New NP or PA Grad? No problem! Here’s the advice you need to crush your interviews and prove you have what it takes to do the job.
I talk to hundreds of new Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants every year. One of the most common concerns that Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) have is how they’ll convince an employer that they are qualified for the role. In fact, I recently received the following question during our free monthly Transition to Practice Webinar:
“When interviewing for a job as a new grad, what is the best way to instill confidence in our potential employer that we would be a great fit despite our lack of formal experience?”
– Recent Nurse Practitioner Graduate
This is a great question and one I hear often. My high-level advice is to know that you are educated and trained to do your job as a new grad. But, also accept that you won’t know everything in the beginning. I often say at month one you’ll know 10% of what you need to know. At month two, you’ll know 20% and so on. It’s important to be humble and intentional when looking for a new job. Don’t settle but find the right job for you. The most important factor in your success is a strong orientation program (see orientation section) that will support you as you move from novice to expert in your role.
Five Tips to Approach Your NP or PA Interview with Confidence
1) Target Your Resume to the Job You’re Interviewing For. Resist the temptation to create one broad, multi-purpose resume for any NP or PA job you’re applying to. It’s far better to target your resume to the area of specialty, practice type and/or patient population of the advertised position. Not only will this help you stand out to the hiring manager, but it will also help you focus on the specific qualifications and experiences you bring to the role.
For more, see Nurse Practitioner Resume Guidance for New Grads
2) Prepare Answers to Interview Questions in Advance. Take time to rehearse your responses to common interview questions before your interview. I recommend that you do this for at least (10) questions, paying special attention to behavioral interview questions. Behavioral questions ask you to respond to a specific job scenario, like handling a difficult patient or resolving a conflict with a colleague. Reflect on a few experiences in your past that you can speak to that show growth and progress.
3) During the Interview, Be Attentive. Demonstrate your professionalism by giving your undivided attention to your interviewers. You’d be surprised how often new grads check their cell phones in the middle of an interview! It’s best to turn off your cell phone and keep it out of sight. You want to look your interviewer in the eye and listen well. Listening will provide the information you need to ask good questions.
For more on preparing for an interview, see Eight Interview “Must Do’s” to Land Your NP or PA Job
4) Know Your Role and Communicate It. As an NP or PA, you have specialized skills and training that are valued and respected by prospective employers. Make sure you understand your scope of practice so you can make sure the job you’re interviewing for will allow you to practice to the top of your license (as determined by state law and hospital bylaws). An interview is the best time to seek clarity and ask questions about the practice environment.
For more on scope of practice, see The Physician Assistant Role in Healthcare Today and Understanding Full Practice Authority Leads to Career Success.
6) Have a Plan for Discussing Salary. I always caution candidates against stating their desired salary range during the interview. This can lock you into a salary that’s lower than what the employer might have budgeted for the position. If you can wait until you receive an offer. In the meantime, research salaries for comparable roles in the area. Then when you do get an offer, you can lead with the research you’ve done and negotiate from an informed position.
For more on negotiating your starting salary, see No Fear: How to Negotiate Your New Nurse Practitioner Starting Salary.
Want More Career Advice? Sign Up for our Free Transition to Practice Webinar
With so many opportunities available to Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants today, finding the perfect job to ease your transition to practice can be a challenge. The same care you put into your schooling should go into finding your first job. That’s why we’ve started a monthly webinar series called How to Transition to the APP Role. Bring your questions and we’ll answer them live.
This free session will help you write a strong NP resume, master your job interview, know if a job is right for you, and more! Click below for our schedule of events.
Melnic is a nationwide search firm focused on Advanced Practice placements for APRNs and PAs. To take advantage of our specialized job matching services a visit our job board and sign up for job alerts. The best part? There is