Applying to a nurse practitioner program involves a lot of paperwork. You must draft a personal statement, send in transcripts, and obtain letters of reference. Your educational and professional life is summed up by a stack of 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of paper (okay, okay, the application process is all online now, but you get the idea). This process can leave you feeling like you haven’t had a chance to make a memorable impression. Enter the NP program admissions interview.
An admissions interview serves as the breaking point for many nurse practitioner program applicants. It may be the only chance admissions faculty have to interact with you in person. Shining in an interview can move your application from questionable status to accepted. A lackluster interview can have your application swiftly reassigned from accepted to rejected in the course of an hour. So, how do you make a good impression in a nurse practitioner program interview? The following tips should help.
1. Anticipate the questions your interviewer will ask
Over the past year, I have been the subject of many interviews for TV. Anticipating the questions I will be asked is hands down the most important part of preparing for these interviews. Regardless of if you are preparing for a grad school interview or a radio interview, anticipating the questions your interviewer will ask is the key to interview success.
Create a list of questions you anticipate you might be asked in your interview. Looking at the school’s website and talking with prior applicants will help. Don’t forget to complete the process by thinking through your responses. Looking to go the distance? Practice your interview responses in front of the mirror to gain confidence and hone your responses for interview day.
2. Do your homework
Nothing irks an interviewer quite like having a prospective NP student ask questions that can easily be found on the school’s website. Questions like “how many credits does the program require”, or “is the program offered online” should be answered on your own time. If you can’t find answers, save simple or trivial questions for email. Use your interview to get a broader understanding of the program and the school’s values.
In the same vein, study the NP program’s website before your interview. What seems to be important to this particular program? Does the school have any accolades or features that make it stand out? If so, refer to these in your interview if possible. Admissions faculty appreciate a student who has done his or her homework.
3. Be a professional in appearance and action
Yes, you are applying for a position as a graduate nursing student, but the grad student uniform of leggings and Ugg boots won’t cut it for your interview. Dress like you would for a job interview. You are applying to a professional program so your appearance should fit the bill.
Not only do you need to dress for success for your NP program interview, your actions must follow as well. Bring a folio and jot down a few notes throughout the interview. This shows you are actively listening and engaged. Sit up straight with your shoulders back. This portrays confidence and conveys that you will fit in well in a high pressure program. Start off the interview by greeting faculty with a firm handshake.
4. Ask a few questions of your own
Come prepared with a few questions of your own to ask admissions staff at your NP program of interest. Ask questions that will give you a broad understanding of what it’s like to be a student in the program to which you are applying. For example, something along the lines of “What challenges do students in your program most commonly face?” or “If you could give a piece of advice to someone in my position applying to nurse practitioner programs, what would it be?”. Not only does this show preparedness on your part, it also helps you determine if you will be a good fit for a particular school’s culture.
5. Address your application weaknesses
Whether we admit it or not, most of us have weaknesses when it comes to our educational or professional profiles. You may even have a few red flags on your NP program application. Address these up front in an interview and plan to discuss how you have addressed or overcome them. Hiding or skirting obvious weaknesses makes it seem like you are hiding something while acknowledging shortcomings shows character.
If, for example, your undergraduate GPA isn’t stellar, mention it in an interview. Follow this by showing that you have successfully completed a few graduate level courses since to demonstrate your academic capability.
6. Know the role of a nurse practitioner
One of the top things nurse practitioner program admissions faculty are looking to see is that you understand what a career as a nurse practitioner looks like. And, they are looking for this understanding to be specialty specific. If you are applying to a family nurse practitioner program, don’t express excitement over your future career in dermatology. Rather, talk about how you’re excited about the broad medical foundation an FNP program will offer.
Job shadowing a nurse practitioner prior to your interview will give you valuable insight into the NP role. Pull from this experience in discussing why you want to become an NP during your interview.
A solid interview can go a long way in earning your acceptance to a nurse practitioner program. Put a significant amount of time and effort into preparing for the big day- it’s not just another conversation.