Your interviewer loves stories. In fact, you love stories. Everyone loves stories. So it only makes sense to become a great storyteller. To secure your first job as a nurse, you have to perfect the art of storytelling. About yourself.
I royally screwed up telling the story about myself. Twice! My first interview, I wasn’t prepared at all and just said whatever came to my head. My second interview, I didn’t focus my story about being a clinical nurse and drifted off into ‘health policy’ –that was a no-no.
I got better after learning the hard way. For my third interview, I started to focus my answers and got the job at a nursing home. By the time my current employment interviewed me — my fourth and fifth interview — I had some real nursing experience and relied on that to come up with some great stories.
So what’s the difference between a tale and a story?
A tale is simply stating something that happened. People don’t usually care about what happened. However, a story has a moral, a meaning, a takeaway point to it. We care about the 3 major things – the ‘bad situation’, the ‘thing you did to make it better’, and the ‘aftermath.’
Here’s an example for a question: Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation.
A tale: a women wouldn’t take her medications. Later she did after I convinced her.
A story: a women wouldn’t take her medications. After thinking about why she wouldn’t, I realized that she wanted more control over what was happening to her. Instead, I gave her a choice and asked her, “would you like to take your medications in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” She replied, “in 10 minutes. Thank you.” 10 minutes later, I went back to her to give her medications and she took them like a champ. Giving her the options allowed her to gain some control but not complete free-reign. This compromise allowed me to accomplish my goal (to give her meds) and made the patient happy.
Here’s another example: Tell me about your greatest strength.
A tale: I ask a ton of questions because I always want to learn.
A story: As a new nurse, I know that I have a lot to learn. I understand that sometimes I will be asked to do something that I’ve never done before but I am not afraid to ask questions to make sure that I’m competent the next time it comes up. I wasn’t sure how to put someone on a bedpan so I asked the ancillary staff. The next time I did it with someone. Another time I wasn’t sure if I heard the breath sounds correctly so I asked another nurse to confirm what they heard. Asking questions is my strength and understand that this is key to learning fast.
Here are some common questions. Think of your clinical experiences and come up with a story for each question.
- What is your greatest weakness?
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- What made you interested in nursing?
- What do you like about nursing?
- What was your favorite clinical rotation? Why? (please relate this directly with the position you applied for)
- Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize.
- Tell me about a time when you had to delegate.
- Tell me about a time when you had to problem solve.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Do you have plans on going back to school?
- Tell me about ‘x’ experience that you wrote about on your resume.
Work on becoming a great storyteller and you’ll find that you’ll use this skill over and over again during every handoff report. And hopefully you’ll get a job offer! Good luck! Let me know if you have something crafted but would like a little help looking it over.
I wrote this article as a part of the “Most Marketable Skills” Campaign on Webucator. I have to thank Bob Cleary for letting me be a part of the campaign! While I personally haven’t utilized their resources, they look helpful! Currently they are offering a free Microsoft Word 2013 class that involves learning about advanced formatting, using Word 2013 drawing tools, creating and managing tables, and working with column layouts. Each month they offer a new free course, so check it out even after this post is long done.
In case you missed the campaign, here are some of the other blogger’s input: