Hi, welcome to this fun read on Nursing Interview Questions and Answers.
After reading this article, you’ll learn the types of questions recruiters may ask you and how to answer them appropriately.
The specific areas of focus in this article include:
Let’s get into the deepest part of this discussion without much ado!
Common Themes in Nursing Job Interviews
You will do well in nursing interviews if you understand the thematic areas.
Due to the nature of nurses’ jobs, most interview questions are based on:
- Patient care
The questions centered on these thematic areas are known as behavioral interview questions.
Using real-life stories to charmingly answer behavioral-based interview questions.
Tell the interviewer your life story.
It shows you’re passionate about the work and can strike a balance in conflicting moments.
The essence of asking behavioral-based questions is to understand how you’ll behave in demanding circumstances.
It’s also to understand if you can adapt to the unit’s demands you aim to work.
Adopt the STAR Method to Behavioral Interview Questions
The STAR is an acronym many successful nurses use to answer questions during interviews.
The technique allows you to tell your life story engagingly.
Here’s how to use the STAR method:
Situation: Think of a scenario similar to the question where you succeeded.
Task: Mention your roles and responsibilities in the situation.
Action: State the actions you took and the qualities you possess.
It’s the best time to sell yourself to the hiring manager.
Result: State the situation’s outcome and what your specific contributions were.
Explain what you learned from that scenario and the key takeaway.
This method helps you explain what you’ve done in the past and how you can rely on that knowledge to execute similar tasks in the future.
It allows you to explain how you’ve encountered and dealt with difficult situations in the past.
Even if you’re a new graduate without much experience, you can still use this technique to answer nursing job interview questions.
Common Nursing Interview Questions and Answers
To make the discussion more focused and engaging, we’ll categorize the questions into the three thematic areas we mentioned earlier.
Sample Questions on Teamwork
Describe a scene where you worked with a difficult co-worker – state the problem you had with the person and how you resolved it.
Don’t use this opportunity to talk ill of anyone.
Don’t bad-mouth a co-worker under any guise.
It’s an opportunity for you to prove your conflict management prowess.
Carefully explain a situation, what made it difficult, and why working with that colleague was complicated.
Highlight how you dealt with the problem and its outcome.
Explain what you learned from the situation that you can use it in handling similar issues in the future.
Here’s a Sample Answer:
I had a colleague who worked the opposite shift to me.
He would rush everything while reporting his shift.
He used to give a partial report about patients, and there were times he wouldn’t provide any progress report about them.
The situation was frustrating and led to tension between us.
One day, I got to work 20 minutes earlier and told him his handoffs were misleading and detrimental to our patients.
I suggested that he conduct me around the wards and explain each patient’s condition to me.
He obliged and did it satisfactorily.
The scenario taught me to speak up always instead of murmuring or assuming that the person concerned should do the needful without being told.
I learned how to confront challenging situations head-on.
What would you do if your replacement didn’t turn up?
A nurse is to stay at their workstation until the arrival of the next shift nurse.
This rule ensures nurses deliver quality services to patients at all times.
If a replacement is late, one of the first things to do is call them to know what is wrong.
You may also find another person to stand in for the colleague.
If the colleague’s lateness is recurring, you should inform your supervisor.
My replacement came late one evening in my last job at Bamboo Hospital.
I had a long shift that day and was very tired.
I informed my supervisor, and we could find a replacement so I didn’t have to stay back after my shift.
Describe a time you had a conflict with a member of the healthcare team
The interviewer wants you to showcase your leadership and interpersonal skills here.
Demonstrate your problem-solving skills to the HR team.
Remember not to speak ill of anyone, no matter how difficult it is.
You should focus on what you did well rather than what the person did poorly.
Mention the conflict, the persons involved, and you resolved it.
A patient’s family member once approached me and expressed her concerns about how the doctor was handling her relative.
She told me the doctor wasn’t responsive and hardly stayed in the room.
I informed the doctor of their concern, but he yelled at me.
