Looking for a new job can be a scary yet exciting venture. Seeking opportunities to improve your circumstances and career require a lot of planning and preparation though, and when you land that interview, it can be overwhelming to know what and how to prepare so that you deliver the best you.
We typically know a lot of the basics, show up early, dress professionally, smile and shake hands, but what about some of the more challenging parts or things that go forgotten? How do you really dig in to make yourself stand out? Keep reading for more tips and tricks in the art of the interview!
One question, often the first asked, that stumps a lot of nurses I work with is, “Tell me about yourself.” No, the interviewer is not looking for your life story, but they do want to get some insight into who you are as a person and what you’re all about. This is where I believe the elevator pitch is perfect to use!
What’s an elevator pitch, you ask? The idea is that if you walked into an elevator and the hiring manager for your dream job was there, how would you persuade them to get to know you more or consider you for a position? There are so many ways to approach the elevator pitch (Google it, you’ll see!), but my personal favorite is to pick a characteristic that you feel really encompasses who you are, both personally and professionally. Then, give examples of how you embody that characteristic in your personal and professional lives. This gives them an idea of what kind of person you are inside and outside of the workplace.
As you continue to be interviewed, you may find yourself worrying about making the best impression so that they choose you for the position. However, keep in mind that you’re interviewing them, too. When they ask if you have any questions, come prepared to find out everything you’d want to know to make sure the position and organization is a good fit for you as well. Ask about the culture, day-to-day duties, and expectations. Having questions also shows them you have done your research and are genuinely interested.
There is one question to save until the end, though. The powerful close. “What else can I expand on or clarify to show you I’m the right person for the position?” Give them (and yourself) an opportunity to answer any further questions they may have that haven’t been vocalized as well as to assert yourself as the best candidate for the position. Once this has been cleared, ask for next steps in the process to again show your interest and to give you a timeline of what’s to come and when to follow up.
Shortly after your interview, be sure to send a thank you to the interviewer, showing appreciation for their time and consideration as well as reiterating your interest. A quick email works initially, but a handwritten card goes a long way in separating yourself these days. Grab a business card before you leave the interview so you know where to send it. If you interviewed with multiple people, it is ok to ask for contact information for each individual.
There are some special cases in which you may be interviewing over the phone, as is often the case with travel nursing. While answering questions will still be similar to face-to-face interviews, there are a few extra things that can help improve the interview to hopefully move you along through the application process.
First, eliminate distractions. If you’re in the middle of something, stop what you’re doing and go to a quiet place. If you’re driving, pull over so that you can focus on the conversation.
Second, smile. Trust me, they’ll be able to hear it through the phone and it helps increase the positive energy in the interview. Speaking of being energized, the third thing you can try is to walk around to keep that energy up. Both smiling and walking around can help if you tend to be a quieter person, as you will need to work harder over the phone to convey your personality than you would in person.
Lastly, remember that they can’t see you, so having and taking notes is perfectly ok! Keep a copy of your resume and information about the organization to refer to.
As you pursue changes in your career, keeping these tips in mind can help your feel more in control of your preparation and increase your confidence through the interview process. Are there other questions you struggle with? Are you a nursing student or recent RN graduate looking to do a practice interview? Give me a call – I’m happy to help! And, most importantly, good luck!