You need two things to ace your next nursing interview and luckily, you can do both here. First, read through the best answers for common nursing interview questions. Then take this free mock interview and get detailed feedback about your skills and personality.
To become a part of the healthcare industry, it’s necessary to have a compassionate and empathetic nature. Make sure you are certain about your career aspirations before joining the industry.
Getting the ideal job is hard work and the interview process can be pretty tough. The majority of the interview questions are behavioral-based. These questions allow the interviewers to understand the interviewee’s personality and see how they perform in specific situations.
Here are some sample nursing interview questions with answers that can help in preparing for the interview and enhance the chances of getting hired.
After reading the best answers for nursing interview questions, at the end of this article, there is a mock interview where you can practice interview questions and get feedback from artificial intelligence about your nursing knowledge and personality.
Themes of Nursing Interview Questions
Most of the questions interviewees face while interviewing for the nursing position are based on the following themes:
- Style of communication
- Managing time
- Patient care
- Core values and motivation
Sample Questions Regarding Teamwork
The hiring managers are looking to figure out whether the candidate fits in with the organization and the existing team. They will prefer people who tend to work well with various personalities.
To convince the interviewer, make sure that you add real-life examples in the answers as it adds credibility to the answer. Sharing stories of dealing with a team member with a conflicting personality or a difficult patient case is the best way to showcase your capabilities and impress the interviewer. Always highlight the positive things you learned from the experience.
It is never a good idea to talk bad about someone in a job interview. To show ways in which the individual was difficult to work with, you will need to explain the situation in detail. After sharing the details, it is time to share the strategy and steps you used to handle the situation.
Working with a difficult coworker is not easy.
The key to working with such a difficult team member is being patient. Nurses have to focus on the core values of the profession and put aside differences and work together. It is essential to understand that not everyone in the workplace is going to be your friend but you will need to maintain a working relationship. It is better to steer clear of sensitive topics like politics and religion.
Nursing interview questions: Was there a conflict within the team? If yes, then what was your strategy for handling it?
Give details of the conflict you faced. Make sure you mention the names of the people involved and your role. Did you learn anything positive from the situation?
Conflict is common in the hospital setting so you must learn to work through it. During duty, the mother of a patient came to me with concern. She told me that a new nurse was not monitoring breathing as closely as she should. When the concerns were brought to me I took time to discuss and validate the actions of the nurse. I made the nurse aware of the concern. The nurse did not take it well and was upset that the concern was brought to me. But I used it as a teaching moment and made it clear that a good nurse would never dismiss patients’ concerns.
Make sure that the answer contains a step-by-step explanation of the circumstances. Highlight the steps that made you proud and the role you played to achieve the best results.
Working in ICU is challenging but working there has several moments that will make you proud of your profession. Whenever a patient fights and manages to survive or a transplant patient is given the good news, those are memorable and life-changing moments. The joy and relief on the face of patients and their families have a profound effect on me.
Nursing interview questions: Have you ever stepped into a leadership role?
To answer the question you do not need to mention only official leadership roles you may have served. Mention any situation where you had to step up and take charge of the situation. Share the situation in detail and mention what made you step into the leadership role and highlight other people that were involved. Always end the question by sharing something positive that you took from the situation.
I’ve served as a charge nurse many times. During my time as a charge nurse, I had to respond to rapid responses, lead code teams, and make quick decisions. I also had the task to give patient assignments fairly.
Sample Patients for Patient Care
Healthcare institutes are responsible for other people’s lives so they want to hire the best and most reliable nurses. Education is highly important for healthcare employers. The candidates should mention situations where they provided exceptional patient care and made extra efforts to educate not just patients but also their families.
While explaining the situations do not just stick to your perspective. Always share the perspective of the patient’s family. Do not use a negative tone or words for the family of the patients. Take ownership of your actions even if they are wrong. Never forget to mention the positives you took from the whole situation.
I once had the chance of working in a unit that I hadn’t worked at before. I was not familiar with the unit and did not know where the supplies were stored. The mother of a patient was not familiar with me as I was not on the regular floor plan so the family was not comfortable with me in the beginning. At the start, I had to prove my skill and capability. I simply followed the policy to make sure everything was done according to the book. I also maintained constant communication with the charge nurse and made sure she checked in with the family.
It is essential to understand that patients are not familiar with medical jargon. Using complex words can make patients more anxious. While sharing the situation mention the terminology you used to make sure the patient understood you.
Simple words must be used while communicating with patients and their families as they are not medically trained. These people use the teach-back method to ensure they understand the information relayed to them by the healthcare professionals. While communicating with the family of a patient that went through tonsil surgery, I had to replace complex words like acetaminophen with a simple term like Tylenol.
Have you ever provided effective education to a patient and their family?
