I applied to CRNA school the moment the application was available on July 1, 2015. My recommendation letters were already in, and I was scheduled to take the GRE the following month. Once I took the GRE’s, my scores were received by the school August 25 and my application was officially marked as complete. 2 weeks later I received a notification that my application was being moved to the interview round! (This is why I stress preparing for your interview once your application is in.) A month later, I was at the school, a nervous wreck, interviewing for one of the 16 seats in their 2019 class.
Before I even looked at possible interview questions, I had to get to know myself first. That meant writing down my characteristics, strengths, experiences… anything that makes me, ME. Anyone can do well in an interview if they look up the common questions and memorize the answers. The committee is looking for YOU, not anyone else. I also prepared my elevator speech: “Hello, my name is Nurse Nelle and I’m from NY. I am a critical care certified nurse, with 3 years of CVICU experience at a level 1 trauma center. I am here because I am ready to take the next step in furthering my education, autonomy and responsibilities while fostering my interest in the field of nursing anesthesia.”
I then scoured blogs and discussion forums for possible questions that I could be asked and made a master list of questions that I studied from. I separated them into personal and clinical questions, then ranked them based on how relevant they were to my experiences. I started off with the personal questions, and wrote down my answers to the basics: Why do you want to be a CRNA? Tell me about yourself? What challenges is the profession facing today?
Then for the clinical questions I made sure that I knew relevant drugs that I utilized on a day to day basis on my unit. I also reviewed ventilator management, interpreting ABG’s, EKG strips, and ACLS. I used my CCRN review books and Duke’s Anesthesia Secrets to prepare for the interview.
Here are some good sample questions you may be asked:
*Disclaimer* These questions were questions that I found from various blogs and forums when I was looking for practice. These questions are NOT specifically from my interview.
- What does a CRNA do? How do you think your role as a CVICU nurse related to the role and responsibilities of a CRNA?
- What would make you a successful CRNA?
- Tell me about a time when you had an ethical dilemma at work. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time when you failed. What happened, and how did you recover?
- Tell me one of your greatest accomplishments.
- Give me an example of when you showed leadership.
- Do you work well under pressure? How do you handle stress?
- what will you do if you don’t get in?
- Who has influenced you the most?
- Do you foresee any barriers to your education?
- What do you consider the biggest issue facing the profession today?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake? How did you fix it?
- Give me an example that shoes your integrity?
- Why should we choose you?
Don’t memorize your answers!
I did not memorize any of my answers to the questions that I listed, I rather had “talking points” that I wanted to hit every time I answered a question. I practiced the interview questions whenever I had free time. I sat in front of the mirror for countless of hours making sure I had my non-verbal cues down and proper eye contact. It helps to record yourself so that it adds the nervous factor and you can check your body language.
The night before my interview I had to work! I do not recommend anyone doing this, but there was no way to change my schedule. I got off of work, got a few hours of sleep, then put on my brand new pants suit I got a couple weeks earlier from Express! I felt like a million bucks!
I also used a leather bound portfolio that has a notepad inside that I used to jot down anything I needed to remember and I wrote down any questions that I wanted to ask the admissions committee. I brought extra copies of my resume, transcripts, essay and application to reference just in case. It was actually a great idea because the interviewer misplaced my transcript and I was able to provide it for her.
I left super early because parking can get pretty hectic. I left my phone in the car, tossed my gum, made sure I didn’t have any boogies and met with the coordinator.
Have questions to ask!
When asked if you have any questions for them, please, I am begging you to not say no! I had at least 5-6 questions that I asked the director before leaving. I asked about clinical rotations, the history then future of the program, how many intubations, central lines etc., and my last question to the director was how do you describe success? This question definitely stumped my interviewer but I got a great answer out of it and it opened up a whole new discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask them a question that would be asked of you. It shows your insight!
You definitely have to sell yourself during the interview but it’s important to not be too cocky. Find that happy medium of knowing your stuff, but also humble enough to prove to the committee that becoming a student again and essentially starting from the bottom won’t be an issue.
Good luck to anyone interviewing soon! Please share your interview experiences, I ‘d love to hear from you!
Here’s a great YouTube Video I made about the interview process!