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Using psychology at your nursing job interview

By Gemma Raw

We've discussed how to prepare for your interview, and answer difficult questions, but once you're in the room, there are a few psychological things you can consider doing in order to make a good first impression.

Mirror body language

A significant proportion of communication is non-verbal. While it's important to think about your own body language – for example not looking too laid back, clench your fists or cross your arms – it's also good to try and mirror the interviewer's body language. In psychological circles this is known as the 'chameleon effect'. The idea is that people tend to be more positive towards you if your body language is similar to theirs. It also helps you connect with the interviewer and show them that you're interested in what they're saying.

Don't clock watch

It's easy to find yourself checking the time sub-consciously, so be alert to this issue. It can give the impression you're not taking the interview seriously and would rather be somewhere else. As a nurse, you need to show focus and commitment.

Don't gush

It's tempting to fill spaces in the conversation, but you can talk too much, which can make you seem over-excitable or disorganised in your thoughts – not a good trait for someone in a nursing job. Don't just answer with mono-syllables, but also try to be clear and succinct. Remember, in communication less can be more.

Make eye contact

From the moment you arrive at your interview, you should look the interviewer straight in the eye. Interpersonal skills are important for nurses and making eye contact will show you are confident in dealing with people.

Find common ground

This is a tried and tested sales technique which can also pay dividends in interviews. We all tend to like people who share our interests and values, so it's always good to try and find one or two things in common with your interviewer. Weave some personal information into your answers which might just hit home.

Construal Level Theory

According to some psychological research, the further you are away from an object or person, the more abstract your thinking will be. So how does that apply to a nursing job interview? It means that if you sit closer to the interviewer and focus on specific attributes or examples of your experience, you're more likely to engage successfully with them.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Invented in the 1970s, NLP is a form of assertiveness training mainly used by salespeople and business executives. However, there are some aspects of the technique that can be useful in job interviews, for example trying to replicate the kind of language used by the interviewer, proactively asking questions and using 'power words' such as 'believe', 'overcome', 'thrive', 'success' and 'change'.

Check out our blog on perfecting video interviews...

We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your nursing career.