How to prepare for your nurse practitioner job interview

Everyone is nervous at a job interview, even a little. However, there’s a lot of ways that you can prepare yourself to succeed. One of the best ones is answering common questions that might arise. Questions that are specific to your field, and questions about yourself.


You might think, but how do I know what questions they’re going to ask me? It’s true that we can’t get into the mind of our potential employer. Nevertheless, you should know that many job interviews often have a set of predetermined questions that they ask everyone.


You might find three or more of those questions in this blog post. However, if the day comes and they don’t ask you any of these, don’t worry. You will be a lot more prepared anyway. 


The trick to a great job interview is always answering with confidence, and you can’t do that if you don’t have the tools to do it.


In this post you’ll learn:


  1. How can you prepare for a job interview as a nurse practitioner?
  2. What to do during the nurse practitioner job interview
  3. What questions are they going to ask you?


How can you prepare for a job interview as a nurse practitioner?


Before we get started, we should talk about some of the things you should do before going to the interview. 


Research the site and the people you’re going to meet


It’s important to do your homework before an interview. Looking for your interviewers on LinkedIn can help you a lot when you’re meeting with them. Do some research on the site as well. Learn about how people work there, what they can offer, etc.


Don’t underestimate the power of a first impression


From how you dress to how you talk, a first impression goes a long way (in any direction). We are not saying that you shouldn’t be yourself. The point is to present the best version of you to your interviewers. Iron your clothes, find an elegant outfit, and drink some water before you get in.


Remember to ask some questions yourself


When you prepare for the interview, keep two or three questions in mind to ask your interviewer. The interview will be a great place to find out more about how the clinic works, and asking questions about it shows initiative. 


However, don’t interrupt your interviewer. You’ll probably get to ask your questions at the end of the interview. We’ll talk more about that later in this article.


Update and review your resume


It’s important to check your resume before applying to a job. Is there something you failed to include? Is there something you should delete? Asking these questions will help you with your confidence while you’re doing the interview. 


The first person that should know exactly what’s on your resume is you. That way nothing will catch you off guard.


Keep your application in mind


Some of the questions that come up on an interview will be related to things you answered in your job application. Be ready to give some details about what you can do, how you do it, etc. It’s not over once you send it, that’s just step one. 


Check the job description again before going in


Reviewing the job description might be a good way to get a sense of what they will ask you. The interviewer will most likely want to know how your previous experience relates to the job. 


Also, people sometimes forget what’s on the job description, and then they get surprised about some aspect of the job that they forgot was there from the beginning.


Know your strong (and not-so-strong) points


While reading the job description, make a note of the things you’re great at. Try to also highlight your current shortcomings. The interviewer might ask you questions related to these two things. 


Come up with a list of your strengths as a nurse practitioner. This list will help you to properly convey why you are the right person for the job. Maybe you’re good at working with others, but not so good at leading a team.


There’s always going to be something that you’re not good at. This shouldn’t keep you from applying to a job (unless it’s a critical skill that you don’t have). If you feel like you could learn it, don’t be afraid and apply anyway. 


Show your interviewer that you have the initiative to learn the things that you need to learn to do the job right.


Soft skills and hard skills


You should be able to tell the difference between your soft skills and your hard skills. But what does this mean? Why is this useful?


Hard skills are your technical and (in your case) medical abilities. These can include:


  • Your urgent care and emergency care skills
  • Using and handling equipment
  • Interpreting test results
  • Educating patients and family


These are only a few examples of hard skills. To be more precise, hard skills are usually the things that they teach you in college. Soft skills are a bit different, and sometimes they don’t teach them. These can include:


  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Conflict resolution


Make a list of the ones you have, and the ones you don’t. There’s a lot more than the ones mentioned here. Being able to talk about them will help you a great deal during the interview. They’re very useful to describe who you are as a nurse practitioner.



What to do during the nurse practitioner job interview


Being calm and confident is your best bet when you’re doing an interview, but we know that this is not always easy. It’s really hard not to be nervous. After all, we’re always heading into the unknown when we’re doing a job interview.


Here are a few things that you can do during the interview to better your chances:


  • Bring an extra copy of your resume: You can do this as preparation to answer any questions that they might ask you during the interview. You should also bring letters of recommendation, a list of references, and something to take notes.


  • Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early: Some people might say that there’s no such thing as being “too early” for a job interview. However, waiting around can be tiresome, and it might not be good for your nerves.


  • Take your time to answer the questions: Don’t jump right in after your interviewer asks you something. Think before saying anything. Take a deep breath. Being too eager might lead you to say something that you didn’t intend to say.


  • Try to maintain eye contact: This is very important to show confidence. You don’t have to stare at them without blinking, but try to look your interviewer in the eye when you’re answering their questions. You can break eye contact when you’re thinking about what to say, for example. That’s okay.


  • Say “thank you” and express appreciation: It’s true that your interviewer’s job is, well, to interview you. They’re not exactly doing you a favor. They have to be there. However, it’s really nice to show them that you appreciate their time and the opportunity they are giving you. This will help you give a good first impression, which is also very important.


What questions are they going to ask you?


We can’t really give you a detailed list of questions, only examples. We don’t know exactly what they will ask you, and neither do you. However, there are some basic questions that you might be asked during your nurse practitioner interview.


Let’s see four of the most frequently asked questions. You might encounter variations of them during the interview:


What would you do in a stressful situation (or an emergency)?


This question might come in the form of a vague situation with a patient, or a specific clinical scenario. There’s a very good way to answer that applies to both. Keep reading to find out.


The interviewer will want to gauge your soft and hard skills, and how you use them. This is why it’s important to do some research on them, and identify the ones you have, and the ones you need to work on.


Stressful situations are important because that’s where our true character flourishes. The interviewer will want to know how you behave when time is running out, or when things become complicated.


This question is only an example. The interviewer might frame it differently. The best way to answer it is to be honest about what you would and wouldn’t do. 


Explain how you would manage it in steps: first, second, third, and so on. You can organize your answer in this way to avoid making mistakes or jumping to conclusions too quickly.


Why did you choose to become a nurse practitioner?


Not every nurse chooses to become an APRN. It’s important to be clear about your motivations, your goals, and even your dreams. The interviewer will want to hear about why you chose this path. Do you have a specific goal in mind? Share it, and give some details.


Answering this question with a personal anecdote is completely okay, but also optional. Narration is what helps people to empathize, to connect. It makes the interview a little more honest, and personal. After all, there is a human being behind the scrubs. Be sure to show that.


Why are you a good fit for this position?


This question is probably the one you should expect the most. However, the interviewer might express it in a different way. Talk about your past achievements, and how they relate to your application. Again, be honest about what you don’t know, and show willingness to learn.


Remember what we wrote earlier on this post: it’s important to have your application and job description in mind. That way you can answer more effectively. 


What do you do when facing a difficult patient or family member?


Every nurse with experience has one or two stories to tell. We already established that telling stories is a good way to give depth to the interview and make it more personal. So there’s that.


However, you should keep yourself from answering this question just with a story. This is not about you or what you went through with a patient. It’s about how you use your skills to de-escalate a situation or provide care when things are not working out.


A good way to prepare yourself for this question is to practice an answer beforehand. Think about a difficult situation you had and write it down, but don’t take it with you to the interview! Study your reply and bring it up when they ask you.


Other questions that might appear during the interview


The four questions mentioned above are good for you to start practicing for the interview. You can use the same techniques we told you about to answer other questions that might come up, but are not as relevant, such as:


  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Where do you see yourself in the future?
  • What would you do if you had a disagreement with a peer?
  • How do you work with physicians?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you contribute to a patient’s experience in the clinic?


Remember to always, always take your time before answering.



Questions that you should ask your interviewer


Last but not least, it’s very useful to ask your interviewer some questions, as we mentioned earlier. They will probably give you the opportunity to do so at the end. Here are some great questions you can ask to find out how things work in your potential place of employment:


  • What are some of the challenges I might face while working here?
  • How do you measure success in this clinic?
  • Will I be expected to be a leader, a mentor?
  • What is your policy regarding (fill in the blank)?
  • How many patients will I see a day?


It’s possible that your interviewer will answer some of these questions before you get the chance to ask them. However, it’s important to keep them in mind so you can walk out of that interview knowing exactly what the job is about.


We hope that this post was useful for you, and we wish you lots of luck on your next interview. You got this!




You might also like:

How to create a kick-ass LinkedIn profile as an NP student

Should you get a DNP? Here’s the answer!

Should You Get an MBA as a Nurse Practitioner?


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