Share an incident where you were sure that the patient or family has understood your teachings. What made you realize that you have managed to communicate effectively and provide useful education?
My strategy is to ask questions after educating a family and let them explain that they understand. The teach-back method is an excellent way of determining whether the family has comprehended the information or not.
Providing written material to the family of educational material with audio-visual aids is helpful in effective teaching. I once had a chance to educate a family about post-operative spine care required after going through posterior spinal fusion. Parents managed to demonstrate a perfect way of transferring the patient from bed to chair. The demonstration made it clear that they understood my instructions.
Tell a detailed story of a family who was not just satisfied with your service but also appreciative of it. Share the steps you took to ensure they were pleased and the positives you took from the situation.
Pediatrics is a challenging area to work in but it is also pretty rewarding. Sometimes parents can’t stay with the patient 24/7 as they have other family members to take care of or have to go to work.
Once, I was in charge of taking care of a six-month-old baby during a shift. The family was not able to stay with the baby round the clock as there was another young child at home. To keep the child happy, I played with the infant during my shift to keep him happy and engaged. Whenever the parents called to check up on the baby I made sure they could hear and see their baby so they knew their child was taken care of.
The mother of the child told me that she appreciated the extra effort I made to make sure that the child was healthy and happy and regularly communicating with the mother.
What was your strategy for interacting with a hostile patient?
Share the step-by-step actions you took while interacting with a hostile patient. What actions of the patient showed hostility? What was your reaction and strategy for handling the situation?
When you work in the healthcare industry you’ll have to deal with hostile patients. The most important thing to remember is that most patients act hostile because they are uncomfortable, afraid, and in pain. The setting of the hospital and being away from the family can take a toll on a person.
I once encountered a patient who was refusing medication. I tried to convince the patient but she was not listening. To handle the patient I got the charge nurse and physician involved. I also contacted a social worker to help with the situation. After calming down the patient and talking with her it was determined that she prefers the medicine mixed with chocolate. The social worker was able to get through the patient, who was elderly and had dementia. Failure to communicate her needs led to hostile behavior.
Communication between the patient and healthcare providers is crucial to offer proper medical care. If the patient is refusing to share medical information then it’s hard to proceed. Such a situation is not very ideal. When sharing such a situation, be empathetic to the patient’s condition and explain all the steps you took and the results you achieved.
I faced a situation in which a patient did not share that the boyfriend was not the biological father of her child. It was vital information as consent was required to sign consent forms and the boyfriend could not do it. There was also another man who called the unit and claimed to be the real father.
I notified the social worker and the nurse manager of the situation. They communicated with the mother and urged her to share the identity of the biological father. The information was shared only with the relevant healthcare professionals and not with the entire staff.
Sample Questions of Adaptability
The nursing profession is not as easy as there is constant uncertainty, urgency, and crisis. To answer these questions you need to share adaptability challenges and highlight lessons learned.
Explain the situation and reasons you felt under pressure to perform and prove your credibility. Share step-by-step details of the actions you took to handle the stress and get through the situation. Mention the results you were able to achieve and the lessons you learned along the way.
When I was working as a senior nurse I was responsible for handling the patient assignment. I was the resource to junior nurses. It was my job to ensure time was properly managed. To make sure I could assist others I stayed highly organized.
Change is not always easy but healthcare facilities go through it from time to time to offer the best healthcare service. Share details of the changes and reasons. Highlight steps you took to adapt so you could perform to the best of your ability.
I once worked for a facility that updated the system and converted all the records into electronic records and started using an upgraded computer system. The transition was not easy as it took some time to get used to. Although it was overwhelming I was able to adapt quickly but not everyone was able to do so.
Did you ever face a situation in which you did not know the answer to a question at work? What did you do to get the information to answer the question?
It is not possible to know everything so you should not be shy in sharing a situation where you did not know an answer. Share all the crucial steps you took to find relevant information.
It is ok for nurses to not know something. The important trait of a capable and reliable nurse is not knowing everything but knowing who to go to for assistance in case they do not have the required information. My strategy was to start my shift by identifying senior nurses that I go to in case of an emergency. If they fail to provide the information I need then my next step was to go to the procedure manager and check out the healthcare systems policy.
It is not uncommon to face awkward situations at work. Explain the uncomfortable situation in detail along with the steps you took to get out of it. Improve the answer by adding the results you achieved and things you learned.
I was once assigned a teenage patient who was making inappropriate sexual comments towards me. In the beginning, I tried to ignore them and then tried telling him to stop the vulgar commentary as it was wrong. When the situation continued I made the charge nurse aware of the situation. I told her I was not comfortable caring for the patient. The charge nurse listened to me intently and gathered a team to talk to the patient about the inappropriate behavior. She also switched by assignment for the shift.
