Congratulations on landing your interview for a nurse manager position!
Now that you’ve lined up the interview, you need to prepare for a nursing leadership interview, which differs from a staff nurse interview.
Nursing Leadership Interview Questions and Answers
Here’s a list of the ten most common questions you may be asked in an interview for a nursing leadership position.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Like in any interview, this question (or a variation) will be asked right at the beginning as an ice-breaker question.
The difference is in what the interviewer expects to see in your answer now instead of when you were interviewing for the RN position.
In addition to showing your experience and skills, you need to convince the interviewer that you understand the position’s level of responsibility.
“I have been working for (name of the hospital) as a registered nurse for five years.
During my employment, I have been conscientiously developing my skills to step in as a competent nurse manager when an opportunity arises.
I have strong organizational skills, work well under pressure, and can make good decisions to further the interests of my staff and patients while upholding the values of the health care organization (or insert the name of the hospital here).”
2. Why do you want to become a nurse manager?
This is another common question, especially if this is the first nursing leadership position you’re applying for.
The interviewer wants to determine whether you have good insight into what this role entails.
They want to make sure you have been working towards this role for some time and are not applying just because you saw the advertisement.
They need to find out whether you have been shadowing nurse managers in your unit to have a good idea of all the tasks, so you don’t find yourself “drowning” when you start working.
“I am very determined and passionate about becoming a nursing leader.
It has been my goal for some time to become a nurse manager.
For this role, I have prepared by improving my nursing knowledge and interpersonal and managerial skills, helping my unit manager wherever I could, and shadowing her as much as possible.
I believe that I am ready now for the challenge and the responsibility that comes with this role.”
3. Could you give an example of when you helped transform change within a healthcare team?
This is a very important behavioral question.
As a nurse manager, you will be expected to initiate and promote change in your unit.
To answer this question successfully, you need to give a specific example of when a change happened in your unit and your role in making that change.
“While working as a registered nurse, my manager wanted to improve our ongoing nurse training system.
I helped by sharing my knowledge of the unit and how the training is run at present, and what aspects of the training program could be improved.
I also helped develop a new training schedule for the new staff nurses and assisted in the process of staff training regarding new policies.
I believe that change is important to prevent nursing knowledge from stagnating and keeping up with new evidence-based practices.”
4. Could you give an example of when you had to work under pressure?
Another great example of what working in a nursing leadership role expects – is working under pressure.
Again, this is a behavioral question, so your answer needs to be very specific.
For a successful answer, relate a time when you had a stressful day at work and how you handled it.
“Sometimes, when nurses get sick and cannot come to work, the workload on the unit can get hectic.
Being short-staffed is not nice for anyone.
I remember one night when we had two nurses call in sick, and on the same night, there was a fire at a nearby nursing home, so the injured elderly patients were admitted to our hospital.
With the additional patients and being short-staffed, everyone had to work extra hard.
But I remembered our training, followed procedures, and together with my colleagues, we triaged everyone successfully, and all the patients received care according to their injuries.
All the time, I remained calm and supported my nursing colleagues as much as possible. Eventually, things calmed down.”
5. In your opinion, what future challenges will face this healthcare organization, and how will you prepare for that?
All nurse managers need to be aware and responsive to possible future challenges.
It’s a vital part of any high-performing manager’s role. So, answering this question will bring you closer to securing this position.
“In my job as a nursing leader, I feel that one of the biggest challenges will be the growing demand for healthcare services.
This demand can only be managed by using services efficiently and effectively. There are also advances in medical treatment that we need to manage by increasing our knowledge and expertise.
Of course, there is the ever-present challenge of attracting and retaining capable staff.
To prepare for these challenges, I will ensure that my staff are well trained and have the basic equipment to carry out their duties.
I will also encourage them to pursue professional development.
I will also keep my staff motivated and informed of medical advances as they happen.
I also see myself as a bridge between the nurses and the hospital executives to make sure we meet all the requirements.
6. Explain how you would handle hard decisions you have to make as a nurse manager.
It’s important to understand by asking that question, the interviewer wants to see what you find difficult about nursing leadership.
“From what I have learned about the role of the nurse manager, I feel that the hardest decision I will have to make will involve prioritizing competing demands of patient care and staff within an ever-changing working environment.
I will need to coordinate resources to ensure the best treatment and care for our patients and balance that against the needs of staff and partners to provide continuous safe, effective, and efficient service.
I believe that I have the necessary skills and experience to ensure that I consistently meet the demands of this role.”
7. How would you define “Compassionate Care,” and how do you plan to deliver it as a nurse manager?
The interviewer asks this question to ensure you can deliver compassionate care to patients.
They want to know how you see yourself implementing this nursing concept in the nursing unit you will lead.
“Compassionate care involves demonstrating genuine empathy and ensuring a patient’s dignity is maintained throughout their hospital stay.
Patients are entitled to be treated without judgment and be provided with the highest standard of care.
I will ensure that the nurses in my unit practice good manners, show a professional interest in each patient, and use effective communication skills to understand the patient’s situation.”
8. Can you describe a time when you mentored a colleague?
One of the main duties of a nurse manager is to mentor and train other nurses.
So think of a situation when you advised or trained a healthcare team member to do something according to the standard required.
“We had an agency nurse joining our team whenever short-staffed.
I volunteered to mentor her during her shifts to let her get accustomed to how we work. So, I introduced myself and outlined my experience in the ward to her.
Then, by chatting with her, we arranged a plan of what I would show her during our time together.
Each shift, I would make sure I spent a couple of minutes with her to teach her something new about our unit and let her ask questions.
By the end of the month, she had reached the required competence to be our staff’s effective, part-time addition.
Whenever we needed extra nurses, we always asked the agency to send her because she knew the routine in our unit.”
9. Tell me about when someone asked you to do something that went against your values.
To answer this question successfully, you need to consider the organizational values the interviewer wants you to know.
Pick one to talk about how you insisted that it was adhered to.
The interviewer will be impressed when you show that you can stand up for what is right and uphold organizational values.
“One day, I was working with a staff nurse, and it was a busy day.
We came to a patient who needed to be transferred from a chair to the bed, but he was very heavy, and we needed extra personnel to help transfer him safely.
There was no other staff available at that moment, but two colleagues said they would be able to help us in about ten minutes.
I wanted to wait, but the staff nurse wanted us to go ahead and transfer the patient ourselves to save time.
I explained to the nurse that I would not risk the patient’s safety or injure myself by trying to move someone who clearly needed more assistance.
It would go against the value of commitment to quality of care, and we must follow the correct procedures.
I suggested that instead, we can spend our time wisely by filling out a patient’s records while we wait and assessing our next patient before we get there.”
10. How would you approach identifying and nurturing talented individuals within your team?
Modern healthcare organizations need strong leaders, and if someone in your unit shows potential, this person should be encouraged and nurtured to become a future leader.
“I understand that I would need to identify talented individuals in my unit and help develop them into future leaders.
I would observe my staff to identify who consistently does their work diligently, in line with operational procedures and organizational values.
I would chat with that person to discuss their short, medium, and long-term goals in the organization.
If pursuing a management position aligns with their personal career goals, I would put their names forward to receive further training and mentoring to develop their skills and empower them to achieve their career goals.”
Landing a leadership nursing position is not easy, but being well prepared for the interview will help make you feel more confident.
Use the model answers above to create individualized responses that match your situation and skills.
The more you practice answering these difficult questions, the better you will become, and soon you will hear the words: “Congratulations, you are hired.”
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