer know you’re a serious candidate.
Do your homework
What can you learn about the facility that you can work into the interview process? Interviewing for a job in a NICU? Looking for a cutting-edge facility? Research what the institution has to offer, and then be ready to use that knowledge in your interview.
Interview questions you’re likely to be posed
There are a lot of common interview questions, and many good, generic answers to be found online. Knowing you’re going to be posed these questions gives you an opportunity to respond with what the interviewer wants to hear.
The most common ice breaker is “Tell me about yourself.” Start with the basics: education – graduation dates, achievements, major, etc. and then circle back. “I graduated from XYZ in 2018 with a goal of working at a facility just like yours. I know you’re at the cutting edge of XYZ, and I’m anxious to be a part of it.”
When asked about your job experience, again, look at how your background applies to the position you seek. Where can you find correlations that illustrate what a strong candidate you’d be for the opening? “I believe my experience doing XYZ would be a great fit for your opening.”
Strengths and weaknesses are another common topic for interviews. Your responses should be candid but not worrisome; strengths are typically easy – “I’m a people person.” “I’m a caring person.” But again, circle back to how those strengths translate into performance.
Weaknesses are a bit more challenging. Interviewers are accustomed to candidates replying with weaknesses that are strengths: “I care too much.” “I take my work too personally.”
Instead, see if your weaknesses speak to the facility’s needs. Do they encourage advanced schooling or credentialing? “I’d like to pursue more expertise in XYZ”. “I’m hoping to grow my skills as a team leader.” If you can, demonstrate that your career goals align with the institution’s to show you’re the perfect fit.
Practice makes perfect
When you’ve done your homework, ask a friend to help role play the interview process. If you’re a nervous interviewer (and many people are), practice interviews can help you find your center and be more comfortable. Ask your friend to work with the prepared questions and maybe toss you a curve ball now and again. Be prepared to practice interviewing several times to increase your ease and comfort level. When you’re ready, you’ll know it.
Practice interviews are a great way to prepare to meet with a potential employer. When you consider the impression you want to make, do your homework and practice your interview responses; then you’ll be ready to show any recruiter that you’re the right fit for the job and the institution.