Less than 5 minutes / December 01, 2022
“I love job interviews” said no one ever. Job interviews are an anxiety provoking situation for many of us (dare we say, all of us!). When we think about the fight or flight response, we know that there is a surge of adrenaline that prepares our bodies for the perceived ‘threat’ (*insert scary panel full of roaring tigers interviewers here). The feeling of nervousness is normal and there is no doubt that all the other candidates are feeling the same. A wise colleague once told us that “nerves are excitement dressed in pyjamas” - use this to your advantage, mind over matter!
Here is the reality: whether you are interviewing for a graduate nurse program, a postgraduate position, a role as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, educator, Associate Nurse Unit Manager, Nurse Unit Manager, astronaut, seahorse trainer etc etc, job interviews are always going to be a part of your life; the more you can expose yourself to them and enhance your skills, the better you will be - think of your ‘interview muscle’ like your biceps at F45.
Check out our 8 interview tips, to guarantee you’ll get the position - come on, you know we don’t have that power, but we CAN ensure that you walk out of that job interview feeling like you have given it your all.
Lead with confidence
This is THE most important point we can offer here. Do NOT forget what you have to contribute. So often we are tuned to walk into an interview to convince a new employer why they should hire us, forgetting that they would be lucky to have us. Never forget your self worth - you are exceptional. Have confidence in yourself and your experience (both in life and in your career) - you have worked hard to get to where you are. Before your interview, take some time to reflect on where you have come from and the skills you have. How can these skills help you in this new role?
Walk into the interview with your head up, shoulders back and a confidently outstretched hand (or elbow - thanks COVID!). During your interview, demonstrate your ability to speak up if you don’t know the answer and explain how you would go about finding the answers - you will be surprised how far this will get you in an interview. It is a well-known fact, on the ward, that the over-confident, new nurse is more dangerous than Tammy, the triple-checker.
An important take-away message here is: no new employee is expecting you to know it all.
We know, this one is hilarious. As if you will sleep. You must be so nervous. But, please try. Set yourself some boundaries around how much you will allow yourself to prepare for your interview the night before. Healthy bedtime routine trumps all-night interview prep. If any thoughts creep into your mind as you are trying to sleep, thank them for popping in and then put a mental full stop on them. Sweet dreams, Sista.
The importance of proper breathing can be very underrated! But, as modern-nurses, all in tune with ourselves and what-not, we have the knowledge and the tools to breathe with intent! Breath control will help you regulate your emotions, reduce stress and help you focus on the present moment. We recommend the box breathing method here: breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, repeat. Visualise yourself in that interview space, answering each question - with confidence! Do this 3 times, in the waiting room of the big interview. Do it, trust us it helps! If your heart is still racing, keep doing it. Calmer body, clearer thoughts. Remind yourself: Sista, you’ve got this.
Know the role and know yourself. It is that simple. Do not spend 10 hours revising the mission statement, the organisational structure or the types of fonts they use on their website. Know YOU. The most important part of a job interview is standing out. The aim here is to make an impression - when you walk away from that interview panel, you want those roaring lions thinking that they NEED you on their team. Skills can be taught but attitudes cannot. Candidates that present with attitudes that align with the organisation’s values will be the most desirable. Show that you are passionate!
Bonus points here: know where to go, physically. If you are worried, drive there, park there, walk there in advance. With all that pent up, nervous energy, why would you want to get all flustered about left and right turns or trying to find a park? Getting lost or being late on the big day is the last thing you need. Allow extra time to sit and collect those thoughts so you can focus before your interview. Again, remember to breathe!
We all know that first impressions are long-lasting and happen before we even open our mouths. Ensure that your hygiene, grooming and interview attire are on point - this might sound like an obvious one but you’d be surprised how many people get this wrong during a crucial first meeting.
Wear something you are comfortable in - this does not mean your jeans and sneakers or your midriff cut-out tee, but consider wearing some elasticised pants instead of your high-waisted pants that are so tight that you can’t breathe and risk shedding a tear every time you emphasise your passion for the potential role. Also, do not wear a hot pink bra under a sheer white shirt - silly.
Think corporate comfort: smart blacks pants or a knee-length skirt with a shirt or blouse. Loafer style, closed toe pumps with mid high heels or ballet flats are some great footwear options. Remember, comfort is important here. If you are not comfortable in what you are wearing it will impact your confidence.
Take your time
Have you ever walked out of an interview and thought “I spoke too fast” or “I didn’t feel comfortable with the silence so I just kept rambling”? Adrenaline is an important part of the stress response but sometimes it can cause us to react before we are ready. If you don’t hear the question (or you need a moment to think), ask to hear it again. Therapeutic silence is an important part of effective communication - use it. Not only does it show you’ve been paying attention during your nursing degree, but it also buys you some time and indicates that you are confident and can remain composed in stressful situations (insert MET call situation here!).
Have a snack
It is normal to lose your appetite when you are nervous and we are certainly not saying to have a large Quarter Pounder meal with a chocolate thick shake right before your interview. But, consider eating a small snack 30 minutes prior to your interview to avoid the dreaded brain fog! Key message here: maintain your blood sugar levels to ensure that you can think clearly and deliver your best responses.
Brain, meet fuel.
Know your ‘why’
Successful people are those who know themselves and who know their boundaries. How do you want to live your life? Why do you want this job? How do you fit into the program being offered and why do you want to be a part of it? This is your opportunity to convey how passionate you are. What drove you to be sitting in that interview room? Share your experiences and talk about your motivations for being there. Think about examples that demonstrate when you have gone above and beyond. Have you ever volunteered or participated in extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment to this field?
When we speak about something we are passionate about, we are infectious! The interview panel will want to pay attention to what you are saying. Consider what goals you would like to achieve whilst working for this organisation - thinking ahead and sharing these goals demonstrates loyalty and commitment to the organisation.
Don’t be afraid to ask how they can support you to achieve these goals. This could provide important insights into whether this job is also the right fit for you.
Remember Sista, you’ve got this.