When interviewing for a nursing position, you can expect two types of questions.

The interviewer will want a brief overview of your clinical skills, get to know you as a person, and how you will fit into the facility’s environment.

Med Surg Nursing Interview Questions with Answers

Below is the list of nursing interview questions for a med-surg position. If you’re looking for jobs make sure to check out the job board.

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1. What Are The Most Important Skills A Medical-surgical Nurse Should Have?

a surgery tech working

This is one of the personal questions you can expect to be asked during the interview. Your answer will tell the interviewer how you view your role and whether you have the necessary skills.

When preparing your answer, think about what a medical-surgical nurse will do in practice and let the interviewer know how your skill set matches the skill set needed to be an effective practitioner in the ward.


“Working as a medical-surgical nurse, I think the most important skill would be to have strong communication skills because I need to coordinate pre and post-surgery patient care with the interprofessional team.

I will need to assess my patients and prioritize their care. I will use my advanced organizational skills to ensure that patients’ safety and all medical needs are taken care of.”

2. What Do You Think Are The Challenges Of Being A Medical-Surgical Nurse?

To answer this question, remember to be honest.

The interviewer wants to see if you can correctly identify what the job will be like once you start working.

They want to know whether you have a realistic view of possible challenges you may encounter as you work and whether you are prepared to deal with those difficulties adequately.


“I think working as a medical-surgical nurse is demanding, and there may be days when we are short of staff on the unit due to the shortage of nurses we are experiencing presently in this country.

That means I may be expected to provide a high level of care for patients with fewer resources, leading to increased stress or burnout.

I can work well and keep calm under pressure, so I will be able to cope with the demanding days.”

3. What would you do if you made a medication error?

nurse writing in clipboard

Medical-surgical nurses are responsible for giving medication to patients regularly.

Since medication errors are a serious concern for any healthcare institution, the interviewer needs to see how you would handle such a mistake.

The answer you give is testimony to your integrity and character.


“If I made a mistake when giving a patient medication, I would do the responsible thing of informing the patient’s doctor, my unit manager, and the patient of what has happened immediately.

I would make sure that the patient is not suffering any side effects.

I would keep notes documenting the patient’s vital signs and any adverse side effects resulting from the wrong medication. I would also submit the incident report to my supervisor.

Once the patient is stable, and out of any possible danger, I will reflect on what happened and figure out steps I must take to ensure it never happens again.

This has not happened to me in real life because I take great care to check that my patient always receives the correct medication.”

4. How Would You React To A Significant Drop In A Patient’s Pulse Oximetry Reading?

Medical-Surgical nurses provide individualized care to pre and post-operative patients.

They monitor vital signs and medical conditions and record patients’ progress and recovery.

It is important to show the interviewer you are competent at managing common conditions you will expect to find while working in the unit.


“Most post-operative patients have their oxygen levels monitored for a few hours after surgery.

It is common for the oximetry probe to become dislodged from the patient’s finger as they recover from the anesthesia. So this is the first thing I will check.

If the probe is sitting correctly, I will check if they are breathing well. Patients can stop breathing or breathe shallowly after anesthesia.

If the patient is breathing well, I will inform the doctor and administer oxygen via nasal cannula while I wait for the doctor to come and assess the patient.”

5. How Do You Deal With A Difficult Family Member

dad talking to son

The interviewer needs to assess your interpersonal skills to ensure you will fit the position well.

How you deal with difficult family members is a question that comes up in almost every interview, so it is a good idea to have an answer ready.

To prepare a good answer, use your experience and relate a time when you had to deal with a difficult family member while providing care to a patient.


“Many times, family members seem difficult because they do not understand what is happening to their loved ones.

I handle the situation by taking the time to explain why I do things.

For instance, if I need to turn over a sleeping patient, the family member might object to me disturbing them when they appear to be comfortable.

I then explain the importance of regular turning patients and pressure sores development.

