Questions and answers are the basis of every interview. Making the jump from LPN to RN is no different. Your interviewer asks you questions, and you try to answer them professionally. You ask your interviewer questions, and they give you information you need on the position. The details of these exchanges are paramount to getting a job as an RN. Your answers need to demonstrate what the interviewer is looking for in a candidate, and your questions need to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the position. We researched and found the best questions and answers for any RN interview. This information is great for new graduates, and nurse veterans alike. Some of the answers may surprise you, no matter how many years you’ve been going to interviews.
Best Answer Strategies for LPN to RN Interview Questions
Before we begin, you should know the methods behind nursing interviews. Most nurse recruiters and nurse hiring managers use what is called “behavioral interviewing”. This method of interviewing encourages the interviewer to present statements, not questions. The statements will prompt you to give specific examples of how you behaved in the past. A common behavioral statement is, “Tell me about a time that you had to handle an angry customer.”
A behavioral interview will likely start with small talk and some questions about your work history. The interviewer will then move onto general statements like, “Tell me about yourself.” Finally, the interviewer will move into behavioral statements.
Virginia Tech created a technique for answering these questions called S.T.A.R. You begin by describing the Situation and Task. Then you move onto the Action you took and the following Results. Here are the most common behavioral statements, and how you can prepare to answer them using S.T.A.R.
“Give an example of a time you did a good job as an RN.”
- Situation: A specific situation in which you, and only you, directly contributed to the well being of a patient. This should be one of your “shining moments” as a nurse. If you are a new graduate from an LPN to RN program, you can ask your interviewer for permission to use an example from your time as an LPN. Usually this example will come from your experience working as an LPN.
- Task: The task that you were given to assist the patient. This task can be big or small, but the way that you approached it should be impressive.
- Action: Describe exactly what you DID to take on the situation and task. This action should be an example that showcases your ability to go above and beyond for a patient. It should demonstrate your passion for nursing.
- Results: Tell your interviewer the solid and tangible results of your actions. Make sure to be as specific as possible. Avoid being vague. The results of what you did for this question should be something that you are very proud of.
“Describe a difficult problem you faced on a clinical rotation, and how you resolved it.”
- Situation: This situation should be one that you did not directly contribute to. If you are the one that caused the difficult problem in the situation you are thinking of using – do NOT use it. A good situation would be one that was out of your hands. A situation in which a patient had a particularly difficult medical condition would be a good example.
- Task: Describe what you were told to do to assist with the problem. Again, this can be big or small.
- Action: The specific action that you took that resolved the problem. If the situation was difficult, you may have taken many actions to try and resolve it. Instead of describing everything that you tried, only describe what you did that worked. You can simply say “After trying everything I could think of, I decided to be more innovative. This is what I did that worked.”
- Results: The results of your problem solving should be the main focus of your answer. Describe exactly how your resolution to the problem was efficient, effective, and innovative. Make sure that you include exactly how your patient and team benefited directly from what you did.
“Describe a conflict you had with a coworker, and what you did about it.”
- Situation: It is extremely important that you choose this situation carefully. The conflict should be of a professional nature, not personal. You also do NOT want to describe a conflict in which you were in the wrong. Try to find a conflict that was purely professional, in which you were in the right, that ended with a better patient outcome. If you are an LPN to RN graduate, you can choose a situation from you experience as an LPN.
- Task: The task for this situation will usually be one that you gave yourself as a result of the conflict. In rare cases, it will be one that your manager or professor may have given you to resolve the issue.
- Action: The action that you took to resolve the conflict is where you should place the focus of your answer. Your interviewer wants to know what YOU did specifically to resolve a conflict with a peer. Your action should reflect professionalism, empathy, and humility. Be careful that you do not come off condescending or resentful over the conflict.
- Results: The results of the action you took should always be positive. Ideally, the results are a better patient outcome, or a more efficient method of patient care.
Keep in mind that these statements may be worded differently than they are worded here. The basic concepts are always the same. Your interviewer will want you to describe…
- How you have gone above and beyond for your patients.
