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RN Interview Tips and Advice

After days or weeks of preparing the resume and hours filling out online applications, receiving an invitation to interview will seem exhilarating!

However, before to the Big Day, it is critical to spend time emotionally and physically preparing.


Getting the Look

The interview is entirely about making a good first impression. The first impression a unit manager will have of a fresh graduate is how he or she presents themselves.


Dress code for interviews:



  • Suit consisting of a skirt or pants and a jacket with a button-down collared shirt or blouse
  • Skirts and dresses should be knee-length or shorter.
  • Avoid using bright colors or patterns.
  • Heels should be low or flats should be used; no open toes.
  • Leggings for skirts and dresses
  • There is no cleavage exposure.
  • No tattoos or piercings visible
  • Hair color that is natural
  • Earrings should be stud-style or no larger than the size of a dime.
  • Necklaces should be simple in design.
  • Handbags should be neutral in color.
  • No perfume or only a small amount of perfume
  • Fingernails should be short and free of polish chipping.


  • Suit with jacket and button-down collared shirt is ideal.
  • If not wearing a suit, the pants and jacket should match.
  • While a tie is optional, when in doubt, wear one.
  • Avoid vibrant hues and patterns; keep it plain.
  • Socks should be black or brown; white socks should not be worn with dark dress shoes.
  • Dress shoes in black or brown
  • Make sure not to expose tattoos or piercings.
  • Hair color is natural, and the style is clean.
  • Avoid the use of earrings.
  • Alternatively, use a mild cologne or none at all.
  • Fingernails that are neat and natural

The general rule for interview apparel is to keep it basic, to err on the dressy side of casual vs dressy, and to avoid being flamboyant. Maintain a simple color scheme and cover all body regions. The impression should be that you look the part of a professional unit nurse and will not insult patients, family members, or staff members from varied backgrounds, let alone the interviewer. While it may be fashionable for an RN to wear purple streaks in his or her hair, this will almost certainly offend. It is preferable to opt for natural and professional.


Mentally Prepare

Nursing schools have a way of molding students into new graduate nurses who are humble and courteous. Perhaps it’s the demanding schedules, tough professors, and high GPA requirements, or the overpowering sense of overwhelm that many nursing students experience once clinicals begin. However, the majority of nursing students are pleased to have completed their studies but also feel insufficient and terrified! This is excellent! This is the impression a newly graduated nurse should make on an interviewer and sustain throughout orientation and the internship. Because, let’s face it, a nursing graduate knows enough about the body and diseases to be safe around patients on a basic level, but the true learning hasn’t even begun.


Interviewers are well aware that nursing students (regardless of their GPA, their recommendations, or their school!) are not equipped to operate independently on a unit. Regardless of the specialty, new nurses require training and frequently six months or more of full-time training.


A new nurse can only be trained if he or she is willing, enthusiastic, and aware of one’s limitations. It is critical to convey this humble impression to the interviewer through one’s attitude, body language, and general presentation of oneself.


The most difficult type of fresh graduate nurse to employ and train is the arrogant, know-it-all smarty-pants. This is a type that we are all familiar with. It’s one thing to study diligently and maintain confidence; it’s quite another for a brand new nurse to believe he or she is wiser and more educated than the person teaching them and fighting with information.


A newbie nurse must always maintain a humble and receptive demeanor. Regardless of what he or she learnt in school, working in the actual world is not the same. And a nurse with a negative attitude will simply not survive in a new unit, even if they are hired.


Therefore, prior to the interview, ensure that the attitude is humble, appreciative of any opportunity to learn from such intelligent nurses and physicians, and willing to load the brain with new knowledge and experiences.


Throughout the Interview

Once the clothes has been picked, the hair has been styled, and the attitude has been set, be sure to:


  • Arrive early; arriving approximately ten minutes early for an interview indicates desire and timeliness, as well as an appreciation for the interviewer’s time.
  • Maintain eye contact; this indicates confidence and vigilance, as well as effective social skills.
  • Smiling with both eyes and mouth is preferable than false grins.
  • Seated forward on the chair, women’s legs should be crossed at the knee or ankle.
  • Keep your responses succinct and pertinent to the question.
  • Avoid using vulgarity and colloquial language.
  • If you have prior employment experience, bring a copy of your résumé.

