What You Need To Know Ahead Of Your Nursing Assessment
When you’re applying for a new nursing job, you might expect to provide your CV, interview and simply secure the position. However, with so many registered nurses applying for roles in healthcare settings across the country, institutions are introducing ever more stringent measures to find the best candidate for every role.
This means that, during your search, you may be expected to complete a pre-employment nursing assessment or test. In order to demonstrate your full ability and be a competitive candidate, it is essential to know what these assessments may entail, and be prepared to fulfil their requirements for any new role.
What is a pre-employment nursing assessment?
The pre-employment nursing assessment is designed to measure your skills and knowledge across a range of areas, from handling medicines to dealing with different scenarios that nurses encounter on a daily basis. Some of the core qualities employers may be looking for through these assessments are:
- Management of high-stress situations
- Problem-solving skills
- Competency in patient care
- Knowledge of nursing technology and practice developments
- Polite bedside manner
- Communication skills
- Cultural sensitivities
This is an important part of the recruitment process for healthcare professionals, as it tests your abilities not simply in an academic setting, but in real-life practise. What each pre-employment nursing assessment will comprise of will vary between different hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare providers, but there are a few basic areas you can expect to encounter.
Most institutions introduce their own additional forms of nursing assessment to narrow down their pool of candidates. For example, University College London Hospitals have a specific nurse assessment process that includes a 30-minute unseen drug calculation test, a 45-minute clinical practice scenario and an interview. In this case, the two assessments precede the interview, with candidates only being invited to this next stage if they are successful in demonstrating their nursing competencies.
Many nursing interviews involve numeracy assessments – in the form of general mathematics exams or more specific drug calculations tests. Some will also include basic literacy and comprehension assessments, which are used to ensure that nurses can communicate effectively in a non-verbal manner with colleagues and understand written documents.
Generally speaking, a clinical competency nursing assessment would cover the areas of problem solving, critical thinking, medication administration and report transitioning. You may also be subject to a situational judgement assessment, where you will be presented with a range of different scenarios on the job and rank the resolutions a nurse could achieve by effectiveness. This will either be performed with other professionals in a role play scenario, in an interview or with video or written simulations in a test document.
Often, this type of nursing assessment will involve an element questioning how nurses should implement new technique application and technology in the field. This makes it important to stay up to date with the latest nursing news, and to be aware of everything from new clinical tools to healthcare management apps that can improve patient care.
Behavioural assessments for nurses
Many employers also carry out a behavioural form of nursing assessment. This usually takes the form of a personality test, which measures each candidate’s personality traits and how they would react to different situations that commonly occur as a practising nurse. For example, the nursing assessment might include questions on how to handle high-pressure situations, working in a team, professional honesty, accountability, managing patient care or conflict resolution.
These assessments may be carried out in a number of ways, from a traditional face-to-face interview setting to a written document or online assessment through an app. Therefore it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with various platforms and techniques ahead of your nursing assessment to ensure you articulate yourself effectively.
Pre-employment nursing checks
Of course, you will also be expected to fulfil certain checks before being given a nursing job. This includes identity checks, registration checks (to ensure you are registered with the NMC), criminal records checks and work health assessments. You will need to be tested for certain diseases and disclose information of any pre-existing conditions that may affect your work.
The nursing job interview
If you pass these initial stages of the nursing hiring process, you will be invited to an interview. This is usually conducted with a panel of professionals, including an HR team member and senior members of the healthcare team. The questions posed in these interviews will vary each time, but there are a selection of questions you can anticipate and prepare for in advance that often come up.
As The Guardian explains, the first question you will be asked is why you want the job. You should think ahead to prepare a succinct and honest answer to this question – if you’re a newly qualified nurse, what made you want to pursue this career in the first place? If you have previous experience, why are you applying for a new role? If you are applying for a particular specialism, talk a little about why this appeals to you, too. Then also briefly mention why you have chosen to apply to the particular institution – whether it is because you undertook a placement there or because you appreciate specific aspects of the organisation.
You may then be asked to explain why you think you are a good nurse. This can be a daunting question, but don’t be overly modest – refer back to what you have learnt, and base your answer around the values of the six Cs – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. As Ann Duncan, matron at the Royal Marsden Hospital told The Guardian:
We ask for examples and to provide evidence from their career to date. Their answer will show their thinking processes and whether they know the right procedures to follow.We also understand the value of a happy team, so we want someone who can demonstrate they work well in a team and have a positive, can-do attitude.
Other questions you might expect are what you feel compassionate care means, how you have dealt with conflict in the past, an example of a proud moment in your career and a mistake you have learnt from. Finally, remember to think of some questions to ask in advance – this will show interest in the role and a proactive attitude as a candidate.
Preparing for a nursing assessment
Pre-employment nursing assessments can seem daunting, but with a little preparation, they are nothing to worry about. Simply plan ahead with a few interview question answers, brush up on your basic maths and have a think about clinical best practice.
There are also plenty of practice exams available, alongside online resources such as Nursco Lounge, which provide up-to-date information for nurses in the field. These are invaluable tools for the modern nurse who wants to demonstrate that they are up-to-date with the latest developments in patient care.