Nursing Grads: Acing The Interview

There is something in the air with interviews for new graduates approaching! It is quite an exciting time of the year. While the interview process may seem daunting, we have compiled a few tips from several managers of inpatient hospital units.

First Impressions

  • Professional attire. This is important because you want to present yourself as professional as possible. Business attire is encouraged. Many managers said they want you to feel comfortable, as well. So dress to impress, but also comfortably!
  • Turn off your cell phone. Although that may be hard for some of us, it really is important to turn off and tuck your cell phone away during the interview process. Don’t worry; the world will be there to congratulate you after your interview goes well.


  • Bring a resume. UVA is wonderful in that it prepares us for this part of the job application process. Send it before your interview so they have time to look at it before you arrive and woo them in person! Bring a copy for them to go over in person and one for you, as well.
  • Many different managers stated that sometimes there is not enough time to go through the entire portfolio that you create while you are at UVA. However, if there is something that you’re particularly proud of in your portfolio, be sure to highlight it during your interview. Also consider making copies of everything and leaving it with the people that you interview with so they can review it after you leave.
  • Strengths and weaknesses. Without a doubt, this is a hot topic in any interview. Several managers said this is a question that they ask every candidate. Try to spin your “weaknesses” into strengths. For instance, “Sometimes I have trouble delegating tasks, but I am a hard worker and I always make sure the work gets done.” One manager suggested including a weakness or mistake in a story to show that you have learned from the experience. They know that you are human and that sometimes you make mistakes. They would rather know that you’ve turned it into a learning experience.
  • Story time. Have a few examples/short stories about different clinical experiences that show you have gone above and beyond for a patient or a time that you had a difficult patient experience and how you handled it (*highlighting your clinical exemplars that are in your portfolio they can read later when you leave it for them). These are also hot topic interview questions and it is better to come in with a few stories ready instead of having to think on your feet.
  • You’ve got this. It is okay to be nervous, but you’re prepared! Be confident, even if you are nervous. Talk slow, but not too slow, and you’ll be excited, so don’t talk too fast. You’ll find the perfect balance a few minutes into the interview. UVA has done a great job to prepare you and you have put in all of the work, so remember that as you go in for the interview!


  • Extra curricular activities. Several managers stated that they were often impressed when candidates did well in school and had several other experiences on their resume. They stated that it shows skills in time management and that you are well rounded and have many interests.
  • Show them who you are! Find the balance between presenting how fun, smart and professional you are. They want to see it all.
  • Good fit. Being able to answer, “Why are you a good fit?” has impressed many managers in previous interviews. This is where you can slip in something about what makes you stand out from the next candidate that they are going to interview. They want you to want to be a good fit—so let them know!
  • Candidates who ask their own questions often impress managers. Do your research about the position and the hospital. Have a couple of questions to ask—this will show them that you are really interested in this specific position for which you are interviewing.


Read more from other Nursing Alumni

Thoughts on “Nursing Grads: Acing The Interview

    Great tips – couldn’t agree more!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended for You