In the face of a profound national nursing shortage, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the job you want will be yours once you send in a resume and show up for an interview. Though it’s true that some facilities are loosening some of their requirements in an effort to bring more staff on board, pediatric nurses will still need to prove themselves both professionally and personally. That’s why it is so important that you take the time to fully prepare yourself for your job interview.
Getting ready means more than polishing up your resume and updating your LinkedIn profile. You need to anticipate the questions that will be asked, put real thought into the answers you’ll give, and practice those answers out loud. Because pediatric nursing requires far more than clinical skills, you will want to demonstrate to each person who you interview with that you have the temperament that makes you the right person for a position working with children.
Below, you’ll find a list of interview topics. Though the questions you’re asked in an interview may be worded slightly differently than those that appear here, preparing a well-thought-out answer for each one will serve you well.
We’ve also provided some general interviewing tips to ensure that you are fully prepared and ready to present your best possible self and win the job that you want.
The Questions You’re Likely to Be Asked in a Pediatric Nurse Interview
#1 – Tell me a little about yourself.
This is almost always the very first question that is asked in a job interview. As tempting as it may be to chat about your love of true crime podcasts or travel, that is not what the interviewer wants to know. The question is meant to find out who you are professionally as well as personally. In preparing for this question, think about how your personality and experience have made you into the pediatric nurse who you are today.
While it’s fine to talk about having come from a big family or about your education – or even about the sports you play or your hobbies – make sure that every answer circles back to the job and what the employer is looking for in a nurse. This means that your answer should include some of your personality traits that contribute to your professional demeanor: are you organized, empathetic, disciplined? If you can give a self-description and example of how well you work independently or of how you’re a team player, you will make a positive impression.
#2 – What made you choose to become a pediatric nurse?
Because pediatric nurses work with children from birth through young adulthood — as well as with their families — interviewers want to hear more than that you’ve loved children ever since you were a camp counselor, or even that you were inspired by the care lavished on yourself or a sibling. While those motivations are definitely important, your answer should also reflect your emotional intelligence and that you understand and embrace every aspect of the role, from the joy of helping children get well and recover to the stress of supporting family members who are unprepared for their children’s pain, prognosis, or care requirements. Your answer to this question needs to express your love of children, your empathy and compassion, your patience, and your ability to communicate clearly.
3. Why do you want to work here, at our facility?
While it may be true that you’re applying to the facility’s job because of its location, its compensation, or the benefits you’re being offered, your answer needs to reflect the employer’s interests rather than your own. The best way to prepare for this question is to do your homework: carefully read the job description so that you know exactly what the job responsibilities are and the facility’s needs, and spend some time studying the facility’s website too. The more you incorporate words about what the potential employer is looking for, directly from their job description, in your answer, and echo the facility’s description of its environment, goals, and mission, the more you will establish yourself as an ideal employee.
All that being said, there is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn a bit here too. By talking about the facility’s reputation for quality of care, collaboration, integrity, or other positive characteristics, and say that this is what you’re looking for as you advance in your career, you are crediting yourself and your own personal and professional attributes at the same time that you are complimenting the potential employer.
4. Pediatric patients are often less accommodating than adults, and their parents may be scared or resistant as well. How do you manage patients or family members who are anxious, frightened, nonverbal, or in some other way unwilling to work with you?
The more experience you have as a pediatric nurse, the more likely you are to have a long list of examples that demonstrate your patience and empathy for fearful, frustrated, and noncompliant patients. Be ready with one or two of these stories, making sure that when you are recounting them you are making clear your respect for the patient’s feelings and the calm and effective way that you communicated and convinced them to participate in the care that was needed.
5. How do you handle high-pressure patient situations? What is your process when you’re faced with the need to make a quick and important decision regarding a patient?
Your answer here should be an example that reflects your ability to collaborate with others where they are accessible and to act independently and decisively when you’re on your own or are the most senior and experienced voice in the room. You want to demonstrate your confidence as well as your ability to collaborate.
6. Do you ever experience burnout from the job? How do you keep your interest, excitement, and empathy alive?
This question requires honesty. You should not be afraid to admit that some days are hard, and then go on to talk about the importance of exercising self-care and how you do so. At the same time, you should make sure that your overall answer expresses a positive and optimistic attitude. It’s also a good idea to express your admiration for colleagues and the importance of supporting one another.
7. Have you ever found yourself disagreeing with a physician or parent about a patient’s care? How did you resolve that issue?
This question offers you the ability to demonstrate both your discipline and your compassion. You want to use this opportunity to talk about the importance of remaining calm, about your listening skills, and your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. At all times you want to show that you are a professional who understands that parents may not understand – or may be afraid – of what you’re telling, and that physicians’ opinions may be based on something different from what you are seeing at patient bedsides.
8. What was your most challenging moment as a pediatric nurse?
This will be a highly personal answer. It is okay to express your emotion in this moment, as it will show the interviewer the compassion and empathy that every facility wants and needs in their pediatric nursing staff. Just make sure that your answer also demonstrates the high level of care or professionalism that you provided.
9. What was your proudest moment as a pediatric nurse?
Though this answer may involve an award or attainment of a degree or certification, it is also a good idea to talk about a patient or parent for whom your involvement was particularly helpful or meaningful.
10. What is your biggest fault?
This question is asked at interviews for all types of jobs, and it has become common for applicants to take a positive attribute like organization or empathy and describe themselves as having too much of it. While this is a clever answer, it does not necessarily provide the interviewer with a sense of how you work to improve yourself. A more thoughtful response that reflects self-assessment will be welcomed.
Other Important Interview Tips for Pediatric Nurse Applicants
- The old adage about having just one chance to make a first impression is absolutely true. Make sure that you present yourself professionally, dressing neatly in business attire rather than in scrubs and opting for neat hairstyling and understated jewelry.
- Bring along a few hard copies of your resume, even if you’ve already submitted it online. That kind of thoughtfulness and preparation demonstrates organization and forethought.
- Make eye contact with everybody who is interviewing you.
- When asked whether you have any questions about the job, make sure that you have several ready – even if you think that you know everything about it and the facility. You can ask about the facility’s culture or the activities that are provided for children; what type of volunteer or community engagement opportunities the facility coordinates; or what kind of professional development is offered to staff.
- After you’ve prepared, ask a friend or family member to play the role of interviewer so that you can smooth out your answers.
Every job interview represents a new opportunity, both to advance in your career and to learn about yourself. To start a job search, visit Incredible Health’s career page today.