Avoid this big interview mistake

Image: Eldon Doty | Photodisc | Getty Images

A while ago about I wrote about not burning your bridges with other nurses, because nurses talk to each other. That goes for managers as well.

This week at work I had something a little different that happened, but still makes the nurse look bad in the eyes of a hiring manager.

I am currently recruiting for a day shift RN for my unit. Although I have a stack of new grad applications, and many are very good on paper, I really wanted to get a nurse with experience so that I could spend less time orienting and get them on the schedule as soon as possible. I spoke with two experienced nurses. One used to work on this unit before I was the manager and had great references from the current staff, and the other was a nurse in the float pool that had great references from my staff.  Both interviewed well, and had great experience.

The one from the float pool was leading the pack and was going to get the job. She already worked for the hospital, so no hospital or nurse orientation, she knew the computer systems and the staff already knew her.

I still had a couple of interviews left before I could offer her the position, and she called me to tell me she was going to pull her name out for consideration. I said “okay” and thanked her. The next day she called to say she still wanted the job after discussing it with her husband. So, after all the interviews were completed, I came into work on Monday ready to make her an offer, but in my email was a message from her stating she couldn’t do the job now but she wanted to be considered for a future position.

To a manager this is not a good sign of what she will be like as an employee. She can’t make up her mind. If she can’t make a decision like this, then is she going to be a flake about showing up to work on time or showing up at all? Is she going to be difficult about the schedule? Is she going to fit with my team when she is here on full-time basis?

What  I am saying is, how you act during the interview and hiring process will give the manager an idea of how you will be as an employee. If you act flakey during the pre-employment process, I am pretty sure you will act flaky as an employee.

I hired the experienced one that worked here before, and am happy with my decision. And…the flakey one will most likely never get the opportunity to work for me.

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Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed.Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university.Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.

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6 Responses to Avoid this big interview mistake

  1. Sean Dent

    Yes, actions DO speak louder than words.

  2. Teresa Webb

    I am a new RN that received her license to practice December 2009; but I have LPN experience (4 yrs). I have been dilgently looking for work and so far everyone are looking for RNs — PRN and experience. My question is: How will I get that RN experience if no one will hire me and why don’t employers look at those 4 yrs LPN experience I have?

    Thank you,
    Teresa Webb

  3. Rob Cameron

    I would definately look at your LPN experience. I was an LPN as well, and I really believe that was when i learned how to be a nurse….in the sense that it was the time when I learned how to interact with patients, how to organize my time, learned my medications and learned how to interact with physicians.

    It is tough to get employeers to look beyond the graduation date and to look at your experience. Sounds like they are still looking at you as a new grad. Just keep plugging away and you will find something….its tough out there for “new grads” or in your case new RNs.

  4. Bernadette

    I have worked with some really flaky schedule ridden nurses who refuse to reciprocate. Nursing is a team effort. Anyone who can’t see beyond their nose to appreciate what others do for them is not worth staying at job for. Believe me, I just got out of a unit where after I quit for inappropriate behavior on some peoples part, was abandoned and betrayed. I’ve gotten so much experience that I would be futile to stay where all you are is what they can get from you…Beware!

  5. rick

    “just keep plugging away and you will find something.”

    Just not from *you*. Or most other hiring managers/nurses. She’s been an RN for over a year and a half now! How much more “plugging away” should she do, if people like yourself admit you want to hire only experienced nurses? I gave up looking for work and went back to my old industry just so I could have a paycheck. It’s not fair for new nurses.

  6. rick

    My above comment sounds a bit harsher than I intended it too, though, so please don’t take it the wrong way (communicating in the internet age always makes it easy to be misunderstood ya know ;-). Your department has particular needs to be met and sometimes that means an experienced person, but the thing is that we have to be willing to take the time to orient new nurses, give them the mentoring they need, help them grow. Though it has been said a million times it is still worth repeating that experienced nurses need to recall when they were green and needed the same help that we new nurses need in this current generation of nurse grads. As long as every position requires a year of employed nursing experience, we will never get there no matter how long and hard we plug on.