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What a Nurse Manager is Evaluating During Your Interview

A nursing resume with boxes checked for skills, experience, and education.
pricelessphotos/123RF.com

When you go into a nursing interview, there are several things that the manager interviewing you will be looking for. These things will help the interviewer to determine if she/he wants to hire you for the position and will be the factors used to compare you with other applicants. While every manager or facility will use a different hiring process or different interview formats, the things that an interviewing manager will typically be looking for, even subconsciously, will be the same.

 

Experience

Experience will be one of the first things that a nurse manager takes into consideration when hiring for a position. Experience is often thought of by how many years someone has been practicing nursing. While the length of time being a nurse will affect how a manager views your experience, he/she will also be very interested in experience that is relevant to the position for which you are applying. Nurse managers prefer applicants that are able to start without requiring extensive training, so having experience will help.

If you are applying for a different specialty than you have been working in, emphasizing the areas that you have experience in that can be applied to the position you are interviewing for will help. If you are a new nurse, you still have experience that you can draw on from your clinicals and preceptorships.

 

Education

There will be a certain minimum level of education that is required for most nursing positions; however, any additional level of education will help. If you have a Bachelor’s level degree for a job that only requires an Associate’s degree or are in the process of postgraduate education, the manager may view you more positively than other applicants for the role for which you are applying.

The area of education will be hard to improve on during an interview; either you have the desired degree(s) or you don’t. If you are in the process of advancing your education, this is definitely worth mentioning.

 

Fit

During the interview, the nurse manager will be trying to assess how well you would fit with the team that you would be working with. Having a new person that works well with the existing team will be important when deciding whether or not to hire you. How well you are likely to fit with an existing team will vary based on the team. This is an area that a new nurse can use to improve his/her chances of getting an offer without having previous experience. Experienced nurses will still need to keep in mind that their fit with a team can affect their chances of getting hired.

During the interview, be sure to ask specific questions about the team and the culture on the floor where you are applying. Emphasize similarities between the team and your personality and discuss traits that you believe would help you to fit into the team that you want to work with. Be sure to avoid suggesting that certain aspects of the team would need to change, unless you are applying for a supervisory position.

 

Involvement

The interviewing manager will be assessing how involved you will be if they hire you. Will you be the kind of person that misses staff meetings and is frequently late to work, or will you be reliable and involved beyond what is necessary? One way to be involved beyond the basic requirements of a job is to participate in committees that are relevant to the job.

During the interview, emphasize your involvement in things that were beyond the basic requirements of previous jobs and ask about opportunities to be involved in a meaningful way in the job for which you are interviewing.

 

Attitude

The nurse manager interviewing you will be trying to figure out your overall attitude and what kind of person you are. This will affect how patients view you, how well you work with others, and how easy it will be for your manager to work with you. A short interview is not enough time to fully ascertain your attitude and personality, but the manager will try to learn what he/she can about you during that time.

Focus on being upbeat, energetic, and engaged. Pay attention, and make sure that you appear interested whenever the manager is talking with you. Be sure to express gratitude for the opportunity to interview and send a thank you card at the conclusion of the interview. Focusing on attitude can be an excellent way for a graduate nurse to stand out from other applicants.

 

By focusing on what a nurse manager is likely to be evaluating, you can enhance your chances of getting the nursing job you want and succeeding in your nursing career.

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About Benjamin "Caleb" Williams RN, BA, CEN

Caleb is an Ivy League-educated nurse consultant with a strong clinical background, including supervisory positions within ICU and ER settings. In addition to his clinical work, Caleb practices as an expert nurse consultant and nurse writer, having written hundreds of healthcare-related articles and advised major businesses across the country on healthcare matters. He is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and holds multiple advanced certifications in emergency and trauma nursing.