If you’re a final year student like me, you might be wondering when to start applying for jobs and how to nail down the job you want. I would recommended starting to apply for jobs straight after you’ve submitted your dissertation, which is in mid January. Usually, job offers end by the end of March. I do, however, know some people who applied really early in November and got the jobs they wanted. Think well about where you want to work. Is it on a ward? Just any ward? Or would you go for surgery? Or a rotation? Community? Personally, I learned that getting a job in a specialist area, such a Critical Care, Recovery, Theatres and A&E straight away without professional experience is very difficult, hence a rotation would be a great and quick way to start and then move on to a specialist area.

Firstly, start by writing a good convincing CV and uploading it on the NHS jobs website. Then apply for 5 to 10 jobs you like. Once you’ve done that, just wait for an email inviting you for an interview. Remember to wear comfortable formal or semi-formal clothes. I strongly recommend flats as opposed to heels. I recommend you bring your passport and two other documents for them to identify your ID, a calculator and a few pens. On the specified day you might be asked to sit a numeracy and literacy tests, followed by the interview itself. Don’t forget to smile and be yourself.

Secondly, remember to prepare well for the interview. During the interview they will ask you standard questions related to the area you’ve applied for. For example:

  1. What can you bring to our trust?
  2. How flexible are you and how do you feel if we asked you to move and work in a different ward/area?
  3. What are your weaknesses?
  4. Give us an example when you’ve ‘walked the extra mile’ to ensure that the patient’s wishes were respected.
  5. What would you do if a doctor told you to put Marmite on a patient’s wound? (Yep, I got that question on one of my interviews :P)
  6. What would you do if you found a patient laying on the floor in the bathroom?
  7. What would you do if you found an extra swab in a packet of 5 swabs during a surgery? (surgery related)
  8. What would you do if at your final count a swab was missing? (surgery related)
  9. What would you do if one of your patients deteriorated quickly, had tachycardia, hypotension, a chesty cough, clammy skin and pyrexia? (critical care/A&E related, think sepsis,guys!)
  10. How accommodating are you towards people from different  social, religious and cultural backgrounds?
  11. How do you deal with stress?
  12. What are the values of our trust?

The list only goes on, however, remember to always stop and think for a second before answering. Be honest and give a relevant answer that answers the question fully.

Finally, ask them any questions you have. Remember that as a newly-qualified nurse you are in no position of bribing, however, you need to remember the importance to negotiate, for example, will the salary while you’re waiting for your pin be paid as a band 3 or a band 4, will there be a 2, 3, or 6 month preceptorship, how long will you be allowed to be supernumerary, for how many patients will you be expected to look after if you start on a ward (no more than 8!!!), are there rotations available and so forth.  After the interview wait for an official letter to arrive in your mailbox saying: ‘Congratulations, you’ve just nailed the job!’

Good luck everyone!

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