Ace the Nurse Manager Interview!
Posted: December 4, 2014 by Cathy Weselby in Careers & Credentials
When you’re seeking career advancement, it’s important to have your interview skills at the ready. And with a little preparation, you can set yourself up to be successful. Interviews don’t have to be stressful events if you keep in mind that hiring managers are looking for answers to these overall questions:
- Can you do the job? (Do you have the qualifications?)
- Are you motivated to do the job? (Do you have a good attitude?)
- Are you a fit for our organization (Will we want to work with you?)
Think about nurses you’ve hired in the past. Weren’t these the underlying questions you were hoping to have answered during the interview process? When the roles are reversed, you can better understand what the interviewer’s goals might be.
Sample nursing leadership questions
As a start, it’s helpful to get insight on the specific types of questions hiring managers are most likely to ask nurse leaders. A sample of nurses vying for nurse manager positions revealed these 10 questions most asked by interviewers on Glassdoor:
- How do you feel about diversity in the workplace? Have you ever worked for a company that had a diversity policy?
- Please describe your management style.
- Describe yourself in one word.
- What would you do if you had a patient who was very upset and was making a scene in the hallway?
- How have you increased employee retention and what were the measurable outcomes?
- How did you turn a negative situation at work into a positive one?
- How do you motivate people?
- How do you handle conflict? Give an example of a conflict situation you were in and how you handled it.
- How have you handled dealing with an angry or upset doctor in the past?
- Describe a time you had to persuade someone to do something they did not want to do.
A majority of these questions are behavioral-based questions, which are becoming increasingly popular with human resources professionals and hiring managers. Behavioral questions typically include phrases such as “give me an example of” or “tell me about a time when.” The logic behind behavioral-based questions is past behavior is predictive of future behavior. When you’re able to point out to a hiring manager how you’ve effectively handled a similar situation in the past, it proves your competence for the role.
Answering behavioral interview questions
The “PSR” technique (Problem, Solution, Results) is an effective way to answer behavioral and other types of interview questions. Here’s how it works:
1. Problem: Briefly state the situation and circumstances. For example, “Patients in our unit were falling at a higher rate than the rest of the hospital, and administrators requested that we work to lower these incidences.”
2. Solution: Describe how you resolved the problem. “I implemented a safety process that included identifying high-risk patients, ensuring walkways were cleared of equipment and obstructions and making sure beds were placed where patients had the least amount of distance to walk to the bathroom.”
3. Results: This is the most important step of the process. Tell how your solution saved money, saved lives, etc. Quantify the results as much as possible. “As a result of this safety process, we were able to reduce trips and falls by 30 percent.”
The next steps are to prepare PSRs based on your target job’s qualifications. Review job descriptions that reflect the type of job you’re interested in, and highlight the desired skills and qualifications. Some examples are: decision-making skills, management and initiative. Develop PSRs for these qualifications and practice reciting them.
Strive for recent examples of stories to use in your PSRs. You’ll be able to recall more details in recent stories, and these details will make your story more compelling. The more specific your examples, the more credible your response will seem to the interviewer.
PSRs are also useful for answering hypothetical questions. If the interviewer asks you, “If you had to make a decision under time pressure, how would you prioritize?” you could illustrate your answer with a PSR about a stressful time when you had to make a quick decision and describe your thought process.
Lastly, develop a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Research the company and ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest in the position. Interviewing is a two-way conversation, and hiring managers are wary of applicants who don’t have any questions of their own.Learn More: Click to view related resources.
- Jacquelyn Smith, "How to Ace the 50 Most Common Interview Questions," Forbes
- Mark A. LaMaster, RN, MSN, Ruth A. Larsen, RN, MSN, "Prepare for a Behavioral Interview, Then Ace It!," Lippincott’s 2010 Nursing Career Directory
- Leslie Stevens-Huffman, "How to Craft a PSR Resume," DICE News
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