At The New Grad Nurse Interview: Be a storyteller

how to get a new grad nurse job - be a storyteller Your interviewer loves stories. In fact, you love stories. Everyone loves stories. So it only makes sense to become a great storyteller. To secure your first job as a nurse, you have to perfect the art of storytelling. About yourself.

I royally screwed up telling the story about myself. Twice! My first interview, I wasn’t prepared at all and just said whatever came to my head. My second interview, I didn’t focus my story about being a clinical nurse and drifted off into ‘health policy’ –that was a no-no.

I got better after learning the hard way. For my third interview, I started to focus my answers and got the job at a nursing home. By the time my current employment interviewed me — my fourth and fifth interview — I had some real nursing experience and relied on that to come up with some great stories.

So what’s the difference between a tale and a story?

A tale is simply stating something that happened. People don’t usually care about what happened. However, a story has a moral, a meaning, a takeaway point to it. We care about the 3 major things – the ‘bad situation’, the ‘thing you did to make it better’, and the ‘aftermath.’

Here’s an example for a question: Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation.

A tale: a women wouldn’t take her medications. Later she did after I convinced her.

A story: a women wouldn’t take her medications. After thinking about why she wouldn’t, I realized that she wanted more control over what was happening to her. Instead, I gave her a choice and asked her, “would you like to take your medications in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” She replied, “in 10 minutes. Thank you.” 10 minutes later, I went back to her to give her medications and she took them like a champ. Giving her the options allowed her to gain some control but not complete free-reign. This compromise allowed me to accomplish my goal (to give her meds) and made the patient happy.

Here’s another example: Tell me about your greatest strength.

A tale: I ask a ton of questions because I always want to learn.

A story: As a new nurse, I know that I have a lot to learn. I understand that sometimes I will be asked to do something that I’ve never done before but I am not afraid to ask questions to make sure that I’m competent the next time it comes up. I wasn’t sure how to put someone on a bedpan so I asked the ancillary staff. The next time I did it with someone. Another time I wasn’t sure if I heard the breath sounds correctly so I asked another nurse to confirm what they heard. Asking questions is my strength and understand that this is key to learning fast.

Here are some common questions. Think of your clinical experiences and come up with a story for each question.

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • What made you interested in nursing?
  • What do you like about nursing?
  • What was your favorite clinical rotation? Why? (please relate this directly with the position you applied for)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to delegate.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to problem solve.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Do you have plans on going back to school?
  • Tell me about ‘x’ experience that you wrote about on your resume.

Work on becoming a great storyteller and you’ll find that you’ll use this skill over and over again during every handoff report. And hopefully you’ll get a job offer! Good luck! Let me know if you have something crafted but would like a little help looking it over.

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I wrote this article as a part of the “Most Marketable Skills” Campaign on Webucator. I have to thank Bob Cleary for letting me be a part of the campaign! While I personally haven’t utilized their resources, they look helpful! Currently they are offering a free Microsoft Word 2013 class that involves learning about advanced formatting, using Word 2013 drawing tools, creating and managing tables, and working with column layouts. Each month they offer a new free course, so check it out even after this post is long done.

In case you missed the campaign, here are some of the other blogger’s input:

Achieving Success in the workplace – What is your most marketable skill? by @cjperadilla

What makes you marketable by @amandastrav

Self Brand Marketing : Social Proof To Boost Your Career by @CustomerRivet

Preparing for the workforce: Why learning to write well is worth your while by @moses_says

The Success of Mimicking by @Lbee27

Med-Surg to ICU Interview Questions

I’m so excited to announce that I was recently accepted into the MICU (medical intensive care unit) at my hospital! Critical care class starts in 2 days and I just finished my last shift on the telemetry med-surg and orthopedic unit!! I loved my team there– the people are truly incredible. The CCPs, PCAs, management, my fellow night nurses and day nurses made my time there truly amazing. It felt like a great teamwork every night, making sure essential things get done and always going above and beyond. 🙂

One year ago, I started at a nursing home for a month. 11 months ago, I started at the hospital on the telemetry unit. My hospital is having some of our ICU nurses go to another hospital in the system to build up their units so this great opportunity came up for me to go work in the ICU.

Fortunately, the interview was a “formality” but it’s no excuse not to prepare! With nearly a year of experience under my belt, it was much easier to come up with experiences showing my leadership. And remember, people relate to specific STORIES more than generalities! Here is a list of questions the nurse manager asked me.

  1. May I see your resume? (Asks questions on the resume especially regarding additional schooling aka your future plans and previous experience)
  2. What made you interested in coming to the ICU?
  3. How has your experience prepared you?
  4. What kind of drips have you used?
  5. Have you called a RRT or a neuro RRT or code before? What happened? What was that like?
  6. Describe a busy night for you.
  7. If you have several things going on, how do you deal with that? (Delegation and priority- give specific examples where this came in handy!))
  8. How do you keep your ancillary staff accountable? Do you always or only sometimes have huddles? Do you meet up with them again? How do you make sure they do what you asked them to?
  9. What do you do when you’re unsure of something?
  10. What is a strength you have? A weakness?
  11. What have you heard about this unit?
  12. Do you have any questions for me? (The answer is always yes and you ask questions!! Such as the type of patients, the ratio, the professional nursing organization, scheduling, etc)

I hope this helps! If you have heard of additional questions, I’d be happy to add in more to get a more comprehensive list. And happy thanksgiving to everyone!! I have a lot to be thankful for, including the readers who have given me positive feedback through emails, comments, and likes. 🙂 so thank you!!!