Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
"I have the educational credentials, current experience, outstanding references, and a great work ethic. Can you tell me why I didn't get the job?" Educational credentials and professional background will get you the interview. But organizational fit, candidate pool, appearance, and politics will land you the position. Remember: If you didn't get the job, it wasn't a personal failure; rather, it was a business decision.
There's a leadership position for everyone, but the one you applied for may not be the right organizational fit. Each organization establishes a unique culture developed over a significant period of time. Because of no fault of your own, your background, values, beliefs, and style may not be congruent with the hiring organization.
The person who previously held the position may be a significant factor in whether you're offered the job. If the organization is looking for a person to lead a major change and you possess similar leadership characteristics to the predecessor, you won't be the one who's hired. Conversely, if you portray a different management style, it's likely you'll be a leading candidate. Being yourself is what matters the most. Don't try to be something you're not or say something you don't believe. This is unfair to both you and the hiring institution.
Those who are chosen to be on the search committee might have a predetermined agenda of which you're unaware. Although hiring decisions should be made as objectively as possible, it's possible that those who interview you will have biases for another candidate. There's nothing you can or will be able to do if those who are responsible for the hiring believe you aren't the right candidate. Let your previous accomplishments and current passion for work be your compass.
There are many issues you can't influence as a candidate seeking a nursing leadership position. But one thing you can control is your appearance, as demonstrated through your verbal and nonverbal presentation. Appropriate grooming and attire will not only make a good first impression, it will also tell a significant amount regarding your attention to detail and ability to appropriately prepare for the interview.
Conducting your homework before an interview will increase your likelihood of success. Professional networking is an important strategy to employ. The best source of information may come from those who currently work for the organization. They can provide you with insights regarding the culture, expectations, and strategic priorities that are important to the organization's leaders.
The experience gained from applying for a position, even if it isn't offered to you, is extremely beneficial. You learn a lot about your own strengths and limitations, which will assist you in landing the perfect position for you. If you're unsuccessful at first, don't be dismayed. The right position is awaiting your talents.