10 interview tips for veterinary nurses

Posted: 3 August 2016 at 11:16 am


To help you succeed during this next stage of the job hunt, vettimes have put together their top-10 interview tips specifically for veterinary nurses.

1. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses

Before you go to an interview, think through what you consider to be both your strengths and weaknesses, it can be a fine balance between expressing a weakness which shows you’re self-aware and working to improve your performance, and surrendering information about a weakness that could be seen by the employer as a detrimental to his or her organisation.

Whatever weakness you do offer, make sure you also offer a solution. E.g. ‘sometimes I lack confidence giving advice to other veterinary nurses, but I’ve been working on this by listening to how my peers offer advice to each other and by asking for other nurses to give me feedback too.’

2. A day in the life…of a veterinary nurse

The interviewer may want to understand a little more about what you can expect from a veterinary nursing job and what your experience of being a nurse has been in the past. As a result, they may ask you to explain a typical ‘day in the life’ of a veterinary nurse. Before the interview, list some day-to-day activities that demonstrate how efficient you are alongside activities that show core qualities required of veterinary nurses, such as being caring, attentive, personable and able to multitask.

3. What sets you apart from other candidates?

Think about what you believe sets you apart from other candidates also being interviewed. Similar to considering your strengths, consider what would make you stand out if other candidates had more relevant experience, additional qualifications or simply a stronger CV.

4. Research

Whether you’re applying for a veterinary nurse job in practice, out-of-hours surgery, charity or elsewhere, make sure you fully research the organisation. You’ll want to know what values it has, if it has a particular approach to animal care and if it specialises in any area.

Take a look on the organisation’s website for a meet the team profile, and search on LinkedIn to know more about who will be on the interview panel.

5. Know why you’ve applied for the job

First of all, be confident in your reasons for applying for the specific job. Did you apply because you were looking for a part-time veterinary nurse role or full-time one? Or did you apply because you wanted to make the move from a charity to practice? Or perhaps you applied because it looked like a great opportunity to kick off your veterinary nursing career, with positive development and progression opportunities?

If you’re confident in your reasons for applying, the interviewer will be encouraged by your enthusiasm.

6. Be ready for slightly tougher questions

The purpose of an interview is to establish whether you are the right person for the job. To do that, interviewers inevitably have to ask a couple of tricky questions. As a veterinary nurse, prepare to answer questions such as:

  • Can you describe a challenging situation you’ve encountered in a clinical setting and how you dealt with it?

For example, he or she will want to see you showed compassion and empathy when working with upset clients or that you managed to resolve a difference of opinion for the better with a colleague

  • What are your salary expectations?

This question can be difficult, as you don’t necessarily want to give away your salary expectations at this stage. You can always respond by saying ‘could you tell me what the salary range is for the role?’ if they aren’t able to disclose that information, you can say it will be dependent on the details of the job and then give a wide salary range.

  • Can you explain this gap in your CV?

Perhaps you moved and it took a while to find a job, or maybe you took a few years out while your children were young. Whatever the reason for the gap on your CV, be honest.

7. It’s a two-way conversation

Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer. No interview is an interrogation and it’s actually an opportunity for you to find out more about the company too.

Consider asking questions like:

  • Are there opportunities for progression in this role?
  • What is the induction programme like?
  • Can you tell me a bit more about the facilities at the surgery?
  • What sort of clinical freedom is there at the practice?

8. Re-read your CV

It might sound basic, but make sure you re-read your CV before going to the interview. You’ll want to know everything you wrote in your CV off by heart so you can elaborate on examples.

9. Re-read the job description

This will give you the chance to remind yourself exactly what the employer is looking for – is he or she wanting to find a veterinary nurse happy to complete reception duties too? Does he or she want someone with an interest in a specialist field, such as nutrition or orthopaedic referrals?

Whatever the requirements, make sure you have a few examples to demonstrate how you fit the bill for each.

10. Prepare a checklist

Double check emails you’ve had with the employer about the interview and see if you’ve been asked to bring anything specific with you. Add those items to this pre-interview checklist

  • a printed version of your CV
  • your mobile phone, with the employer’s contact number saved (but make sure you switch off your phone)
  • printed directions to the place of interview
  • name of the person who you expect to be interviewing you