Mastering the nurse practitioner interview is necessary to separate yourself from the competition. The PMHNP tool kit is an information hub which contains key resources for every stage in your Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner career.Within this page you will find useful links ranging from the first steps to take with your newly minted license in hand, to uncomfortable salary and contract negotiations and finally self-care tips that you and your clients may potentially benefit from.
The Foundation. I hear from many students who are anxious to start their dream job. Some students have a specific path envisioned or a defined population they want to serve. Others have envisioned a name for their future PMHNP business and want to know where to begin? Finally, we have those who desire inpatient employment and crisis intervention.
The Curriculum Vitae is like a Resume in the sense that it details your work history and qualifications for the job. When I worked as a hospitalist in a large teaching hospital, the universal lingo was “CV”. Technically speaking the CV is longer than a Resume and contains more information related to your academic achievements, presentations and publications.
If you are applying into an academic institution the differences between these two matters. For the rest of us, a well thought out and visually appealing resume is more than adequate. As far as cover letters, they do not often get read. I would focus your time and energy on the resume itself. The main purpose of your resume is to get you an invitation to the interview table.
If you are looking to save time, check out the variety of resume templates on fiverr. Trust me, $10 dollars or so here, will save you hours of wasted time with Microsoft Word formatting errors. BTW the design of the resume is changing. Soon, clean white space and design will be the norm and necessary to help you stand out. Take for instance the resume of Anton Yermolov, a graphic designer:
The Nurse Practitioner interview is game time. This is where you elevate yourself from the competition. There are several skills that you need to acquire before your interview.
Back in the year 2000, after back to back mandatory third shift overtime as a Registered Nurse, I briefly lost my mind and applied for a pharmaceutical sales position. Ironically, I strongly support non-pharm interventions. I would like to believe that chronic sleep deprivation landed me in a swanky hotel in Boston. I sat in the waiting area sweating through my JC Penny untailored suit.
Anyway, I walked in with a resume that did not correlate with the position. I basically stated how skilled I was as a critical care nurse. The whole ordeal only lasted 8 minutes before I was escorted back to the glass elevator. A few days later, after some soul searching, I started researching the application process for nursing graduate school.
I shared this story for several reasons. First, you must want the job you are applying for. Salary alone will not satisfy you in the long run. Secondly, you should tailor you resume (unlike my suit) to the job which you are applying for. In other words, if you were applying for a position in Geriatrics, don’t overemphasize your work history or clinical rotations in pediatrics. A good tip is to make multiple versions of your resume for the various positions you may apply for. For example, a supervisory role would focus on your management skills and not your familiarity with a Swan-Ganz catheter.
Next, google the company or group that you are applying into. You should know the basics of their mission statement, goals, the clients they serve and a bit about the company culture. The larger the organization, the more information you should be able to find.
How to prepare for the nurse practitoner interview
On occasion, you may encounter bizarre nurse practitioner interview questions which simply cannot be found in a search engine. For example, I had a department head MD ask me just one question for his part in the interview process. He asked me to describe the geographic relationship of where I lived to the location of the hospital? To be honest, I think the Doc was bored and wanted to have some fun. Not exactly sure. Although I got the position, I don’t feel his portion of the interview really mattered. For most normal situations, you will be asked a serious of standard questions. My advice is to have 3 key story themes memorized and practice rehearsing with flexibility. These 3 stories must be versatile, so they can be molded into any situation.
Let’s start by reviewing the basic nurse practitioner interview questions. As you read these try to think about how you would answer these questions today without any future preparation:
1) Tell us a little about yourself?
2) What is your greatest strength?
3) What is your greatest weakness?
4) Tell us about a time you and your colleague disagreed on an issue?
5) What is your 5-year plan?
6) Why do you want to work for us?
7) What was your best accomplishment in your last job?
More challenging questions may include:
8) Why should we hire you?
9) Tell us what you would do in XX clinical scenario?
