How to Prepare for Your Grad School Interview

The date of an interview is circled on a calendar so you remember the important meeting with your potential new employer

Being that its Masters of Science in Nursing interview season, I thought I would go over a little interview preparation tips.

Do your research/look at coursework.

Do your research about the program. How many people do they accept each year? What’s their attrition rate? What percentage of their students finds jobs six months within graduation? Research about the career your planning to start once you graduate (this probably should have been done before you started applying, but just in case you forgot ;)). Look at their coursework. Looking at a program’s coursework allows you to see what the program is about and where they put emphasis. Some programs will have more science and the minimum amount of theory. Some programs will have more theory with the minimum amount of science. Some will have a year of just didactic before clinical. Some will start clinical from day one all they way through. This will be good to know, just in case you have any questions.

Review your skills.

During some interviews they will ask you about your skills and how you care for patients in your area of expertise. If you’re a cardiac nurse, you should probably be familiar with a swan and an IABP (Intra-aortic balloon pump). If you’re a neurology nurse then something like a ventric should be familiar. You get the idea, know your specialty skills.

Review your patho/pharmacology.

If you work with vasopressors, know which receptors and minimal vs maximal doses. Know your specialty specific medications and doses. In some interviews, they will give you a scenario based around your specialty area (cardiac, neuro, internal medicine, trauma etc.) and ask you questions about how you would manage that patient. What really helped me when I interviewed was that, I reviewed the notes that I had taken when I studied to obtain my CCRN certification, however, I realize this may not apply to everyone (especially depending on what type of program you’re applying to).

Read or have read an interesting book, unrelated to nursing.

Some admission committees want to get to know you as a person, so they may ask you “what books have you read lately” or “what type of music do you like to listen to.” It’s always good to have this one ready. We don’t expect them to ask anything about us personally (unrelated to their program), so when they ask this kind of stuff, we blank because we aren’t prepared to talk about something so simple, ourselves.

Be up to date on what is current in nursing.

Some schools like their students to be active and engaged in the nursing community so they may ask you about/or to name a current event in nursing that could affect your future practice, positive or negative. How do you prepare for this? Read some recent articles and/or studies. Where can you find some? Everywhere. Go to your state board of nursing’s website and look at the hot topics being discussed.

Know your achievements.

Some committees will ask you what you have achieved both in the nursing community and your personal community. This is the chance for you to brag about yourself so go for it! Grad schools want the best of the best. They want nurses who go above and beyond. They want nurses that volunteer in soup kitchens three nights a week, hold positions on councils at work, raise the kids, keep the house clean, and have dinner on the table by six (okay, a little exaggerated but you get the idea).

Know your strengths and weaknesses.

I believe regardless of the field your interviewing for, this question will come up. The trick to answering this question is to make sure your weakness can be twisted into a positive weakness (but still be honest of course). For example, a positive weakness can be “I don’t feel comfortable going to lunch until all my charting is done, and my patient is taken care of (which is true)”. This tells them that sure you sometimes have a late lunch, or none at all, but because you’re concentrating on patient care and documentation, and those are much more important to you than eating. It’s not that you don’t want them to know the real you, you just want to make sure you’re always showing your best, even at your weakest.

Know your financial plan, if accepted.

If they ask you about work or financial status once in the program, have a plan. You don’t have to know the specifics but just have a general idea of how you’re going to pay for school, books, and living expenses. This shows them that not only have you planned ahead, but also that you’ve already somewhat dedicated to the program and everything it entails.

I’m not saying all of this to scare anyone, just to prepare them. Graduate school interviews can be terrifying so it helps to be prepared and have a general idea of how to process could go. I hope these tips helps and good luck!

*These statements are just suggestions and do not guarantee admission into graduate school.


5 responses to “How to Prepare for Your Grad School Interview

  1. What a well-rounded article written to guide the aspiring graduate nursing student. As you mentioned, I’ve been asked about specific scenarios I encountered and how I managed them, as well as discussing strengths and weaknesses. Great point about being able to turn your weakness into actually a strength!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great tips here. And I would add: know when to do and know when to be. Sometimes we are so busy with all of the action steps, we are distracted from great opportunity. It takes a bit of practice, yet allowing ourselves to rest admidst the preparation will evoke even greater success. Great article, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great advice, thanks! I have another point that matters at the PhD level: find ways your academic interests match those of the faculty. If you can’t find any, you won’t get in, becasue it’s a bad match. Even if you do get in, it’s still a bad match. You can save yourself fruitless efforts and find out where to apply more effectively.

    Liked by 1 person

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