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5 Things to Stop Doing in Your New Graduate NP Interviews (And What to do Instead)

“New grad friendly” or “new graduates encouraged to apply” are encouraging phrases to read in a job description, am I right?

But don’t be too quick to think of these prospective employers as an extension of your graduate program preceptorship. Your interviewer is looking to hire the candidate who will best be able to fill the need in their workflow.

Here’s a list of 5 things to avoid when you’re interviewing. And, as a bonus, you’ll learn 5 things to do instead!

It’s a lot of tough love, but remember you’re getting constructive feedback as well.

At the top of the list, we talk about experience or rather, lack thereof.


1. STOP amplifying your inexperience.

We’ve all been there; we were all new once. But to be honest, your interviewer doesn’t care—that much.

It’s natural to feel that incompetence or inadequacy as a novice provider looking for your first job. There are companies out there that are willing to train and that have a positive work culture. Your goal is to show why you belong in that environment.

So, instead of highlighting the lack of hands-on experience or training, make sure to highlight your assets. One of those being transferable skills. These include:

  • Leadership

  • Collaboration

  • Conflict resolution

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Time management

  • Autonomy

  • Resourcefulness

  • Amicability


I’m not saying to lie.

On the contrary, if you’re asked about your experience, be honest. But also be brief.

You can say something like: “My skills in XYZ are limited. However, I’m excited to learn new skills and I learn very quickly.” If you’ve been researching how to do a particular skill, mention it and highlight some points about it.


2. STOP the negative talk about your NP program, preceptors, or previous nursing experience.

The interview is your first opportunity to make a strong lasting impression of yourself. Speaking negatively about your professors, preceptors, program, or past experiences casts a shadow on you professionally. When you talk down about yourself or others, you’re actually giving your interviewer an opportunity to imagine all the possible negative aspects about you. They could be thinking things like:

  • You lack initiative

  • You’re a complainer

  • You have poor ethic

  • You’re a gossip

This is the complete opposite of what you’re trying to convey. Instead, save the venting session for your mentor or a close colleague who gets what you’re going through. Replace the urge of negative talk to discuss what you learned in these seasons. Show how you excelled and demonstrated growth amidst a challenge.


3. STOP showing desperation about orientation.

During your transition, you need orientation, no doubt. But you must refrain from showcasing your fear of being new and desperate dependence on another provider for success. Good employers are aware of what hiring a new graduate entails. Others that are sub-par ignore it and take advantage of new providers.

Instead, showcase your competence. To do this, you must first believe that you are competent. If you’ve graduated and passed your boards (or you’re on your way)—you’re competent.

Reframe your need for orientation and support and make statements or ask questions regarding collaboration and success within the provider group. Remember that as a provider, you generate revenue. You’ll be treated as a provider not a student because your potential employer is a business not a university.


4. STOP low-balling your salary requirements.

A gal’s gotta eat to live, you know this. But you also have to be cognizant of your needs, your other income sources, what you can afford–financially and emotionally. A number of factors affect your take home pay, including health benefits, retirement, CEU, paid time off, bonuses, and orientation.

Another helpful calculation to understand is the reimbursement for the services you provide. Even after taking into account the decreased productivity as a new grad, and after subtracting overhead expenses, your work as a provider adds to the company’s bottom line. Which means, you shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate for a fair salary because you’re keenly aware of the value you bring.

Read more on how to negotiate here.


5. STOP winging the interviews.

Poor preparation will manifest itself very quickly in the interview. This is a huge disservice to yourself. You’ll take yourself out of the qualified candidates list early on in the hiring process. When you’re ill-prepared, you’ll also be more nervous.

To ease those pre-interview nerves do your research on:

  • The company

  • The types of services they provide

  • The patient population they serve

  • On your interviewer

Now that you’re aware of these 10 things (5 to stop and 5 to start doing instead), go out there with confidence and slay each and every interview you’re invited to.

About the Author

Josie Tate is a successful nurse practitioner, visionary nurse leader, and inspirational career mentor. She is the creator of Clincepts, a professional development resource that helps bridge the gap for nurses transitioning into advanced practice.

Nurse practitioners across the industry get and stay happily hired using strategies from Josie’s proven framework. At its core, Clincepts empowers and equips nurse practitioners to stand out, shine bright, and speak up as the best candidates for the job.

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