Registered nurse interview: useful interview tips for nurses

Updated 1 June 2023

Whether you're an experienced or recently registered nurse, knowing how to make a good first impression at an interview might be one of your goals. Effective interview preparation can boost your confidence and allow you to demonstrate that your skills and qualifications align with the role's requirements. Reviewing useful interview advice and then putting it into action can increase your chances of succeeding in a nursing interview and receiving a job offer. In this article, we share interview tips for nurses to help you feel more confident before, during and after your interview.

Interview tips for nurses

Studying interview tips for nurses can be an effective way to prepare for a nursing interview. It also teaches you how to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge of patient care techniques and the entire healthcare sector. Here are some tips you can apply before, during and after your interview:

Before the interview

Taking the time to prepare for a nursing interview can improve your performance and help you make a better first impression. Here are some tips you can use before your interview:

Research the healthcare organisation or facility

As the day of your job interview approaches, spend some time researching the employer and the healthcare facility. Even if you did this when you submitted your job application, repeating the step may help you gain insight into any news that impacts the organisation. As you conduct your research, focus on the types of treatments offered and explore the equipment used. Try to determine the standard of patient care in the facility by reading online comments and reviews that patients have left.

Related: Complete guide: how to research a company for an interview

Choose your interview outfit

Appropriate interview attire is a key element in making a positive first impression on recruiters. A job interview for a registered nurse may include some practical elements, such as a tour of the unit where you're going to work. Wearing comfortable clothes, such as a trouser suit with closed-toe shoes may help you feel relaxed and safe during all these activities. If you're unsure what to wear, look at pictures the organisation uses to introduce its staff online. To feel more confident, consider choosing something you've worn to a previous interview or formal meeting.

Related: What to wear to an interview (do's and don'ts)

Prepare answers to frequently asked questions

To understand what types of questions interviewers may ask, research some frequently asked nursing questions. Focus on the questions that apply to your specialisation, such as adult or mental health nursing. Consider reviewing different interviewing techniques, which can help you answer specific types of questions. For example, when a recruiter asks you situational questions to understand how you react when handling difficult patients or family members, make sure to give examples of similar instances from your previous jobs. If you're applying for your first job as a nurse, you could discuss cases you faced during work placements.

Related: 10 nursing interview questions (with sample answers)

Know what questions to ask

To show your interest in the position, make sure to prepare questions for the interviewer. This is your opportunity to learn more about the employer, see how the interviewer feels about the working environment and make sure the job truly aligns with what you want to accomplish in nursing. For instance, you can ask about advancement opportunities and supplementary training available to nurses at the facility you're applying to. The interviewer's answer may help you determine what specialisation you might pursue while working in that role. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • 'How do you like working here?'

  • 'Would it be possible to tour the unit?'

  • 'What advice would you give a nurse who's new to your unit?'

  • 'What are the weekend rotation requirements for nurses?'

  • 'Do the nurses working here receive tuition reimbursement?'

  • 'Does the orientation take place during a regular shift?'

  • 'What's the overtime policy within this department?'

Related: Asking questions after an interview: an example guide

During the interview

When your job interview begins, aim to position yourself as a confident and qualified candidate. Try demonstrating that you know how to face the job's various challenges. Here are some tips you can use during your nursing interview:

Arrive on time

For a registered nurse, being punctual is a sign of not only professionalism but also strong teamwork skills as it helps ensure your colleagues can finish their shifts on time. To arrive on time for your interview, research the location and plan your route at least a day before. Remember to check the traffic at that time of the day. If possible, arrive 10–15 minutes before the interview begins. With a few minutes to spare, you can review your questions or simply observe what it's like to work in that environment.

Read more: How early should you arrive for an interview? (With tips)

Take notes

A nursing interview may help you understand the technical aspects of the job. Consider bringing a notepad and pen with you to the interview to make sure you remember all the critical information the recruiter shares, such as the average nurse-to-patient ratio at the unit. It's usually a good idea to jot down information about the job and the facility, such as the number of beds or shift times. This way, you can compare the information with the data gathered during other interviews.

Related: Can you take notes into an interview? (Answers and advice)

Be honest

Being open and honest is typically an effective strategy to ensure a job offer meets your expectations as a candidate. By answering honestly, you allow the interviewer to get to know you as a person. By learning about your personality traits and goals, they can decide if you are a good fit for the existing team. Even if you find out they're looking for someone with a different approach and characteristics, it can be positive, as it allows you to quickly move on and find an opportunity that's more suitable for your skills and potential.

Related: 8 frequently asked integrity interview questions (with example answers)

After the interview

There are several steps you can take after your nursing job interview to strengthen the good impression you made on the recruiter. Here are some post-interview tips:

Send a thank-you message

When you arrive home from your interview, dedicate a few minutes to send the recruiter an email to thank them for their time and consideration. You may benefit from showing your excitement about the opportunity, as it demonstrates your interest in the job. In some cases, you may attach files to your thank-you email. For example, this may apply to situations when the interviewer asks you to provide additional proof of qualifications or more reference letters.

Read more: What to include in a thank you email after an interview (with examples)

Submit more applications

Even if you think your interview was successful, remember to continue submitting job applications for further positions. This can increase your chances of finding a job that meets your expectations and allows you to pursue the specialisation you're interested in. Since nursing is a highly cooperative profession in which you work closely with other nurses and medical specialists, sending more applications will maximise your chances of becoming part of a welcoming team that cares about creating a positive working environment for nurses.

Related: Q&A: how many jobs should I apply for? (With pros and cons)

Remember to follow up

If it's been several weeks since your interview and you still haven't heard from the recruiter, it may be a good idea to follow up with them. There are several reasons why employers may take a long time to inform you about the results of your interview. For example, it's possible that they received a lot of applications and they're simply still interviewing candidates. By sending a follow-up message, you show your ongoing interest in the position. Also, consider asking about the next steps in the recruitment process.

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