I Have to Return for a Panel Interview – What is That?

So you successfully completed your initial interview, and now you have been asked back for a panel interview. What does this entail? There are many steps as you transition from student nurse to an independent nurse, and this is just one more step in the process.

What is a Panel Interview?

A panel interview is an organized interview where the candidate is asked questions by several members of the hiring organization. Usually, this is done for higher level or executive level positions. Some nursing units want their nurses more involved in the hiring process and so you may have to attend a panel interview. This provides both the candidate and the staff the opportunity to learn more about each other, the available positions, the unit, and whether you seem to be a good fit for the team.

First Impression

Be sure to dress professionally, arrive early, and be confident and friendly. You should have extra copies of your resume and references available. If you make a poor first impression, the interview will likely be a failure. It is hard to take someone seriously and expect them to be an asset to your team if they do not represent themselves in a positive and professional manner when they initially meet you. The institution is also considering how their clients will view you, so please be conservative. Tons of makeup, pink hair, excessive jewelry, and tattoos are fine to display when you are out with friends, but not at an interview. It may seem like I am stating the obvious, but you would be amazed by what I have observed during interviews over the years.

Be Prepared

Most nursing units will have a set list of questions that each candidate will be asked. Be prepared to provide them with a brief summary of who you are, what unique experiences or qualities you can share, and your career goals. Think about your immediate, 3- to 5-year, and ten-year goals. Questions regarding how you handled a difficult situation between you and a patient or you and staff are frequently asked. Try to answer by focusing on the positive resolution that was reached rather than the spending a large amount of time on the problem. Incidents and issues will occur; the important factor is how they are handled and what you learned for future situations.

Teamwork is also an essential quality that you should try and mention or provide an example about an experience that required all team members to work together to succeed. Share experiences from your clinical rotations, volunteer experiences, prior jobs, and your personal life if appropriate. You want them to remember you in a positive light and in a way that sets you apart or ahead of the other candidates.

A Nursing Panel Interview, an Opportunity to Learn More

This is also an opportunity for you to learn about the team and unit as well. You should have a list of potential questions to ask the staff, as this shows that you are truly interested and engaged. Example topics to consider include: staffing ratios, the relationship between the nurses, the communication and team dynamics with different disciplines, any major issues they are currently facing, current projects that the unit is working on, and the unit goals. Try to allow the conversations to just flow rather than being forced. Relax and just have an open discussion with the other nurses, as this will allow them to see your personality and how you will fit in with the rest of the team. Take a deep breath and share how you will be an asset to their unit.


  • Michelle

    Michelle Besmer is dedicated to preparing the next generation of nurses for successful careers. She completed her Bachelors of Nursing and her Masters as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Rutgers University. She has practiced and trained nurses in pediatrics for over 15 years. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, baking and playing trumpet.