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Seasoned with Sage
Interview "Dos" for Nurses

You’ve heard the stories about over-the-top interviewing gaffes. Like the applicant who smelled her armpits as she walked through the door. Or the applicant who answered a personal call and asked the interviewer to leave the room for a few moments. Or the applicant who asked the interviewer for a ride home after the interview.

Most of us have enough sense to not make these blunders. But they prove the point that as a candidate for that new nursing position, you must meet or exceed the expectations of your interviewer. Even the slight mess-ups can undermine your professional prowess.

Below are 10 things nurses can do to show their best during the interview process.

1. Dress like you mean business. You may be in scrubs and a pair of clogs during your shift, but the HR department dresses to a different standard. When in Rome, dress as the Romans do. Flip flops are out. One earring per ear, please (none for men). Dress for the executive suite, not a rodeo or rock concert. Polish those dress shoes. Appearance will be the interviewer's first impression of your professional nature.

2. Get a grip. Your handshake sets the tone for the rest of the interview. Nobody, least of all business professionals, likes gripping a dead fish. A firm handshake can be the difference between success and failure. Recruiters have been known to disqualify candidates merely on the basis of a handshake.

3. Chew at home. Chewing during an interview can be construed as a sign of insecurity, or worse, a lack of respect for the interview process.

4. Sit up. Sit forward. Appear engaged. Posture and eye contact show the interviewer that you're serious about winning. Body language (i.e. folding your arms or crossing your legs) can be read as a sign of close mindedness, or defiance.

5. Remember your paperwork. Bring three extra copies of your CV/Resume and a neatly typed list of references. Give a set to the interviewer. Never assume that the interviewer will have your resume in-hand for review.

6. Arrive early, and don't fidget. Give the impression that you're good at managing time. Late is not an option!

7. Be prepared! You know they're going to ask questions about your attitude, ability to adapt, skill qualifications, etc. - so have in mind what you'll say beforehand.

8. Engage the interviewer. Quickly scan the interviewer's office for something that you can comment on, such as a family picture or window view, to break the ice. Finding something in common puts you on a more personal level with the hiring professional. If you don't see anything, be prepared to comment on something like the weather.

9. Say thanks. Be sure to close the interview with a thank you and another firm handshake. Leave the same impression you came in with.

10. Follow up with a thank you note. It may seem trivial, but everyone appreciates personal recognition. It's a sign that you're detail-oriented and serious about your prospects at the hospital.

Mark Sansom is the Creative Services Manager at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital in Yakima, Washington. Through his role as hospital brand marketer, Mark works with Memorial's in-house recruiting staff to develop the hospital's employment acquisition strategies. If you'd like to comment, Mark's office email is

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One Response to “Interview “Dos” for Nurses”

  1. Rachel Says:

    I am a nurse who came from another country and not very familar with the etiquet of handshaking. Would you, please, explain me who should give a hand for handshaking: interviewer or interviewee?
    Thank you very much in advance

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