The last time I interviewed for a nurse practitioner position, I was hired on the spot. I recall I was asked just one or two questions, handed over my resume, and bam! I was hired. My rapid hiring surprised me given my lack of experience at the time. When I left the interview and recounted the story to family members working in the business world they found it highly amusing.
My family members accustomed to working as business owners or as employees in large corporations couldn’t believe I’d simply been hired on the spot. But, I’ve come to learn that this is the way things often work when it comes to the hiring of nurse practitioners. In medicine, we all have a predetermined job title, so there’s less back and forth when it comes to securing a new position. And, most of us are more comfortable caring for patients than doing managerial tasks.
While on the surface, the straightforward job interview process when it comes to nurse practitioners seems ideal, perhaps this is why so many of us land in positions where we are unhappy, or jobs where more or less of us is required than we expected. Although our job description is marked more by our schooling and less by the company we work for, due process is important in choosing a job both on the side of the employer and candidate. This way you can make sure your next nurse practitioner position is a good fit.
To help avoid nurse practitioner burnout and seek out the best fitting organization for your personal goals, every NP should ask some key questions to the interviewer. Here are seven questions to consider asking your prospective employer.
1. How do you evaluate success in this position? What are some things past nurse practitioners here have done to help them succeed?
This question gets down to the core of what is important to the clinic or hospital where you are applying. It helps you understand what the expectations of the job will be and whether you have the skill set to meet them, so listen up. Many nurse practitioners I talk to express frustration that medicine can be “all about the numbers”. If your interviewer responds to this question by saying “our last NP saw 50 patients a day, that’s what made him successful”, then you know you that this prospective clinic or hospital setting might be a bit of a patient-mill. If your response is more along the lines of “we measure success by revenue generated” you can expect to be under pressure to bill, bill, bill if offered the position in question.
The response you receive when asking how a potential employer measures success will give you a clue as to what your day to day nurse practitioner job will look like working for that potential employer. It also provides valuable insight as to how you can thrive if offered the job.
2. Am I expected to be a mentor? Will I be mentored myself?
Sometimes, new nurse practitioner graduates find themselves in a precarious position. They are expected to be leaders in the clinic or hospital, giving direction to nurses and medical techs, but still have many questions themselves. Maybe they are left alone in the clinic setting, wishing for more clinical advice to help them continue to grow. Getting an idea of how much leadership you will be expected to give as well as how much support you will receive helps you gauges if the position is ideal given your level of experience and your personal preference.
3. Why is the current nurse practitioner leaving the position?
Getting an idea as to why current employees are leaving a company gives you further insight into the organization’s culture. Could the prior NP not keep up with the demands of a busy clinic? This alerts you to the fact that you could see some chaotic days in this particular job. Or, perhaps he/she was a new grad and didn’t feel the current setting offered enough support to less experienced NPs. If this is the case, think twice about accepting the position if you, too, have new grad status.
Take the response to this question with a grain of salt, of course. Everyone is different and the decision to leave a company is laden with personal preferences and circumstances in addition to the characteristics of the job itself.
4. What challenges do you see your company facing over the next year?
This question demonstrates that you aren’t only thinking about the narrow scope of your role as a nurse practitioner, but also the broader scope of the success of the company as a whole. This kind of thinking is rare among healthcare providers and will impress interviewers. It also (hint, hint), alerts you to what challenges and frustrations you might face as an employee should you accept the position.
5. What challenges do you see the person accepting this role facing in the short and long term?
Along the same lines of the previous question, getting a heads-up to what frustrations you may experience in a given job is important. Every position has drawbacks, so even if this seems like the ideal job, the response you receive gives you an all-important reality check. It helps you determine if the position is a good fit.
The answer you get could also give you an extra chance to shine. If, for example, your interviewer predicts that the implementation of a new Electronic Medical Records system could spell doomsday for staffers, you may mention your tech savvy and prior EMR experience.
6. What have you enjoyed most about working here?
Asking your interviewer about him/herself gives the opportunity for some back-and-forth about how you share similar values or vision. It gives you the chance to show you could be a good fit for the job within a natural conversation. If your interviewer struggles to come up with something he/she likes about working for the company, you probably aren’t going to find anything positive about working there either.
7. Now that you know my qualifications, do you have any concerns about my ability to be successful in this position?
Be open to whatever response you get here. Vulnerability and the willingness to be coached and work on weaknesses is important. It takes a confident person to admit to shortcomings and doing so can actually give you an edge in the interview process. If you aren’t offered the position, understanding why a prospective employer hedged helps you address these concerns in future interviews.
Remember, technically you are the one being interviewed here, so don’t turn your next job interview into the grand inquisition. Ask the questions to which you are most eager to get answers. Don’t forget to take notes. Even if you’ve got your prospective employers responses are locked squarely away in your memory, a little note taking here and there gives off the impression that you are prepared and engaged.
8. What opportunities are made available to your providers to help us transition into practice?
This is especially crucial for new grads (0-5 years in practice) transitioning into a clinical setting. While you have all the knowledge you need to execute your job successfully, applying this knowledge in practice can be overwhelming. It is important to feel supported in your career so you can achieve your highest potential and provide exceptional patient care. Find out their facility's plan and process for supporting your career, and skill, growth. After all, they benefit from your enhanced performance too.
Accelerate Application of Knowledge in Practice
It is important to set yourself up for success in your nurse practitioner career. One way is asking the right questions so you can find the right organizational fit for your personal aspirations. Another way is to begin your transition to practice journey through an enhanced educational experience, like ThriveAP.
ThriveAP offers a 12-month, evidence-based live, virtual curriculum specifically created by and for advanced practice providers. Learn more about our unique curriculum and apply.
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