3 critical questions to ask during interviews as a nurse practitioner

Interviews. Never the most fun part of the job-hunting process but one of the most important parts to nail. Most people think that job interviews are important because it’s your time to show why you’re a stand-out, exceptional candidate. You feel you need to dazzle the interviewer and demonstrate why you’re the most qualified for this role.

This is partly true…

Interviews are a two-way street

While you do need to highlight your qualifications during interviews, most people forget (or don’t realize) that its equally, if not more important, that you are interviewing the interviewer as well.

Interviews are an opportunity for YOU to interview the company as well as for them to interview you.

So often when looking for a job as a nurse practitioner, we’re solely focused on being a desirable candidate.

While this is important, you need to have a mindset that you’re there to interview the prospective employer as well.

Could you see yourself working here and enjoying it? What concerns do you have?

We’re not taught this in school, but interviews are always a two-way interview. You need to be assessing the company to determine if the job will be a good fit for you.

How do you interview the interviewer?

You do this by asking a series of questions, questions you genuinely have, and need answered to determine if the position could be a good fit for you. So often we’re so focused on coming across as the perfect candidate that we lose this component of interviewing the interviewer/company as well.

A funny thing happens when you shift your mindset to interviewing the interviewer as well.

You’re demonstrating important skills you’ll need in the job which, as nurse practitioners, includes assessment skills among others. You’re showing your diligence, thoroughness, and evaluation of the role. All important skills to show off. But, more importantly, by asking essential interview questions, you’re allowing yourself to evaluate whether you want to work for this company.

Consequences of not interviewing the interviewer

Too often nurse practitioner candidates don’t thoroughly interview the company before being hired and then encounter surprises and frustrations after accepting a job position.

Clear questions allow you to appropriately assess and evaluate a job position to see if it’ll be a good fit for you.

So, what are some essential questions you should be asking during interviews as a nurse practitioner?

1. Are there limitations to where else a provider can practice?

You’re really asking whether there’s a non-compete clause or agreement that keeps providers from working elsewhere during employment, or after employment, within a certain radius of this agency.

Ideally, you’re accepting a job that doesn’t limit where else you can work. You want to keep your options open should you decide to leave this company or you want to work at a second job nearby.

Maintaining your freedom of choice is always preferable so asking about limitations of your freedom is a must.

2. What challenges have you faced as an organization in the recent past?

This question helps you get a better sense of the agency and its struggles. The interviewer is likely not going to give you their biggest, deepest pain point, but how they respond to this question will provide some information about their struggles from an organizational perspective.

It’s helpful to know what kind of difficulties they’re experiencing from a high level. Is it rapid growth? Frequent turnover?

Responses to this question will help you get a sense of challenges which gives you another lens into the job and the organization as a whole.  

3. What are the biggest daily challenges for your nurse practitioners?

This question is similar to the previous question but rather than an organizational challenge, it’s getting at challenges that you might experience yourself if employed as a nurse practitioner.

This question is better asked to the provider you shadow (if you shadow after an interview before being hired—strongly recommended!). This question can point to some of the biggest difficulties you may experience if hired.

Also, what’s great about this question is that when asked to a provider you’re shadowing, this person is likely not directly involved in you being hired, so they don’t have an incentive to sugarcoat a response to this question.

Honest feedback about biggest daily challenges is super valuable information for you to have before accepting a job position.

Know that answers to any of these questions should not be a sole decision maker in determining whether you want to work for the company. But, these answers provide additional data points that help you qualify the position.

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These are just a few essential questions to ask during interviews, there are several others that help you truly evaluate a potential job position, with certain questions more appropriate for different people (i.e. HR vs medical director vs provider you shadow).

Takeaway points in addition to asking these three questions are to really treat interviews as a two-way interview because once in the job, you will very much be actively working in the job and want to find the best fit for yourself.

You are a valuable, much-needed candidate.

Know this, remember this, and internalize this when interviewing.

You got this!

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