Interview 101

Interviews…We all had or will have them. First scratchy suit, first resume/CV (which lets be honest only consists of a short paragraph of work history), your first official interview.

Graduating nursing school, looking for a job, applying, interviewing then locking in a job. It’s that easy right? Wrong…. If it was that easy you wouldn’t be here right now reading this? I have interviewed, been interviewed, been involved in the process from beginning to end, in my career. I hope my experience will help make that journey for you a little bit easier.

You are a new graduate nurse, you want to get into a top notch new graduate nursing program or RN Residency program. You apply to multiple hospitals-you get an interview. You prepare, but the question is how much? You are either “A” the I’m going to prepare weeks to months in advance person. Or “B” you are the let’s wait until a day or two before your interview and pray that you make it out of the interview alive with no war wounds.  For your career sake let’s say you fall in the category of person “A”. As person “A”, you need to plan as far as advance as possible. Prepare. That’s the magic key. Let’s start at the beginning-this is just a overview covering some major points that you need for developing professional portfolio .  Portfolios are all similar but vary in content. I will cover some major points that can assist you when creating your own portfolio framework to help structure your portfolio in a concise manner.

Which include:

  • Curriculum Vitae-overview of someone’s past experience (i.e. education, work and other qualifications)
  • Cover Letter-a summerization of who you are, what you want and how you are the right person for the job
  • Achievements-which can include educational or professional achievements, a time to brag that’s what this is (i.e. did you receive any type of recognition award while in nursing school or professionally)
  • Consider additional things that you may want to include in your portfolio (i.e. copies of your licenses, certifications, projects that you have achieved that are applicable to the job you are applying for)
  • Recommendation Letters-this is important, if you are applying for pediatrics-get a recommendation from your pediatric professor/clinical instructor. Or if you are applying for the ICU, get a recommendation letter from your critical care professor/clinical instructor. Do you understand the direction this is taking? Work at getting recommendation letters that will help you for the job that you want. If I am applying for a nursing director position for example, why would I include a recommendation letter from from my old fast food manager-from a summer job that I had ten years ago. Remember, that the recommendation letter needs to add to your platform. This tells me as a manager if your application is worth considering.

I can not stress enough, you need to prepare. If you are a newbie (new graduate nurse), I have to admit it to you right now, in 2013 it is a tough market, if you are an experienced nurse it is much easier.  If you are applying to a new graduate RN program-you are competing against hundreds. Yes, I said hundreds. Here in California, I have seen applicants apply from all over the United States. You need to realize that these programs can have new hire openings from 15-40 (numbers varying on organizational need). These programs get hundreds, of applicants for these slots. For example, 23 (hypothetical) slots, an organization can have over 750 applications. Yes, this is realistic. With those numbers, you can’t help but think, odds are against you. They can be if you don’t prepare.

Get my drift? Prepare. You could and can have the advantage if you prepare. My desire isn’t to scare you out of applying, I want you to know what you are up against and what you need to do to overcome it. You can do it, I sound like a Nike ad don’t I? 🙂

So start your first step. Brian storm, develop a framework of what your portfolio will look like. Research what formats of portfolios are out there. I will add some links to some reputable educational sites that can aid you in the development process.

Congratulations, on your first step!!!


Pediatric Cardiology and I

Pediatric cardiology. Sounds death gripping, pee in your pants, terrifying doesn’t it?

Sweaty palms, increase in blood pressure, complete anxiety stricken. Yes, that was me. My world was turned upside down. I am a medical-surgical pediatric nurse. My specialty is knowing a glass-full of everything. Maybe even a pitcher full. The perfect way I describe a pediatric medical surgical nurse-they are the epitome of a medical dictionary. Let’s get back to my point (I get side tracked rather easily), Pediatric cardiology was not my forte. Yet, that is the world I chose to step into as a pediatric Cardiovascular Acute Care nurse. It fascinated me, like any child who wanted to learn how to ride a bike. But before riding off into the sunset with streamers attached, and maybe a squeaky horn on the handle bars. I needed training wheels. Did you catch that?

***T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G W-H-E-E-L-S***

Well nursing training wheels that is. I needed a source, rather a quick refresher and a way to successfully become “specialized”. Oh, all of your cardiac nurses, that breath and live it, my level of respect and awe doesn’t quite capture the remarkableness (is that even a word?) of all that you do on a daily basis. People just do not understand unless you’ve walked a unit in those Danskos. Ok, back to my training wheels. I needed to make sure that I found the perfect book. The book that everyone raves about. Especially if I was going to pay for it. I asked everyone what they recommended. What I found to be an absolute heaven sent is a quick reference hand pocket book. Everyone and anyone had this tucked away. Even the most experience nurses had a copy of this book. What about physicians? Even the physician residents, I have seen carry this book.

So what is this infamous book that I keep carrying on about? It’s called the Illustrated Field Guide to Congenital Heart Disease and Repair – Pocket Sized . This book was my nursing set of training wheels. This book helped me keep up and quickly learn what I needed to know in regard to some of the major pediatric congenital diseases. This book helped and and still does.

If you are reading this, you too are looking for your first set of nursing training wheels. I do hope this book can make your journey just a little bit on the easier side. It helped me prevent many lets eat the whole tub of ice cream type of evenings. If you too have any recommendations on books or gold sources of knowledge that have helped you on your cardiac journey-please feel to comment below!