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Nursing - Fall 2011

The full version of the Fall 2009 CAPSScoop for the School of Nursing can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

What to Expect from a Nursing Job Interview

“The Best Career Advice I Have Ever Been Given”


What to Expect from a Nursing Job Interview

By Julie Fréchette, N., M.Sc. (HR), CHRP Jewish General Hospital- Nursing Recruitment and Retention

Marc, final year Nursing Student, has a job interview booked next Tuesday 14:00 at a Montreal University Teaching Hospital for a CPN position (Candidate for the Profession of Nursing). Marc has been told to prepare for the interview and since he was really nervous during the initial phone call from his potential employer, he didn’t ask what “preparing” meant and he really has no clue.

For all the Marcs out there who are left mystified by the idea of their first professional interview, following is some information on what to expect from a Nursing job interview.

Next Tuesday…


  • Marc dresses professionally (no jeans, no T-shirts, no pajamas, no nursing uniforms… NO to anything that he could potentially wear at his local pub).
  • Marc prints 3-4 copies of his CV so he may provide it if the interviewers do not have it readily accessible.
  • He brings a list of 2-3 references that he has contacted in advance and that are expecting a phone call from his potential employer (he includes their name, relationship with him and their contact info). Marc has included his former employer and his favorite teacher.
  • Marc reviews his notes concerning the unit of care he is applying for (he should have started sooner ideally…)

13:45: Marc is greeted by a receptionist and asked to wait for the interviewers to call him. Marc sits down, takes a few deep breaths and spends a few minutes reviewing his CV.

14:00: Marc is invited into the conference room where two interviewers are present (depending on the institution, it might be members of the Human Resources Department or the Nursing Leadership). Marc gives them a firm and dry handshake. He distributes his CV if needed.

14:05: The interviewers introduce themselves and explain the interview process (some will describe the Hospital and the unit of care more in detail at this point).

14:10: The interviewers ask Marc general questions, such as:

  • Tell us more about yourself.
  • What has attracted you to the field of nursing?
  • What are your long-term objectives?
  • What is your philosophy of care?
  • Why do you wish to work for our Hospital?

(Marc takes this opportunity to share his enthusiasm and passion for Nursing. He also talks about his excellent experiences during his student placement at the Hospital.)

14:20: The interviewers ask Marc knowledge-based questions, such as:

  • Can you name two side-effects associated with chemotherapy?
  • Please describe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in your own words.
  • What are potential complications associated with prematurity?

14:30: The interviewers ask Mark situation-based questions, such as:

  • Case Scenarios: You enter a patient’s room and find him unresponsive. How do you react? Case scenarios are meant to “simulate” real-life situations and usually target the following essential competencies: attention to safety, critical thinking, team spirit and conflict resolution.
  • Past Experiences: Can you tell us about a patient situation you found particularly challenging during your nursing stages? How were you able to deal with these challenges?

14:45: The interviewers ask Marc a general question in French (in English if the interview was in French), such as:

  • Est-ce que tu as une base en français ?

14:50: The interviewers ask Marc for his references. They tell him that he should receive a response concerning the interview outcomes within about a week. They briefly explain the next steps in the hiring process.

14:55: The interviewers ask Marc if he has any questions. Marc asks:

  • What is the Nurse/Patient ratio on your unit?
  • Do you offer preparation courses for the OIIQ exam?
  • How long is the orientation period?
  • Is there a possibility of working 12-hour shifts?
  • Are there Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), Nurse Educators, Resource Nurses and/or Nurse Experts to support the learning of new nurses?

15:00: The interviewers thank him for his time and his interest in working for their institution. Marc thanks the interviewers for meeting with him and reiterates his desire to join their Hospital. Marc gives them another firm and dry handshake.

Marc’s interview has just finished and maybe yours is next, so don’t forget to prepare for the interview! I wish you the best of luck in your interviews and your new careers.

“The Best Career Advice I Have Ever Been Given”

By Peter Halprin, Bachelor of Arts '06

The "Best Career Advice I Have Ever Been Given" comes from my grandmother. She said that we live in the world of the owl - "who, who, who." In other words, while what you know is important, who you know is critical to getting you to the place where you can demonstrate what you know. It makes sense. In this modern era, where a job posting can result in thousands of people sending resumes as soon as it is posted, it is very hard for persons making hiring decisions to differentiate between candidates. This is especially true where many of the candidates are highly qualified and have similar credentials or backgrounds.

How does one wade through such a pile or decide between similar candidates? The world of the owl. Applicant A asks his mentor/parent's friend/relative/former employer/best friend's parent, who works at this hypothetical company, to put in a good word with the person in charge of hiring. Applicant B, though equally qualified, does not engage in networking nor attempt to find someone within the organization who can help. Applicant A is more likely to be hired than Applicant B because, in the eyes of the hiring personnel, Applicant A is more of a known quantity. Someone who is trusted by the hypothetical company trusts Applicant A and thus, in turn, the organization has trust in Applicant A. Applicant B need not fret. Applicant B will find something but Applicant B is more likely to be treated like Applicant A in their career search if they build a network.

Building a network is a painstaking process and the gains will not be felt overnight. Over time, however, a person with a network will succeed in whatever their desired career, regardless of whether that network is in the same field. The best way to build a network is to join professional associations and groups of likeminded individuals. Most of these individuals also are interested in developing a network and they are just as eager to meet you as you are to meet them.

A similar way to build a network is to think about your goal and then to find every individual who is currently in your dream position. Read up on them, find out how they got to where they need to be and then contact them. Tell them who you are and what you want to know and meet them for lunch. While not everyone will respond, some will and enough will that will help you get to where you need to go. They, in turn, may suggest other people for you to meet and associations that you may want to join. The point of this digression is that Applicant B can become Applicant A even if Applicant B lacks the network that Applicant A was born into and grew up within. As the world gets more populous, my grandmother's words ring truer - "who, who, who."


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