- How you have innovated in the face of difficulty.
- How you have remained professional and humble during conflict.
Key Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
At the end of your interview, your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions about the position. As we said before, asking questions at the end of the interview demonstrates that you’re genuinely interested in the position. It’s a good idea to create a list of questions to ask your interviewer. You should have this list ready and memorized before the interview begins.
Many resources suggest you ask questions that make you seem knowledgeable about the position. This is a great method for approaching an interview. However, if it's done incorrectly, it can cost you the respect of your interviewer. The questions used in this method sometimes ONLY make you seem knowledgeable. They generally lack any actual interest in the subject of the question. Your interviewer can easily pick up on that. In the best cases it can make you seem like you’re trying to sweeten them up. In the worst cases it can make you come off as a know it all.
For that reason, it’s very important to pick interview questions that serve two purposes. The first purpose is the most important, getting information on the position that you genuinely want to know. The second purpose is to demonstrate that you know what the position entails. For example, let’s say you’re applying to a family clinic. You can ask simple questions about the average amount of patients per day, who you’ll work with directly, and the details of daily duties that aren’t included in the job description. You can even ask for a tour of the facility, if it seems appropriate to the setting.
You should make a special note here that there are some questions that you should NEVER ask during an interview. You may genuinely want to know some information but it’s often best to ask those questions once an offer has been made and negotiations have started. Read on for more information on this.
5 Questions to NEVER Ask During an RN Job Interview
1. “How much money will I make? What will my benefits be?”
This is a highly unprofessional question to ask during an interview. You may want to know the salary and benefits of the position. Most candidates do. The problem is that interviewers often don’t have that information ready yet. Even if they did have the information ready, it would be a terrible business practice to reveal what the estimated budget is before negotiations have started. From a business standpoint, this question could cost them money. Asking it too early lacks tact, and can come off as rude. Always wait to talk about the salary and benefits until you have an offer on the table that is open to negotiation.
2. “Did I get the job?”
The truth is that your interviewer really doesn’t know if you’ve gotten the job. That is unless they are the sole person responsible for budgeting, hiring, training, and managing staff. Your interviewer is going to need to consult with other people before deciding if you’re the person for the job. On top of this, you’re probably not the last person they’re going to interview that week. They could like you and want to hire you, but it’s very possible that they’ll interview someone right after you who simply has a better rapport with them. They will always let you know if you’ve gotten the job. They will say it directly, and in no uncertain terms.
3. “Do I have to take a drug test? Do you do background checks?”
Even if you are worried about it, do NOT ask your interviewer these questions. Generally, the only reason someone asks this question is if they’re worried about the results. If you are worried about failing a drug test to get employed you may want to seek assistance. There are special rehabilitation programs specifically designed for nurses. They are completely confidential, and your interviewers will never know that you had to participate in them. All you have to do is contact your state’s board of nursing for more information.
4. Any question about the company that can be easily found online or in the job posting.
These questions are often asked to appear more interested in the place you’re applying to. However, the information is freely available to anyone. By asking these questions, you’ve essentially just told your interviewer that you didn’t do your research beforehand.
5. Any question about the position that is already detailed in the job description.
These questions are also used to appear more interested in the position. They give the interviewer the same impression: that you didn’t do your research. Read all materials provided to you about the position very closely. That way you can avoid seeming like you don’t know what you’re applying for.
Remember to Thank Your Interviewer
There are two times that you should always thank your interviewer. First, at the end of your interview as you are leaving. Second, with a handwritten note or email sent within 24 hours after the interview. There is no need to over-do the thank yous with fancy language or formalities. Try to speak from the heart, and thank your interviewer for the opportunity that they’ve provided to you. Keep in mind that even if you didn’t get the job – your interviewer spent their time and effort carefully choosing you out of probably a hundred applicants. That means that you should be grateful, genuine, and warm with what you choose to say.
Good luck, nurses. Go have a great interview!
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