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Career Coach

The 5 W's of Interviews: What

Published December 21, 2011 3:42 PM by Renee Dahring
The third interview “W” is “What.”

As in, “WHAT will they ask me in the interview?”

Most NPs and PAs go into their interviews prepared to be asked some clinical questions. It’s been my experience that most of the questions surrounding your clinical skills are asked early on in the process and usually by the human resources folks. Their questions tend to be straightforward, they are trying to determine if you have managed certain types of conditions or if you have done specific procedures. They ask this type of question primarily to see if your skill set fits the job description.

When you are interviewing with the medical director or clinic supervisor you can expect more behavioral questions. In order to advance to this level in the application process the employer has determined you possess the clinical training and competence so now the employer turns their attention to learning whether or not you would be a good fit for their organization. You should expect to be asked questions about how you deal with conflict, what qualities you look for in a manager and the always popular questions about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s rare to be asked clinical scenario questions, such as what medication or treatment you would choose. Instead the interviewer will want to focus on your interpersonal skills and might ask things like, how might you handle an angry or demanding patient? Have you ever had to deliver bad news to a patient?

When you are formulating your answers to these questions it’s always best if you can give concrete examples that are pertinent to the position. Your answers should be concise but adequately answer the question. If you can’t think of a good example, resist the urge to make up a situation (we can tell when you do that!). Also avoid giving politically correct vague answers like “I would respect the patient’s autonomy while assessing their sociocultural yadda, yadda, yadda...” The last thing you want is to sound like a pandering politician!

And while we are on the subject, please don’t try to “turn a weakness into strength.” We can see right through statements like “I just work too hard!” Instead, tell us about a clinical skill you would like to improve.

And last, don’t forget to plan for another “what”: what YOU are going to ask your interviewers. There is nothing worse than conducting an interview in which the candidate has asked no questions. Formulating a few questions of your own shows the employer you are engaged and interested in their position.

Our next post will tackle “Why” – or “Why should they hire me?"

Have a great holiday!


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About this Blog

    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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