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Preparation is key when it comes to interviewing for a nurse practitioner job; after all, the interview process is where the rubber meets the road. While you usually can’t predict the exact questions you’ll be asked, there is one you can always count on coming up: “Tell me about yourself”. This open ended question, and other variations like it, seem like an innocent way to break the ice, especially as it’s usually a segue from the small talk you and the interviewer were just having about the weather to the start of the interview. As nonchalant as it may seem, it is by no means one you should respond to on the fly.

When an interviewer leads off with this type of question, they’re not asking you to recite your life’s story but they’re not looking for you to read off your resume in detail either. Their purpose is to immediately begin to gauge whether or not you are a good fit for the job; they want to hear right off the bat how your experiences, both past and present, compare to the required skills and qualifications of the position. In addition, they want to see what your goals are for the position, if you were to be hired. Your answer is your elevator pitch, so to speak, which means that your response is a make it or break it moment; one that will set the tone for how the remainder of the interview will go and ultimately factor into whether or not you’ll land the job.

Given its purpose for being asked, you need to be prepared on how to answer this challenging question before the interview so you sure sure to start off without a hitch.

Take a Present-Past-Future Approach

Begin your answer by giving a sentence about where you are presently in your career as an NP and how it relates to the job you’re applying for. This initial statement should highlight your strengths as well as give a sense of your personality, too. While it may seem difficult to do if you recently graduated your NP program, drawing from your most recent clinical experiences and your education can support your narrative.

Example:

  • I recently graduated from a highly sought after nurse practitioner program at the top of my class, wherein I completed unique clinical experiences in various medically underserved areas throughout my community.

  • I have been established in my career as a nurse practitioner for seven years, most recently having provided exceptional primary care to a diverse patient population in one of the most medically underserved areas of my community.

The next statement can be a little trickier to formulate as you cannot assume that your interviewer has taken the time to study your resume in detail but you also don’t want to recite it for them either. Therefore, you will want to highlight your past skills and experiences as they relate to the position at hand and mention what strengths you have that make you stand out.

Example:

  • Before beginning my nurse practitioner program, I spent three consecutive years working as a registered nurse in a 50 bed hospital where I discovered my passion for the medically underserved and developed my skills in treating rural health patient populations. In this position, I was promoted as the charge nurse and gained a great deal of management experience.

  • Prior to my time in my current position, I worked as an NP in an urgent care clinic where I feel that I grew tremendously in my clinical skills and my ability to treat patients from all walks of life.  

Finally, talk about your future ahead; why you’re excited for the position you’re interviewing for.

Example:

  • Now that I have completed my NP program, I am excited for the opportunity to grow in my career and my clinical skills as a primary care provider.

  • While I really enjoy my current role, I am excited for this position as I feel that it will be an opportunity for me to grow professionally.

The Do’s and Don’ts

While you do want your personality to come through in your response, this is not the time to tell your interviewer your life’s story nor divulge personal details about your life. It is perfectly okay to mention hobbies if they showcase your passion for health and community service (i.e., you volunteer at the local food bank or you’re a cycling instructor in your spare time). You can also mention any accolades or accomplishments you have professionally.

Now matter the circumstances of why you’re interviewing for this position, make your response positive; now is not the time to bash your current employer or talk about how unhappy you are in your current role as an NP.

Remember, the interviewer is determining your performance ability and whether you’re in the position for the long haul, so it’s most important that you focus on what strengths and abilities you have as they relate to the position using the job description as your guide.

“Tell me about yourself” doesn’t have to be a dreaded interview question. Practice your response in a way that is personable and opens up the dialogue for more about you and why you are the NP they should hire.

 

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