Top Questions to Ask the Interviewer About Your Next Nursing Job

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Job interviews may cause anxiety or feelings of nervousness, but they’re not meant to be interrogations. Rather, interviewees should see interviews as an opportunity to find out more about the position they applied to, just like the interviewer is trying to find out more about the person who applied.

At the end of most job interviews, the interviewer gives interviewees the opportunity to ask questions. This can often be the most difficult part of the interview! Thoughtfully crafted questions show that you are not only prepared and took the time to do research, but that you’re also genuinely interested in the opportunity.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Conduct research ahead of time on the topics you’d like to learn more about.
  • Ask open-ended, focused questions. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
  • Don’t try to stump the interviewer. The goal is to make a good impression and establish a rapport.

Good questions to ask about your next nursing job

What is a typical shift like for this position?

This is an important question to ask in order to get a better idea of the job duties the position entails. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests an additional perspective could come from someone who is already working as a physician or nurse on the unit where they’re trying to fill the vacancy.

The interviewee can ask more specifics like what’s the average number of calls and admissions they could expect to handle? It’s also helpful to ask the differences between overnight and day shifts since there’s a good chance of being put into both rotations as a new hire.

How often is staff promoted from within?

Employers admire employees who have aspirations to grow within a company. Asking questions about career trajectory or the possibility of a promotion signals to the interviewer they have an applicant who is ready to accept new challenges and is comfortable with taking on more responsibility in the future.

Another way to find out potential career trajectory at a new workplace is to ask the interviewer how they themselves got to their current position or how long they have worked at the company. The interviewee will come away with additional insight into a company’s atmosphere from an inside source. They may also find out if the company has any leadership development or mentoring programs already in place for employees.

In what ways are clinicians held accountable for high qualities of practice?

Knowing if there are programs such as pay-for-performance in place gives the interviewee additional insight on the work environment and what expectations they can expect from their supervisor. Pay-for-performance programs promote quality improvement, accountability, and affordability in healthcare.

How much input do clinicians have regarding systems, equipment, and the care environment?

Do clinicians have meaningful input into policy development and operational management of issues related to clinical quality, safety, and outcomes? This determines whether healthcare professionals can practice to their full potential. These are hallmark issues for baccalaureate and higher degree nurses according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

“I really am most pleased when a candidate asks specific questions to their specific job function,” said Justin Sycamore, DDS, who owns his own practice in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “The candidate is telling me that he or she is not only capable of doing his or her job function well but is also able to adapt it to work seamlessly into my style of philosophy and practice.”

Who is the ideal candidate for this position?

Many career experts recommend this question be worked into the beginning of the interview. This way, the applicant has a way to frame the rest of his or her responses with the employer’s employee vision in mind. If the interviewer is looking for someone who takes the initiative, it may be a good idea for the interviewee to mention some of his or her own visions or new ideas they have for the company or health system.

If the flow of the actual interview doesn’t provide an opportunity to do this without feeling awkward, the interviewee can include some suggestions in the post-interview email or handwritten thank-you letter.

What is your favorite thing about working here?

It’s a good idea for the interviewee to be genuinely interested in their prospective employer because in addition to meeting necessary qualifications, hiring decisions often come down to who the employer likes. When they are answering this question, it’s important for the interviewee to show interest and to come up with a follow-up question to show they were really listening.

Another option is to validate the interviewer’s anecdotes by mentioning a small detail at the end of the in-person interview. This is a chance for the interviewee to build a more casual rapport with the interviewer.

What’s your vision for this unit?

After developing a more relaxed rapport, the interviewee should feel more comfortable asking the next few questions including where they might see the company or health system going. This is especially important if the interviewer is the one who dictates the changes being made.

“I am most impressed when a candidate asks questions about the mission of our company,” said Vontrece Williams, senior manager of clinical research and operations at Levenson Eye Associates in Jacksonville, Fla. “When I find a candidate who is interested in not only what we do but why we do it, that is who we want to hire.”

What is your supervisory style?

The interviewee may have left another hospital or private practice because of a previous supervisor’s management style, making this a crucial question to ask and consider before accepting a job. Is the boss accessible or only around for a problem? Is he or she hands-on or more autonomous? What is the most important aspect of patient care to them?

What concerns or reservations do you have about me for this position?

If an interviewee knows of any concerns or reservations the interviewer may have about him or her, it gives them a chance to clarify their experiences or emphasize the fact they have learned from a mistake. Because of its effectiveness, this question landed a spot on LinkedIn’s list of 11 most important job interview questions to ask and was submitted by co-founder and chief revenue officer at online marketing company Yodle, John Berkowitz. He explained it shows employers the applicant truly cares about earning the role and excelling in the position if they do join the team.

Questions to avoid

Questions that start with “why”

Some experts recommend skipping the “why” questions because they tend to put people on the defensive. Rather than ask why there were so many layoffs within the company the previous year, reposition the question as, “I understand there were layoffs last year. What’s your take on the company’s positioning for the future?”

What is the salary?

“In my opinion, questions regarding salary and vacation are not appropriate for the first interview,” said Williams. “I can’t say this would be a definite deal breaker for me if up to this point they seemed to be a great candidate.” Other professionals share Williams’ opinion on questions regarding compensation.

It’s a safer bet is to reserve these queries for the very end of the hiring process. Most times the salary will be laid out in an official offer letter, but if the position is offered without salary being talked about, it’s acceptable to bring it up. Asking can help an applicant decide between two promising positions that may have comparable duties to see which one offers more money.

Download the 2018 Nursing Salary Guide

Will you monitor my social networking profiles?

This is a valid concern in today’s culture, but bringing it up makes it appear as though you have something to hide. Keep it simple and avoid posting anything about your about your company, coworkers, patients or employers anywhere online.

If the applicant is offered the position and has asked all of the necessary questions outlined above, he or she should be ready to make an informed decision on whether to take the new job.

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