Usually, the family does not understand how important it is to turn patients to prevent pressure sores from developing, and once they understand it, they are more cooperative and allow me to turn and disturb a patient who seems comfortable.”

6. Do You Have Experience Performing Diagnostic Tests?

In a busy medical-surgical ward, a nurse has to perform diagnostic tests on patients scheduled for surgery.

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Use the NurseMoneyTalk job board to look for and apply to great nursing jobs near you.

The interviewer asks this question to assess your experience of performing these tasks. In your answer, highlight your skills and comfort in performing diagnostic tests on patients.


“When patients arrive at the ward scheduled for an operation, they are anxious, and preparing for surgery can be a trying time for them.

I approach the situation by calming them down with explanations of what is being done and what to expect.

Once I was doing a blood glucose test on a patient who appeared very anxious.

I asked him why he was anxious. He explained that he thought that the surgery would be canceled if his blood sugar were not within normal limits.

I explained to him that if his blood sugar was too high or too low, we could take measures in the ward to get his sugar levels under control, and his result would not cancel the surgery. He was reassured.”

7. How Often Do You Perform Patient Care Tasks To Help Out A Colleague?

As a nurse, you need to work as a part of a team.

Being willing and able to help a colleague during your shift shows the interviewer that you are a team player and have good time management skills.

In your answer, include a time when you had to step in to help a colleague, and remember to highlight the positive outcome of your actions. 


“In my previous employment, we had a practical nurse working on my team who is a single mother, and sometimes she needed to leave work early to attend to an emergency at home.

In those times, I would take over her duties to ensure that all patients received care without interruptions.”

8. If You Had To Improve The Post-Surgery Recovery Rate At Our Hospital, How Would You Approach It?

This question assesses your ability to solve problems and take the initiative.

You can be almost sure that you will be asked this type of question during your interview, so it is wise to prepare your answer beforehand.

In your answer, include a description of the steps you would take to improve your post-surgery recovery rate.


“I would first analyze the current processes we use in the unit. Then I would research evidence-based practice to improve patient recovery rates.

I would compare the research to our current processes to establish what we are doing well and where improvements can be made.

When I identify areas that need improvement, for instance, early mobilization of post-surgery patients, I will look at how other hospitals handle this problem to see if there are already examples of early patient mobilization improving patient outcomes.

I would then write a proposal on how we should change our current processes according to evidence-based research and examples from other health care settings.”

9. How Would You Interact With A Patient Who Does Not Speak English?

Article Image - nurse working

If the institution you seek employment caters to a diverse population group, nurses may encounter patients who do not speak English.

That is why an interviewer will want to assess how you deal with culturally diverse patient populations and what strategies you use to overcome the language barrier.


“When I need to care for a patient that does not speak English, I try to make sure I have an interpreter to help me communicate with them.

If not, I will try to find a staff member who understands the patient’s language. Often, family members can speak English, and they act as interpreters.

If I cannot find an interpreter, I will use hand gestures or drawings to help my patient understand what is happening.”

10. How Would You Manage A Patient Experiencing Pain?

physician examining old patient at his office

Pain is the most common patient complaint in a medical-surgical ward.

A nurse must know about pain relief methods, including medication and non-pharmacological ways to reduce the patient’s post-operative pain.

The interviewer will evaluate your strategies against the hospital policies to see if you are a good match.


“I know that each patient experiences post-operative pain individually. I will talk to my patients to find out if there is something they find comforting when they are in pain.

For instance, some patients may like to place a heating pad against a painful body part. Others may like soothing, soft music to help them relax and reduce pain levels.

If a patient’s preferred method of pain relief can be accommodated in the unit, I will ensure they can access that.

Of course, I will also provide analgesic medications prescribed by a doctor to help reduce post-operative pain.”

Key Takeaways

Spending time preparing answers to possible interview questions makes you appear calm and confident during the interview.

It may be the thing that makes you appear the best candidate for the job. Good luck with your job hunt.

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

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