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Job interview tips for school nurses

Tagged In:  NMC, Nursing

Have you been invited for interview for a school nursing post? Here are our top 10 tips to help you be fully prepared and make a good impression.

1. Do some online research

Check out the school's website. You should find some useful information and may also be able to familiarise yourself with school policies, such as health & safety or safeguarding.

2. Think about the bigger picture

Be ready to answer general questions about the role of the school nurse. It's worth familiarising yourself with or revisiting the Healthy Child Programme: from 5-19 Years Old and Healthy Lives Healthy People, a 2010 white paper which sets out the Government's long-term vision for the future of public health in England. The Royal College of Nursing's Toolkit for School Nurses and Safeguarding Children and Young People guidance are also useful reference resources. With each school nurse needing some of the skills of a Social Services OT and a mental health nurse showing a broad view will really help.

3. Follow your STAR

You'll probably be asked at least one 'behavioural' or 'situational' question to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience. Choose a specific example and follow the STAR technique: describe the Situation, outline your Task, define the Activity, show the Result.

4. Big up your interpersonal skills

As a school nurse, your work will not only involve the medical needs of the children, but also their emotional wellbeing. You need to show you can relate well to young people and deal effectively with common issues, such as anxiety and self-harm. Make a list of your strengths (kindness, empathy, approachability, good communication skills etc) and be ready to focus on them in your answers.

5. Be aware of your body language

55% of communication is non-verbal. Don't slouch or look too relaxed, don't clench your fists or wave your hands around, don't fidget and, most importantly, remember to smile!

6. Think beyond work

Give examples of hobbies, pastimes or volunteering that could be relevant to your role as a school nurse. Maybe you mentor disadvantaged children in your spare time or run a youth sports team/activity group?

7. Ask about CPD

Enquiring about continued professional development (CPD) will show you're committed to improving your professional practice. There may be opportunities to study for additional qualifications, such as a masters degree in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing.

8. Get there on time

Being late for your school nursing job interview will raise concerns that you have an issue with punctuality. Aim to arrive early so that you have time to compose yourself and don't feel rushed.

9. The weakness question

'What's your key weakness?' is a common interview question that's aimed at testing your analytical skills and self-awareness. The best strategy is to highlight a weakness that could also be perceived as a strength. For example, you could say that you sometimes find it difficult to switch off outside work. Maybe you do yoga or meditate to relax?  Show the interviewer that you are able to deal with the challenges of your job to protect your own health and wellbeing.

10. Be proactive

Ask questions whenever you feel it's appropriate during the interview. For example, you could ask about the school's policy on bullying or how your performance will be measured.
We've produced a handy interview guide for candidates applying for healthcare jobs. Download it here.

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