Interviews; there is no getting away from them, and since I began my journey to become a nurse I have endured a number of them.
I use the word endured because I view them as a real weakness of mine.
My first interview was for the university access course. Completion of this then enabled me to apply for my nursing degree which required me to go through another interview process. I then had to be interviewed to secure my secondment, and of course there are then the interviews to secure band 5 nursing positions.
You would think that by now I would be a pro and that interviews would be a breeze for me, but unfortunately that is not the case. I do all of the things that we are advised to do before an interview. I spend time preparing, do a huge amount of background reading and research common interview questions. And still I never feel prepared. Interviews make me feel anxious, and if I am honest, a little inadequate. I have a real problem with selling myself and it really is a barrier that I need to overcome, especially if I want to progress further with my nursing career.
As an example, in a recent interview I was asked to describe my personal achievements over the last 3-5 years. When I look back at what I have actually achieved there was so much that I could have included in my response. I have done many things that I am proud of and that are great achievements for a student nurse. If I was advising another colleague I would have told them to mention any of them - so why didn’t I take my own advice? Instead I gave a brief answer mainly describing my academic achievements and moved on. Shamefully I didn’t even highlight the fact that I had been selected for this position of Student Nursing Times editor! It was extremely frustrating and a poor attempt at selling myself because I know that I have a lot more to give.
So what is it that makes me so uncomfortable?
The anxiety comes when the questions are focused on me as a person. The common question of ‘tell us about yourself’ makes me want to run from the room and hide. What precisely do they want to know? And how much? I find this type of focus hard to deal with. It’s silly I know because when I sit and reflect, this question is probably the easiest question that I will ever be asked in an interview. It is about me - there can be no wrong answer!
I much prefer scenarios and clinical questions because they are about how I would handle a situation and the care I would provide for my patients. The answers I provide for this type of questioning come much more naturally to me and I am often able to provide a good, solid response.
Interviewing against fellow students also adds to my anxiety. We have supported one another during the past three years, yet on the day of interview we are competing against one another. It is not a great feeling, particularly if you are interviewing for the same position. Again, I know that this is something that I will have to learn to deal with in the future or I may as well forget any thoughts of career progression.
However, despite the worries and sleepless nights I have regarding interviews I am pleased and immensely proud to say that I have interviewed for and secured my first band 5 position. I am going to be a nurse on accident and emergency.
There are challenging, exciting times ahead of me and I think that I now need to view interviews in a more positive light. They do fill me with dread and a fear of failure but they have also led me to my dream of becoming a nurse. For the future I will aim to stop doubting myself and embrace selling myself a little more. Please try to do the same - you deserve it.
Leanne Siekiera is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for adult branch