Tips and Suggestions for an LPN Interview
It’s never so easy to appear for an interview without any preparation. For some job seekers, facing a panel of interviewers is a bewilder situation. However, there are ways to perform your level best during the interview. It is true that you can’t control the interviewer, the company, or the overall interview process. But, strategic planning and good preparation won’t only make you more confident but also increase your chances to get success.
Check out some of the most crucial tips and suggestions to ace the nursing interview and get your dream job.
We have all heard the phrases like “the first impression is the last impression,” “dress to impress,” and “dress for success.” These phrases show that how much your appearance matters during an interview. The way you dress during an interview usually gives a clear perception to the interviewer about you. Appearing in a professional, clean, and neatly ironed attire has its own advantages over appearing in casual outfits. Companies and interviewers strive to hire a potential, competent, and well-disciplined employee, and dressing properly does add many pluses to your profile.
Maybe some of the aspirants would want to appear in the ‘scrub’ since it’s the standard uniform for the practical nurses. However, appearing in a professional attire such as suit, tie, and pants might be more beneficial. Putting on a business attire makes you look professional and increases your confidence, as well. The clothes you wear should be well-fitted. Make sure your dress is clean and properly ironed, and it doesn’t make you look dull and filthy.
In the present scenario, the interviews are usually short and the interviewers make their best efforts to examine the aspirant as soon as possible. Hence, an immaculate professional look would surely lend a positive first impression. You should completely avoid drinking alcohol or smoking before the interview. The smell of smoke and alcohol is enough to turn off the mood of the interviewer instantly.
Arriving on the right time for the interview is as important as dressing properly. The best time to appear for the interview is 10 to 15 minutes earlier than your interview schedule. Showing up a bit early for the interview gives a clear idea to the interviewer that you are punctual as well as responsible. On the other hand, getting late might leave an impression of “an irresponsible person” in front of the interviewer. If the interviewer mentions your late coming, then you would have to make up an excuse. However, interviewers hear the abundance of excuses almost every day. Your excuse would just seem like another one of them; no matter, how genuine it is. Some interviewers might cancel the interview if you arrive very late.
Arriving early than the scheduled time is important. However, getting too early is not encouraged as well. Arriving too early may rush the interviewer to speed up his/her current task. Waiting long for your turn may turn down your confidence. Undoubtedly, you won’t feel as energized after one hour of waiting as you would have felt after 10 minutes of waiting. Thus, the ideal time for arriving at the company’s office for the interview is no more than 10 to 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled. On the other hand, getting late for the interview has its serious downfalls.
To avoid any inconvenience, better leave early and pre-plan your schedule. Wake up early so that you can get enough time to take care of your daily tasks. Get an idea of how far the venue of the interview is? How much time will it take to reach there? What are the ways of transportation to reach there? Would the traffic and the weather cause problems? The knowledge of these questions beforehand will give you a clear idea about how early you should leave.
Nowadays, getting a perfect job is becoming harder and harder each day. During the interview, the interviewers strive to know as much as possible about you. However, many times they seem to be interested in knowing how much significant knowledge do you possess about the company. Researching thoroughly about the company before the interview is a really important thing and might make a very good impression. If you know a lot about the company or facility, then the interviewer may find you interested in the job as well as the company. Almost all interviewers ask specific questions about the company/facility. Thus, it is certainly better to answer such questions accurately with confidence.
Here are some ways by which you can gather an abundance of information about the company.
You don’t know how the interview process will go. Some companies or facilities have different processes for the interview like group interview, phone interview, group discussion, and individual interview. Applicants should stay prepared for anything unexpected.
Here are some tips on how you can prepare and perform during a phone or group interview.
1. Phone Interview: Nowadays, more and more companies and facilities have added the phone interview as the initial part of their overall interview process. It is up to the company whether to notify you to schedule a future phone interview or to initiate a surprise interview call. Taking clearly with confidence and performing well during a phone interview is as important as it is for a face-to-face individual interview.
