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What will the interviewer be looking for in a job candidate transitioning from non-acute to acute care nursing?

Monday November 11, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I'm a new nurse with a year-and-a-half of experience working in home care and another setting, but not in the acute-care medical hospital. I want to work in a medical hospital, and I may be able to get an interview through a friend on a med/surg unit.

I have had unsuccessful interviews in the past, so I am particularly interested in knowing what the interviewer will be looking for in someone transitioning from non-acute to acute care?

Unsure interviewer

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Unsure Interviewer,

Although every interview and interviewer is different, it would be beneficial if you can demonstrate you have kept current with knowledge, skills and industry trends through continuing education (you'll find plenty of courses on the Nurse.com website at http://ce.nurse.com/) and by being active in professional associations. If you don't belong to any associations, mention you plan to join the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org) and/or the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (www.amsn.org). Then follow through after being hired.

Focus on the clinical skills and critical thinking skills you have developed in your current and past positions.

If you do not yet have a BSN (or even if you do), you also might mention your plan to return to school for higher education. This, and the advice in the above paragraphs will show your commitment to your own career and professional development.

Be sure to research the facility and mention specifically why you would like to work there (for example "they are a Magnet facility" or "they have a great reputation in the community or in med-surg" etc.).

Find out who will be interviewing you and look them up online, including LinkedIn so you know something about their background. This will show you have done your homework, are intelligent and savvy and are making an informed decision to work there.

Additionally, you must be ready to articulate your strong personal attributes and speak confidently about yourself and what you have to contribute.

Interviewing is an art and a science. Here are a few articles that will help you do your best: “Interview to knock their socks off” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Knock-Socks-Off), “Follow-up is good form” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Good-Form), and “Put your best foot forward for maximum impact” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Best-Foot-Forward).

For comprehensive advice on every aspect of competitively interviewing, read my book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” (ce.nurse.com/7250).

Best wishes,


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.