How to prepare for your university nursing interview

The majority of undergraduate nursing programmes will require you to undergo an interview prior to receiving an unconditional offer.

This pre-admission nursing interview might seem like a thoroughly nerve-wracking experience, but with the adequate preparation, it will enable you to shine.

Here we talk through how you can prepare on the days leading up to your interview, what you can expect on the day and during your interview and what to do afterward.

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The days leading up to the interview.

The days leading up to your interview can be just as important as the day itself. Preparation is key.

  • Understand why you want to be a nurse - nursing is a career, it will take handwork and dedication. But, why is this the career for you? What makes you want to do this over anything else?
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of a nurse  - many students apply and attend their interview without really understanding the role of a nurse. Ideally, arrange to work with a nurse but you could also use the NHS jobs website to look at job descriptions.
  • Plan your journey  -  try a 'dry-run' if your journey is likely to be complex.
  • Read the pre-interview information pack  - if the university has supplied an information pack it will contain important information. Read it carefully.
  • Consider an open day - if you have your heart set on a certain institution ensure you attend an open day.
  • Research the NMC Code - the NMC Code presents the standards that nurses must uphold, both personally and professionally, in order to be registered to practise in the UK. You don't need to learn it word-for-word but you should understand the principles.
  • Know the 'hot topics' - these change on a yearly basis, be aware of concepts such as the 6C's, sepsis six or antimicrobial resistance.

Good websites to browse prior to your interview are the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Royal College of Nursing, NursingNotes and the Nursing Times.

On the day of the interview.

Don't let your nerves get the better of you.

  • Eat breakfast  - you are going to need the energy.
  • Be on time - know the time and location of your interview.
  • Being all the documentation that is requested - the university may ask for proof of ID, grades and a portfolio of work.
  • Dress appropriately - dress smarty, shower, shave. This interview could change the direction of your life.
  • Know your application  - you may be asked questions on the content of your application.

Today marks the start of your career as a Nurse.

Group interviews.

During group interviews, interviewers are looking specifically at how you interact within the group, how easily you build relationships and how well make your point while simultaneously listening to, and considering, the points of others.

The group interview will usually consist of a handful of applicants completing tasks or discussing questions.

  • Talk but not too much.
  • Listen to what everybody is saying.
  • Work as a team. 
  • Be confident and be yourself.

To do well in the group interview phase you need to ensure you listen and consider the opinions of others and voice your views in a constructive manner - try to be factual and concise when answering any questions.

There will always be a natural leader in the group, if this is you, lead the group but don't control it.

One on one interviews.

This is your chance to shine - you will have one on one time with the interview panel and can really sell yourself as a potential nurse. The interview panel will vary depending on your chosen institution but they are usually made up of university lecturers, clinicians, and potentially existing students.

  • Show you understand the role of a nurse - Ask yourself, do you know the roles and responsibilities of a nurse?
  • Sell yourself -  emphasise the qualities you have that would make you a good nurse; good communication skills, good interpersonal skills, ambition, drive, empathy etc.
  • Show emotion - show the interviewer how passionate you are about becoming a nurse.
  • Tell them how you have prepared for today  - did you attend an open day? Spend time with a nurse? Complete an access to nursing course? The universities are always looking for students who go just that little further.
  • Ask questions  - have a few questions prepared for the end of the interview and if you don't understand something during the interview ask the interviewer to clarify.
  • Talk, smile and make eye-contact  - it can be hard when you are nervous but showing you can develop a relationship quickly is one of the key skills of a nurse.

Ultimately, universities are looking for the next generation of nurses. You need to sell yourself and explain why you would make an amazing nurse.

After the interview.

Now you can breathe and head out for a celebratory lunch.

You may be forced to wait, anything from several days to several months, to find out the results of your interview. Stay optimistic but keep your options open.

If you are interviewing for more than one university, learn from each interview and if you are unsuccessful, don't be disheartened and ask for feedback from the panel.

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