Interview Tips for Oncology Nurse Jobs

Interviewing for oncology nurse jobs requires brushing up your basic interview skills and researching the services offered by the facility.

Basic Preparation

For all interviews, it is important to prepare your personal presentation before attending the interview. Assess your wardrobe and make sure you have a professional suit that has recently been cleaned—a suit that has been sitting in a closet can be dusty and smell musty, so freshen it up. You may also not be able to fit into your interview clothes after too many hospital cafeteria lunches, or they may be outdated, so you need enough time to get to the clothing store to find the correct items. Your appearance is important.

At least twenty-four hours before the interview, go online to get directions to the interview site. This is very important if you have never been to the location before. Remember that online mapping programs are not always correct, so double check on the clinic's or hospital’s website. This information is usually available for patients that are using the facility, so when you read up about the facility on their website, check their directions.

There are additional considerations, such as your attitude and self-assessment, that are discussed on the Interview Tips page from Hospital Jobs Online.

Basic Interview Questions

When preparing for an interview, an oncology nurse should look for answers for two types of interview questions: general interview questions and questions specific to care, the facility and professionalism.

General questions will include questions about your education, training and expertise. The interviewer will ask questions about your ability to keep records, to use specific databases or programs that the facility uses, and your ability to communicate with patients and other health care professionals. You will also be asked about collegiality, supervision style and management, all questions designed to determine if you are a good fit personally for the job. You will be able to manage most of these questions by reviewing a good book on behavior descriptive interviewing.

Basic interview questions will include these:

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What qualities should a successful nurse have?
  • What would your last supervisor say about you?

Questions Specific to Oncology Nursing

The interviewer will ask you about specific types of cancers, to determine if you can identify them by name and to verify your education in the field. She will ask about certain types of treatments and therapies associated with the different types of cancers. Again, these questions are meant to determine if you possess the necessary knowledge and credentials and if you have been exposed to treatment protocols that the facility uses. Even if you have acquired this information only in class and have spent little or no time with oncology patients, reviewing terminology is essential.

Nursing-specific questions include:

  • Questions about monitoring chemotherapy and venous devices.
  • Questions about whether you have provided education and instruction to patients or family members in the past. You may be asked to describe a time when you instructed a patient in a procedure and what you learned from the experience.
  • Questions about your experiences with hospice or end-of-life care.

Many nursing-specific questions will depend on the services offered by the facility and the responsibilities of the position. For example, you may be expected to supervise the work of other nurses, so the interviewer will ask about your management style or previous experience as a supervisor. Conducting research into the facility should help prepare you for these questions.

Research

It is always helpful to spend at least an hour on research before attending the interview. Use the website for the hospital or clinic to find out if there are any staff biographies or information about procedures or participation in clinical trials. Try a search on PUBMED or Medline Plus to see if the staff has engaged in any recent research or if the facility has been mentioned. Try not to go overboard on this last type of search, since it is possible that a health care professional who has performed research may have the same name as one of the staff members, but the staff member could be unaware of that research or you may misinterpret or discover some unfavorable information. However, forewarned is forearmed, and you may discover something that you can use as small talk during the course of the interview or while on a tour of the facility.