How to Prepare for Your Nursing Interview

Posted on 25 August 2021

Whether you’re applying for your first nursing role, or simply looking for a new job as a practicing nurse, an interview is the next step on your job searching journey.

You already know you need to prepare, but how do you prepare and what is essential?

The research phase

One of the most essential parts of prep for your nursing interview is research, including researching the role you’re applying for and your own qualifications.

The interview is primarily a method for determining how well you will fit into an organisation, and if your qualifications and personality on paper match in person.

This is why research is so essential, as it offers a chance for you to gather information on the organisation in terms of values and culture – you’ll be able to incorporate research into your interview answers.

What kind of hospital will you be nursing in (NHS Trust or private)? How big is it? What does it specialise in? What core values do they display? These are all great starting points for your research.

Additionally, thinking about the key terms and phrases used in the job advert allows you to begin collating examples of when and how you’ve demonstrated the qualities and skills that interviewers are looking for.

The ‘six Cs’ are a prime example of something to brush up on alongside examples of your own nursing experience.

Competence and scenario-based questions

Many interview processes may involve written assessments to assess use of correct English, numeracy or drug calculation – this will all be dependent on what the organisation requires and will be detailed prior to the interview.

However, it can be expected that a significant portion of the questions during the interview are likely to be competency-based, which is why research and preparation is so important.

The purpose of competency-based questions is to determine how you would respond in certain situations, often presented as scenarios. 

You want to prove that you are well-informed on procedures and can adhere to them, whilst also showing evidence of up-to-date training and knowledge of medication and how to adapt in common situations that occur on the job.

“How have you dealt with conflict in the past?”, or “How do you deal with confidentiality issues?” are examples of competency-based questions that aren’t scenario based.

A scenario-based question regarding competency might be “If an individual calls and asks for information regarding a specific patient, what steps do you take before giving any potential information?”, in order to assess your understanding of confidentiality processes.

Practice these with friends or family to get to grips with the process of questioning (and also give yourself a chance to get feedback from others).

Show, don’t tell

The likelihood is that you already match the job criteria, yet you need to think about exactly how and why your skills, qualifications and experience match in order to prove it, rather than to just state it.

Rather than telling the interviewer about a specific skill, putting your skills into context or describing situations in which you’ve used them is far more useful.

Think of it this way – for every statement around your skills and experience, you should provide evidence or context.

Giving the interviewer examples of how you utilise your skills in real life not only shows that you can apply everything you’ve learned, but it also shows that you meet the job requirements.

Don’t forget that this doesn’t just apply to skills in terms of the job outline, it also applies to the ‘person specification’ in the job advert, which usually outlines the type of person that the interviewer is looking for.

In this case, soft skills around collaboration, an ability to work independently and strong communication skills are all examples of person specifications you can provide real-life situations as evidence for.

Prepare your own questions 

It can be common to draw a blank when asked at the end of a nursing interview if you have any questions, which is why it’s essential to plan some ahead of time!

This is a great opportunity to display enthusiasm and a passion for the job, or even ambition, depending on the question.

For example, “Are there any learning and development opportunities available within this job role?”, which conveys ambition and a desire to continue learning and progressing.

Other types of questions could include those around the day-to-day expectations, organisational culture, and even asking the interviewer their favourite part of the job.

The day before

Interviews are all about first impressions, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve planned out appropriate attire the day before to avoid any last-minute rushing around.

For women, a pant or skirt suit with a button-down collared shirt or blouse, or a smart dress are advisable. Skirts and dresses should generally be knee length, and shoes should be flat or low-heeled. 

For men, a suit is preferred with a button-down collared shirt and a tie, with black or brown dress shoes.

For both men and women, jewellery is advised to be simple and not flashy, and tattoos should be covered, and fingernails should be neat and preferably natural. 

A general rule of thumb is to opt for simple and neutral, as the main focus should be your answers during the interview, rather than your appearance!

On the day

Usually, arriving ten minutes early for your interview is preferable for you and the interviewer.

Even if you arrive near the venue much earlier than the time of the interview, it will give you time to settle and go over any questions and talking points without the stress of running late in traffic.

It’s much better to plan for potential delays and disruptions than to end up realising you aren’t sure where the building is!

Top tip:if possible, drive up to the interview location ahead of time to get an idea of the route, general traffic and location – travelling at the same time the interview will be at on another day means you can generally determine traffic flow.

Smile, make strong eye-contact and remember to take a deep breath. You’ve got the experience and skills, now it’s time to show the interviewer that you do as well.

Connect with the T2 Healthcare team today to find out how we can help you. Call us today on 0203 002 6305 or

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