5 Interview Secrets to Outshine the Competition as a New Grad

Interviews are the most stressful part of any job hunt. Even more so when it is your first interview for a new career field. Nursing school puts all new grads one the same level. You may have had an internship on top of clinicals, but most new grads do. Thousands of new nurses graduate every year and hospitals only have a certain number of openings for new grad nurses. So how does a new nurse not get lost in the sea of monotonous applicants?

Here are 5 secrets:

1. Do Some Digging

With modern technology we have access to a wealth of information at our fingertips. A quick Google search can tell you the company’s mission and core values statements which will not only show the interviewer you took time to learn about the company, but it will also give you the ability to communicate with common vocabulary.

2. Dig Deeper

What type of unit(s) did the job description specify? You do not have to know everything, but you need to know what types of patients and common illnesses you will see on that unit.

If you are interviewing for an ER or ICU new grad program your scenarios will look different than an Ortho program. This will help you focus your research because they love asking scenario questions to test your clinical knowledge about assessment and general treatment plans.

3. Always Have an Action Plan

The strengths and weaknesses question is inevitable. Do not ruin your chance at a job by listing weaknesses. Be honest about your weaknesses but never share a weakness without saying what you are doing to improve. If you have made mistakes in the past, how did you rectify them and what did you learn.

4. Be the Part

Confidence goes a long way, even if you do not feel confident. Do not cross over to arrogance, but remain professional and attentive, and dress professionally. Keep your answers simple and avoid long back stories that will take up precious time with irrelevant information.

5. Use Rejection as a Tool

The rejection phone call does happen even for brilliant interviews, because the reality is there are only so many openings. If you receive a rejection phone call (or email) do not be afraid to ask for constructive criticism and even be so bold as to ask if they know of other opportunities. In my experience rejections have only led to better work opportunities.

  •  After my first new grad interview, I received the dreaded rejection phone call. Before I hung up, I asked the manager if there was anything I could do differently in my next interview to improve my chances of getting hired. The manager said my interview was great and she wanted to hire me, but she decided to go with an internal employee for her one opening. THEN she said she would personally hand my resume to her colleague and that is how I got hired as a new grad nurse on a PCU.


Landing a new grad nurse position is challenging, but not impossible. Remember, you have just as much nursing experience as everyone else applying for that job. A previous career or being an internal employee may add a slight advantage on paper, but follow these steps to outshine the competition and you will be surprised at the doors that will open for you.