20 Interview Questions You Need to Ask an Employer

You’ve got your first interview coming up with the manager and you’ve prepared how to answer all the questions including why you’re looking for a new role. But have you thought about what questions you should ask?

This is the first time you should be asking specific questions to find out more details about the company, the culture, your future manager, peers you’ll be working with, and future growth opportunities.

It’s a good idea to start with general questions and then move on to more specific questions.

About the Company

  1. Ask about the company’s short and long-term goals. What are major initiatives this year and what are the long-term plans?
  2. Inquire out about the culture. While most companies declare they have a positive work environment, what does that really mean? Ask the interviewer what their experience has been and what they value most at the company. Ask what they’d like the company to improve? Is it corporate sponsored events, community giving, or perhaps more frequent internal or executive communication. It doesn’t matter what the answer is, but it can provide valuable information for you.

Position Specifics

This can be tricky because candidates often ask general questions like, what are the job expectations, or how do you define success? And, the answers often don’t provide useful information. Be specific.

  1. How would your time be allocated on a ‘typical’ day?
  2. What are the challenges that you’re going to face? In the first 90 days? And the first year?
  3. What’s the structure of the team and how long have people on the team been at the company and in their roles?
  4. What obstacles may arise? And where will the resources be to overcome them?
  5. What metrics do they use to determine success in the role?
  6. How frequently will your manager meet with you? Daily, weekly, or bi-weekly?
  7. What’s your manager’s management style? Are they a hands-off manager or a micromanager?
  8. Request a meeting with your peers on the team. It’s a great opportunity to get a good feel for what you’re getting into. What were the department’s biggest challenges last year and how did they solve them?

Salary and Compensation

interview-questions-for-employersSalary and compensation conversations should be kept general in the beginning of your meetings. Likely the recruiter will ask your salary, or salary range, and you can provide them current salary, desired compensation, or a range. However, if you provide a range, keep the range within $5-$7K, because whatever range you state, the employer hears the lowest number, while you’re thinking the highest end of the range. This disparity can result in an offer that disappoints.

In meetings with the actual hiring manager, salary and compensation questions you initiate should be kept to a minimum.

  1. You may want to ask for confirmation your salary is in the range of what the company has allocated for the job.
  2. You can ask for an overview of the company benefit plans. Some companies won’t provide specifics until the end, but many will provide you a summary of their overall benefits.
  3. Ask when detailed benefit information will be available.
  4. Ask about perks the company regularly provides, like matching contributions to charities, educational reimbursement, free beverages, casual work environment, work from home days, etc.

Training and Future Opportunities

  1. Inquire about any early training.
  2. Ask if there’s a senior resource available for questions or if they have a formal mentoring program? It’s always a benefit to have a mentor, so if it’s not offered, find one within the company as soon as possible. It can be an employee in another department, but your mentor should have more tenure and seniority to be the most useful.
  3. What are the future training opportunities, from web training to conferences and onsite training?
  4. Ask about growth opportunities? What’s been typical in the department?
  5. What was the manager’s trajectory in the company and have they promoted any team members?
  6. Ask about opportunities to transition to other departments and the flexibility to do so if it’s good for your long-term career growth at the company and an opportunity presents itself. What are the limitations?

interview-questions-for-employersIt’s important to have some knowledge of the individual you’re meeting, as well as the organization before you ask any or all questions. If you’re interviewing at a start-up, growth opportunities, training and mentoring may not be clearly outlined. However, if it’s a small start-up you’re interested in, it’s important to understand your manager’s philosophy to promoting people, and in the end, you’ll likely need to be more open to taking a risk. Well established companies often have formal development and/or training programs, so you’re likely to get more concrete information.

It doesn’t matter how much you want the job, it is critical you get as much information and your questions answered, so you can make an informed decision if you get an offer. There’s nothing worse than accepting an offer and learning later, you should have asked more questions and now you’re committed to a job you don’t like.

