Working in an ICU can be exciting and challenging. To land this position, you need to be prepared.

Here is a list of ten difficult questions designed to convince the interviewer about your ability and skills.

Remember, these are just generic examples, and you will need to adjust the answers to suit your personal circumstances.

Critical Caer Nursing Interview Questions with Answers

Below are some of the common questions you’ll encounter during an interview for an intensive care unit nursing position interview.

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1. Were You Ever Called To Act As a Leader In Your Current Position?

As an ICU nurse, sometimes you need to act independently while caring for patients.

You should be able to assess situations and react quickly.

Sometimes, you’ll need to gain the cooperation of co-workers to act together to save the patient’s life.

“When I worked in the emergency department, one night, we had a patient with a diagnosed heart disease, coding in a bed while waiting for a physician to examine him.

The unit was busy, so I decided to call the code blue team to come and help assist with this cardiac arrest.

I stayed in control of the situation, and as new staff members arrived, I would assign them responsibilities and monitor their progress.

As soon as one nurse would tire with the chest compressions, I would send another to take over. Working as a team that night, we saved this patient’s life.”

2. What would you do to establish good interpersonal connections among the staff in ICU?

nurse talking seriously

ICU nurses need to work independently, but it’s also important for them to work with other nurses while caring for a patient.

Therefore working relationships within the unit are important.

Employers are looking for people who can work as a team and are not afraid to ask for help when needed.

Answer “I feel that the best way to establish good interpersonal connections with co-workers is to value their work and their contribution to the team.

I always try to stay positive about my work and establish positive communication with others on the floor.

I feel that if I show respect to my colleagues, they will respond with the same respect for me, which will positively impact our working relationship.”

3. According to evidence-based practice, having a family member at the bedside can help patients heal faster. How do you feel about letting family members spend time with patients under your care?

When a patient lands in ICU, they are seriously ill, and, understandably, their family will worry about them and frequently ask for updates on their loved one’s condition.

These frequent interruptions can be imposing and take you away from giving care to the patient who needs it.

How you answer this question will show the employer that you care about the unit’s rules, patient safety, and their family members.

“I feel that establishing a good rapport with the patient’s family will make them less anxious and feel more confident that the medical and nursing team are doing everything they can for their loved one.

When the family visits during visiting times, I always try to be available to answer their questions and encourage physical contact with their loved ones.

I usually talk to them about the healing process they can expect, the treatment given to the patient, and their response to treatment.

I find this helps make them more likely to feel confident and ask for fewer updates between visits.”

4. How Do You Plan to Advance Your Nursing Skills While Working in the ICU?

a patient on a ventilator in the icu

This is not an easy question because the interviewer wants to find out your long-term plans and interest in the profession.

They want a person interested enough to keep their knowledge updated.

At the same time, they want someone who will stay in the unit for some years and is not using it as a way to pad their resume and leave. 

“I like reading medical journals in my spare time to keep my knowledge current.

I also take continuing education courses when an opportunity arises.

On top of that I’m always looking out for other courses and seminars for management and personality development.

These help me grow professionally and to develop my professional communication skills.”

5. Tell Me About a Time When You Helped The Unit Where You Work Reach a Goal?

Showing the interviewer that you have contributed to achieving the company’s organizational goals will make a good impression. 

“When working in an emergency department unit, the unit manager wanted the staff to carry out an evidence-based research project.

My colleague and I discovered that when children came into the department, they would be more cooperative during procedures when they were calm.

We devised a soft toy that could be given to each child on admission to make them feel more at ease.

The children who received the toy were more cooperative, resulting in patients and parents expressing higher satisfaction levels with the care they received.

We presented our findings to the hospital board, and our idea was adopted as a standard of practice and allocated a budget to implement it.”

Find Your Next Nursing Job
Use the NurseMoneyTalk job board to look for and apply to great nursing jobs near you.

6. Describe a Situation In Your Previous Employment Where You Saw a Problem And Took Steps To Fix It.

This question is very similar to the previous question about you helping the organization achieve its goals.

For this question, the interviewer is looking to see how helpful you are in helping to solve problems that arise within an organization.

“The wheelchairs assigned to the emergency room would often go missing because porters would transport patients for tests or admission to a ward and leave our wheelchairs there.

Once the patient was admitted and settled in their unit, the wheelchairs would often be left in that ward and not returned to the emergency department.

I decided to use adhesive tape to label each wheelchair with the words Emergency Department, and now we could spot “our” wheelchairs if they were left in other parts of the hospital.

That reduced our wheelchair replacement costs by 90%.” 

7. Can You Tell Me When You Had To Adapt To Change To Help A Patient

nurses lifting patient into his bed

The interviewer will ask this question when they want to find out whether you can think quickly and make split-second decisions that can influence patient outcomes.

The answer to this question will help demonstrate your qualifications.

“One night, we had a stable patient during the day, but suddenly at night, he started going into heart failure.

I had another patient to look after as well, and all my colleagues were busy and unable to help me.

To ensure both patients received quality care, I identified priorities to ensure that the most urgent needs were taken care of first.

I stayed organized in my work throughout the shift and made sure that neither patient felt like they were neglected by attending to their needs in a timely manner.

If they needed to wait, I made sure they were kept informed.”

8. Tell Me Something You Didn’t Like About Your Last Job?

When answering this question, don’t be negative about your unit manager or the other hospital where you worked.

Instead, talk about something that frustrated you and mention positive things.

“I like working at my present job, but I feel that teamwork could be better.

Some colleagues work well with some staff members but not with others.

On the whole, though, if there was an emergency to attend, we all pitch in equally and work together until the emergency was resolved.”

9. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

woman holding two balls that say yes or no

This is a common question, asked almost every time, but it isn’t easy to answer. When formulating your answer, bear in mind these two tips.

Never mention a weakness that matches any points in the job description; choose a weakness that shows you are human.

Don’t forget to add what you’re doing to improve yourself.

“My weakness is that I have difficulty saying “No” to people.

Even if my slate is full, I will still try to help others who say they need my help.

I am trying to improve in this area by taking time to consider my own workload before considering requests for help from other staff members.”

10. How Would You Handle a Difficult Co-worker?

The interviewer will listen closely to the way you answer this question.

They don’t want to hear that you will immediately want to involve your boss and let them sort out the conflict between you and the co-worker.

To satisfy the manager that you’re the best person for this job, explain to the interviewer the steps you would take to resolve conflict first.

“I would seek to resolve conflict as soon as I became aware of it.

To do that, I would talk to the co-worker privately to find out what the real problem is and suggest a way we can move forward.

Even if the resolution would mean that we both needed to compromise, I would still insist that we sort out our differences for the good of our team goals.”

Related: How to Deal with Difficult Nurse CoWorkers

Key Takeaways

I hope you enjoyed reading through these questions and answers and that the information will help you prepare for your interview.

Good luck in your job hunt.

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