I assertively and calmly explained the inappropriateness of his behavior to him.
He informed my nursing supervisor about the incident.
I informed my supervisor that I was serving as a patient’s advocate and spoke up for myself when the physician sounded rude.
She was convinced I did the proper thing and took up the case on my behalf.
While the situation was intimidating, I learned every healthcare team member should always address a patient’s concerns.
How well do you relate with other nurses and doctors?
If you’re not a team player, your nursing career will quickly hit the rock.
Mention the importance of working in unity with other nurses, doctors, and staff.
Collaborating with your colleagues will improve patient outcomes, increase your job satisfaction, and ensure effective safety procedures.
Emphasize interpersonal skills such as patience, active listening, and being a team player when you answer this question.
These nursing skills prove you can work with others for more remarkable results.
I learned how essential it is to communicate well with my colleagues during my Brave Heart Hospital, Ohio, clinical training.
One night, a patient approached me to inform me he had been waiting for his medication for 50 minutes.
Since I was new to the place, I checked in with his nurse before providing the medication.
I discovered that the patient had Alzheimer’s illness and had been given the medication at the right time.
If I hadn’t communicated well with my colleague, I would have jeopardized the patient’s safety.
Nursing Interview Questions on Patient Care
You attended nursing school and did the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse because you want to care for patients.
During an interview, hiring managers will ask you questions about caring for patients and their family members.
Below are tips on how to answer questions on patient care:
Give me an example of a time you dealt with a difficult patient
Discuss the scenario without violating the HIPPA.
Don’t speak ill of either the patient or their caregiver.
Demonstrate that you have empathy and care about the well-being of your patients.
If you didn’t do something right, acknowledge your shortcoming and what you did to correct them.
Example Answer: I once treated a patient with new order for wound care.
He didn’t like how I dressed the wound; he challenged me on why I didn’t use a particular type of dressing.
He was deeply concerned, and I could feel it.
I told him I was following the physician’s order.
I explained the treatment order to him in a layman’s language and inquired if he had further questions.
He informed me he wasn’t aware of the order change and appreciated me explaining the new order to him.
I apologized for keeping him in the dark on the change of order and asked him to ask any questions bothering his mind.
How do you handle a patient struggling with pain management?
Thoroughbred nurses are empathetic about patients dealing with pains.
Show that you’re genuinely and deeply concerned about your patient.
And give an illustration that you can help the patient through problem-solving and empathy.
Sample Answer: While working on a night shift as a pediatric nurse, I had a 14-year-old patient experiencing excruciating pains.
I suggested that she sleep in another position, but she wasn’t feeling better.
I told the physician about her condition, and he recommended further treatment.
The next time I visited her, she reported that the treatment worked well.
In some other contexts, I offered extra comfort measures to patients, such as giving them more pillows.
I always move to action whenever a patient reports discomfort to me.
How do you handle patients who ask for personal diagnoses outside clinical contexts?
As a registered nurse, some of your friends might approach you about what to do about their health conditions outside of clinical settings.
You should refer them to medical professionals who will thoroughly examine, diagnose, and treat them.
Answer this question by discussing how you’ll enlighten such friends on the need to seek medical attention in clinical settings.
Example Answer: I have a friend who would narrate his symptoms and what I thought he could do.
When I informed him I couldn’t do anything outside of my workplace, he booked an appointment with the physician.
While it would have been quicker for him to get a response from me, it’s often best to treat patients comprehensively and holistically.
How do you explain medications, treatments, or health conditions to patients without using too much medical jargon?
The interview team wants to know how much you practice therapeutic communication here.
It will be helpful if you demonstrate the consciousness that your patients have different educational backgrounds.
Describe a situation where you explained medical jargon to a patient in a layman’s language.
Example Answer: Patients have a different understanding of health terminologies.
While serving as a home healthcare nurse, many patients weren’t aware of the meanings of some health terms.
I used words they understood.
For instance, instead of saying ‘edema’, I’d use “swelling”, and instead of saying “hypertension”, I’d say “high blood pressure.”
