Career Resources

Tips for Nailing Nursing Interviews

It doesn’t matter if you are a recent nursing school graduate or a seasoned registered nurse; you need to make a good impression during a job interview so that the potential employer remembers you.

Remember that the employer wants to ensure that you are the right person for the job. There are various ways you can stand out in a crowd and leave an impression.

1. Submit a polished resume 

An effective resume gives the potential employer a birds-eye view of your education, accomplishments, skills, and leadership experience. You should include the following elements in a resume to get noticed:

  • Objective/ Personal statement
  • Work experience/ Clinical rotations (if new nurse graduate)
  • Education
  • Licenses and certifications 
  • Any other relevant activities or volunteer roles

2. Research the hospital or facility 

One of the most common interview questions is why you chose that hospital or facility. A clear answer will demonstrate that you did your research. 

Here are a few ways to “study up” on the hospital or facility, to not only help you learn about them but so that you can get a feel for the culture and values:

  • Visit their website and review their mission and vision. Think about how you can contribute to that mission and vision as a future employee.
  • Do you know anyone that currently works there? If so, ask them about how it is working there and what advice they can give you to help you land the job.
  • Find out what awards or recognitions the hospital or facility have had
  • Review their social media sites, and see what employees and patients are posting about them

3. Stand out with a portfolio aka “Brag Book”

Want to set yourself apart from everyone else interviewing? Prepare a professional portfolio as your “brag book!” It provides evidence of everything you mentioned during your interview. Some facilities require employees to keep these portfolios as part of the clinical ladder system – if you already have one, feel free to use it as long as it’s relevant.

Use clear divider sheets to separate the sections, and remember that color copies are always best. Some items to think about including are:

  • Cover page 
  • Personal statement of nursing
  • Resume
  • Degrees/Diploma
  • Licenses and certifications
  • Recommendation letters 
  • Awards, special training, and performance reviews
  • Sample of any quality improvement projects that you were a part of

You can use a three-ring binder or get a fancy leather one. Just remember, your professional portfolio is a valuable tool to use as you grow in your professional career. 

4. Look professional

It is essential to have a professional appearance. Although there are companies that may have a relaxed dress code, remember that you don’t work there yet, so pay close attention to your appearance. 

A professional appearance includes:

  • Hygiene. Hair neat, fingernails trimmed and clean, and stay away from strong perfumes
  • Proper interview attire. Avoid street clothes such as jeans and sneakers. If you do not have interview attire, try a clean pair of ironed scrubs. 

5. Do not be late

Being late to something as important as your job interview says a lot about you, your priorities, and what is expected of you if you are hired. An employer sees being late as not being dependable, so if you know that you will be late due to an emergency, call the interviewer as soon as possible and explain the situation.

6. Enthusiasm is a must

A positive attitude goes a long way, especially when you don’t have experience in the job you are interviewing for. Having a positive outlook, great attitude, and being personable leaves a great impact on your potential employer, and many times makes the interview flow nicely, just like a conversation as opposed to feeling like an interrogation.  Some people also recommend lots of smiling! They say if you smile during a phone interview, your tone comes across as positive. 

7. Send a thank-you note

Want to finish the interview process with a bang? After the interview, follow up with a thank you card, email, or letter. This is a forgotten touch, but one that potential employers truly appreciate will definitely make you stand out from others.

This follow-up is also a perfect time to reiterate your strengths and how you are a perfect addition to their team. 

You can say something like: 


“Hello Dr. David, 

Thank you so much for meeting with me yesterday for the Registered Nurse position in your telemetry unit. It was such a pleasure to learn more about the hospital’s mission, values, and team. 

As we discussed, my many years of experience in the field, qualifications, and ability to solve patient situations promptly make me a great candidate for your organization. 

I look forward to hearing from you, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”


If you are a new graduate nurse, make sure to include a summary of how your clinical rotations have allowed you to learn different skills that will help you when caring for the relevant patient population and being part of the healthcare team. 

While there is no guarantee that you will get the job, these steps are a great way to prepare to ace those interviews.

Dr. Margarita David DNP, RN, PCCN, CSN

Dr. Margarita David, DNP, RN, PCCN, CSN is a doctorally-prepared registered nurse. She founded the Dr. Registered Nurse Success Academy and its YouTube channel, a successful pharmacology boot camp and an NCLEX test-taking strategy course. Dr. David has been married for over 20 years and is a mother of three.

Comments (3)

Thank you


I need help with my resume


Thanks for reaching out, Volina. We have several resources on our Resource Hub that covers various aspects of creating a resume. “How to Build a Winning Resume” ( has formatting tips, advice from recruiters and a helpful video. “Perfecting Your Nursing Resume” provides a complete breakdown of everything you should include on your resumes, including tips for each section. Vivian has also added an amazing tool you can use to build your resume without any formatting hassles or questions about what needs to be included that builds your resume for you by using the details in your universal profile. Learn more about the Vivian Universal Profile & Resume Builder here:


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