Career advice

No need to be nervous: how to succeed at a job interview

Nerves can take hold and speech become garbled when you are put on the spot. Here, we offer expert advice on being the best you can be at a job interview.

University of Surrey director of studies for nursing Cathy Derham says check the interview information carefully to ensure you are properly prepared. ‘Interviews may not always be one-to-one,’ she says. ‘Many trusts are also including drug calculations as part of the interview. You need to check exactly what format it will take.’

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In answering: Why do you want this job? and What could you bring to the role?, citing the employer’s values, such as a commitment to compassionate care or safety, will show you have thought about whether you are a good fit. ‘It shows you have taken the time to research who they are,’ says RCN careers adviser Julie Watkins.

Dress smartly for an interview. Ms Derham urges students to also dress well for any informal visits they make to a potential workplace: ‘What you wear, body language, eye contact and handshake are all really important.’

Before your interview practise saying your answers out loud. Check they sound coherent and suitable, and think of questions to ask at the end, says Ms Derham.

Nurses should think about those areas an employer might be less certain about, says The Interview Expert author John Lees. Showing how you bounced back from sticky moments and turned them into positives is impressive.

Do your preparation and read your notes before the interview, says Ms Watkins. ‘Make sure you have eaten and take all the relevant paperwork with you. Be confident in the preparation you’ve done.’

Weaker candidates say what they would do, while stronger candidates show what they have done, allowing their skills, experience and attitude to shine through. Mr Lees says most candidates claim they are highly motivated team players who will go the extra mile. Don’t waste your breath on false promises – let your attitude show in things you have actually done.

Many employers use the STAR method. You should talk through the Situation, the Target, (what you wanted to achieve), the Action and the Result.

Interviewers remember people they like, those with whom they share common interests and those who will ‘fit’ the position. Mr Lees says: ‘Recruiters will make some kind of a decision in the first 30 seconds about how personable you are and whether you will fit in, so put as much preparation into your first impression as you do into preparing your answers’.

Find the perfect next step in your career at an RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair. These are taking place in Manchester on June 2-3, London on September 1-2 and Glasgow on October 6-7.

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