Spring is the perfect time to get started on your nurse practitioner program applications due this fall. After all, writing personal statements isn’t quite as taxing if done while laying by the pool, right? As you wade through the different pieces of your NP program application, it’s not to early to start thinking about the next steps in the application process including a potential in-person or phone based admissions interview. 

The style of NP program admissions interviews varies from school to school and you can’t always predict the types of questions you will be asked. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to prepare for them all at once. The S-T-A-R method is a universal tool that will help you deliver a clutch response to any tough question an interviewer throws your way. Here’s how it works. 

The best way to respond to questions asking about times you were challenged, events where you showed leadership and the like (you know, those dreaded types of interview questions) is to share a specific example. This prevents you from giving a meandering, generic response and helps your answer pack a punch.

S-T-A-R stands for the following:

Situation: When an admissions faculty member asks an interview question, begin your response with something along the lines of “that reminds me of a time….”. Proceed to describe a situation you once found yourself in that is in line with the question you have been asked. If you are asked about leadership skills for example, outline a situation where you found yourself stepping up when the charge nurse was out in your last job or in an organization where you volunteer. If your interviewer asks about challenges you have faced, talk about a time when you overcame less than ideal work circumstances to help a patient. Choose situations from work or school rather than your personal life. 

Task or Action: Once you have described the background of your situation, talk about the task or action you took given the circumstances. This shows your interviewer you have demonstrated the qualities they have asked about with the interview question. 

Result: What happened as a result of the task or action you took in the example you are giving? Don’t be afraid to boast a little. An admissions interview is your time to shine!

Before your next NP program interview, take out 5 pieces of paper. On each, write out a S-T-A-R scenario. Think of a time or two you overcame a challenge, a few situations where you showed leadership, an instance where you taught, trained, or helped a coworker, patient or fellow student. Think about situations where you have helped provide value to past employers and academic institutions. Write out one of these examples on each piece of paper in the Situation, Task/Action, Result format. 

When an admissions faculty member asks you a question in your next NP program interview, think back on your S-T-A-R‘s. Respond to the question with a S-T-A-R scenario. Describe a situation you once found yourself in that relates to the question you have been asked. By thinking through a few S-T-A-R‘s ahead of time, viola!, you are prepared to answer just about any interview question. Now you just need to make it through your nurse practitioner program


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