See if candidates can pass the test

CLICK to Email E-mail
CLICK for Print Version Print

Tip of the month

Test the mettle of interview candidates

Our reliance as managers on the interview process has served us well in the past—or has it? Many argue that evidence of work product is a better indicator of ability to perform a job (Heath and Heath, 2009). Many executive positions now require candidates to produce a sample work product, such as a staffing plan, to demonstrate they are prepared for the job.

Consider preparing a brief written test for your next potential hire. Include items based on the nurse’s years of experience and specialty worked. For example:

  • Present a scenario requiring critical thinking, such as a list of three patients with distinct problems, and ask the candidate to select which patient requires attention first
  • List two common medications with questions related to the expected side effects
  • Provide examples of two nurses’ notes and ask the candidate to circle what is inappropriate in each note

We have all been part of an interview in which a nurse talked a good story, but it becomes clear on the first day of orientation that the person was not suited for the job.

A good work ethic is important, but it is of no use when skills are lacking. Do not be afraid to get innovative and add testing to your interview process. You will be surprised at what you might discover.


Heath, D., and Heath, C. (2009). “Hold the interview.” Fast Com- pany 136: 51–52.


Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, Health Resources Unlimited, Adapted with permission.