5 questions to ask during your nursing job interview
You’ve studied hard and put your skills to the test in clinicals and internships. Now it’s time to enter the real world and get your first nursing job. While there are plenty of opportunities that await you, before you can settle into your dream role, you’ll have to earn it with an impressive interview.
While interviews can be stressful, it’s important to remember that in addition to making your potential employer see you as the ideal candidate, you need to ensure the care environment is the right fit for you. As you prepare for your interview, consider asking these five questions to find out as much as you can about the position and show your interviewer your sincere interest.
1. What kind of training do you provide?
As a nursing student, you’ve been through rigorous courses and clinicals designed to prepare you for your first nursing job. However, it’s important that the hospital or practice you decide to work at provides you with a little training to allow you to familiarize yourself with its specific procedures and standards. Some facilities offer formal programs where you are taught the ins and outs of the daily workflows and what’s expected of you. Others, however, will put you right to work without much hand holding. Nursing career coach and registered nurse Keith Carlson, B.S.N, told Monster that interviewees need to keep an eye out for organizations that offer no training or guidance at all.
“If they can’t give you a straight answer, or they evade the question, you can bet that they have no formal program in this regard, and you’d better be careful and be circumspect about working for them,” he said.
2. What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?
Determining how many patients, residents or clients you would be working with is one of the first factors to consider. The answer can vary drastically, as there are no specific federal regulations that state how many patients nurses are allowed to have, as long as patients are receiving high quality care, according to PracticalNursing.org. In some high acuity care settings, nurses can have as little as one to three patients. However, nurses usually have to care for more, ranging as high as 50 patients per shift. Although this is extreme, it does happen in some care environments. If the number is higher than you expected, make sure you would be part of a team with shared responsibilities.
3. Who would be on my team?
The answer to this question says a lot about what’s expected of you in terms of day-to-day responsibilities. For example, while all nurses are usually supervised by a physician, some care environments will put the nurses as the leaders of their unit to act as supervisors to nurse assistants or personal care assistants. If this is the case, you would hold the bulk of the everyday responsibilities for your team in addition to your patients. You could also find that you’re a part of a team of other nurses at your level. Seeing who your primary contact is will unveil a lot and help you decide if this is the type of work environment you’re looking to start your career as a nurse in.
4. Are there on-call requirements?
It’s not uncommon for employers to expect their nursing staff to be on call in addition to their regular 40-hour work week. See if this would apply to your role, if there are specific departments that mandate on-call shifts and how many people are required to be on call. If you find that the organization does have a lot of overtime, ask how much they pay for on-call shifts.
5. Can I have a tour of the facility?
This is a question that you shouldn’t have to ask, as most interviewers will give you a tour along with the interview. However, if they failed to do so, it’s essential to request one. You need to see where you would be working and observe firsthand how the patients are being cared for. You can also see how nurses interact with one another. If you notice anything amiss, this is important to note and take into consideration if you have multiple job offers at the end of your search.