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5 tips for acing the nursing job interview
Make an amazing first impression
Karen Schmidt
, RN
What makes you stand out from other candidates who are pursuing the same job position? An engaging interview can stack the cards in your favor.
Career expert Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP, offers practical tips on how to make a great impression in a job interview and increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Donna Cardillo, RN
Show your cards
Cardillo recommends having business cards made that include your name, credentials, phone number and email address. An interviewer will be impressed by your professionalism when you
present your business card
at the end of the interview. “And ask for their card, too,” Cardillo said.
Find out who the key players are
Before showing up for the interview, find out with whom you’ll be meeting. Is it the human resources manager, a department manager, a team leader or a panel? Use the internet to investigate interviewers’ professional background. You may discover you have a connection with an interviewer, such as membership in the same professional organization. Cardillo, who also is an author, columnist and keynote speaker, said doing your homework shows you take the organization and open job position seriously.
Practice your presentation
“I recommend that nurses who are happily employed go on interviews to keep themselves sharp,” Cardillo said. Occasionally apply for a position that sounds interesting, but may not be one you are seeking, to gain confidence, she said. She also encourages nurses
actively seeking a new position
, especially those who haven’t interviewed in quite a while, to make as many interview appointments as possible, to sharpen up their ability to present themselves with confidence.
Answer their questions, then ask your own
Cardillo said you should be prepared to ask your own questions at the end of an interview. For example, you might inquire, “When might I expect to hear back from you?” Cardillo said this question demonstrates assertiveness and reinforces your interest in the job. Another intelligent question to ask is, “Have you interviewed anyone else for this position?” Cardillo said the question helps you market yourself better because you know what you’re up against. “Interviewers may or may not give an honest answer,” Cardillo said, “but asking shows that you’re a cut above the others.”
Make your follow up memorable
Don’t consider your interaction with the interviewer finished once you walk out of the interview
. Standard etiquette calls for sending a formal thank you note within 24 hours. Cardillo also recommended pushing beyond the norm. “Get on LinkedIn and connect with the person who interviewed you, or send an email. Just say it was great to meet you, thanks for your time and that you’re looking forward to hearing back from the person,” Cardillo said. This additional contact keeps you in the forefront of the interviewer’s mind. Being assertive in follow up may also impress them, Cardillo added. If you’ve wisely asked before the end of the interview when you might receive a response about the position, you’ll know when to initiate another contact if that time passes. Cardillo said calling the interviewer if you haven’t heard anything in the time frame mentioned at the interview shows assertiveness and a strong interest in the position. “Remind them of who you are and that you’re calling to check on the status of the hiring process,” Cardillo said.

Making an unforgettable impression requires going beyond the basics of interviewing. Applying these insider tips can give you the edge in the pursuit of your dream job.
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Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer. Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP, published her most recent book, “Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to Be Falling Apart” in April 2016.
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