Applicants should practice the phone interview questions at home with their family or friends again and again. Rehearsal can bring perfection and confidence in your tone. While talking to the interviewer during a phone interview, try to speak in a uniform medium tone. Your voice shouldn’t be too loud or too low. The speed shouldn’t be too fast or too slow either.
2. Group Interview: Group interviews are becoming a fast way to interview and compare a number of students at the same time. Apart from that, group interviews show that how an applicant puts his/her personal opinion in front of many people. To stand out from the rest during the interview, arrive early and put your opinion/answer as soon as possible. Speaking early with confidence will automatically bring you plenty of attention.
Your body language says and shows a lot about you. Sit up straight so that the interviewer finds you an attentive, alert, and enthusiastic person. Prepare and rehearse the questions with your family and friends and try to relax once in a while during the interview. Act and speak professionally, but remember not to interrupt anyone while s/he is speaking.
It is quite difficult to predict that which questions the interviewer will ask you, but there are some general questions which you can expect like: Tell me something about yourself? Why do you want to work here? Why should we choose you over the others? Why did you choose practical nursing as your career?
It’s hard to get a perfect idea about the unexpected questions, yet you can improve the chances of your selection by practicing the common questions. Applicants should avoid extreme exaggeration about anything. Interviewers usually like simple, honest, and confident answers.
Check out the following interview questions and how to answer them.
1. Why did you choose to become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
This is the most common question asked to all the practical nurses during a job interview. This question is actually easy to answer. Instead of asking the same question, the interviewer might ask you some identical questions such as: What inspired you to choose a nursing career? Why did you become a licensed practical nurse? However, regardless of the way of asking, the answer is the same yet varies from applicant to applicant. Applicants are advised to think about this question with a free mind and ask themselves the same. That way, an honest, truthful, and impressive answer might pop up in your mind.
Many students want to become practical nurses because one or more of their family members are in the same profession and nursing actually inspires them. Some applicants choose the nursing because they want to aid in the overall health of the community. Some choose the practical nursing because they just want to ensure the welfare of the people by being a part of the healthcare industry. Your answer might differ than that of the others since there is no best answer for it. Giving an honest answer with confidence is what matters the most.
2. Why do you want to work in this facility?
This interview question is rather simple and commonly asked too, yet answering it perfectly can be a little bit tricky. By asking this question, the interviewer makes sure that what do you know about this facility that makes it a better choice than others? It is also a good way to know if the applicant has compared more than one company/facility. To answer this question perfectly, research about the facility.
The knowledge about the company will make you stand out from rest of the applicants. Researching will not only help you come up with a good answer but will also show that you are really interested in the facility.
The Internet, official website, and social media page of the facility, and former or current employees are a good way to research about the company. If there is a certain area or department in the facility and you want to work there, you should mention that as well. If you can relate the information you have gathered about the company with your skills, it will most likely show that you could be one of the fittest candidates for the job.
3. How do you deal with pressure and stressful situations?
Interviewers ask this question to know if the applicant is able to handle the possible work stress while working in the facility. Nursing is a physically and mentally challenging job. Practical nurses might have to deal with many adverse and emergency situations. The shifts can be long and exhausting. The patients are of different nature and have diverse medical needs. All these may sometimes cause stress.
While answering this question, the applicants should avoid saying that they never get stressed or stress doesn’t affect them at all. Assuredly, that is not what the interviewers are intended to hear. Instead, the applicants should give them one or more examples of the situations when they have handled the stress perfectly. Examples related to your past jobs would be better. However, remember not to give any example of an adverse situation initiated by you.
There is no perfect answer to this question since every applicant has his/her own ways to handle pressure and stressful situations. Some take deep breaths, some try to stay calm during stress, and some focus on the solution while staying positive. Avoid giving negative ways to handle stress such as smoking and drinking since almost all facilities have policies against these. You can also say that you actually work better under stressful situations.
4. Tell us about your strengths?
This question can be very tricky or very easy depending on the way you answer it. No doubt, everyone has their specific set of strengths, but strengths that can be helpful during your job should be focused more. Your strengths might include hard working, team working, calmness, positive attitude, and/or problem-solving. No matter which strength you decide to tell, try to be honest and truthful, and avoid any unnecessary exaggeration.
