5 Tips for Preparing Your Students for Internships and Interviews

Nursing Internships and Interviews
5 tips for preparing your nursing students for their internships and interviews
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Nursing Internships and Interviews
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The time has finally come! The cohort of nursing students you taught, observed, and tested over the last few years is now preparing to enter the workforce. Under your guidance, they have each transformed from a novice student to a critically thinking, confident nursing graduate.

However, there is still one thing left on the to-do list — securing the perfect internship!

Nurse educators play a key part in preparing the student for the internship process. Creating resumes and engaging in mock interviews are only a few tasks that ensure the student is on the path to success.

Here are 5 tips for preparing your students for internships and interviews . . .

1) Draft a resume

Writing a resume can be an intimidating task for students, especially if this is their first opportunity to create one.

You can help by working with the student to generate a resume that highlights their clinical experience and academic achievements.

The resume should clearly state the students’ objective, education, and clinical/professional experience with associated job duties. These components allow the employer to see that the minimum job requirements have been met prior to proceeding to an interview.

You should encourage the student to be proud of their accomplishments. Certifications, project involvement, and extra-curricular organizations (Student Nurses’ Association) should be listed on the resume as well.

2) Review interview etiquette

A successful interview begins with interview etiquette. As you prepare your students for interviews, encourage them to:

  • Bring extra copies of the resume, cover letter, references, transcript, and letters of recommendation. The interview panel may consist of several people.
  • Dress to impress. Business attire is expected for a professional job interview.
  • Leave food, drinks, and gum in the car.
  • Mute their cell phone and put all electronic devices away before entering the building.
  • Walk in the room with confidence, introduce yourself, shake hands, and make eye contact throughout the interview.
  • Thank the interview panel for their time before concluding the interview.
  • Send a follow up “Thank You” email.

Providing your student with these interview guidelines will allow them to stand out amongst their peers and makes them a more memorable candidate.

3) Perform mock interviews

Mock interviews are an excellent way to prepare students for real life interviews without the stress. These scenarios should be as close to a real interview as possible. Students should dress in business attire and be presented with realistic interview questions.

Consider building an interview panel of nurse educators or university alumni rather than classmates. This allows the student to experience a more genuine interview and encourages more authentic answers.

It is important to consider all interview options – including virtual interviews.

After each mock interview is complete, it is critical to allow ample time for feedback and questions. The interview panel should provide honest feedback and discuss opportunities for improvement.

4) Narrow down internship opportunities

The fast-paced environment of nursing school allows for exposure to several different nursing specialties in a short time. However, ample time is not provided to fully dive into each clinical area. Oftentimes, this results in students having trouble selecting an internship.

Nursing educators serve as excellent resources for students as they narrow down internship opportunities.

Begin by asking the student which field of nursing they desire to gain experience in. Where do they see themselves learning and growing as a nurse? Do they see themselves working in this setting and loving what they do?

Next, discuss the priorities.Where is the internship located? Will the location require the student to move? Will the rate of pay cover the cost of living? Is there potential for career growth?

Once the list is narrowed, encourage the student to research the organization and review the details of the internship. How long is the internship? Does the contact require a commitment once the internship is complete?

Most importantly, support the student in their internship decision!

5) Prepare students for their first day

Now that the applications have been submitted, the interviews have been completed, and the offers have been accepted, it is time to prepare the student for their first day as a nurse!

You can ease those first day jitters by encouraging the student to review onboarding paperwork before they arrive for orientation. This allows them to know what to bring (pen, notebook, lunch), what to wear (business attire, uniform), when to arrive, and where to park.

After orientation is complete, the student will anxiously join their receptor on the unit. Encourage students to review the literature associated with their specialty area to refresh their knowledge and ensure they feel confident as they care for their patients.

With that said, remind the student that they are not expected to know everything. Internships are designed to be a learning, growing opportunity for the new graduate nurse.

Now that you have properly prepared your students, they are ready to venture into the world as nurses! However, your time with them is not over. It is essential that you remain a resource for them as they endure real world nursing. You have gotten them this far; they will want to share their successes with you!


National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2019). Preparing Students For, Setting Up Mock Interviews. Retrieved from: Doyle, A. (2020). Top Job Interview Tips for College Students. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-job-interview-tips-for-college-students-2059837

Loretto, P. (2019). How to Prepare Yourself Before the Start of an Internship. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-prepare-yourself-before-your-internship-starts-1986751

WayUp. (2019). How to Prepare For Your First Day At Your Internship. Retrieved from: https://www.wayup.com/guide/community/prepare-first-day-internship/

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