Interview tips for graduate nurses

Written by Helen Le

For 3rd year nursing students, the time is approaching where you will soon be at applying for new grad opportunities and hopefully receiving invitations for interviews.

Here at Healthcare HQ, we understand that interviews can be extremely nerve-racking especially when it’s your first. However, with some preparation, practice and a few tips, you’ll have a much higher chance of your interview being a success. Here are some tips for before, during and after an interview.

Pre Interview

What to wear

Unless there is a specific standard of attire, smart-casual or a more formal suit is recommended. First impressions matter, therefore a candidate dressed in a smart casual or a suit is going to make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in jeans or weekend wear. Wear something that is not only corporate but also comfortable, as you want to be as confident as possible.


Brainstorm skills and qualities you have that you can bring to the table. It may be helpful to also ask friends and family to affirm or add to the list of skills and qualities you possess. Listing and elaborating on these characteristics are important as it sets you apart from other candidates, so don’t sell yourself short!

Make sure to read up on the Selection Criteria available on the NSW Health website. This may, after all, be the very tool used to assess you as a candidate.

During the interview, interviewers may ask about the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia competency standards and how you will implement them in your work. Do your best to study up on them to demonstrate your knowledge in providing safe and competent care. 

Research your prospective employers as well as their Graduate Transition Program. Doing so will not be informative & valuable for you personally, but will also indicate your knowledge and passion to the employer, giving you a competitive advantage.

Where you can and where appropriate, provide examples of clinical situations you have been in which relate to the question you have asked. The interviewer/s generally love to hear examples provided whether that be from your clinical placements or perhaps you’ve been working within the industry while at uni.

The interviewer may ask also questions based on your behaviour and competency to fulfil the position, your adherence to CORE Values (Collaboration, Openness, Respect and Empowerment) and clinical problem solving or scenario questions to assess your decision-making skills. These scenarios are often based on a busy ward environment and may go something likes this:

You have four patients within your care, one patient is showing signs of aggression, one is requesting for their test results, one is feeling dizzy and light headed and the last patient is experiencing a mild reaction to medications. Who will you prioritise and why?

Practice! Practice as much as you can with family and friends in terms of the selection criteria, competency standards or showcasing your skills and qualities. Doing so will increase your confidence in preparing for the questions while also giving you feedback on how you can improve.

What to bring

Ensure you bring relevant documents according to the letter sent to you or the application or interview criteria. These will include proof of identity documents, nursing registration documentation, national police check evidence, immunisations and your Curriculum Vitae.

How to get there

Make sure to plan how you will get there in advance and account for delays in travel. A good idea would be to visit the place in advance if you’re unsure of where it is.

On the Day / The Interview

On the day, ensure you allow yourself enough time to get ready and make your way to your destination.

Ensure that your phone is on silent, or even better, turned off to avoid any disruption during the interview.

Do your best to try and relax, being stressed will show in your interview, so try out relaxation techniques or anything else that will help you put your mind at ease. Remember that it is perfectly okay to explain to the interviewer/s that you are feeling nervous.

Be conscious of your verbal and body language, express yourself in a friendly, open and professional manner. Giving eye contact is imperative and also respectful to your interviewer/s.

Don’t be afraid to ask further questions as it will show your dedication to the position and demonstrate your diligence to learn.

Post Interview

Finally, you’re all done! Thank the interviewer/s for their time and make sure you treat yourself afterwards to ease your mind. After that you’ll just have to wait. Try and not dwell on it!.

Good luck!

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