Relevancy is highly important while answering this question. Telling about your strengths that are irrelevant to this job is not encouraged. Strive to maintain professionalism in your answer. Give an example of your previous job or school where the same strengths helped you find a solution in an adverse situation. Applicants should also practice this question at home before the interview. That way, it wouldn’t take much time to think about the appropriate strengths.
5. What are your weaknesses?
Applicants usually find this question a bit difficult or stay confused that what could be the best possible answer for it? However, a simple and honest answer would be sufficient. Applicants should avoid saying that they do not possess any weakness since it might show that they are overrating and exaggerating themselves. Instead, an honest weakness (better if irrelevant to the job profile) associated with an improving process is the best way to answer this question.
For example, an applicant might say that his/her public speaking skills are not that great. However, s/he has great person-to-person communication skills and also working on improving the public speaking skills.
Applicants can also take this question as an opportunity to tell about one of their strengths in a roundabout way that it sounds like a positive weakness. For example, “I am too much hard-working,” “It is hard for me to say ‘no,’” or “I value perfection at work too much.” However, it is a traditional way to answer such question, and nowadays many applicants use it. Thus, there is a slight possibility that the answer might not seem highly genuine to the interviewer.
Applicants should avoid telling about a weakness that makes them look an inappropriate applicant for the current job profile. Sometimes, applicants give unseemly answers like “I have a habit of getting up late in the morning, and that’s why; I usually get late for the work,” “I am short-tempered and get angry quickly,” and “I prefer working in my own way.” These answers will completely capsize the interviewer’s decision since these weaknesses can adversely affect your work at the facility.
Sometimes, the applicants tell about weaknesses that are completely irrelevant to the workplace they are going to join. Weaknesses that have nothing to do with your work don’t make a positive impression. For example, answers like “I watch TV all the time during my free time at home” are of no sense.
6. What do you consider yourself- a team worker or an individual worker?
At times, it might seem confusing what to choose among the two, but, actually, it is not. The answer lies within the normal duties of a practical nurse. Most of the times, the practical nurses have to work with the other nurses, RNs, as well as physicians. However, it is not unlikely that at times, a practical nurse needs to take care of the health requirements of the patients alone. Thus, an LPN should be able to work competently both independently and as a part of a team.
Your answer should directly indicate that you can work efficiently alone as well as a team worker. Consecutively, you can answer with examples of both the situations where you proved yourself as a good team worker and an individual worker. Moreover, teamwork is only efficient and successful when each and every member of the team performs outstanding as an individual.
7. What would you do if a family member complains about negligence in the patient care?
This question focuses on the problem-solving capabilities of a nurse. In their daily routine work, practical nurses come across many adverse situations. Some of them are related to the health of the patient, and some of them might occur when an anxious family member loses his/her temper because of sloppiness in the patient care.
Taking care of the health requirements of the patients undoubtedly requires excellent nursing skills and teamwork. However, dealing with unsatisfied and indignant family members of the patients requires a lot of patience and problem-solving skills. No matter what is the reason behind the anger of the family member, a nurse should first apologize to the family members to calm them down. Then s/he should ask them that what is it that bothered them and should assure them that the problem will be taken care of with utmost priority. Now, based on the information gathered from the family members, the nurse should immediately take action.
You can also precisely describe the interviewer that what a practical nurse should not do in this situation. Apparently, practical nurses are not supposed to ignore the family members and shouldn’t tell them that they can’t solve their problem because they are busy. Practical nurses should be empathic towards the patients and their family members.
8. If a fellow staff member is breaking a certain policy of the facility then what actions would you take?
It can be a very crucial question. However, it becomes more important because a misdeed can affect the health of the patient as well. The basic idea behind asking this question is to know whether the applicant is responsible and honest or not. The answer can be as simple as – no employee, including yourself, is allowed to break any rules that are set up by the facility. If you ever see an employee committing some kind of misdeed that can cause harm to the facility or the patients, you would instantly acknowledge the higher authorities about it.
