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Nurse Managers Seek Job Candidates Who Are ‘Good Fits’

Monday March 8, 2010
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Job candidates who stand out to hiring managers ask questions about the facility, project confidence and verbalize their passion for nursing. But applicants ultimately decide for themselves if they are a “good fit” for open positions, nurse managers say. To help candidates determine if they are right for positions, hiring managers take them on unit tours, propose opportunities to excel and share organizational perks, such as tuition reimbursement. From common goals to team spirit, New York and New Jersey hiring managers share what job seekers should take into account before signing on the dotted line.


Jeanine Gordon, RN
Jeanine Gordon, RN, MSN, OCN, nurse leader, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion, New York, N.Y.

Candidates who describe themselves as team players, have excellent communication skills and ask good questions during the interview have always stood out in my mind. I also am fond of candidates who communicate their ability and desire to provide patient-centered care to our patients and their families.

I believe when hiring a candidate it’s not only important to discuss what job I need the candidate to do, but also what our institution can do for the candidate. I like to inform candidates about my institution’s commitment to excellence, not only to our patients, but also to the staff. I inform them that we are committed to their own professional growth and development and share with them information about our shared governance model, our tuition reimbursement benefit and our professional practice model.

I believe oncology nursing is dynamic and affords nurses many opportunities for learning and professional growth. It also allows the nurse to provide compassionate care and build long-lasting relationships at many points throughout the continuum for patients and their families.


Maryann Maffei, RN
Maryann Maffei, RN, MS, clinical nurse manager, ED, Hudson Valley Hospital Center, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.

During the interview process, I am always impressed with candidates who exhibit an attitude of caring and confidence. I believe that to be a high-performing employee, candidates need to have a passion for what they are doing. An RN needs to be caring to ease patients’ concerns and enable them to deal with their condition.

The most important things I share with candidates is the culture on our unit, expectations of the staff and unit management, and a true picture of what the job will be like. It is extremely important for candidates to know the rewards and challenges of a unit to determine if it is the right fit for them.

Geriatrics is a growing field that offers many career opportunities. A nurse must have the ability to understand our aging population in this growing field. Nursing opportunities also exist in acute care, end of life, outpatient services and home health.


Peter Stalter, RN
Peter Stalter, RN, director of critical care, Northern Dutchess Hospital, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Over the past six months, the trait that has stood out for me in potential candidates is their zeal and enthusiasm for their profession. Whether new graduate nurses or seasoned veterans, they radiate their love and passion for nursing. This is encouraging to me in the respect that it shows that nursing is indeed alive and growing.

The most important thing I share with candidates to help them decide if the position is the right fit for them is the culture of our existing staff. We function as a family, we respect and support one another, and we challenge one another to be the best nurses we can possibly be. If they can understand and embrace that philosophy, then the potential for a good fit is there.

I believe emergency nursing has the potential for the most career opportunities. However, in the shadow of healthcare reform, there will be many new opportunities in case management, chart review and healthcare reimbursement. For a nurse with good clinical and documentation skills and compassionate patient care, there will always be an opportunity for employment.


Sally Leeds, RN
Sally Leeds, APRN, MSN, BC, OCN, nurse manager, inpatient oncology and outpatient infusion, JFK Medical Center, Edison, N.J.

I find the most important quality or trait is how well the applicant can communicate their passion for the profession and the particular specialty for which he or she is applying. I want a candidate to show me he or she is capable of caring for patients who are in need of physical care, as well as emotional, psychological and spiritual guidance. Because we are specialized in oncology, I look for applicants with sensitivity, compassion and insight in caring for patients and their family members.

The most important things I share with candidates is what is expected of them and ask them what they expect from me as their manager. I want both of us to feel that it is a right “fit,” that we both share the same goals and expectations. Additionally, I explain to candidates that they are life-long students because they have entered a profession of constant learning, whether they are obtaining a higher degree, maintaining a certification in specialty or attending local CEU offerings.

I do not believe there is any one specialty of nursing that has more career opportunities than another. Nursing is a profession with many possibilities. A new graduate has the opportunity to soak up knowledge and experience, so when they find the area they want to pursue they will feel an inner passion that will lead them in that direction.


Wayne Christie, RN
Wayne Christie, RN, MSN, director of nursing, New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A keen understanding of the importance of patient-family satisfaction is one of the things I look for in candidates. Of course, clinical competence needs to be evident and demonstrated as well as a long-term commitment to professional growth and development with our hospital. These have stood out with the past few applicants I interviewed.