10) How would you handle a co-worker who was unethical?
11) Tell me about a time you failed at something?
12) Why are you leaving your current job?
13) If we ever got into a bind with a patient, would you be willing to tell a white lie to protect this organization? (The answer is obvious,…NO!.. but just be aware of camouflaged integrity questions that may not be portrayed this bluntly).
Recall your 3 flexible stories for which you can easily adapt and answer almost any question. During the interview, take a minute to relax, breathe and let the room assume that you are thinking deeply about the questions as if you were hearing them for the first time. Find a balance between being genuine, confident, but not over stating your strengths.
Story A addresses question #4 “Tell us about a time you and your colleague disagreed?” Story A could also address question #10 “How would you handle a co-worker who was unethical?” (and question #11) “Tell me about a time you failed at something? Story A needs to be well thought ought in advance. You should feel comfortable knowing you are going to visit a time that was probably very emotional for you. The story should not be too long. Choose your best story. It should include an opportunity for you to refocus the ending with something like; “Here is what I learned from that scenario.”
Story B addresses question #5 “What is your 5-year plan?” and question #6 “Why do you want to work for us?” and question #8 “Why should we hire you?” Story B requires slightly less preparation. Clearly, you wouldn’t mention that you eventually desire a position outside of the group or in another location. You also wouldn’t want to appear overly ambitious and state that you want to be the CEO in 5 years. However, you do need to have reasons for why you want to work for this group now and how exactly you will contribute to this group. Keep in mind your professional presence, stress resilience and willingness to accommodate reasonable requests.
Story Z Can addresses #12 “Why are you leaving your current job?”. Now this can be easy if your current employer does not provide a role which accommodates your new PMHNP degree. However, if the real reason is that you don’t like your current company or manager, you need to take the high road and revert the focus onto your passion for the role. Story Z is where you come alive. This is your time to shine. This is what you have studied for, saved for and this is now your moment. Your passion for the role must come out in the interview in order to leave a lasting impression. As a PMHNP you have some skills from your training and genuine interest in understanding people. For example, you understand that within that interview room, different agendas exist, different personalities exist and company politics may potentially be a factor.
You must connect with someone in that room. Overselling your CV doesn’t get you the job. Your personality, connecting with others, humility, confidence and enthusiasm land you the job.
Salary negotiations. Depending on where you live does matter. In general, the Northeast and West Coast pay more. For Example, if you look at jobs in Los Angles California for a PMHNP the range is $110,000 – $154,000. However, if you look at Mississippi the range is $92,000 – $135,000 with an average salary of $110,123. This of course is affected by the cost of living in these areas. All of this information can be found at Glassdoor.
But wait, these salary averages fail to consider the most critical factor. How many patients are you required to see in a day to generate salary X? The range difference is downright scary. I mean, I know APRN’s who see 7 patients a day and I know some who see 25 a day and make a similar salary!
This is where you need to think about your lifestyle, think about your professional liability and think about your job satisfaction. Will you be satisfied seeing patients every 10 minutes? Please don’t underestimate this factor. Don’t sign just yet! That non-compete can really mess with your future. I realize that you are eager to start repaying student loans, but please do yourself a favor and read the fine print. A non-compete may limit your ability to practice in your area in the future. Don’t sign a non-compete.
You’re Hired! Now what? Strongly consider professional liability coverage. Seek out coverage that includes Nurse licensing board defense coverage. Chcek out our NP Professional Liability Insurance post
Tools I use on the job. First things first, you need clinical resources you can rely on. Up-to-Date and the PHQ 9 are some of the most critical reference tools that I often use. Additionally, you can find a quick review on how to write a prescription here. Most schools skip over script writing for some unknown reason.
Stay Connected. The strength of nursing comes from millions of nurses just like you networking and getting involved. This page covers the basics of several key organizations, blogs and resources that I use to help elevate your career as well.
What tools or techniques has worked well for you in finding your dream job?