After all the other questions are said and done, one of the last questions an interviewer will ask you is, “Do you have any questions for us?”
The short answer is yes. Yes, you do. Or at least, you should.
While the interview is mostly for the company to see if they want to hire you, you also want to take the chance to make sure the company is right for you. Below you’ll find some questions to think about asking your interviewers. You don’t need to ask all of them or even these particular questions, but what you do ask depends on what you want to know about the company or floor you’re applying to work in. Maybe something came up in the interview about a research team, or maybe you talked about COVID-19 preventative measures at your old job — now is the time to ask follow-up questions.
Use this opportunity to show the interviewers you’re serious about working for them, and learn more about what you might be getting yourself into directly from the source.
About the Company
The first type of question you can ask has to do with the company itself. Although your personal experience in a new job has a lot to do with your department and direct coworkers, a company’s culture and treatment of its employees will still have a big impact on how well you’ll enjoy and perform the job.
How did your company take care of staff and patients during COVID-19?
COVID-19 affected every area of health care. Knowing how a company took care of its employees, patients, and visitors says a lot about their values and how quick they are to react to emergencies.
You can word this question in whatever way makes sense for the interview. For example, you could ask the interviewer what policies were put in place to protect staff from COVID-19. What were the primary concerns during the height of the pandemic? How did the company address those concerns?
How would you describe the culture here?
Culture is a fairly broad term, but it basically means a company’s personality and all the parts that go into it — how they express and act on their values and beliefs. It might be weird to think of a company having a personality, but you’ve likely noticed a culture at any job or school you’ve gone to.
Companies that have been around for a while will have a much more established culture than newer companies. The downside to an older, established culture is that companies might be slow to make changes if something is wrong.
About the Unit
To put it simply, you’ll want to know a little more about the people you’ll be working directly with and under in your new unit or department. You’re likely to spend most of your workdays with them, so it’s good to know what to expect.
How do you give feedback to staff if there’s an issue or they’ve made a mistake?
All facilities and units have some way to track performance issues with employees. Sometimes, that’s done through a self-reporting system online, or through an in-person meeting with the direct supervisor. Some facilities might even have a system in place but never use it.
Nursing is an ever-changing field. Even though we expect perfection in everything we and our coworkers do, it’s just not realistic. Mistakes happen. How your supervisor and department handles those mistakes plays a big part in whether you’ll enjoy working there in the long run.
How do you measure success during annual performance reviews?
Tied into the day-to-day feedback, it’s good to know what would be expected of you long term. Companies generally have formal annual performance reviews for employees to determine important issues like annual raises. This could also be when supervisors ask for improvement from employees who aren’t doing well.
You want to be able to excel in the time leading up to your annual performance review. Knowing how a unit or department measures success will tell you a lot about what they value, and whether you can meet or exceed their expectations.
What are your staffing ratios like?
Since most interviewers will have some sort of supervisor or management capacity on your unit or in your company, they’ll be familiar with staffing ratios, and they’ll have reasons for why they are the way they are. They might mention that they are understaffed at the moment, or they could reveal that there’s a high turnover rate.
But, their answers might also be positive. Maybe they have a strict low ratio and have policies to make sure nurses aren’t overloaded with too many high acuity patients.
About the Interviewer
These types of questions depend a lot on who’s interviewing you. If it’s your potential supervisor or coworker, then you might want to consider asking similar questions to those noted below. You don’t need to dig into their personal lives, but you can get a feel for the unit and the position by asking them a little bit about their experiences on the job.
What do you like about working here?
It’s highly unlikely that the interviewer will answer negatively, but you can get a lot of information based on their body language, how quickly they respond, and if the answer seems generic or dismissive. If they don’t seem enthusiastic about the job or the company, it might be a red flag that something isn’t right.
Of course, their answers might also surprise you. What they say might even give you another reason to want the job or lead naturally into asking more questions about the unit or the company.
How would you describe your management style?
There are a lot of management styles and some people work better under a particular type compared to others. Perhaps you do poorly under a hands-off management approach which is where you’re left to your own devices without much feedback or direction. Maybe it sounds like the supervisor might micromanage your every task.
In either case, you know what style works best for you, and getting an idea beforehand is a great opportunity. Your interviewer’s style might encourage you to accept the job or you might want to consider applying for another job altogether.
About the Job
One of the more common types of questions is about the job itself. If you get it, you’ll be the one working every shift you’re scheduled. Make sure the job is one you’ll be happy with.
What would a typical shift be like?
Your interviewer should know this. Most of the jobs in the medical field will be able to tell you what to expect in an everyday shift. The only exceptions are for newly created positions. If the interviewer can’t tell you what to expect, then it’s either a red flag that you might be walking into a mess, or it’s an opportunity for a challenging experience.
What are the next steps after this?
One of the most important questions to ask at this stage is what happens next. Will there be another round of interviews? Are they expecting to have a final decision in a week? Know what to expect and make a note of it, so you can decide when to follow up and when to move on.
What are your on-call/overtime/weekend rotation policies?
This will vary greatly depending on what type of floor or facility you’re applying to. Clinics that are only open during daytime hours might not have on-call staff. Some companies have a hard policy on no overtime unless you’ve got written approval from a supervisor. Other companies may require you to work one weekend a month.
Normally, these details are written out in the job description, or they’re mentioned during the interview itself. If they aren’t and it’s unclear, ask now, so you have your expectations straight.
Another common question is about job benefits. There are many benefits that can make up for what might seem like a lower pay rate. Several companies leverage this fact. If they’re truly interested in hiring the best of the best, they’ll be proud to talk about what the company offers its employees.
Are there any opportunities for further education or training?
Many companies nowadays want to hire from within for higher positions, if possible. You might even hear some people describe a company as difficult to get hired into because they only try to hire from their own workforce.
Sometimes, those higher-level positions require more education or certifications. If you’re applying for a position that you hope will be an entry-level position just to get your foot in the door, and your goal is to work your way up through the company to get the job you really want, then know whether or not the company is willing to help you get there.
It’s common nowadays for established companies to offer benefits like yearly tuition reimbursement, or they might offer classes to get you trained in CPR, phlebotomy, or other specific skills. Usually, if you opt for a tuition waiver, the company will ask you to sign a contract to make sure you’ll keep working with them for a set number of years. You don’t have to know all the details now, but be aware the option is there can be a great selling point.