9. What are your long-term career goals?
There are a lot of ways to ask this question. The interviewers might ask you that as an employee of this facility where do you see yourself in five years? They can also ask- what would be an ideal state of your career? Most of the times, the applicants answer this question like they would like to become the head of the certain department or promoted to a higher designation. However, that’s not what the interviewers want to hear. By this question, the interviewers make sure whether you have put some significant thought into the profession; you want to advance in? Do you have a vision or a long-term career strategy? Are you really motivated about the profession you are entering?
The best way to answer this question is to think about where would you like to see yourself in the next 5 years. You should ask yourself about your professional as well as educational goals and what are your plans to achieve them. If you haven’t made any plans, make now and tell the interviewer accordingly. Do you want to become an RN in the near future? Have you already applied for that? Would you like to join the RN department of the facility or the hospital after becoming an RN? Or would you want to get command over a certain set of skills to advance further as a licensed practical nurse? Would you like to get experience in caring all kind of patients including veterans, psychiatric, and disabled patients?
The way of asking this question might vary, but usually, the interviewer wants to know about your career goal as well as the plans you have made to achieve them.
10. Tell me about yourself?
It is the first question the interviewer will ask you. This question serves two purposes. First, it is one of the best interview questions to start the conversation between the interviewer and the applicant. Second, it is a quick way to get an idea about the applicant’s communication skills, enthusiasm, and potential. Keep in mind that your resume already covers a lot of information about you, and thus, try to be concise and focused. You should emphasize on some specific information.
A precise description of your education and previous job and what kind of duties and responsibilities you had there, is also important. Apart from that, you should highlight your achievements and expertise, but avoid giving long answers that seem just repetition of words. Applicants should not tell any unnecessary information that is completely irrelevant to the current job. For example, the interviewer wouldn’t what to know if you have worked part-time in a food joint during your high school days.
11. Why should I hire you?
This question seems difficult to answer to many applicants since it demands the applicant to compare himself with the rest of the applicants, but, as a matter of fact, it is not so difficult. It is rather another form of the question – Why do you think that you are the best (or good) fit for this job?
The answer to this question should also be precise as others, but more focused on your qualities that come handy for the job you are applying for. You should also do a little homework on making a combined list of your qualities that include your relevant experience, awards, technical as well as soft skills, and education. Practice the answer by speaking it again and again at home, so you don’t miss any important point during the interview.
Avoid giving long or negative answers, comparing other applicants with yourself. It would implicitly put a negative impression.
12. Are you willing to relocate or travel for the job?
Not all the facilities require employees to frequently relocate or travel. Whether the company or the position you are applying for, don’t require many relocation, this question can still pop up in front of you during an interview. Sometimes, this question simply means that are you willing to do whatever it takes you to be a part of the company.
While answering this question, keep in mind that your answer should sound honest and full of enthusiasm. It shouldn’t seem like a made up answer; otherwise, it will show your unwillingness to travel or relocate when required. To give a perfect answer, think about certain possibilities such as: Would you be really okay with frequent traveling and relocating? Is the location of the new area matter? Would less frequently and short-distanced traveling be ideal? Is relocation just not an option? Or, would you be okay with traveling, but not with relocation or vise versa?
Applicants are advised to give significant thought before giving the answer. However, your answer must sound highly enthusiastic and honest. Your answer should not include questions or conditions such as- it depends on their offer.
13. If hired, how long would you work with the facility?
When a company/facility hires an employee, it makes an investment. So, the interviewers usually prefer the aspirants who would work long-term for the company.
While answering this question, the applicants should show their willingness to work for long-term. If you have a previous job experience where you had worked for a long time, you can include that in the answer. Avoid answering with any conditions since it won’t make a good impression.
Being a practical nurse, you are supposed to have several other skills apart from technical skills. Practical nurses should be patient, enduring, calm, placid, and ready to handle any emergency situation. In order to know if you possess these skills or not, interviewer gives you a scenario and ask to respond to that situation.
There is a long range of scenario questions, and it is unpredictable that which one the interviewer will ask. However, you can still perform well and come up with up to the mark answers. The scenario question might include – “What would you do if you notice (certain) symptoms in a patient who is suffering from (a certain) disease and why?”
