An interview is essentially a performance and like all performances, success depends
on careful preparation and practice. Following the guidance below may help.
? Go through the person specification, or job description, if there is one. Underline
all the statements that indicate the skills, experience and personal attributes
required for the role. Look back on your career to date and list examples that
illustrate that you meet the requirements for the post. Be prepared to expand on
information given on your application form or CV
? Look at the list of common interview questions below. Practise responding to
these questions, by arranging a mock interview with a friend, relative, senior
colleague or careers adviser. Ask for constructive feedback and arrange to
practise again if necessary. It is even helpful to rehearse the actual interview
process, following the guidelines, given below (See ‘During the interview’).
? Prepare some questions to which you would like answers
? Try to arrange an informal visit, where you can talk to staff and assess whether the
post and environment will meet your needs and get some answers to your
questions. (See Assessing an Employer) ? Make sure you are up to date with national initiatives in health care by searching
relevant health web sites or reading current nursing journals
? Plan your route to the interview. How long will it take you? Allow time for
delays beyond your control, such as traffic jams. Practise the route, if necessary.
? Plan what you are going to wear for the interview. You need to look smart, clean
and comfortable, but won’t be expected to spend a fortune on a designer suit!
? Get a good night’s sleep before the interview. Make sure you have time to
prepare on the day, allowing time for breakfast, getting ready and having a final
mental rehearsal. What relaxation techniques will help you to focus?
During the interview:
? Smile when you walk in
? Shake hands with members of panel
? Take your time to get comfortable
? Ask if you don’t understand a question ? Keep good eye contact
? Don’t rush your answers
? Ask questions at the end
After the interview
? Reflect on your performance, write down what worked and what didn’t. List the
questions with which you had most difficulty. How would you respond next time? ? Contact a member of the interview panel and ask for constructive feedback on
? If you believe that discrimination - on the grounds of sex, race or disability - has
occurred contact your RCN representative
? Wait for confirmation in writing before resigning from your current post ? Make sure you are sent a contract and details of the terms and conditions. Clarify
and concerns before accepting the job in writing
Sample interview questions
Why do you want the job?
What skills and experience would you bring to the role?
Tell us about a recent situation where you were required to use your own initiative.
How do you cope with pressure/stress?
What makes a good team player?
What role do you play in a team environment?
What motivates you as a nurse?
Where do you see yourself in two/five years’ time?
Please give us an example of a situation where you have had to manage change.
How would you deal with a relative who was aggressive and verbally abusive?
What would you do if a patient told you he wanted to make a complaint about the
nursing care on the ward/unit?
Please give example of situation where you have collaborated with the
How would you apply research findings to your practice?
Please describe your involvement in teaching/how would you help to create a learning
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses/development needs?
How do you keep up to date?
Tell us about a national initiative in nursing.
What do you understand by the term ‘equal opportunities?
To make sure you are up to date with current issues in nursing, visit the health
department web sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The web site
Department of Health (England) – www.doh.gov.uk The National Assembly for Wales (Look under Health) – www.wales.gov.uk
Scotland’s Health on the Web – www.show.scot.nhs.uk
The RCN Career and Welfare Service
20 Cavendish Square, London, W1G ORN
Telephone: 0845 408 4391,
Web site: www.rcn.org.uk