The nursing job market is becoming more challenging, and being prepared for your interview as an operating room nurse can mean a difference between getting hired and not.

As part of your preparation, it’s a good idea to study questions and answers asked in previous interviews because there is a good chance your interviewer will ask similar questions.

Here are ten questions and model answers to get you started.

Operating Room Nursing Interview Questions with Sample Answers

Below are operating room interview questions with example answers. Check out the NurseMoneyTalk job board if you’re still looking for a nursing job.

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1. What Do You Think Are The Most Important Qualities, The Perioperative Nurse Should Have?

nurses in operating room

This general question assesses whether you have the necessary skills to work in the operating room.

Perioperative nurses should have the specialized skills to care for patients before, during, and after surgery.

They need to understand all aspects of the aseptic technique, have the ability to think critically, have good people skills, and be detail orientated.

You can include any of those critical skills in your answer and tailor it to represent you.


“A scrub nurse needs to control the operating theatre and always ensure patient safety.

For that, she needs to be able to think critically and continually assess the patient’s condition and organize all the necessary equipment and instruments needed for surgery.

She needs to be a good problem solver, provide solutions to prevent complications during surgery, and provide excellent patient care.”

2. What Would You Do If You Noticed That The Sterile Field Is Contaminated During Surgery?

Upholding sterility of the surgical field is one of the most important duties of a scrub nurse.

The interviewer is trying to assess whether you have the operational and situational skills required to work in an operating room.

The answer to this question is straightforward. Just explain the steps you need to take when an unforeseen contamination of a sterile field occurs.


“I take all the necessary precautions to ensure the sterile field remains sterile throughout the surgery.

However, sometimes unforeseen incidents occur, and in that case, I would isolate the contaminated area and place an additional sterile covering over the contaminated area within the sterile field.

If an instrument becomes contaminated, I will remove it from the field and replace it with a sterile one.”

3. Describe Your Previous Experience With Different Types Of Surgical Procedures.

Nurses and doctor in the operating room

This question is asked to ascertain your previous experience and assess whether you have the experience you can use in the position you seek to fill.

In your answer, highlight any unique or challenging experience.


“In my previous position, my nursing manager believed that all the staff should be able to scrub in any surgical discipline to ensure everyone has the necessary skills to work in all surgical disciplines.

Thanks to that policy, I have varied experience in most surgical disciplines ranging from general surgery to orthopedics, neurological, and ENT surgery.”

4. Can You Tell Me What You Think Is The Most Important Aspect Of Your Job As An Operating Room Nurse?

This question helps the interviewer know what you understand and value about your work.

It also helps to establish that you understand your role and responsibilities as an operating room nurse.

It is quite a broad topic, and you probably could talk about it for a long time, but pick one or two aspects that you feel are the most important during the interview.

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“I think the most important aspect of operating room nursing is ensuring the surgical patient receives safe care.

I need to ensure that all the equipment and supplies are available for the surgeon.

I also need to ensure that the patient’s condition remains stable throughout the surgery, and if anything unforeseen happens, I need to respond quickly and rectify any problems that arise.”

5. How Often Have You Performed Emergency Procedures As An Operating Room Nurse?

OR nurse

Responding to emergencies is a part of the operating room nurse’s role.

The interviewer needs to establish your level of competence and knowledge of what to do in an emergency.


“In my current job, I have been exposed to patients being brought in for emergency surgery.

We have an emergency protocol in place in our unit to ensure that all staff members are aware of what needs to happen when an emergency bursts through the doors.

In addition, I am trained in advanced life support techniques such as intubation, chest tube insertion, and airway management.

I have enrolled in continuing education courses to stay current with the latest protocols and guidelines for handling emergencies in the operating room.

My commitment to keeping up with the latest information has helped me successfully manage emergencies.”

6. What Would You Do If You Notice That Your Patient’s Vital Signs Are Not Stable During Surgery?

This question is designed to assess your critical thinking skills and the ability to problem solve.

Your answer should show that you can determine the cause of the patient’s vital signs becoming unstable and take the necessary action.


“If I noticed that my patient’s vital signs are becoming unstable, I would alert the surgeon and the anesthetist to the problem.

I would use my communication skills to coordinate the anesthetist’s and surgeon’s interventions to stabilize the patient so the surgery can proceed.

While the surgeon and the anesthetist are working to stabilize the patient, I would get the circulating nurse to bring in additional sterile emergency equipment, like the sterile paddles, if the patient’s heart needs to restart.

I would also ask the circulating nurse to ensure that the runner is outside if we need to send blood samples to the lab and bring in additional medications that the anesthetist may need to administer.”

7. Which Safety Protocols Should Be Implemented In An Operating Room?

OR nurses assisting

An operating room nurse needs to be aware of safety protocols and standards that should be followed to ensure patient safety.

The interviewer wants to assess your knowledge of those, so in your answer, mention specific protocols you feel are the most important to follow.


“All staff should receive training on using equipment in the operating room and handling hazardous materials.

This would ensure that nobody inadvertently damages the expensive equipment used in surgeries.

Hazardous materials handling protocols ensure that staff knows how to handle such material properly and prevents contamination.

Additionally, having a clear set of policies and procedures given to each staff member, including guidelines on hand hygiene, infection control, and waste management, will ensure everyone knows what is expected and how to stay safe while working in the operating room.”

8. Do You Have Any Experience With The Sterilization Of The Instruments?

One of the most important duties of the operating room nurses is ensuring that all medical instruments are properly cleaned and disinfected.

Explain the process you follow to ensure your instrumentation is ready for surgery.


“As an operating room nurse, I understand how important proper equipment cleaning and sterilization is.

Part of my duties in my previous job was to ensure that I cleaned and prepared instrumentation after use.

The process involves the inspection of instruments for any damage and washing and disinfecting them.

I am familiar with using autoclaves to sterilize instruments with steam at high pressure.

Additionally, I am familiar with chemical sterilization methods and auto-sonic cleaners.

Finally, I am knowledgeable about properly storing sterile and non-sterile items.”

9. What Do You Find Most Challenging About Working In The Operating Room?

The interviewer needs to assess your knowledge of operating room nursing.

During this process, they want to learn more about you to ensure you will be a successful employee and match their current staff complement if they hire you.

To answer this question, focus on the positive aspects of operating room nursing and what makes it rewarding.


“I find the most challenging is managing a high-pressure environment.

The operating room is fast-paced and requires you to think on your feet.

While working there, I developed my ability to stay calm under pressure while pro-actively preparing the operating room for the ‘worst case scenario’ to ensure the surgeon has everything they need to perform a successful surgery.”

10. In What Ways Have You Contributed To Improving The Quality And Efficiency Of The Operating Room?

Employees with advanced skills can contribute to improving quality and processes in a healthcare facility.

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to gauge if you are one of these high-caliber people.

Use examples from your experience to show your capabilities as an employee who can implement change in a unit.


“I am a dedicated and passionate operating room nurse.

In my previous job, I improved the quality of our services by working with other nurses to develop a standardized process for cleaning and sterilizing instruments to streamline our workflow and reduce the risk of infection.

I also implemented a tracking system to monitor the number of surgeries completed daily, which helped identify areas where we could increase efficiency.”

Key Takeaways

So, those are the ten questions and answers you may find helpful when constructing your own answers and responses to the interviewer’s questions.

The more you practice answering mock interview questions, the more confident you will feel during the actual interview.

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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