There are numerous sorts of nursing interviews. Either the new graduate will sit in a large room with numerous interviewers and possibly some other team members asking questions, or one interviewer will read from a list of questions and jot down responses, or an interviewer will follow the script loosely but will primarily be attempting to understand who the new graduate is as a person and who they will be as a nurse for the facility, or any variation thereof.


The underlying premise is that regardless of the sort of interview, smile frequently, be polite, be yourself but maintain a professional demeanor, and make an attempt to show yourself as an eager, smart, professional, and polite new graduating nurse.


A newly graduated nurse possesses a distinct advantage over an experienced nurse. The new graduate cannot be questioned during the interview about technical skills he or she has not yet acquired but is expected to be enthusiastic and willing to acquire new ones, to be punctual and to maintain good attendance, and to be disciplined enough to persevere through difficult times. The new graduate should portray these characteristics as well as provide evidence of such behavior during past professional and clinical experiences.



While an institution may ask a new graduate a variety of questions, the following are some possible concerns and responses. Prior to the interview, review and consider how you will respond to these questions. Consider a few scenarios in which it could be beneficial to respond honestly to versions of these questions. These are merely examples of the many types of questions.


1. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you resolved the matter.


Making errors is acceptable; they want to know your thought process for rectifying the error. Were you truthful? Did you adhere to policy or admit to violating it? Have you followed the chain of command and, if necessary, notified a supervisor? Was your remorse appropriate? Have you taken the necessary actions to mitigate the damage and put it right?


2. In five years, where do you see yourself? Within two years?


This question generates information about long- and short-term career and personal objectives. The interviewer is looking to see whether your aspirations align with the facility’s objectives. They want to know how committed you are to your work and family. If you want to continue your education and obtain further certificates, include them here and tie them to the position for which you are seeking.


3. Describe a time when you “made someone’s day.”


Adding hope and happiness to a patient’s day is an important aspect of nursing, and some nurses are more adept at it than others. Demonstrate to the interviewer how much you enjoy delivering joy to people and how strongly you feel an ethical need to go above and beyond the call of duty to do so. Consider an instance in which you accomplished this and keep it on hand just in case.


4. What motivated you to pursue a career as an RN?


It is best to respond honestly to this question but avoid mentioning money or familial pressure. Feeling a “soul’s calling” is a common and appropriate response for nurses or those who have cared for a sick family member and felt profoundly fulfilled by being able to assist them in their time of greatest need.

Tell me about a time when a family member, patient, or coworker was particularly tough to deal with, and how you handled the situation.


5. The interviewer is attempting to find out the extent to which your anger or irritation affect your actions.


They want to know if you can maintain a professional demeanor in the face of another person’s instability. Did you exhibit effective communication skills? Did you treat them with dignity and respect, even when it was difficult to do so? Was it possible for you to deescalate the situation? Have you requested assistance if necessary? It is critical not to speak negatively about the unstable individual or people. Empathy is a positive attitude to have when answering this topic.


6. Tell me about a period when you faced significant obstacles and considered quitting.


The new role will be difficult, and the interviewer wants to know whether you will persevere or quit. Nursing school is likely to have examples of times when you considered quitting but persevered and now feel such a feeling of success that you’re glad you did. Be candid about your circumstance and discuss the feelings you experienced but understood you needed to endure since nursing is so important to you, or whatever the truth is.


7. What are your greatest assets?


This question provides an excellent opportunity to explain your strongest attributes; if feasible, tailor it to the position for which you are interviewing. Were you a pro at time management during clinicals? Comfort care at the end of life? Are you capable of memorizing and implementing new information? Being a glimmer of hope for a destitute patient?


8. What are your shortcomings?


Each person has flaws, and interviewers want to know how yours might impact the type of nurse you are. If possible, make flaws sound like strengths. For instance, if you are a perfectionist, you may drive yourself insane by insisting on things being completed correctly and attractively (something little, such as wound care dressings being immaculate) or by being excessively prompt.


9. Do you like to work in a team or independently?


The majority of nursing occupations demand collaboration and teamwork. Declaring that you always learn something from others when you collaborate on a project or that you enjoy challenging individuals who are smarter than you may be an honest response.


10. What would you do if you witnessed a colleague commit an act you know is wrong, such as stealing, lying, cheating, violating policy, or endangering a patient?