I ensured they understood me by asking them to interpret what I had just told them in their words.
I would not proceed until I was sure it had made sense to them.
Give an example of a time a patient was happy with your services or a time you went above board to deliver outstanding services.
This question allows you to show off your skill sets.
If you’re a nurse practitioner, prove to the interviewer that you don’t hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) for nothing.
If you’re a multi-lingual, this is the time to brag about it.
If you’ve received an award of excellence, mention it here!
Sample Answer: I had a patient constantly admitted for congestive heart failure (CHF).
During one of my shifts, I interacted with her and discovered she was newly diagnosed with CHF and had no understanding of dietary restrictions.
I carefully explained to her what fluid restrictions without salt were.
I wrote everything on paper, including examples of food she should avoid.
I pleaded with the doctor to refer her to a dietary consult and that she would benefit from home healthcare after her discharge.
Some months later, she mailed us, appreciating me specifically, saying that she was never admitted for the illness again after being discharged.
I was happy to learn that she was doing well.
Sample Questions and Answers on Adaptability
One of the skills that show you’re prepared for the nursing profession is your ability to adapt to changing situations.
It’s one of the things experienced nurses will emphasize when you approach them for career advice.
You won’t achieve your career goals if you can’t adapt to both envisaged and unexpected situations.
An interviewer wants to know how flexible you are before offering you a new job.
Below are examples of interview questions on this concept:
How will you handle changes to your tasks or schedule?
The recruiting team wants to know how flexible you are.
They also want to test your time management skills.
Use this opportunity to demonstrate how you adapt to dynamic situations.
Example Answer: When my clinic transited to electronic medical records, I understood the system quickly.
Many older nurses struggled with the new system and constantly called for help.
I volunteered as the team lead to support the nurses’ movement from paper charting to an electronic system.
Describe how you handle pressure
One of the phrases in job applicants’ cover letters is “ability to work under pressure.”
When an interviewer asks you this question, describe a time you were stressed.
Highlight the steps you took and the results.
Explain how the situation taught you how to handle stress.
Example Answer: I was a staff development nurse, and it was also my week on call.
I had to go to the facility daily to attend to the situation.
It was stressful for me because it seemed I was divided into 7 places.
I made sure I completed my job and was always at the facility whenever anyone called me.
I told each nurse to leave me a report to deal with the stressful situation.
I also told them I would address non-pressing issues the following day.
I decided to work 20 minutes earlier to attend to such issues.
What do you do if you don’t have an answer to a patient’s inquiry?
No matter the number of certifications you earn, you can’t know everything in nursing.
Don’t be shy to tell the interviewer when you don’t know what to do or have no answer to a patient’s question.
Highlight the steps you took to find an answer to the question.
The interviewer is interested in how you addressed the situation.
Your response should showcase that you’re research- and result-oriented.
Make it simple and convincing.
Example Answer: I go over patients’ medications and diagnoses whenever I resume my shift.
If anything sounds unfamiliar, I do quick research to learn about it.
It could be on prognosis, signs and symptoms, or medication side effects.
If I’m still unsure, I speak with a provider or a superior.
Sometimes, I ring the pharmacist if I have questions about some medications.
I don’t make guesses or assume if I don’t know anything.
I’ll ask a more experienced person or inform my nursing supervisor.
I don’t allow my lack of understanding of a concept to affect the quality of patient treatment.
Where do you see yourself in the next 6 years?
The interviewer wants to know how long you’ll stick to the job if they hire you.
They want to know if you’re passionate about a nursing career or if you just want to earn a living with your BSN while waiting for the “perfect” opportunity.
State it clearly that this is your ideal job; it’s what you’ve always dreamed of doing.
Talk of your desire for growth in the job in the next 6 years and how you plan to attain new heights.
One way to answer this question well is to familiarize yourself with the job description.
Do your homework before the interview.
Example Answer: I’d like to be the foremost nurse in your facility in the next six years.
