Common Nursing interview questions new graduate
Nursing has always been considered a ‘safe’ career choice, in that jobs were easy to come by and the sentiment ‘you’ll never have to look for work’ widely accepted. Now however, that has all changed, especially for graduate nurses. Throughout Australia, the competition for graduate positions has never been higher. A graduate job is far from guaranteed.
According to an Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation government submission, published this April, in 2014 an estimated 15% of all nursing and midwifery graduates Australia-wide will be left unemployed. In 2013, 60% of Tasmanian and 72% of Queensland graduates were unemployed, joining another 800 graduates in Victoria, 400 in Western Australia and 280 in South Australia. Given these numbers, the pressure to secure a graduate position is incredibly high. (You can read about my stress waiting to hear if I would be successful in gaining employment here.)
The question on every nursing students’ mind is “How can I maximise my chances of securing a graduate nursing position?” Hopefully, this post might give you some useful tips and advice.
I repeatedly hear students asking, “Are grades a determining factor in graduate selection?” with a common response being “no-one looks at them”. For a number of reasons I have to disagree with the sentiment that marks are not important. First and foremost, to be a safe and competent nurse, and avoid doing accidental harm to your patients, you need the sound knowledge and critical thinking skills which come through dedication to learning. Secondly, students on clinical placements who have this knowledge base and ability to ask pertinent questions make very good impressions on their supervising nurses and NUMs, impressions that can lead to positive references. Thirdly, your graduate interview will ask scenario-based questions, which to answer correctly and completely, you will need to draw on the knowledge you have gained throughout your studies.
Lastly, while not all organisations look at your over-all GPA, there are some that do, especially in the private sector. As competition for graduate jobs increases, I believe more and more organisations will look closer at grades. However, at the same time, these organisations are also realising that grades are not the only indicator of your knowledge and skills and are changing their recruitment processes to reflect this.
For example, the QLD Mater Health Services graduate recruitment is a four pronged approach, which includes a team activity, a role play activity, a one-on-one interview and a paper-based activity. This approach allows applicants to demonstrate a wide range of skills and competencies in different situations.
Taking all these points into account, while your official grades per se may not be a determining factor, what you learn during your degree, your ability to transfer this knowledge into practice and your critical thinking skills are what will help you stand out in graduate selections. So, in my opinion, preparation for securing a graduate position really starts from day one of your degree.
Clinical placements are an amazing opportunity for students, both for learning and making new connections. Every prac should be considered a job interview, especially those undertaken in your final year of studies. Turn up on time, be enthusiastic, work hard, and be mindful who you complain to about the hospital or previous placements – you will be surprised how small a world nursing really is.
Make the effort to introduce yourself to the NUM and personally thank them at the end of your placement. Making a good impression on prac can lead to a great reference, or even, down the track, a job offer.