How to Rock Your Nurse Practitioner Program Interview

By MidlevelU Intern and Aspiring Nurse Practitioner Ashley Prince

With NP program application deadlines coming to a close, it's time to start focusing on the next step of the application cycle: interviews. Personally, I stress a lot over interviews. I'm always worrying about coming up with the best answer, keeping my rambling in check, or getting caught off guard by an odd question. 

To ease my nerves, I attended an interview prep workshop here on OSU's campus where I was given the resources I need to prepare for any interview situation. Today, I thought I would share a few takeaways from the experience. Here are some of the top questions you might be asked in an interview:

1. "So, tell us about yourself"

Resist the urge to ramble on your life's story beginning at birth, don't even give an overview of your resume. The trick to this question is to get a little personal while remaining professional. Families and kids should stay out of the picture. Instead, bring up meaningful hobbies or things you're passionate about, as they can help portray you more as a person rather than just Interviewee#2. Once you've covered these, bring up your skills that make you a qualified applicant. Mention organizations you are involved in, projects you've led, and volunteering experiences that have helped get you to this point.

2. "What are your weaknesses?"

Personally, I've always thought that the standard "turning a negative into a positive" approach was lame and the interviewer will see right through it. Instead, I try to point out an actual time when I failed or a real weakness, and talk about what I learned from it. For example, I know I can be a reckless spender, especially now that I have a credit card. When I saw the situation get out of hand, I downloaded a budget app that helps me control my accounts and alerts me when I've spent beyond my limits for the month. I got the situation under control. This shows real problem solving and responsibility, much better than the "I'm just too organized" answer. 

3. "Why did you apply to our program?"

The interviewer knows that most people apply to many graduate programs, but when answering this question you need to show that this one program is your top choice. To successfully do this, a little background research is required. Does the school have great clinical placements? Is it known for its research on depression, when you want to specialize as a mental health nurse practitioner? Is it guided by religious principles that are right in line with yours? Bring these up. After all, if you don't show you're serious about the program, why should its faculty be serious about you?

4. "What is a health care issue of importance to you?"

By asking this question, the interviewer gets to analyze two things: your knowledge of current events in the health industry and what you're passionate about in the field. After all, in a few years you're going to be managing diseases and need to show that you are both willing and competent. It's wise to steer clear of hot button issues like abortion or the emerging dying with dignity bill, though. 

Finally, here are a few final tips for your next NP program interview:

  • While the adage "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" may be true, it's probably not the best idea to show up to your interview in scrubs.
  • Always bring multiple copies of your resume.
  • Show off your confidence, even if you're shaking inside. Look people in the eye, and give a strong handshake.
  • It's perfectly OK to say, "That's a great question, let me think about it for a minute" and take a beat to think over a confusing question. It's much better to pause than blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. 
  • My number one tip is to look at the interview as a conversation. Approaching it this way takes a lot of the pressure off and makes the meeting more enjoyable. 

 

What's the strangest interview question you've ever been asked? Let me know by posting a comment! (I was once asked "If you could be any room on campus, what room would it be?")

 

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