With all candidates, I communicate a sense of the culture of our hospital and why a safe, caring competent nurse would be encouraged to be part of our team. Priority is placed on customer service, interpersonal skills, excellent attendance, punctuality and a strong focus on consistently improving the quality of nursing care. It is important nurses are able to use the technology that makes up our clinical information/documentation system. These are emphasized to help nurses decide if this hospital is the right fit for them and vice versa.

Med/surg nursing is the ideal starting point for the new graduate nurse. It’s a specialty that provides a base for opportunities in other specialties, and, in my opinion, offers the most career opportunities. It is certainly the one specialty through which many nurses begin their careers.


Diane Perez, RN
Diane Perez, RN, MSN, nurse manager, med/surg and oncology, Chilton Memorial Hospital, Pompton Plains, N.J.

When I interview a potential employee, I always consider the person’s experience. However, I think it is critical to get a sense of how the employee will fit into the unit’s framework and how he or she will fit into the culture of the shift for which they are being hired.

It’s important to get the nurse’s sense of enthusiasm for nursing and the position at hand, as well as their openness to learning and change. To help the interviewee, I discuss the types of patients and most common diagnoses on the unit. I talk about shift routines and projects that are unit priorities, and listen to how the person speaks to those points. I describe the orientation process, the role and responsibilities of their preceptor, manager and charge nurse, how the unit routinely shares communication, and take them on a tour.

The highly specialized areas in nursing usually are harder to fill, such as the OR or ED, but I believe med/surg can offer the most opportunities for nurses, especially for beginning practitioners. Because of the varied population in terms of age and diagnoses, a nurse can learn and develop a wide variety of skills and discover other specialty areas of interest.


Carol John-Carbon, RN
Carol John-Carbon, RN-BC, MSN, patient care manager, BLHC Patient Care Services, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center Health Care System, Bronx, N.Y.

As the patient care manager of a high functioning and challenging ventilator/pulmonary unit, I seek out applicants who are able to anticipate questions and whose responses evoke conviction and confidence. I look for applicants who say their strengths are teamwork and a great work ethic.

When asked “Tell me why I should hire you and not the other person,” the applicant who responds by saying, “I deserve to be here, I am hard working, highly motivated and eager to prove to you that you have made the best choice” is who I look to hire.
I give them an overview/tour of the unit and the clientele we serve to help them solidify their decision. I also outline my expectation of them if hired functioning as a registered professional under my supervision. Lastly, I share with them my work experience as a staff nurse on the same unit I now manage, which gives them the feeling anything is possible and that opportunities to excel are present.

Critical care seems to have the most career opportunities now, as we are seeing a sicker generation of patients who require intensive care treatment modalities. It’s quite evident when all of the critical care beds are occupied with others still waiting to come into the ICUs.


Patti Orlak, RN
Patti Orlak, RN, MSN, nurse manager, cardiac interventional unit, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center

During the interview process, I look for a certain openness and honesty in the applicant’s responses. A candidate who is intelligent and willing to learn can be taught the clinical aspects of the position. However, we cannot change his or her attitude and personality. I look for candidates who will be patient advocates and advocates for the medical center and profession.

Applicants who can freely discuss their strengths and what they will bring to the team stand out during the interview process. I let candidates know about the fast pace of our unit, the facility’s expectations of high-quality patient care and the high expectations of their colleagues.

I believe med/surg nursing has the most career opportunities. These career opportunities lead not only to upward growth but also to specialization at the bedside.

Glenda M. Miranda, RN, nurse manager, ED, St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, N.Y.

I look for someone who can express a love of nursing either through words or emotions. I need to feel their passion. I also look for emotional maturity, intelligence and strength of character.

After I speak with them and give them a tour, I have them spend time in the department. I tell them to ask the staff any questions and to see what the workload is like. A lot of people think they want to work in an ED, but after an hour or so in there they decide to try something else. I tell them they must make an informed decision and they can only do that by gathering information from me, the staff and the ED environment.

I believe nursing offers many options, and I may be prejudiced, but I think emergency nursing offers many opportunities. You see all different types of illnesses which can help you decide if you like a particular specialty. Additionally, ED nurses are seen as able to “think on their feet” and work independently. They have to have excellent assessment skills to be able to focus in on the real medical issue.


Tracey Boyd and Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, are regional reporters. Send letters to the editor to editorNY@nursingspectrum.com or comment below.
RN Employment Growth

Because of technological advances in patient care and increased preventive care, The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts RN employment will grow by 22% from 2008 to 2018.

The following is how they project those growth rates will be distributed.

• Physician offices.....................48%

• Home healthcare services......33%

• Nursing care facilities.............25%

• Employment services.............24%

• Hospitals, public and private..17%