A “practical” interview is a fairly new trend potential employers might use for your nurse practitioner interview.  A practical interview presents a “live” challenge sometime during your interview where you are expected to take care of the problem then and there.  It is a way for the employer to analyze your problem solving skills and how quickly you can adapt and change from being a passive interviewee into a confident nurse practitioner ready to do your job.  The practical interview is not always referred to by the same name, but the main gist of the process remains the same regardless of how it is labeled.  It is an interview method most often used for job hiring in the technology field but it is quickly becoming standard for service-related interviews which include nurse practitioner positions. 


If you prepare for the possibility of such a method being part of your interview, it can really help you showcase your skills in a way that isn’t easy to do when everything is based on questions and answers without action.  If you aren’t taken by surprise when it happens, it definitely can be advantageous for your potential to be hired.  Preparing for such a spontaneous event is not simple, and perhaps impossible to actually practice, but it is helpful just to know about the possibility so you are ready to respond without freezing from the “shock” of it in the middle of your interview.


While you may not be able to actually practice for the scenario, there are a few things you can do before hand to equip yourself to respond well when challenged during the interview.  Take the time in your preparation process to consider the following suggestions and how they relate to the nurse practitioner position. 


Look Below the Service of the Company:  If you really want to work for the company you are interviewing for, learning more about that company is essential to your accomplishing that goal.  You need to understand what the company, as a whole, is all about as well as understand as much as possible about your particular employer’s professional life.  Being able to converse with the interviewer on topics you know are also important to them helps them to consider you in terms of the potential you have as a colleague in the same field.


Researching the company also gives you the information to have some idea of what questions you might be asked and what kind of practical scenario they might present for you to resolve.  It would be wise to do some online research specifically looking for the most recent information you can find about the company.  Most likely any recent problems or issues that have become public knowledge about the business will be a part of the interview process as well as the focus for any practical challenge.  This information also gives you a little bit of control during the interview if there is an appropriate time to initiate discussion of any current problems and what you can offer to help fix the issues.


Ask for Clarity:  While you are preparing for your interview, also plan on the fact that you can’t prepare for everything that might be a part of your interview.  There are going to be things that you did not plan for at all and when something like that comes up, you need to be prepared to ask the interviewer some questions in order to clarify the situation or issue being presented.  You aren’t expected to know everything and employers will appreciate the fact that you were willing to acknowledge when you don’t know something and will ask questions in order to understand as you will need to when faced with similar challenges on the job.  You may even want to have a small notepad and pen (which should already be in your portfolio) available so you can jot down important details as you are trying to solve the problem created for you in a practical interview.  The interviewer will be accessing your communication skills used for problem solving and it is more important that you are able to think about the issues involved and discuss them with the employer even if you are unable to reach an appropriate solution.  This part of the interview is more important to exhibit your problem-solving prowess then specific knowledge you might have learned to deal with it.


Know when to “Cry Uncle”:  Everyone will eventually experience a problem during an interview that you may not know how to resolve and are unable to figure it out in a reasonable amount of time.  When this happens, you need to be prepared to vocalize that to the interviewer before you are visibly stressed about it.  They need to see that you are willing to ask for help before it is too late when you can’t come up with an answer to a problematic issue.  This is also a great opportunity to present a “teachable” attitude by asking the interviewer to explain what the resolution should be and how to figure that out.  Every position you interview for will carry issues that you do not understand, scenarios you have never heard about or seen, and situations that don’t respond as expected.  In those instances your potential employee is looking for signs that you have a willingness to set aside your ego and learn the new information being presented in order to be a better Nurse Practitioner.

Make sure your overall look is one that expresses professionalism without looking sloppy or unprepared.  Avoid looking rushed or flustered about being late or getting there on time by preparing for the trip to the interview location beforehand such as finding out exactly where you are going location-wise as well as making sure you know where exactly you need to go once inside the building.  It would be very helpful if you can make a practice run prior to the day of your interview – especially if you are unfamiliar with the location.