I will take advantage of the organization’s continuing education to sharpen my skill sets.
I’m highly skilled in HER and patient education, but I’m not resting on my oars; I want to learn and know more.
Some new skills I want to gain include training others and budgeting.
There’s no gainsaying that Heal Heart Hospital is the ideal place to achieve my career growth.
Why do you see yourself as the best for this nursing position?
This question isn’t a generic one, and you have to understand the motivation for your job search to answer it well.
You have to prove how well you know this job.
Apart from reading the job description, speak to other professionals already working there.
What are the challenges associated with the job?
Talk about the times you’ve solved similar or identical issues.
It will be helpful if you present yourself as an ideal candidate capable of resolving the organization’s problems.
Sample Answer: I understand the biggest challenge you face is compassionate budgeting.
I was part of the team that fixed the budgeting impasse at DHT.
We reduced inventory costs by 13% without reducing the quality of patient care.
We relocated the stockroom centrally to achieve our aim.
We changed supplies to a use-based refurbishment pattern.
Because I’m passionate about patient treatment, it was easy for me to maintain high standards with reduced costs.
I will replicate the same feat if you hire me.
Tips to Prepare for Nursing Interviews
Apart from practicing some interview questions, there are still some steps you need to take to prepare for a nurse job interview.
Some other areas you should concentrate on include:
Understand the Organization’s Vision and Mission Statements
Research the company’s mission and values to show you have a vested interest in the system.
If you’re genuinely passionate about working for an organization, you’ll dig deep into their history and find out what they cherish most.
HR managers will be disappointed if you cannot answer common knowledge questions about their firm.
It means you’re cold about the culture and value system of the company.
Understand the Job Description and Role
Most interviewers ask questions about the relationship between the job description and your experience to know how well you fit into the job role.
Be prepared to explain the skills you possess to enable you to perform the job role well.
Let the hiring team understand that you’re the best fit for the job, and you can get started almost immediately.
Explain the skills you’ll use to work in the job position in practical terms.
Do a Mock Interview
Plead with a relative or friend to conduct a mock interview for you.
Pay particular attention to your time management skills while answering the questions.
You may record the mock interview and watch it alone to do a self-assessment.
Be very serious about this process because it can make the actual interview a walkover for you.
Find Time to Rest
It can be tiring when preparing for an interview.
Find time to rest well before D-day.
It will be a minus for you if you look tired and lose attention quickly.
When you rest well, you’ll look and sound authentic.
If you’re unsure of the proper dressing for the occasion, check on YouTube for help.
Don’t appear too casual or superficial.
Wear business attire that fits well, is clean, and is without wrinkles.
Show the recruiters that you’re ready for business.
Appearance matters in interviews; make a valid statement with your dress style.
Be There On Time
If it’s an in-person interview, check the driving directions and allow time for traffic and other emergencies.
If it’s a virtual interview, test your video cameras and microphone before the scheduled time.
Ensure your environment is quiet, clean, and free from distraction.
You will do well in an interview if you take all these factors into cognizance.
Calm down and approach every issue as they arise.
Questions to Ask the Interviewers
Most times, the interviewers usually ask if the interviewees have questions.
It’s not good when you shake your head to this question.
Ask at least two questions to show that you’re engaging and thoughtful.
It shows you’re genuinely interested in the company.
It also allows you to clarify issues with the employer.
Some of the questions you can ask an employer include:
Do you have a training outline for new workers?
What are the KPIs for this position or the organization?
What’s the most-valued skill for this position?
What else can I do to prepare well for this position?
What is the in-house style of the organization?
What next after this interview?
Be courteous while asking these questions.
We shared nursing interview tips with job seekers in this article.
The article is rich because it highlights every aspect you need to focus on to have a successful job interview.
We discussed the likely questions interviewers ask and sample answers to each.
However, don’t be dogmatic about the answers; they’re just for illustration.
Think outside the box and be more responsive while answering actual interview posers.
But with this guideline, your job search is almost over!