Did you just land a nursing interview?
You’re just a few steps away from securing your dream job. You just need to impress the recruitment committee with your answers. This is where we come in. This guide features the common questions asked during a nurse interview and how to answer them.
As a side note: Here are some of the other articles in our interview series:
- The Perfect Attire for a Nurse Interview (Make sure you’re dressed to impress)
- What You Should Bring to a Nurse Interview
- 10 Important Nurse Interview Tips
- 10 Nursing Interview Questions to Ask the Nurse Interviewer
- Sample of a Nursing Interview Thank-You Letter & Note (Find out why you should write one and see some of our thank you letter examples)
So let’s begin!
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Standard Nursing Interview Questions and Answers
As the name suggests, standard questions are the general inquiries made by the interviewer no matter what the job is. It’s a way for them to understand who you are and what motivates you in this profession.
The good news is that these are fairly easy questions.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you should take them lightly. You want to answer these questions with confidence and tact. So that they know that you’re a goal-oriented person who’s invested in this profession.
1. Why did you become a nurse?
This is a classic question that sets the tone of the interview. The interviewer wants to know why you feel that nursing is your calling. Your response will let them know what inspired you to select this career path and why you continue to pursue it.
“I remember going for doctor’s appointments as a child and marveling at the way things operated. My interaction with the nurses was the best part of those visits. They were all so kind and were always willing to make you feel comfortable.
So when the time came for me to pursue my medical career―I opted to become a nurse. I like the fact that it allows me to work in healthcare and take an active part in patient care.”
The best way to answer this question is through a background story. You can also highlight different factors that have influenced you to make this decision. The alternative is to recall a recent conversation with your patient to show why you believe that this is the right profession for you.
2. What do you love about nursing? And which areas do you find challenging?
You can argue that this question is similar to the first one.
However, we feel that it allows you to give your take on what the profession means to you. It also focuses on the good and bad elements of the profession, which you’d probably not mention in the first answer.
“Nurses are like the mediators between the multiple disciplines in a healthcare setting. At times we might work in the background, but we’re valuable to the team because we bridge the gap between the patients and doctors. I have always been a people person so I like being the spokesperson for both participants. It gives me great gratification to assist patients and help them understand their diagnosis.
The most challenging part of the profession is that we need to prepare for the worst case scenarios. It’s hard to keep a clear mind during critical situations. Nevertheless, I am determined to learn how to manage that side of the job in the coming years”
Pro tip: This answer could work for a question that asks about your strengths and weakness.
3. Where do you see yourself in the future?
This is code word for, ‘are you planning to stick around?’
Your answer can go in different directions here according to your career plans. It’s important for you to sketch out a realistic game plan for this response. This is especially true in a situation where they’ve mentioned they ask for a five year or ten year plan.
“I hope that by that time I have acquired the skill set and the experiences required to be considered as the best in this field. It would be ideal if I find myself working in pediatric nursing because I enjoy working with children.
My long term plan is to become a supervisor and join the administration department. I feel that that job will give me an opportunity to contribute on a bigger scale. However, even if I don’t become a supervisor by then, I’d still be happy to know that I have pushed myself in this career and continue to save lives.”
An answer like this proves that you’re driven and wish to reach the top ranks of this field. The last part shows that you understand that life can’t follow a set pattern but becoming a nurse is the most valuable thing for you.
Pro tip: Feel free to customize this answer according to the designation you’ve applied for and what your career goals are.
4. Tell us more about yourself.
Let’s get one thing straight―the interviewer has already read your resume. So it’s futile for you to repeat everything that’s mentioned before.
The best tactic is to compose an answer that is an extension of your resume (source). You can include career plans and personality traits that you couldn’t mention it before.
“I’ve recently finished my nursing training and am excited to utilize those skills in a professional environment. Besides, studying I made sure that I actively participated in internship programs and other activities to gain more exposure.
Apart from that, I volunteer at the soup kitchen near our campus. It gives me a chance to improve my people skills and learn more about the community and its problems. I hope to use this information to gain empathy for patients that come from different backgrounds and help them feel at ease in a medical setting.”
We like this answer because it’s not generic. The interviewee was able to showcase that they’ve got the academic knowledge and training to do the job. However, the highlight is that they’re willing to go the extra mile to hone their skills and become a better nurse. It also reveals that they are compassionate, proactive, and ambitious.
5. Why are you interested in working with us?
The answer to this question is usually a deal-breaker. You need to convince the team that your application wasn’t a fluke and that you’re genuinely interested in becoming a part of their team.
“As a fresh graduate, my primary goal was to find an organization that gives me an opportunity to get hands on experience as a nurse. I have heard that the supervisors are really helpful and they are keen on answering questions and helping the junior staff to hone their skills.
You’re also introducing digitization in all areas of healthcare, which I feel is something many hospitals still lack. This job feels like a perfect fit because I feel like I will learn a lot here and it’ll be a privilege to be a part of an organization that is ready to adapt according to the current needs.”
This is a great answer because it’s evident that interviewee has done their research. They’ve aligned their goals with what the job has to offer. Plus, they’ve managed to subtly pass a compliment to the organization.
Behavioral Nursing Interview Questions and Answers
Most interviews feature behavioral questions to measure the candidate’s competency. The idea is to predict how they’ll react to certain situations during their fieldwork.
