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How to prepare for your first mental health interview

You’re through to the second round and you have the opportunity to wow your potential employers. But how can you ensure you get it right in your mental health interview?

The simple answer is to prepare. You can’t revise everything you learnt during your course, but there are certain questions that are bound to crop up.

Such as questions based on….

1. Legality

The Mental Health Act underpins everything you do as a mental health nurse so you need to show that you know it. Consider which sections you are most likely to come across if you got the job and how they will affect your practice.

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Revise the key elements of the most important sections:

  • Who can use this section?
  • Who can they use it on?
  • How long does it last for?
  • How is the section removed/How does the patient (or nearest relative) appeal?
  • What paperwork needs to be completed?

The Mental Capacity Act, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and the Care Programme Approach are also possible subjects for questions so make sure you’re comfortable with how each affect you and your patients.

2. Diagnosis

Again, it’s important to think about which diagnoses you’re most likely to come across on the unit interviewing you. Then you can learn the most important information about each one:

  • What treatment is generally used?
  • What typical symptoms would a person with this diagnosis exhibit?
  • What problems might you encounter working with this patient?

3. Medication

We all know nursing is more than just looking at a drugs card and dishing out the meds prescribed. Nurses need to know what they giving, why and what the potential side effects are, and your employer will want to know you’re familiar with them. Dust off your BNF and have a read through the drugs you know you’re likely to see on the ward.

  • What class of drug is this?
  • How is it administered?
  • What illnesses is it used to treat?
  • What are typical side effects?
  • What are the contra-indications?

Scenarios

Some of your questions will be scenario based. Such as:

  • “What would you do if you found a patient smoking in their bed area?”
  • “If a healthcare assistant disagreed with a decision you made, how would you handle the situation?”

It’s not possible to revise for these but the main thing to remember is to put yourself in that situation. Employers are looking for common sense here, they test your knowledge in the more specific questions.

Occasionally, these questions will be worded in a way that you need to give an example of when you have done something. There’s only so many possible things they can ask, so if you have time think of an example of when you have:

  • Given exceptional patient care
  • Had to give a patient sensitive information
  • Used your initiative
  • Delegated safely
  • De-escalated a situation
  • Kept calm in a crisis (The interview itself doesn’t count!)

The interview stage is your first chance to show how good a nurse you can be so, take your time when preparing and good luck.

Readers' comments (3)

  • I was asked how I would handle an aggressive patient?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Preparation is the key could be siad because it helps to build up your Confidence.
    Political aspects and being aware of how politicians could have effect on what you do.
    assertive behaviour in the case of scenarios, like dealing with aggressive patient; not to lose your temper and hiding your feeling is very crucial as well. Keep calm, make eye contact, and if the patient prefers space; allow them to have their space.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • a common question now, especially in acute services, is how would you handle change?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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