Eight Interview “Must-Dos” to Land Your NP or PA Job

Want to make a great first impression? Mind your PA and NP interview etiquette.

Employer and job seeker shaking hands
Never underestimate the power of a smile and a firm handshake.

We know that job interviews for nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) positions can be nerve wracking. How is your PA or NP interview etiquette? Everyone wants to make a good impression, yet sometimes little habits can chip away at an otherwise professional image.

If you’re an advanced practice healthcare provider, your people skills are probably top-notch. Your patients and colleagues count on you to bring your best self to the job each day. So, it’s likely that you do many of these things already. Still, before you go into your interview, brush up on these eight easy interview etiquette tips!

1. Be Punctual

Arrive at your interview 10-15 minutes early. Don’t take a chance that you might be even one minute late. If you’re worried about running behind, it’s fine to get to the location of your interview much earlier. But, you should pass the time in your car, at a corner café, or in a sitting area in another part of the building. It can be stressful to your interviewer if you arrive before they’re ready for you.

2. Be Kind

Treat all people you encounter with professionalism and respect. That receptionist, secretary, or custodian may offer his or her opinion of you to the boss. So remember names and use them appropriately as you greet people at all levels of the organization.

3. Be Professional

You may find that your interviewer has a relaxed, casual approach. But, be careful not to let down your guard. Avoid using slang words, try not to be overly friendly, and don’t address the interviewer by his or her first name unless he or she asks you to.

4. Be Focused

You’d be surprised how many people let distracting habits derail their interview. These include things like chewing gum or checking text messages. If you carry a cell phone, turn it off for the duration of your appointment. And, although you might be nervous, don’t show it by fidgeting with your pen, clothing, or jewelry.

5. Be Attentive

Interviewers don’t like to be interrupted, even if you are enthusiastic about answering a question. It’s better to listen carefully and give thoughtful, concise, and honest responses. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked. Also, feel free to pause and gather your thoughts before answering. This is better than rambling as you try to figure out what to say.

It’s also a good idea to be aware of any non-verbal behaviors: sit up straight, smile as often as you can, and maintain eye contact (just don’t stare the interviewer down!). Leaning forward can show interest, as long as you’re not invading the interviewer’s space.

6. Be Positive

This is your chance to shine. If you have a tendency to be self-effacing, work on projecting energy and enthusiasm. It’s unlikely you’ll be seen as aggressive, pushy, or egotistical as long as you’re being authentic. But, for some people, this is a fine line, and if you find yourself trying too hard to sell yourself, take a step back. Above all, never make negative comments about previous companies or colleagues. It will be perceived as a shortcoming on your part and can hurt your reputation.

7. Be Smart About Salary

If asked about salary requirements, avoid disclosing what you currently make. You can defer the question until after you’ve received an offer. At that point, you will know more about the salary range for the type of job you’re interviewing for. See our salary guides for average NP, PA, and CNS salaries.

Melnic clients are coached to defer questions about salary by responding, “I’m working with Melnic Consulting and understand that they will address any salary questions on my behalf. But, you can also respond: “I’d like to focus on my qualifications at this point. Can we wait and discuss salary once we both feel that I’m the right candidate for the position?”

Finally, Be Remembered

As the interview winds down, offer a firm handshake and make eye contact. Thank your interviewer for his or her time and again express your interest in the position. Collect your things and depart gracefully, smiling and thanking the receptionist and other support staff on your way out.

Need help with your physician assistant or nurse practitioner resume? Want some advanced practice career coaching?  Contact us.  We’re happy to help you plan for your future at no cost.