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If I only knew then: 5 Steps for Interviewing a Prospective Employer

Letter from the Editor Money & Career

If I only knew then: 5 Steps for Interviewing a Prospective Employer


If I only knew then that interviewing a prospective employer is just as important them interviewing you.

How did I come to this conclusion?

After graduation, I took a break to prepare for the birth of my son. Then, I returned to work for another six months as an RN and continued interviewing with prospective employers who were all looking for “experienced” NPs. Really? How can I get experience if no one gives it to me?

And so, I began my NP career with the help of locum tenens which allowed me to explore various opportunities without a long-term commitment. Of course, I was hesitant about this approach because most would assume that only competent NPs would be suitable for this venture. However, I was confident in my performance as, Patricia Brenner would call it, “an advanced beginner.”

With locums, I enjoyed the autonomy in making my own schedule, meeting different people, and the luxury of trying different areas without the horrible feeling of wasting a company’s time. I started with being open to opportunities that would give me the experience I needed in order to be selective for future positions. This was a win-win.

After locums, my journey encompassed companies that paid top dollar for NPs in exchange for fraudulent billing activities, companies that underpaid NPs as a more economical route for a provider’s role, and companies that hired NPs for RN roles. The frustration of not finding a good fit turned into the habit of requesting to tour facilities and speak with current employees about how they viewed the company. Yes! This was bold but I had to be intentional with every prospective employer to make an informed decision.

My theory is that turnovers are also attributed to employees not interviewing the employer. This leads to discovering a position or the company was a poor fit late in the game. This practice often leads to starting and quitting within a few weeks. Many companies are known for scheduling a work test, asking for three references, and doing a background check. I suggest that we should invest in researching them too.

Here are the five steps I use for interviewing a prospective employer:

  1. Research the company. This should be done prior to the interview.  For those who are altruistic, look into that company’s role in community outreach. 
  2. Schedule a tour to observe the dynamics of the team. 
  3. Inquire about their history of turnovers.
  4. Ask to view the protocol to see if it is congruent with your standards and the Advanced Nursing Practice Act for your state. 
  5. See what past employees had to say on recruitment (i.e. indeed and review (yelp) platforms platform. 

It is just the risk you have to take to make an informed decision. On one occasion, I ignored the red flags and within two months, I submitted a notice for a job I knew would not be a good fit during my tour. 

Avoid overthinking when your gut says “No.” Stop rationalizing the red flags.  Your past experience equips your discernment to avoid an unhealthy or work environment.  

Use these steps, and get ready to embark on a great career!  

Opinions expressed by NPSM contributors are their own

Patrice Little, DNP, FNP-BC

I am an author, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Founder/CEO of NP Student, — dedicated to keeping you "in the know" in every aspect of your life in and out of school. I am candid about my wins and regrets and share these stories so you can learn from my, always revealing something new life. Contact me at editor@npstudentmagazine.com

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