Interview Preparation: A Guide from HCA International

Interview Preparation: A Guide from HCA International

Interview Preparation Guide: HCA International


Many candidates ask our advice on preparing for interviews – in particular, competency based interviews, which are used to get real-life examples of your nursing experience. This week, we have some advice from HCA International who operate a number of private hospitals in London and work on Joint Ventures with the NHS across the UK.


For further information on opportunities with HCA International, please contact the MG Medical Team on 01273 494557 or email Kim@mgmedical.co.uk


Competency based interview questions require interviewees to give specific examples of times in which they demonstrated particular skills or attitudes. Generally, these questions require interviewees to describe a problem or situation, the actions they took to handle the problem, and the results of the situation. Such questions allow the employer to quickly evaluate an interviewee’s mindset, and to gauge how the interviewee handles certain situations


How to Prepare for Competency Based Interview Questions

  • Make a list of competencies that you think are important for the job for which you are interviewing.
  • Look back at the job listing for examples of required skills and attitudes.
  • List situations in which you have demonstrated each of these competencies.
  • For each situation, write down the situation or problem, the actions you took to handle the problem, and the ultimate results.
  • Review this list before your interview.
  • By thinking of examples before the interview, you will be able to answer questions during the interview quickly and concisely.


How to Answer a Competency Based Interview Question

  • Be Concise: It is easy to wander when answering a competency based interview question, particularly if you do not have a specific situation or problem in mind. Before answering the question, think of a specific example of a past situation that answers the question given. Provide a clear but concise description of the situation, explain how you handled the situation, and describe the results. By focusing on one specific example, your answer will be succinct and on topic.
  • Do Not Place Blame: If you are describing a particular problem or difficult situation (for example, a time when you had to work with a difficult boss), it may feel natural to attack or place blame on another person. However, these questions are about you, not about anyone else. Focus on what you did to manage the situation; do not dwell on other peoples’ issues or failures.


Interview Top Tips

  1. First impressions count
    Greet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake. Give eye contact. Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. Liz Anderson, a human resourcesmanager says, “You have to sell yourself before you can sell anything else and the first 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether you will fit into the team.”


  1. Be prepared
    Re-read your CV and the job advertjust before the interview. Do your research thoroughly: Look at the company web site or obtain literature. You may be asked about the salary you are after so make sure you research that as well.


  1. Be concise
    Answer questions properly – even if you need a few moments’ silence to collect your thoughts. Anderson advises, “It’s better to say you need a minute to think about your answer rather than speak instantly and regret it afterwards.”


  1. Why should they hire you?
    Most job adverts will list qualities they’re looking for – a team worker, a good communicator – so it’s up to you to think of examples of how you can demonstrate these skills. Be ready to talk about your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills. Have at least three strong points about yourself that you can relate to the company and job on offer.


  1. Be positive
    Your interviewer will be thinking about what it would be like to work with you, so the last thing they’ll want to hear is you talking about your boss or current colleagues behind their back. Interviewers like to see someone who enjoys a challenge and is enthusiastic.


  1. Remember your body language
    It is not what you say, but how you say it. During the interview, do not fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor! Sit upright and try to maintain good eye contact. Use your hands and lean forward when making a point. Many people cannot think and control their body language at the same time, which is why you need to prepare.


  1. Expect the unexpected
    Your interviewer may try to catch you off guard: A survey by Office Angels has revealed that 90 per cent of employers ask ‘killer’ questions in interviews. It is impossible to plan for every difficult question, such as “How would your colleagues describe you?” but try to appear relaxed and in control. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but do not evade it.


  1. Develop rapport
    Show energy, a sense of humour and smile. Jean Smith, a social anthropologist says: “It’s infectious, being positive and enthusiastic.” Ask your interviewer questions about themselves and any issues the business is facing.


  1. Clarify anything you are unsure of
    If you are not certain what are meant by a particular question, ask for clarification. At the end, ask the interviewer if there is anything else he or she needs to know about. Do not be afraid to ask when you are likely to hear if you have been successful or not.


  1. Remember your manners
    It is better to choose than to be chosen. Tell the interviewer why you are interested in the company and job opportunity.

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