Kyleigh Ellis, Region VII Student Representative

Case Study:

A young, recent college graduate walks into a lab setting to meet with a clinical laboratory supervisor seeking a job. He is sweating profusely and seems to be shaking. Stuttering, he admits to being extremely nervous.

Signs & Symptoms 

  • Sweaty palms
  • Nausea
  • Weak knees

Clnical Signs

  • Nerves – slightly elevated
  • High blood pressure

I have been a microbiology technician at a local regional medical center for a little more than three years now and have worked with numerous doctors, nurses, and pharmacists during this time. The medical center employs great doctors and nurses who are respectful and understand the laboratory profession and our importance in providing quality patient care. However, we all experience anger from a disgruntled doctors or nurses at some point in our careers. It can be frustrating when trying to provide the best patient care. What causes this anger and lack of understanding? What causes the blame game?

After reading this case study, you know our patient can be diagnosed with pre-job interview nerves. However, we can’t let little ole nerves keep us from getting a job for which we have trained for so long.

Whether you’re finishing college or finding places to complete clinical rotations, you will find yourself sitting in an office, answering questions about yourself and trying not to bolt. It’s not easy or fun, and that’s coming from a very talkative, extroverted person.

Nonetheless, I’m here to help by sharing my tips for preparing for an interview and answering and asking questions. I have the treatment, if you will, for those pre-job interview nerves.

First things first – first impressions. You’ve heard it enough to have it engraved in your brain but here it is again: people form their impressions of you just by the way you look. So the goal with that logic in mind is to be clean and confident.

  • Take a shower. Yes, college students can get away with looking pretty rough on a daily basis, but this is not the time to practice a hippy lifestyle.
  • Invest in a good interview outfit. Okay, I know. We’re broke. Try to look for sales. All you really need is a good business jacket, classic button up, and dress pants. Sale racks work fine for this and you might have a good pair of khakis in your closet that you didn’t spill lunch room spaghetti on in high school. This tip is worth it! You can wear the same outfit to every interview.

Now, you’re ready for the questions. It’s like a first date and it might even be less awkward.

  • Have your resume and application in hand. Ask mom or the annoyingly organized classmate next to you to borrow a manila folder. Sweaty, wrinkled pages be gone. Plus, you look that much more professional.
  • Rehearse like it’s a show on Broadway. I can’t stress this one enough. Below is a list of common interview questions. Prepare your responses beforehand and you won’t be stuck with the infamous ‘uhhh’ and ‘umm’ pit falls.
  • “Tell us about yourself.” Include major accomplishments and noteworthy characteristics
  • “What are some of your strengths?” Now is a good time to expound on and reiterate your previously mentioned characteristics. Punctual, hardworking, strong leadership and organizational skills, etc.
  • “What are some of your weaknesses?” Pick something that isn’t all that bad and put a positive twist on it. For example, I always say that I’m cursed with always being early, like an hour early, everywhere I go.
  • “How do you take criticism?” This is a big one, as we’re always dealing with other healthcare professionals who are just as tired and snappy as we are. Let your interviewer know that you take polite, constructive criticism very seriously.
  • “What would you do in a situation where a nurse is belligerent regarding delayed results?” Our job is to politely educate them on our protocol and procedures. Most importantly, reiterate your understanding that nurses are just as busy and stressed as we are and being aggressive back is not an option.
  • The Last Stretch – At this point, hopefully you’re more relaxed. Your interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. This would be a good time to ask about opportunities you may have to climb the clinical ladder. Feel free to ask anything that’s appropriate, but not too forward. When you leave, make eye contact as you shake hands. Don’t leave in a rush, but don’t linger either.
  • Bonus note: Carry as few bags as possible. Walking into the interview fumbling with a jacket, your phone, and a purse or briefcase makes you seem messy and unorganized.

Keep these points in mind for your next interview and don’t be afraid to look for other commonly used interview questions and tips online! Most importantly, be yourself and let the interviewers get a feel for your personality!