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Preparation and tips for your nursing university interview

Most of all, be confident, be passionate, be yourself and smile.

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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 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 afterwards.

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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 you can 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.

Resources

Former student nurses share their top money-saving tips

“A nursing degree is very different to most undergraduate courses.”

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Student money saving tips

Direct from former student nurses, the Student Money Guide is packed with useful tips.

New nursing students should claim fuel reimbursements, car share, compare markets and supermarkets and seek second-hand textbooks to make their student funding, and part-time wages go as far as possible, updated advice from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says.

The College’s latest Student Money Guide for nursing is packed with useful information on childcare, travel expenses, charitable funding and tips for those moving into private rented accommodation.

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The top money-saving tips.

Direct from former student nurses, the guide offers some top money-saving tips, which include;

  1. Develop a good relationship with your bank – meet and go through all the options and accounts which will save you most money and give you the best interest rates
  2. Use online materials, the RCN Library for example, instead of buying textbooks – If you do buy them, try advertising on university notice boards for second-hand copies, or, have a look at www.abebooks.co.uk. Use cashback websites, such as Quidco, when making purchases.
  3. Get a Young Persons Rail Card if you spend over £72 a year on rail travel – all full-time students are eligible, regardless of age.
  4. Claim fuel reimbursement if you drive further to placement than to university – it is offered, so you might as well.
  5. Be penny-wise, seek out free pickings – go to sites like Freecycle for free furniture, kitchenware and bicycles.
  6. Check out your local discount warehouses for basics, cleaning products, toilet rolls, washing powder and buy these as a household to split the cost of a bulk buy – it is well worth it.
  7. Share lifts to placement and do food shops with fellow students.
  8. Make sure your supermarket shop is cheapest – check online comparison sites like mysupermarket.com ahead of your shop.
  9. Use your local butchers and market.
  10. Take a packed lunch and flask to university – you will save a small fortune and probably eat better.

Nursing is different to other degree courses.

Claire Cannings, Senior Welfare Adviser commented: “A nursing degree is very different to most undergraduate courses. The placement element means there is less time for part-time work, and the long shifts mean childcare and travel is often more expensive.

“Fluency with finances, brilliance with budgeting and keeping clued-up on things complimentary can pay dividends. This can, in turn, impact positively on study and well-being through a student’s learning years and beyond. It’s amazing how many grants and funds students are entirely unaware of which is why we’ve collated all the information they need in one place.

“While the RCN will still be making the case to Government to invest in nursing education, we hope the guide will continue to be a valuable resource to our current and potential members.”

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Clinical Updates

Induction framework for General Practice Nurses launched

It also provides guidance for practices employing General Practice Nurses.

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The document provides a framework for both new and experienced general practice nurses.

NHS England, in collaboration with The QNI, has launched a new Induction Template for General Practice Nursing.

The Induction Template is has been designed to enable employers to ensure that nurses in a first career destination role in General Practice are well supported when taking their first career step in primary care.

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Not just useful for newly qualified nurses, the 51-page document provides an induction framework for all new general practice nurses, enabling them to develop key skills required for the role.

It also provides guidance for practices employing General Practice Nurses.

Nursing associates, health care assistants and student nurses preparing for a primary care placement may also find the template useful.

A great start to a long and exciting career’.

The author of the document, Queen’s Nurse and experienced nursing mentor and educator, Sharon Aldridge-Bent said; “Developing this template highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive induction and orientation programme for all nurses new to general practice.

“This most certainly will assist with recruitment and retention of nurses in the primary care setting.”

Paul Vaughan, Head of Nursing Now England, responsible for the delivery of the GPN Ten Point Plan, said: “this new resource will enable employers to ensure they provide nurses new to general practice with a really good experience of working in the sector and ensure they have a great start to their long and exciting career working general practice.”

The resource underpinned by General Practice – developing confidence, capability and capacity – A ten-point action plan for General Practice Nursing (2017) contributes towards the overall strategic goals outlined in the General Practice Five Year Forward View.

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