The STAR method is an excellent way to approach these questions (source). The acronym stands for ‘situation, task, action, and its result’. It teaches you to breakdown your response by discussing a specific scenario and how your actions lead to a favorable result.
Let’s look at the most common questions in this category:
6. How do you handle disgruntled patients?
Nurses have to be at a patient’s beck and call at all times. They interact with them more regularly than doctors. So they’re bound to witness them at their worst moods.
Therefore, most interviewers wish to know if you’re up for this task.
“I think unhappy patients are the part and parcel of the job. After all, they’re the ones who are suffering the most in this situation. That’s why I try my best to talk to calm them down and get their perspective on the situation.
“I remember dealing with an elderly patient who consistently complained about her room. After a while, I noticed that she didn’t get any visitors. It was easy to deduce that she craved for companionship, which is why she was always trying to find ways to call us in. I consulted with the other nurses and we created a schedule to drop by her room once in a while. Soon enough, she became the resident grandmother of our floor.”
This reply reveals how some problems have simple solutions. The candidate looks like she is capable of keeping her cool and empathizes with her patients.
7. Can you tackle family members who aren’t satisfied with your care?
This is an extension to the previous question, where you’re facing the family instead of the patient. In this scenario, your priority may. You might also be less flexible in accommodating their unreasonable requests. Nevertheless, you need to be communicative and considerate no matter what happens (source).
You need to assure the interviewer that you can appease the third party diplomatically.
“My experience as a hospice nurse has taught me how to deal with different temperaments. I’ve seen families who shower you with love and those that will argue over everything. At times like these, you need to swallow your pride and take constructive criticism.
My number one priority is always the patient. So I try to consult with them personally before making a final decision. Then I discuss the situation with the family and explain my side of the story. However, if the matter escalates then I make ask the supervisor to step in to ensure that the matter is resolved professionally.”
Even though this answer doesn’t describe a specific situation, it’s clear that the applicant cares about their patient. They’re also willing to step aside whenever necessary. This indicates that they know where their boundaries lie and they won’t do anything that could create problems for their team.
8. How do you deal with stress?
It’s an open secret that a career in medicine will demand you to work under pressure. It’s why most nursing interviews feature questions about this aspect of the job.
The best way to win the audience over is by being sincere. You can’t shrug it off by saying that you can handle anything. Rather, it’s important for you to tell them how you manage to stay on top of your game despite the challenges.
“I have learned that the best way to cope with stress is to compartmentalize. I try to take time out for myself by meditating or cooking whenever I can. It ensures that I can distract myself for a while and then approach the situation with a composed mindset.
I find that doing this has a positive impact on the patients too. Bad moods are contagious, so it’s better to nip the problem in the bud before it spreads. Plus, we work for long shifts, so it’s essential that we find ways to recharge before we come to work the next day.”
This is a great answer because the nurse realizes how the importance of keeping a happy disposition for her patients. They also mention that they don’t make rash decisions and thinks things through before making the final decision.
9. Do you see yourself as a team leader or team player?
This is a trick question. You don’t want to seem too keen on taking on the role of an authority figure because nursing involves teamwork. However, saying that you’re only a team player would unintentionally make you look incompetent for independent work.
“A bit of both, actually! Personally, I enjoy working on my own and taking ownership of the cases that I handle. However, I understand that nursing requires collaboration and coordination with the rest of the team. That’s why I am always ready to consult doctors and other practitioners whenever the situation requires it.”
This response lets you pick a happy medium and displays that you’re adaptive in nature.
The Final Nurse Interview Question
Most professional interviews end with this question. It gives you a chance to clear your doubts about the job description and learn more about your role in the organization.
10. Do you have any questions for us?
Yes, you do! This is the only answer that the hiring staff wants to hear. Otherwise, they’ll think that you came to the interview unprepared. According to the recruiters at Monster, ‘it’s important to ask questions related to the job and the company (source).’
To do this, you should research the company and list down any queries that you may have about it.
Here’s a list of questions that you may ask:
- What kind of training will I get?
- How long are the shifts? What’s the company policy on overtime?
- Who will I be reporting to?
- What’s the corporate culture like?
- Are there any rules that I should be aware of?
- Does my job require me to (insert skill/scenario)?
Besides this, try to be responsive to their replies and ask follow up questions. That’ll show them that you’re attentive and sincerely interested in what they have to say.
Let’s Sum It Up…
In short, nailing a nursing interview isn’t that hard. They won’t test your medical knowledge apart from asking hypothetical questions. The main purpose of the interview is to assess your attitude, confidence, and expertise in regards to nursing. Additionally, they’d like to know how well you’re going to fit in their organization.
So try to answer each question clearly and honestly by using real-life examples whenever possible.
Best of luck!
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Related Articles to Staff Nurse Interview Questions
Whether you’re applying for a staff RN position, staff LPN position or even a management position the interview process is something you’re going to have to deal with.
Here are some other articles covering the interview process for a nurse you should check out:
- How to Dress for a Nursing Interview (Make sure you’re dressed to impress)
- What to Bring to a Nurse Interview
- 10 Nurse Interview Tips to Ace the Interview
- 10 Nursing Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewer
- Sample of a Nursing Interview Thank-You Letter & Note