When I started out in nursing back in 1992, the only use that we had for computers was playing games and learning to program in school.

Now computers touch our everyday life’s, especially in the workforce.  A new trend this was brought about this last year is the use of computers to do employment interviews.  I had the privilege of having my first computer interview the other day, and actually, it wasn’t bad.  There are a few things that you will need to know to cruise through this process effortlessly.

Since I’m in management, I was lucky enough to take the med/surg/tele interview and then the management interview.  The questions that I had to complete by typing on the computer were very different, but the voice part was the same six questions.  These included:

  • What makes a great employee?
  • Describe a time when you had a difficult patient?
  • Describe a time when you had a difficult family member?
  • Name a time that you used cultural diversity in caring for a patient?
  • Describe a time when you had to use service recovery?
  • How many days have you missed in the last year?

Here are 7 tips to make this process go over a little smoother.

  • Review the questions in your mind. Take out a sheet of paper and write down a time when you shined and a time that didn’t go so well.  Then answer the following questions.
  • What makes you a great employee? Here we need to go back to the basics.   To be a good employee, you need to show up, and show up on time, dress professionally, and act professionally.  To be a great employee you need to help when needed, go that extra mile to make sure the patient & family are happy, be flexible by floating to areas of like competence, and adaptable by being willing trade days with staff.
  • We have all had that difficult patient! The one who is screaming “momma” all night, the one that is always climbing out of bed, and the one that you can’t do anything right by, no matter how hard you true to please that patient.  What did you do to help those patients? 
  • How many times have you heard, “Patients would be a lot better if they didn’t have families!” Think about the last patient that you had where the significant other was always there and they always found something for you to do.  What about the needy family?  I know it’s ridiculous, but how many blankets and pillows do they really need?  The blue “H” stands for Hospital and not Hilton!  How did you previously handle this situation?
  • Cultural diversity has all kinds of implications that are valid. Besides dealing with ethnic origins and religious beliefs, there has been a lot of awareness on sexual orientation and treating everyone with respect and dignity.  After asking the admission questions about diversity, are you proactive in making sure that they a priest when needed, kosher food, or make arrangements for their life partner to stay with them?
  • One of the biggest buzzwords around the nurse’s station has to be “customer service,” but what do we do when the customer isn’t happy? As a house supervisor, I have to deal with this quite often.  Think back on a time when it was your patient?  First, you need to find out what the patient is really upset about.  Then you need to empathize with them and apologize.  Together the patient and you must come up with a solution.  Usually, you can find some kind of compromise.  This is also a great time to educate your patient on rules and regulations along with policy and procedures.
  • How many days have you missed in the last year? There for a while, there was a big problem of employees calling off for every little thing, but I have noticed that this problem has declined immensely since companies started “charging” for missed days.  The gold standard that I have read about is they are looking to see if you missed over 6 days in a year.  6 to 12 days is more than the “ideal” candidate would have, and if you missed more than 12 days, you would be considered a “frequent” call-off and this is what hospitals are looking to avoid.

By going through these 7 steps and thinking out your answers before your interview will decrease your stress level.  Remember to find a comfortable chair in a quiet room before you make that call.

And lastly, after the phone call don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter for a call from the unit manager.  There are questions that are unit specific like uniform color, what is the exact time of report, what is the staffing mix of RNs, LPNs, CNAs/Techs, & Secretaries, and what is the average percentage that you will be floating.  Depending on the location of the hospital and your skill set, you might also want to ask about where you will be floated to and what the nurse to patient ratios at the hospital are.

This is a general guideline for your next computer interview.  You might also keep in mind questions that may be pertinent to your specific area if you are OB, ICU, ER, or OR.  Relax and give it your best shot!

Written by Kay Slane, RN, BSed, CGM (Certified Grad-level Nursing Management) Matriarch of Travel Nursing. The CEO of Highway Hypodermics®, LLC, the longest-running travel nursing website by a traveling nurse. Author of “Highway Hypodermics: Travel Nursing 2019.”


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