Application and interview tips
So, you’re due to qualify soon and have found the perfect preceptorship role to apply for. But what about those complicated forms? How do you prepare for the interview? What questions might they ask you? I was told that my preceptorship job interview would be the easiest job interview I’d have because at the start of your career there is a very level playing field with the other candidates given that you’re all just about to qualify, but I didn’t find that attitude helpful at all!! Applying for a preceptorship is a big deal, it is what your nursing course has led up to and finding a newly qualified job that suits your skills, developmental needs and career aspirations is key to getting a good start in your nursing career.
Most preceptorship jobs will require you to complete an application form (either online or on paper), pass some form of literacy & numeracy assessment and attend a face to face interview. Sometimes you have a scenario you are given on the interview day which you’ll have a short time to prepare answers on, other employers will get you to do a group activity to show how you work with others. It is important that you’re aware of what the application and interview process involves and that you prepare yourself for it.
Here are some hints and tips for the application process:
– Read the person specification and job description carefully, these will give you points to include in your personal statement and attributes they are looking for in the applicants.
– If you’re applying for a job in a particular department write about why you are interested in that field or if you’re applying for a general post or a rotation talk about the benefits of gathering a range of experiences.
– Big yourself up. Talk about what you’ve achieved during your nursing course in both your uni and your personal life. You can use examples from placement or activities outside of your nursing course that show you have the required skills and attributes. If you’re struggling, use a template (eg. RCN 2018 in the reference list below) to help you organise your thoughts.
– If you’re using examples from placement or academic work to show how you meet the applicant requirements, be sure to maintain confidentiality. This is a key part of your professionalism once qualified and needs to be shown in your application as well.
– Acknowledge the gaps in your skills or knowledge base and use them as a point you would like to develop rather than as a negative, this shows you’re thinking about continuous professional development and growing as a nurse.
– If it is an online application, save your progress regularly or copy & paste it from a word processing document so that you do not lose your carefully crafted application at the last minute.
– Check what format the interview will take and is it all on one day? Do you have literacy & numeracy testing separately from the interview? Will you have a group exercise or a scenario to look at? Being prepared allows you to minimise the worry and stress of the interview process rather than being blindsided by an extra component of the interview process.
– Look at the trust or employer’s information, specifically at their values & key messages as an organisation, these will probably come up in your interview and it is an easy answer you can prepare to get yourself grounded & feel comfortable in the interview.
– Prepare some notes and answers to go over before your interview to help you keep key points in mind, some employers are transparent about their preceptorship interview process and will even have example questions available for you to prepare for, check to see if your potential employer does this.
– Check with your university or trade union if they offer support with applications and interview prep, you may be able to do a mock interview which will give you some experience of what it feels like and provides the opportunity for feedback to help you improve your interview technique.
On the day of the interview
– Make sure you’re early, not only does this give a good impression but also running late will cause unnecessary worry. If you’re going somewhere you don’t know, try a trial run beforehand or if that’s not possible go to the employer’s website and see if a site map is available to help you navigate your way successfully to the interview venue.
– Dress smartly but in something you feel comfortable in. This will again give a good impression to the people interviewing you but it will also make you feel professional at the same time.
– Take the time to listen well to the questions you are being asked, get the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary. And if you cannot answer immediately ask for a moment to think before you respond, we can all have a brain blank when under pressure so this gives you a bit of leeway to get the grey matter working again.
– Again, big yourself up. Talk about your personal attributes and the experiences you’ve had as a student that are relevant and show how you are suited for the job, you have seen and done a lot in your nursing course, try to show this to the interviewer.
There will be many more tips that others will come up with but I hope that you have found something useful within this blog. Please comment below or tweet us with your own preceptorship application & interview advice. And GOOD LUCK to all of you reading this who are just starting your own application process.
(Debs Cooper – NQN)
NHS Jobs (2018) Making successful applications [webpage] NHS Jobs, London. Available at: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/advice/success_applics.html
RCN 2016 Students: Thinking about your career [PDF] Royal College of Nursing, London. Available at: https://www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/publications/pub-006566
RCN (2018) My career talents (worksheet) [PDF] Royal College of Nursing, London. Available at: https://www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/your-career