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How Good Applicants Pass Interviews

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

Everyone of us, at least at one point in our lives, has been through an interview. A pre-school kid playfully engages in an informal “talk” with her would-be principal; a gawky adolescent gathers her thoughts on what she feels about entering Grade 11; a confused teenager explains why she is taking the course that she is enrolled in; or a new grad defends why she is qualified for her first job.

It’s no doubt that the face-to-face interview is one of the best ways of assessing a person’s fit to a role. I myself have been doing it for the longest time and I can attest that no other selective procedure can take its place. It serves as an intimate bridge between the interviewer and the interviewee, where the former introduces the role and its particular needs and the latter talks about herself and how she may be able to meet them.

With the thousands of interviews that I’ve done, there have been few excellent ones that I will never forget. Applicants of these exceptional interviews are ones who have made a habit out of the following:

Come in well-prepared. I cannot emphasize the importance of preparation enough. A good applicant knows that a lot of unforeseen events can happen on the interview date. Given this, she tries to establish some level of control through advanced planning. This involves researching about the agency and her employer of choice; checking the available application modes thoroughly; and bringing more than 1 set of hardcopies of her pertinent documents. Applicants who have an in-depth knowledge about our employers or our agency are very impressive, even more when they have fully accomplished their resumes in our online application system ( or have multiple copies of their documents on hand. A well-prepared applicant sets up a good mood for the interviewer, therefore increasing her chances of getting selected.


Keep it professional. A job interview is a great way to establish a personal relationship with the interviewer, but everything that happens in it must be within professional boundaries. It’s great to be liked by the interviewer, but it’s even better to be deemed a perfect match for the employer. A professional applicant cleans up well for an interview: A comfortable business or corporate attire ignites good judgement for her, as it demonstrates how serious she is with this endeavor. This applicant is also one who behaves and speaks well. Simple things such as coming to the interview early or on time, speaking in straight English, and being courteous to the interviewer can already go a long way. Lastly, this applicant orients the conversation towards her professional background. She keeps fillers to a minimum and only mentions personal information when asked, so that she can highlight the things that are relevant to her job application.

Answer in detail. The interviewer usually asks about an interviewee’s clinicals, and it’s important that she is provided with comprehensive answers. A good applicant walks the interviewer through her professional background by discussing her work experience extensively, starting from her first job until the latest one. The applicant also explains work gaps openly and completely, as this will prevent inconsistencies moving forward. An applicant that answers in detail demonstrates how well she knows what she is doing, in that the interviewer doesn’t have to ask numerous questions just to be able to determine if she’s a fit or not.

Highlight achievements. On top of answering in detail, a good applicant is also achievement-oriented in the way that she describes her clinicals. An applicant who says that she has “helped her department achieve a 15% increase in positive patient outcomes” instead of “provided direct quality care to patients including daily monitoring, recording and evaluating medical conditions” seems like a more accomplished candidate. Achievements confirm that the candidate is driven by specific goals, and not just by the list of day-to-day tasks that she has to complete.

Focus on getting hired. A good applicant wants to land the job so much, that she conforms all of her actions towards it. She understands that there are many other candidates applying for the same position, so she tries to set herself apart. She does this by focusing on her strengths that others may not have such as clear communication skills, extensive experience in her area of specialization, unique technical skills, exposure to rare machines or special recognitions. The applicant is also aware of the employer’s specific needs so she’ll make sure that the interviewer thinks she will be able to meet them. She knows that a JCI-accredited hospital will appreciate her experience with a PET scan facility whereas a home care institution will give her plus points for her reputable bedside care experience. In a way, a good applicant treats her job application as a race or a competition.

These habits will definitely help you in your next interviews, but take note that they do not guarantee that you will pass them all the time. Because when an employer or agency finally decides on who to hire, factors other than how you performed during the interview will also be considered such as your actual qualifications, the performance of your competitors, or the feedback provided by your references. Just keep in mind that the more important goal of attending these interviews is for you to land a job that fulfills you and brings the best out of you. And if it means failing a number of interviews along the way, wouldn’t that kind of job still be worth your while?

Sonia Fernando, R.N. is a Nurse Consultant in Abba Personnel Services, Inc. She joined our team last January 2004. As Nurse Consultant, she conducts the technical interviews among nurse applicants and some Allied Health Professionals. Sonia has worked in King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her over 20 years of experience from local and international hospitals has given her exposure in OR and Post Anaesthesia Care Unit, ER-Admissions, and VIP unit assignments. She has also taught at the College of Nursing in Centro Escolar University. Sonia is a BSN graduate of the Philippine Christian University-Mary Johnston College of Nursing.

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