Interviews are conversations through which the practice is hoping to find the right person for the job and whereby you are hoping to find the right job for you. Interviews are a two-way process.

How can I prepare?

Good preparation and presentation will help you to stand out from the other candidates, so:

   confirm attendance

   plan your journey

   Is your interview outfit appropriate and comfortable?

   research the practice and the job

   collect your paperwork – CV, application form, job specification, job advert

   think about the likely questions – if you can anticipate those then you can plan your answers.

Every interviewer wants to know:

   Why have you applied?

   What skills and experience do you have to offer?

   Why are you better than the other candidates?

   Will you fit in?

All the questions you are asked are designed to address the above. It is important that you think about your questions too – what do you need to know to help you decide if this is the right job for you?

Interview nerves – how can I get rid of them?

You shouldn’t completely. An adrenaline flow will keep you on your toes! The best way to combat excessive ‘nerves’ is to make sure you are well prepared. You will then feel confident and are far more likely to be successful.

Some questions to be prepared for:

   Tell me about yourself.

   What attracted you to this job?

   What were the main responsibilities of your last job?

   What makes you think you can do this job? What aspects of your experience do you see as being most relevant?

   Why do you want to work for this practice?

   What are your strengths?

   What are your weaknesses?

   If I asked your head nurse/manager about you, how would he/she describe you?

Situational questions

These questions may be quite challenging but are designed to explore some of the answers you have already given, to verify them, and to test your ability to ‘think on your feet'. They often begin with, What would you do if…?

There are three basic rules for answering these types of questions:

1.   Contain the situation, don’t make it worse

2.   Start to make the situation better

3.   Make sure the solution is realistic.

Asking your questions

Try to make sure that the questions you ask are relevant to the work for which you are applying; and remember there are some good techniques to use when you are asked, “Are there any questions you would like to ask?”

Pay the interviewer a compliment

“I think that you have covered all the points I wanted to ask about. I wanted to know about the department structure and the systems you use, but you have covered all those areas, thank you.” You could always continue with .. And may I summarise why you should seriously consider me for the position?”

Show that you have taken an interest in the company

“I read that you have four practices in Yorkshire. Are you intending to expand during the coming year?”

When you are considering your questions before the interview, make sure that they are not ones to which you should know the answer.

Some other questions you might ask

   Is this a new position?

   To whom would I be responsible?

   How many others are doing the same work?

   What training will I receive?

DO NOT ask about pay, benefits and holidays – try to avoid talking about these subjects unless you are obliged to. There is time enough to sort out these matters once you have been offered the job. At that stage you will be in a position of strength knowing that they want to employ you!

You may want to take the opportunity to summarise for one last time why the interviewer should offer you the job. This means that you will leave on an upbeat note with your skills and experience the final things that they remember about you. 

Members of the BVNA can contact the IRS Helpline for free advice and support. Call 01822 870270 or e-mail


Nicky Ackerley BA (Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

• VOL 26 • July 2011 • Veterinary Nursing Journal