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RCN Careers: Interviews


Increase your chances of success with careful preparation.

An interview’s success depends on careful preparation and practice.  The RCN Careers Service can support you with your preparation and offer you advice on interview skills and techniques. Use this page to make sure you are well prepared for your next interview.

Very helpful service. So much so that I got a new job at an interview within weeks - have been unsuccessful for over a year at interview. Thank you. 


An  interview’s success depends on careful preparation and practice. This might sound like a cliché, but recruiters and career experts are unanimous in that these are the most important things you can do in advance of your interview. The more well-rehearsed you are, the more confident and more in control you'll feel.

Go through the person specification, job description, and your job application, and underline all the skills, experience and personal attributes required for the role. Think back on your training and experience for examples that show how you meet these. Next, write them down using the STAR technique (Situation, Target, Action, Result)

Go through your CV and job application, making sure you know them as well as possible. Update your portfolio and make sure you’ve got all your certificates, CPD evidence, etc. in order.

You might also want to prepare some questions for the interview panel to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the role.


Make sure you’re up to date with any relevant/current initiatives within healthcare and within your specialty/field. This might be a good time to join one of the RCN's nursing forums if you're not already a member.

Research your prospective employer well and try to find out if they have any company values or are involved in any initatives/pilots/objectives.

If you need to research information on relevant topics, the RCN Library can help. It's home to Europe’s largest nursing specific collection of books, journals and e-resources and can provide literature searches upon request.


Practice with family friends or colleagues. Get them to test you by asking you questions based on the person specification and job description, or on the questions in the RCN Careers Interview GuideAsk for constructive feedback and practice again if necessary.

It's useful to film yourself practicing, because it means you might notice things such as if you're talking too fast, sound too quiet, or look too stern. If you can’t film yourself, practice in front of a mirror.

Don’t forget that RCN members can book an appointment with the RCN careers service to go through mock interviews and interview techniques with a Careers Adviser.


Plan your route to the interview and allow time for delays. It won’t hurt to do a practice run at some point beforehand.

You should also plan what you are going to wear for the interview. You need to look smart and professional, but also comfortable.

Stay positive and be kind to yourself 

Don’t put yourself down, especially by telling yourself things like, “I won’t get it anyway,” or, “I’ll probably mess it up.” Positive thinking goes a long way. Remember, you wouldn’t have been shortlisted if the employer didn’t think you could do the job. 

Ask a friend, family member or colleague to call or message you on the morning of your interview to give you a pep talk, tell you why you deserve that role and why you’re going to get the job. Not only should this give you a boost, but if the last things you hear before your interview are positive compliments, it can have a powerful psychological effect.

At the interview 

Smile and be aware of your body language. See the RCN Interview guide for more details about this.

When you address the panel, start off by looking at the person who asked the question, before directing to the rest of the panel equally.

Be prepared to be caught off guard; it’s completely normal. Thinking you’ll be able to answer each question seamlessly without hesitation is unrealistic, and the panel will be expecting candidates to be nervous or get a mental block .

If you do get caught off guard, don't panic; pause and take a deep a breath.  You could say something like, “Let me think about that question…” to fill a silence where you are trying to come up with an example.

After the interview 

Write down the questions you were asked to help you remember for next time; you can use them to practice. 

Write down what went well and what didn’t.

ALWAYS ask for feedback.

Interview skills: an RCN guide for health care assistants and assistant practitioners

Advice for members on interview skills from the RCN Careers Service.
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Careers advice

RCN members can make an appointment with a careers adviser. Contact the RCN on 0345 772 6100. You can call us from 8.30am to 8.30pm, seven days a week.

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