Few things generate as much anxiety and stress as job hunting. If a nurse practitioner (NP) job interview looms on your horizon, this guide was created for you! With insights from Graig Straus, CEO and founder of Rockland Urgent Care Family Health, we've listed common NP interview questions, highlighted what hiring managers look for in candidates, and offer some tips for success.
6 Common Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions
Interview questions seek to unearth an applicant's specific traits, skills, and experiences and help hiring managers determine whether a candidate would be a good fit for the position. Interviews also let job seekers glean information about their potential employer. Compiled by hiring managers, including Straus, the following six questions are typically asked in an NP interview.
Your responses to these questions can set you apart from other applicants. Continue reading to learn how.
1. What clinical experiences were you exposed to during nursing school?
Interviewers usually ask about the clinical portions of your nurse practitioner training to ensure that you hold the necessary skills and experience for the job.
"Employers want to see the variety of cases you have been exposed to, and the care you will be able to provide," advises Straus. "If experiences are related to the field you're applying to, then this would give you a high chance of employment."
2. What was your patient flow like?
Employers ask this question to find out whether the patient flow at your current or former positions functions similarly to theirs. They also look for answers that demonstrate how you prioritize your patient load, particularly during busy periods, and how you function under stress. A highly effective answer can include an example of how you have handled competing patient flow demands.
3. How long have you been an NP and what is your experience?
Interviewers want to see evidence of strong NP skills and the ability to care for their patients, along with an understanding of cost-effective and properly administered care.
"Employers want to know that the skills you have can transfer from one background to your new opportunity," Straus says. "Be completely honest about your skill set. Nobody wants to hire a provider and then have to train them into their new role from scratch."
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This popular question tells interviewers whether your goals align with what the employer has to offer, and which specialty areas or patient populations interest you the most. Researching the employer can help you answer this question in a way that portrays you as a good fit for the job. Your answer should also indicate whether you're looking for a longer-term position or just passing through.
As Straus explains, "Determine if you're going to be an 'ancillary' or a main provider. What I mean by this is, if you're working in a practice, are you being hired in place of another provider, or as someone to just help out the overflow or excess cases."
5. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
Similar to the common interview question, "What are your weaknesses?" this request shows interviewers how you learn from your mistakes to improve your job performance. Describe a situation where you were able to turn the tide from negative to positive. If there's time, follow up with a different situation where you were able to apply what you learned.
6. Why do you want to become a nurse practitioner?
Employers want to see a passion for and commitment to nursing. A powerful way to convey both is through a story or anecdote detailing how you were inspired to pursue a career in nursing, earn an advanced degree, and become an NP. Interviewers are more likely to remember a story with personal details.
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What Interviewers are Looking For
An interview for an NP position differs from an RN interview in scope and content, focusing more on advanced nursing skills, patient care experience, leadership, and specialization areas.
As Straus explains, "As an NP you're a provider, you're seeing patients and making money for the practice. As a nurse, you're carrying out tasks to make the office and patient care run smoothly."
Straus suggests that interviewees highlight certain skills and experiences, including case scenarios, which, he says, "Allow the employers to judge your critical thinking skills and care management."
Talking about case scenarios also lets the employer judge your use of resources and competencies in care. Employers also look for timely and accurate charting, basic coding knowledge, emotional intelligence, management skills, and clinical judgment.
Tips for Success
Hiring managers often provide tips for success that can help you sail through your interview, such as thoroughly researching the employer, practicing responses to questions, formulating questions to ask the interviewer, and staying relaxed with self care.
When responding to questions, many interviewers recommend using the STAR method to structure and focus your answers. The acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result. Using STAR effectively integrates personal experiences and details, as follows:
- Situation: Describe a challenge you have faced or a problem you needed to solve.
- Task: Provide context by summarizing your role or job duties within the situation.
- Action: Tell the interviewer how you used your skills and experience to meet the challenge or solve the problem.
- Result: Discuss the outcomes of your actions and what you learned from the experience.
In addition to composing answers to common questions, avoid getting caught flat-footed if the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Possible questions include:
- How would you describe the unit's/office's culture?
- What types of NPs thrive in this position?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
You can also relax and feel more confident by conducting a mock interview with a friend or relative. Finally, getting a good night's sleep, staying well fed and hydrated, and using relaxation methods like meditation, exercise, or music can keep nerves at bay.
Get ready to ace your interview by employing the following strategies:
Meet Our Contributor
Graig Straus is the CEO and founder of Rockland Urgent Care Family Health NP, P.C. and has been in the nursing field for over 15 years. He currently serves as a clinical adjunct professor for various esteemed universities and has precepted over 100 nurse practitioner students. He has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, and Monster.com. His specialties include emergency medicine, clinical education, and helping the novice nurse practitioner succeed.
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