The best way to answer is; listen to the question carefully, and stay calm & confident. If you were in that situation in real, then would you first try to stabilize the condition of the patient by some prescriptions and then acknowledge it to the doctor? Or, the condition of the patient is serious to acknowledge the doctor immediately ? You should take the time to think and give an honest answer based on your knowledge.
A job interview is a two-way process of finding if both the facility and the interviewer are the good (if not best) fit for each other. Applicants should not be afraid of asking the relevant questions to the interviewer about the facility or the job. Asking the questions not only clears your doubts but also shows that you are an aware person. It also shows that you are actually interested in the facility and the job. However, you should not ask questions during the interview process; otherwise, you will end up interrupting the process.
Sum up all your queries and wait till the interview ends. Asking irrelevant questions would not only waste your and the interviewer’s time, but also leave a negative impression.
Let’s take a look at some appropriate questions you should ask during an LPN interview.
1. What are the everyday duties of a Licensed Practical Nurse in this facility?
Many candidates think that they already know what responsibilities a licensed practical nurse would usually have in a health care facility. However, the process of each facility is different and so as the responsibilities. In some facilities and hospitals, you might take care of the patients with basic needs. On the other hand, in some larger facilities, you might need to work in the emergency department where the immediate and intense care is required. The working experience would be totally different in some facilities where the number of disabled or psychiatric patients is high.
You can also ask whether you will be given a normal position or an in-charge position. Sometimes, the qualified practical nurses are giving an in-charge position where they might need to monitor other practical nurses or Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Being in an in-charge position is undoubtedly good, but it also increases the number of tasks. You need to decide if you are ready to handle all the responsibilities of a supervisory nursing position or not.
2. What is the average nurse to patient ratio in this facility?
It is a very important question to ask since it is something that may extremely vary from one health care facility to another. However, there is no certain guidelines or rules about the allowed number of patients per nurse by the government. No doubt, the less number of patients per nurse ensures the better care.
In different facilities, the patients-to-nurse ratio can vary from 3-to-1 to 45-to-1. Apart from the basic care of the patients, the practical nurses also have to maintain documentations, report the current status of the patients to the physicians or RNs, and give proper medications. However, a high patient load seems average as you get accustomed to the job.
3. Would you give me a brief idea about the co-workers I will be working with?
It is always great and exciting to know about the people you are going to work with. If you are a fresher nurse, you might be working with or under the supervision of other practical nurses. If you are an experienced nurse, you might be allocated a position which requires constant supervision of other practical nurses. Sometimes, the practical nurses also need to supervise Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). However, you will always be working under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a doctor.
Also, make sure to ask whom you would have to report if the desired RN or doctor is not available? If you are to be given a supervisory position, then you can ask about the number of the practical nurses or CNAs you are supposed to supervise. Asking about your future health care co-workers gives a slight insight that you are actually interested in the job.
4. If it is okay, can I have a short tour of here?
Maybe you have already been to this facility a couple of times as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient, but, a tour of the facility as a future employee tells you a lot about the facility. If it is your first visit to the facility, then this tour is very important for you.
A facility tour usually comprises short visits to the different general wards or private rooms and introduction to the fellow workers. While taking the tour, closely analyze the condition of the patients and the quality of health care they are receiving. Are all their needs taken care well? Do they look satisfied or not?Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with the other health care workers in the facility.
5. Would the facility provide me any training once I join?
Some facilities usually provide initial training to their new employees. Usually, this training session acquaints the new employees to the working style and daily schedules.
During the training session, new employees can also get to know their future co-workers and supervisors. The duration of the initial training differs from facility to facility. You can also ask the interviewer about the duration of the training.
6. How will I be trained?
If the facility provides training for new employees, then it is important to ask a bit more about how the process of training will take place. Would the trainers and the instructors be the same people who will supervise you in the future? Or, the facility has an entire team just for the purpose of training?
