Ask the expert: Hiring tips to find the right nurses

Nurse Leader Insider, October 24, 2011

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This week, the authors of Core Skills for Nurse Mangers—Shelley Cohen, RN, MS, CEN, Sharon H. Cox, MSN, RN, CNAA, Beth A. Klitch, BA, FACHCA, and Sandra Kay Webb, RN, BSshare what to consider when interviewing nurse candidates.

Q: When hiring new nurses, I often wish I could see into the future and whether they will work out in the long run. What should I focus on during the interview?

A: The ultimate goal of interviewing and selecting staff is to find the right fit between the talents, skills, and abilities needed in a given role and the talents, skills, and abilities of a given applicant. Always remember to "hire for talent, knowing that you can train for skills." Using this approach requires that some thought be given to the process:

  • Review the job description to consider the talents needed in the role, such as a "take-charge style" or "attention to detail" or being "self-directed"
  • Study your best staff to determine the talents they bring to their roles, such as the ability to manage multiple priorities or mentorship of others
  • Identify one or two critical talents that can be the focus during the interview
  • Consider both the current and future needs of the unit, such as an upcoming computer installation or an organizational initiative on customer service, so that these can be addressed during the interview

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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