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How do I overcome freezing up on job interviews?

Dear Donna,

I am terrible at interviews. I always freeze up and my mind goes blank when I am asked, “Give me an example of a time when…”? I need help and some examples to spur ideas of how to answer these questions.

Terrible at Interviews

Dear Terrible at Interviews,

Most people are uncomfortable and nervous going on interviews, especially if they’ve never been trained in the art and science of how to do it well.

When someone asks a situational or behavioral question, understand the interviewer is attempting to ascertain how you handle problems when they arise. In other words, are you rationale, logical and clear-thinking or are you reactionary and defensive with a tendency to fly off the handle? Employers are wondering not only if prospective candidates have critical thinking skills, but also does the candidate apply and use critical thinking. Two examples of these types of questions are: “Tell me about a problem you once experienced at work and how you solved it?” “Tell me about a difficult patient/client you once had. How did you handle the situation?”

When asked this type of question, take a moment to compose your thoughts. Think in terms of what the interviewer is interested in hearing about. Keep your response simple, direct and brief. Get right to the point and don’t embellish. Remember the interviewer is looking for a logical thought process and a good outcome. Situational questions also might be used to evaluate a particular skill set. For example, “Tell me about a time you had to plan a project or program at work or school. What were the steps involved and what was the outcome?”

When responding to a situational question about a real experience, you may want to employ what’s known as the STAR method to keep your thoughts and your response organized and on target.

STAR stands for:

Situation – Describe a situation or problem

Task – Discuss what needed to be done and why

Action – Tell what specific actions or steps you took

Results – Highlight outcomes and accomplishments.

My book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses,” available where books are sold, has detailed and specific information and advice on interviewing. I include sample answers for commonly asked questions, tough questions and even how to overcome objections such as “You don’t have enough experience.”

Here’s an article you may find helpful for additional tips on how to ace an interview: “Interview to Knock Their Socks Off”.


Best wishes,



By | 2021-05-28T17:40:41-04:00 March 19th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, and author of "Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional" and "The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.

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