In the end, stay positive throughout your conversations with the company. There will be times when it’s appropriate to ask certain specific questions, and other times when you’ll have to keep questions more general. And you need to be sensitive to the interviewer’s interest in answering questions. Don’t ask too many questions at once. There’s nothing worse than a candidate who drills the interviewer with multiple questions when the interviewer isn’t convinced they’re a strong candidate. It confirms to the interviewer that the candidate has little awareness of how the interview is going or doesn’t know that timing of questions is critical.

Click here for more information on OCC Clinicians current opportunities.

Nurse Interview Tips

Tips to Succeed in Nursing Interviews

Everyone hates interviewing. It can be scary, nerve-wracking, anxiety-producing, discouraging, and it’s time consuming when you’d rather be doing anything else.

So, how do you make the most of your interviews?
Two simple recommendations…prepare and practice.

Healthcare Training CEUsSeek out a couple sources for advice, friends who have interviewed recently, and website blogs. On the internet, research topics like ‘interviewing advice’ or ‘interview questions’. Spend time reviewing the information you discover before you begin your preparation. Your preparation before the interview will make a huge impact on how well you do at the interview.

Put together a brief explanation of why you’re looking for a new role. In some circles this is referred to as an elevator pitch. According to Wikipedia, ‘The name ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes and is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin.[2][3] Bottom line, it’s your story, succinctly conveyed in a short elevator ride. Your ‘story’ should be about a paragraph long. It’s challenging to be succinct, so write it down, review it, and edit until you’re satisfied. Start with a high-level explanation of your current role. For example, ‘I’m a RN in XYZ’s critical care unit, in charge of a small team.’ Then explain where you’re headed and why. Perhaps, ‘While I love what I’m doing, I’ve been there for seven years, and think it’s time for a fresh challenge.’ Or ‘while I enjoy where I’m at, there are only limited opportunities, and I’m looking for an organization with more growth opportunities.’

Next, consider the questions that will come up during the interview. Prepare for those the same way you prepare for your ‘story’. Consider drafting responses to the following frequently asked questions.

Question 1: Tell us about yourself.

Answer Example: ‘I’m an energetic, dedicated, and compassionate RN with 5 years’ professional experience in both clinic and hospital settings. I value providing the best quality of care to my patients and supporting my peers so that we provide the best care possible to all patients.’ Its succinct, complete and reveals your motivation and healthcare goals.

Question 2: Why did you choose healthcare as a profession?

nursing-interviewingAnswer this question with a strong, specific response. Your response will reveal your motivations and it can make or break the rest of your interview. Telling a personal story is the best way, but be authentic.

Answer example: You may have grown up with an ailing family member for whom good healthcare was critical. Then, you decided you wanted to be a part of the solution. Or, perhaps your experience wasn’t that personal. But it could be something as simple as, ‘whenever I had to have a vaccine or injection, which I was particularly scared to get, I always appreciated when the staff understood my fears and supported me. It was then that I realized I wanted to do that for others.’ Or it could be from an experience volunteering or because you realize that healthcare is vital and becoming more so to improving people’s quality of life. And you decided you want to be someone who’s directly involved in making it better for them. Whatever response fits you, make it real, authentic, and show your commitment and passion to what you’re doing. Never answer with, something like, ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but was good in science classes, so I kind of fell into it.’ This is an opportunity for you to show the interviewer you’re a dedicated and responsible caregiver.

Question 3: What are your strengths?

Almost every interviewer asks this question, and while I’ve often heard it criticized by some professionals as too broad, or they always get the same answer, I’ve always found the question valuable. It’s valuable because while everyone often answers similarly, there are nuances in tone, in words used, and in supporting stories that can influence how believable and valid the strengths are. I’ve experienced dozens of candidates providing responses that don’t relate to the job they’re seeking or are vague, without any supporting statements, leaving the interviewer wondering if they’re sincere.

