Job interviews can be quite stressful. While you are excited to land a new position, the process of acquiring one seems painful and nerve wracking. What will your interviewer ask? If you are a new nurse practitioner or physician assistant graduate, what will you say when grillred about your prior experience? Fortunately, there’s a way you can prepare ahead of time to help you answer any and every nurse practitioner job interview question. 

Whenever NPs or PAs ask me what they can expect to be asked in a job interview, I’m not quite sure how to respond. Some interviewers ask very few questions, instead opting to take interviewees on more of a tour of the clinic or hospital laying out the position’s responsibilities. Other employers take a conversational approach conducting a laid back interview while yet others are more formal creating the stereotypical interview setup

You can’t always predict the kind of interview situation you will find yourself in, but there is an easy way to prepare for them all at once. Use the S-T-A-R method. Here’s the concept. The best way to respond to questions asking about times you were challenged, events where you showed leadership etc. 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:

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Situation: When your interviewer asks a question, start 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. 

Task or Action: Once you have described the specifics of your situation, talk about the task or action you took given the circumstances. This shows your interviewer you are capable given the qualities they are inquiring 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. A job interview is your time to shine!

Before your next job 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 or employee. Think about situations where you have helped provide value to past employers. Write out one of these examples on each piece of paper in the Situation, Task/Action, Result format. 

When a prospective employer asks you a question in your next nurse practitioner or physician assistant job 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. 


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1 thought on “How to Answer Any NP or PA Job Interview Question”

  1. What’s a good answer to “Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership/when was a time you showed leadership in clinical?” for a student applying to FNP program straight out of a BSN program with no work experience? I’ve been trying to think of an answer…. I’m having a hard time!

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