Interview tips for our Mental Health Nursing degree

Cerys_Baker Mental Health Nursing

If you're preparing for an interview for our mental health nursing course, here are some tips that will help.

"Mental health nurses help people to live as full lives as possible and to fulfil their aspirations irrespective of the diagnosis they may have been given," says Mark James, Subject Lead for Mental Health Nursing at USW.

"We want people to become mental health nurses who feel strongly about engaging with people and their families to help them to work in partners in crafting their care and their recovery."

The interview panel will consist of an academic, a clinician, and a person who is receiving mental health care. 

Six questions to prepare for

Tell us about yourself

Lots of people seem to be unprepared for this or don’t know how to answer it. But we really want to know you as a person who can go on to be a good nurse. So try not to simply reel off a string of meaningless information that we already know from your application about how old you are and where you are from. Look at what you have said in your personal statement and be prepared to develop on it and to discuss it. Use it to demonstrate how you are a good fit for the role. Think about what qualities are needed by a mental health nurse and the talents, skills and experiences you have that match these. Don’t worry if you are relatively young and inexperienced. Talk about the experiences you have had. Talk about your weekend job and how skills you have picked up might be transferrable.


Why do you want to be a Mental Health nurse?

We’re looking for people who can explain clearly and with conviction why they want to be a mental health nurse. We are interested in people who want to work with people rather than a person’s fascination with how the brain works. Avoid general statements such as ‘I want to help people’ and tell us how you might like to help people and how you may have helped people in the past.  Give examples how you do this and how you match the requirements of the role.


What do you know about our Mental Health Nursing degree?

This is an important one to get right. You are asking to come on a course for the next three years of your life. That’s some commitment so we want to be assured that you understand what it is that you are committing yourself to. We’re looking for people who are serious about a career in mental health nursing and are fully aware of the commitment it requires. We expect you to have researched the course at this University, attended an Open Day and thought about how you plan to manage the academic and personal demands of the course. Talk positively about why you want to study here and what you’re interested in learning.


Describe what you think a Mental Health nurse does and what type of people or groups you might work with

Mental health nursing isn’t simply about sitting down with people in one-to-one situations and counselling them. We work with people across all age groups with many different needs and problems. Show that you have an understanding of what it is that mental health nurses do. What sort of environments do we work in? What sort of things might we do by way of helping people? Have an appreciation of current issues in the news such as anti-stigma campaigns, the effect of living in society with a diagnosis.


What qualities do you need to be a good professional?

First, think about the qualities you expect from a nurse, and would want from someone caring for you or a member of your family. Read the NMC’s Code of Conduct. Think about things like confidentiality and how that might be different from secrecy. Think about what the pitfalls might be for nurses engaging in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Turn the question on its head and think what might constitute being unprofessional.


Tell us about your interests and what you do in your spare time

There’s no right and wrong answer here, the panel are trying to get a sense of you as a rounded individual. It helps if you can demonstrate how your outside interests ground you, support your values or beliefs, or will help you deal with stress.

Four final points

  • Relax — remember to smile, project warmth and engage with the whole panel, always addressing the person asking the question. Don’t get nervous about being nervous – we expect people to be nervous; it shows that this is important to them.
  • Be prepared – know your CV and personal statement, the Mental Health Nursing course and, above all, why you want to do this.
  • Be confident – mental health nurses need to be assertive and unafraid to challenge or ask questions. 
  • Don’t be afraid to come to the interview with a list of questions that you have written down – it shows that you’ve prepared.