How you prepare for and how you perform in a job interview are two crucial components that directly impact whether the email that lands in your inbox starts with, “We are delighted to offer you…” or “Unfortunately, we have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.”
Since I started working as a nurse practitioner in 2011, I have received my fair share of both types of emails. I think we all have! And I think we all know how icky it can feel to receive the second type of email — especially if those emails seem to be piling up in our inboxes lately. So what can we do to make sure the last “unfortunately” email really is the last?
Today I want to talk about some tips and tricks for what to do once you land that interview. If this is a new experience for you, or if you just need a little bit of a refresher as you are moving to a new NP role, keep reading because we’ve got some real gems to share with you today!
Before the Interview
To start, let’s think about what we can do before we even sit down across the table from the interviewer.
My first tip may seem kind of like an obvious one, but trust me, more people than you might think neglect to do this before the interview. Do your research. Hopefully this is something that you did prior to applying for the position, but if not, hop on Google and see what you can find. What is this hospital or clinic’s mission statement? What type of patients do they tend to see? What are their values? Google the heck out of them and learn whatever you can. That way, you will have a good understanding of the basics so that when you do finally get to the point of shaking hands and sitting down with someone (or maybe just logging into a Zoom meeting for your interview), you know exactly what to expect.
Knowing your stuff beforehand also shows to the interviewer that you care enough to have done your homework. That and the questions you ask — which will be more informed based on your research — will impress the interviewer more than questions about the target demographic or type of care provided.
Something else that is helpful in your preparation is knowing how you will answer those tried and true interview questions. Prompts like “tell me about yourself” and “talk about a time when you overcame a challenge in the workplace” are often ones that make their way into every interview, and that is something we can use to our advantage. How will you answer those questions? Plan your responses and rehearse with yourself in the mirror until you feel comfortable and confident in your answers. Doing this work on the front end will make it so that you are not caught off guard when they give you the floor.
In preparing to answer those common questions — especially ones like “what can you tell us about you and your work?” — it’s important to not get into too much personal information. The interviewers really want to know about you as a nurse practitioner or as a healthcare provider. You can personalize your responses by incorporating some of that sparkle that is unique to you. For example, I might add that I am a twin plus one mom or that I studied Italian before deciding to become a NP. Just don’t go telling the interviewers about your weekend plans. Save that for the water cooler talk after you’re hired!
Another question the interviewer might ask is, “Why do you want to work here?” This is when your earlier research will come in handy because you can echo back the things that you know about their organization, about their patient population, about their values and their mission, and from there, you can determine where those things align with your personal and professional mission and values.
The other major set of questions that I recommend having an answer to are those situational questions. The ones that start with, “Tell me about a time when you…” Things like, “tell me about a time when you experienced a conflict and how you handled it.” You might also be asked about a time when you were recognized for doing something well; when there was an ethical dilemma in your workplace; where you had a disagreement with a patient or provider or colleague; or when you demonstrated teamwork. These are all situational type questions that come up often.
To answer those questions, my best recommendation is to think back on one or two patient scenarios to tuck into your back pocket. Think of a patient scenario that was medically complex, ethically complex, behaviorally complex — with any luck you’ll have one or two that check all those boxes, and in thinking back on those situations beforehand, you’ll be able to answer those questions on the fly and really tell a story about something that you did well. Don’t be afraid to humble brag a little!
The last thing to do before your interview is print a few copies of your resume (you never know how many people you’ll be interviewing with, so it’s good to have extras just in case!) and write down a few questions or notes of your own for when the interviewers ask if you have any questions.
Some questions you might want to ask are:
- What will the orientation process look like, and how long will it last?
- Who will be training me?
- How does this organization support new nurse practitioners or nurse practitioners in general?
- What type of mentorship can I expect?
- Is this a contract employment or an at will employment?
During the Interview
Now, let’s talk about the nitty gritty of the interview.
Maybe it’s my mom brain, or maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but unless I write things down, I don’t remember. That is where jotting down a few notes and questions before the interview comes in handy. But it can also be helpful during the interview itself. Maybe, as I mentioned above, you’re being interviewed by the hiring manager as well as a few other administrators. What happens at the end of the interview and you don’t remember their names? Or their roles? Or when you forget that one important question you thought of during the interview — you know the one (or maybe you don’t, maybe you forgot to write it down!). It can be really helpful to keep track of the conversation and any questions or new information that come up during the interview. An added bonus is that you know who to send “thank you” emails to after you crush the interview!
A few other things that are important to clarify during the interview if they come up are whether you will work for the hospital or clinic itself or for a private physician group that has contracted that specific facility. Hopefully this information will have been included in the job posting, but being certain as to whether the job is an employed position or an independent contractor position is crucial in terms of benefits and taxes.
Interviewing can be stressful for everyone, and maybe even more so if this is your first interview after graduating or your first after working in the same position for several years. But one thing to keep in mind is that as much as they are interviewing you to determine whether you are a good fit for the position, you are interviewing them to determine whether they are a good fit with your goals and professional satisfaction.
They may have a lot of questions about whether you are the best candidate, and you want to be prepared to answer those questions well, but it is helpful to have the mindset that you will have your choice of positions, that you are going to be choosing which is the best option for you, and the interview is part of your process of elimination.
Following the Interview
And of course, it is considered polite and professionally courteous to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. This is also your opportunity to really drive home the reasons why you are the best candidate for the role. If you decide that you would prefer to continue looking, it is polite to send a thank-you, but it is not necessary.
It’s my wish for all of you that finding and landing that “dream career” begins to feel within reach, and I sincerely hope these tips help get you closer to that point.
Our professional and personal fulfillment are not afterthoughts in our lives, and it’s my goal to help you navigate the process of prioritizing yourself and your goals! If you found this helpful, please consider sharing with a nurse practitioner friend, colleague, or classmate so that together we can make this overwhelming transition a little bit easier for everyone trying to make it in the NP world!
And in the meantime, remember that I am always rooting for you.
P.S. Here are some additional resources for after you crush the interview, because let’s face it. You will!