While this topic may appear to be a little problematic because you’re unsure whether “tattle-tailing” is an acceptable response, keep in mind that an employee who violates policy or endangers someone is never in the right. Pledge your adherence to corporate policies and your ethical obligation to report any inappropriate behavior immediately.


Five Interview Questions

Inquiring during the interview conveys an impression of curiosity and demonstrates that the new graduate is prepared and has thoroughly considered the role. Here are five recommended interview questions.


1. What are the unit’s immediate and long-term objectives?


This can vary depending on the type of unit and facility for which the RN is applying. A large teaching hospital is constantly doing research and is in need of willing participants. Demonstrate an interest in assisting, if possible, by volunteering additional time.


2. Kindly inform me of the leadership team. What expectations do they have for newly graduated and experienced nurses?


You’re displaying an awareness of the facility’s structure and a sincere desire to adhere to these requirements. Hospitals frequently have nurse leadership teams that form committees and establish criteria for non-leadership nurses. While smaller institutions may lack a team, they should have some form of nursing leadership.


3. How is the new graduate nurse training program structured?


If this has not previously been addressed, be certain to inquire about the training program. Is there an appropriate balance of classroom and preceptorship? If you are not comfortable at the conclusion of the program, will you be granted a lengthier preceptorship? Who is tasked with the responsibility of training new graduates?


4. Is there a possibility of advancement in the future?


The key to this question is to demonstrate your willingness to work extremely hard and participate in extracurricular activities for the facility out of a desire to learn and grow as a nurse, rather than to appear as though you believe you are too good for or don’t want the position you are applying for. In a hospital setting, inquire about becoming a charge nurse, as charge nurses typically work bedside shifts as well. Because the majority of bedside nurses dislike being charge nurses, the interviewer may appreciate their zeal.


5. Kindly inform me of the scheduling needs and patient-to-staff ratios.


How many Saturdays and Sundays will be required? How long would it take to transition from night shift to day shift? Ascertain that this does not imply that you are unwilling to work nights or weekends. A recent graduate should be prepared to work any shift at any time in order to have access to a wonderful job. And, if the state does not have regulations governing patient-to-nurse ratios, does the facility have one?


5 Interview Questions to Avoid

It is just as critical to say the correct thing as it is to avoid speaking the wrong thing. Choosing the correct words for an interview may make or destroy it. Here are some interview questions to avoid.


1. Will a drug test be conducted?


This prompts interviewers to believe the recent graduate will fail a drug test. By the way, the answer is ‘yes, there will be a drug test’ for any nurse position.


2. How soon can I submit a time-off request?


Avoid such situations during the interview. During orientation, you will learn about all of these processes and more. Unless you are getting married or have an urgent funeral, plan on working whenever they require for the orientation and internship.


3. Did I Get Hired?


Frequently, the interviewer does not know the answer to this question since he or she has not made a snap decision or is not the decision-maker. Additionally, avoid inquiring whether additional interviews are necessary. Maintain patience. The facility will inform you.


4. Will you hire any of my nursing school classmates?


If you get hired and become an official employee, encourage your former nursing school classmates to apply using your name as a reference. Until then, I want and pray that you find work.


5. Where and when are employees permitted to smoke?


Almost every hospital campus prohibits smoking, including electronic cigarettes. Smoking employees typically cross the street from the hospital. Smaller facilities may have their own set of rules, which will become clear during orientation. Smoking is generally unappealing to other healthcare professionals and patients. It’s preferable to abstain from smoking prior to the interview (to avoid an unpleasant odor) and to avoid discussing smoking during the interview.


Send a Note of Appreciation

While it may seem corny and cliche, sending a personal, handwritten thank you note demonstrates the nursing graduate’s demeanor and how much the opportunity to interview was valued. Write a little blurb on a personal sentiment you expressed or an amusing incident that occurred during the interview. A personal touch that helps interviewers distinguish you from another recent graduate is an excellent idea.


Keep A Positive Attitude

A recent graduate who follows these suggestions significantly increases his or her chances of landing the job. Bear in mind to be humble, eager, and receptive to learning. Remove any arrogance that may have developed since nursing school. The interviewers were impressed enough with your CV to call, so demonstrate that you’re willing to learn and go obtain that job! However, if this does not occur, try not to become discouraged. The ideal position is waiting for you! Now is the time to look for an RN position.