Nursing Resumes Tips & Interviewing Skills

When it comes to hiring, many hospitals are looking for much more than just technical skill. Your competence as a nurse will likely be rated based on:

  • 50% Technical Skill
  • 50% Behavior & Character

Technical Skills

Degree: Employers will first check to see that you graduated from a reputable nursing school and have some clinical exposure. This will confirm that you’re technically competent, and it’s the easiest part of your resume. During the hiring process, your skills may be validated through testing, and this will continue throughout your nursing career.

Grade Point Average: Management usually doesn’t get to see your transcripts. So if you did well in school, put your GPA on your resume. Most people consider 3.5 and above to be a good GPA.

Behavior & Character

Nurse Managers want to know if you’re capable of completing tasks, but they also want to know how you will do the job. Your challenge when writing your resume (and interviewing) will be to communicate how you demonstrate:

  • Critical thinking, creativity, & problem solving – The hospital work environment is complex, high-stress, and ever-changing. Hospitals need people who can think on their feet when a crisis arises. They’re also looking for people who can really add value to the organization. They’re not just looking for warm bodies.
  • Maturity, ownership, leadership, & responsibility – They’re placing human lives in your hands. They need to know that you can take charge when needed and that you’ll do the right thing. When people are afraid to speak up, mistakes happen. When mistakes happen, people get hurt.
  • Interpersonal communication and the ability to not blame, whine, or over-react – Patients and co-workers can be difficult to communicate with at times. You’ll need to handle high-stress situations calmly and gracefully.

Don’t worry about your lack of clinical experience. Just focus on what you can contribute. Think about your past jobs, volunteering, and other experiences. What skills did you develop that are transferable to the nursing field? Focus on the qualities listed above. Don’t just give a list of duties. Explain how you demonstrated these skills.


Resumes in every field should emphasize accomplishments. This is how you show the employer that you are an achiever. Here are some achievements that are related to clinical projects, but you could write about any past job in the same manner.

  • Recognized a need and created a patient-focused brochure on diabetes treatment for cancer patients
  • Led a team that achieved a high customer satisfaction rating
  • Job-shadowed the department Director and Manager; helped with inventory and budgets; created an employee contest that helped raise awareness about the cost of supplies
  • Initiated a hand-washing surveillance program and created educational posters with hand-washing data


Magnet nursing facilities usually require a portfolio, which is brought to the interview and updated yearly with continuing education information. It includes a philosophy statement, honors/awards, and professional achievements. Even if you aren’t applying for a job at a magnet facility, you may want to have a portfolio to show employers. This will show that you are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Behavioral Interview Questions

When you get to the interview stage, expect lots of situational/behavioral questions. They will want to know how you have acted or would act in certain scenarios. Find a way to prove your maturity, level-headedness, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, and energy.

Here are some example questions.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a coworker who was difficult to work with. Describe how you approached that relationship.
  • Scenario: You see two hospital employees getting into an argument in the hallway of them Critical Care Unit. What do you do?
  • Scenario: You walk in your patient’s room and overhear the patient telling his daughter that you have not been in the room enough today. He feels neglected and feels he is not getting good care. How would you respond to this patient?
  • Describe a work situation in which you felt there was an ethical dilemma or where you felt your principles may be compromised.

Last Updated November 27, 2017