7. Can you tell me about my direct supervisor and the team I will be working with?
This question should be asked if your interview went really well and you are sure that your performance was outstanding. Sometimes, the interviewers appoint the applicant on the spot. In that case, knowing a little about your future team is a good start. The interviewer would be more than happy to let you know about your future team.
8. Can you tell me what are the ways of career advancements in this position?
Asking about the ways to grow and take your career to the next step in the facility tells the interviewer that you do have plans for advancements. Of course, one wants to achieve higher goals, and if the facility itself provides some professional training for that, it would be great.
Asking the right questions during the LPN interview shows your interest, while asking the wrong questions can turn the things downward. Your questions should never reflect that you possess a lack of integrity, responsibility, and honesty. Also, your questions should also not show that you are more interested in the salary, lunch timings, or gossips. Avoid asking such questions that show you are extremely overqualified for this job, and you have many other options.
Your questions should reveal that you have done good research and homework. Thus, try to avoid asking questions about the things you can easily find on Google.
Following are the questions that you should never ask during the interview.
1. Have I got selected?
Applicants should avoid asking if they have got selected or not for the desired position during the interview. If they offer you the job on the spot, then it’s undoubtedly a win. But, if they don’t, then it doesn’t mean that it’s over. Usually, there are a lot of candidates for a certain job position, and the interviewers also have the pressure to select the best among them. Thus, they prepare a list of the most outstanding applicants and may call you again within a week after the interview process is over. Asking if you have been selected for the job or not shows the impatience in an applicant.
2. What would be my salary?
An LPN interview is all about making a good impression on the interviewer. However, asking how much would you be making after you get the job or what would be your exact salary might lead to a bad impression. During an LPN interview, your questions and answers should show that you want this job because you are interested in helping the injured and sick people. Asking directly about the salary might indicate that you are more interested in the salary than the job.
However, some interviewers might themselves ask you about your salary expectations or may discuss the salary on the spot if you get selected.
3. When will I get a promotion?
No doubt, everyone stays curious about how s/he will grow in the company or facility after joining it. But, asking directly about the promotion chances is not a good way to make a positive impression. Your question or answers must show that you are highly interested in the position you are applying for and want to learn and grow with the company. Almost all the facilities do have certain rules and regulations about the promotion of the employees.
This question can be asked in a roundabout way like what are the ways of career advancements and growth in the company.
4. Will I have to go through a drug test if I get selected?
Asking about the possible drug test might lead the interviewer to think that you might be having a history with drug usage or still a drug addict. Usually, all the nursing facilities and hospitals do conduct drug tests to ensure that the new nurses are not a drug addict. Many of the private nursing homes and hospitals even have strict policies against the drug usage of their employees.
However, if an applicant has a history of illegal drug usage or is still suffering from drug addiction, can contact his/her local board of nursing to get further assistance. Nowadays, there are many rehabilitation centers that offer help in getting rid of the drug addiction.
5. Personal questions about the interviewer
You are advised to act as a professional during the interview. If the interviewer talks calmly and with patience, it doesn’t mean that s/he is ‘extra frank’ and you are allowed to ask personal questions to him/her that has nothing to do with your job.
6. Will my Internet browsing history and I be monitored?
This question should be avoided to ask at all cost. A practical nurse is expected to possess competence as well as honesty and integrity. Asking such question might question your honesty with the work and may represent you as an untrustworthy person.
If you know that what you are doing is appropriate and according to the rules and regulations of the facility, then you should not be worried about if your Internet history is being monitored or you are being watched by security cameras.
7. Will I have to go through a Background Check?
This question should also be avoided to ask since almost all the facilities conduct a background check. Even if you ask, the answer would be a simple yes.
This is something only a few applicants do. After reading all the interview questions and the way to answer them, it might feel that you will perform exceptionally. But, that doesn’t happen in all the cases. Everything needs the practice to be perfect. Even practicing before going to an interview is recommended. Practice all the questions and answers several times at home (with a friend or a family member) to drive away all the hesitation during the interview.
Always remember to say ‘thank you’ once your interview ends. It shows your decency and will certainly put a positive effect. Apart from that, you can also use a short ‘thank you’ note.