And because it’s an easy question for interviewers to ask and candidates to answer, I’m confident it will remain the number one question asked in interviews.

So, how do you best answer the question? Prepare ahead with 3-4 strengths that apply to the new role you’re considering. And, provide a supporting statement or story that reveals where it’s been a benefit for you in your past.

Question 4: Why are you interested in leaving your current job?

Never, ever criticize your current employer. The only exception is if there’s public knowledge about the organization that simply explains why you’re looking. For instance, if the hospital is closing and it’s been made public. In which case, stating that as your reason for looking is a public fact, genuine, and will be appreciated by the interviewer.

Question 5:  What are your salary requirements? Or what is your current salary?

male-murseThis is a challenging question for many to answer. Should you tell your current salary, should you say what you’re hoping to get? Or, should you respond that you’re open to ‘market’ compensation?

We recommend that you don’t provide any of these answers without some consideration. If you’re comfortable with your current salary and it’s not an important part of your decision to accept a new role, then be transparent and say where you’re at. However, if you’d like to get an offer for the most you can, then you’ll need to be more careful. It’s important to be forthright and transparent, but you should qualify that. For example, state your current salary, your desired salary, and your supporting reasons for wanting a higher salary. Valid reasons for wanting a greater salary are that your current organization has been restricting increases because of cost control, or the market has significantly improved, or you’ve gained additional experience or education and haven’t yet received an increase that correlates with that achievement. Reasons that aren’t well received are statements like ‘This is a bigger role,’ or ‘I’ll be working harder here,’ or ‘My commute will be longer.’

All in all, if you want your employer to be trustworthy and transparent, then you should also be transparent and display that you’re trustworthy.

And, finally, you’ll likely be asked one or more difficult questions, such as:

  1. What do you feel is the most challenging or difficult part of being a nurse? Describe a time when a physician gave an order that you believed was incorrect. How did you handle it?
  2. Describe a time when you were unsure of the best protocol to follow. How did you handle it?
  3. Describe a time when you had a conflict or disagreement with your supervisor. How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  4. How have you handled coworkers, physicians, or others you work with who become rude or demanding?
  5. How do you stay current within the nursing field? What publications do you read? What research findings interest you?
  6. How do you handle a request you disagree with?
  7. Can you describe a time when you had to intervene for a patient, what you did, and why? What was the outcome?
  8. How would you handle a patient, who complains about everything?
  9. If your shift ends at 5:30 and your replacement has not arrived by 5:45, what do you do?
  10. Tell me about the last time someone critiqued your work. How did you respond?
  11. Have you ever disagreed with a supervisor’s decision? Tell me how you handled the situation.
  12. When you have a lot to do, but not enough time on your shift to do it, how do you handle the situation?
  13. Talk about a time when you disagreed with a co-worker.

Nurse Interview guideSince you know ahead of time that there will likely be difficult questions, your best action is to prepare for them ahead of time. While you’ll never know exactly which questions you’re going to be asked, our recommendation is to prepare three to four stories of challenging experiences you’ve had and the action you took to resolve a problem and what you learned from the experience. While this won’t arm you to answer any question, it will generally help you answer many of them. As you prepare your responses ahead of time, write down your examples, review them, edit until they’re succinct. Then review them with a family member or friend and listen for any possible changes you should make, or any additional information you should be including.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “In career news, healthcare is everywhere. That’s because the healthcare industry is projected to add more jobs—over 4 million—than any other industry between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And it is projected to be among the fastest-growing industries in the economy.” So, while the industry is growing, people are continually joining the healthcare field, which means you’re also likely to have competition when you interview. Therefore, preparing for any interview is going to be critical. And, as you prepare, think about the responses you’ve put together, practice with family and friends. While you don’t want your responses to sound too rehearsed, preparation goes a long way to helping you come across confidently, not rehearsed.

In the end, your education, experience, positive attitude, and preparedness will likely lead you to getting the job you want.