Failure is part of professional life so do not be hesitant to share the experience. Discuss the reasons you felt you have failed and how did you feel? Show your positive nature by mentioning the lessons you learned from the failure.
Failing is not a good feeling whether the failure is professional or personal. Working in the ICU setting is tough because you lose patients all the time. Every time a patient loses his/her fight to live I feel like I have failed him/her. Every time a life is lost, there is a debriefing where there is a discussion regarding the steps that were taken and their effectiveness. The debriefing gives me time to reflect on my role and think about how I could have done better. Failure is not a synonym for weakness but an opportunity to learn from mistakes and be better.
Describe a situation where you were able to anticipate potential problems regarding a patient and what preventative measures were taken by you?
It is best to stick to a specific story about a patient. Explain the methods you used to assess pending problems. Mention all the steps that you took to ensure the issue does not occur. Did you achieve any positive results?
Sample Questions for Time Management
Multitasking is an essential trait of nurses. They have to manage more than one patient at a time and administer their medication on time. Nurses are also responsible for keeping detailed notes. Share stories that highlight your punctuality and showcase your ability to stay organized and meet deadlines.
Have you ever worked in a fast-paced setting? How did you prioritize tasks and maintain high-quality care for patients?
Share a time when you had to quickly prioritize your tasks. Give details of your thought process and how you prioritize the tasks.
The ICU setting is challenging as it is fast-paced and to operate efficiently, it’s crucial to stay organized.
When I start my shift I make a to-do list mentioning everything I need to do. The most important things are put on the top of the list. Administering medication is one of the most important duties of a nurse, so it is placed on top of the list. Making a list makes it easier for me to accomplish my daily goals.
While talking about an extremely ill patient, mention the name of the illness, injury, or trauma he/she was suffering from. Share details of how you ensured the patient got the best care and managed other patients under your care.
The key to taking the best care of an extremely ill patient and managing other patients is delegation. A good nurse always knows when it is time to ask for assistance. It is not possible to achieve positive results without identifying all resources and some assistance.
Have you faced a situation where you felt overwhelmed by the work? How did you manage it?
Choose a specific example and share a situation where you felt overwhelmed. Explain the steps you took to decrease the stress and complete your goals.
To fix the situation I always asked for help and checked out all the resources at my disposal.
Provide an example of important goals you have set for yourself. What actions did you take to accomplish these goals and were you successful?
The goals you share must be relevant to your career. Along with the steps, you should also mention the challenges you faced. What were your feelings about accomplishing your goals?
One of the most important goals I have set in my career so far was earning my pediatric certification. Making a list of things that were essential in attaining my goal made it easier to keep my goal in mind and stay motivated. I took the crucial step of signing up and paying for the fees so I would be motivated to finish it.
Sample Questions for Communication Style
Conveying your communication techniques and style is essential while answering nursing interview questions. It is better to use examples in your answers.
Can you give an example where you successfully persuaded a patient to agree on a certain issue? What was your approach?
Share a specific situation where you had trouble getting a patient’s agreement on something. What was the issue and what did you do to achieve a positive result?
Ideally, persuading a patient is not a good approach. But sometimes it is the only way to offer proper healthcare. Mention the steps you took to gain the trust of the patient and get him/her to agree with you. Never forget to shine a light on the positive result you achieved. The best-case scenario is that the patient agrees freely and does not need any persuasion. But sometimes bargaining is the only strategy.
I once had to bargain with a kid to convince him to eat his breakfast. I told him if he ate I will play video games with him. Bargaining is effective in certain situations.
Resident medical experts are responsible for guiding other people using their medical expertise. Share an occasion where you had to make sure that everyone under your supervision was able to understand the information you were sharing. Sharing details of the conversation is also a good idea.
Use an example where you were able to use written communication effectively to convey information. Healthcare professionals use jargon that is difficult to even pronounce, let alone understand. Share details about the circumstances that led to you using written communication and the steps you took to ensure success.
Using a text feature to ensure the efficiency of the communication and relay information to the medical team without any mistakes or delays. Being concise is vital for delivering error-free information and allowing the medical team to determine the best course of action.
Was there a time you failed to maintain efficient communication and how did you correct the situation?
Everyone makes mistakes so it is nothing to be ashamed of, especially if you learned something positive from the experience. Miscommunication mostly happens when there is a language barrier.
I once faced miscommunication and learned that the best approach is to use an interpreter or computer translation software. It makes sure that important points do not get lost in translation. I found out that if there is a language barrier hand gestures and loud voices do not help.
How did you react when you received negative feedback? Did you manage to take away something from it?
Mention the negative feedback you received and the circumstances that led to it.
I once received feedback that mentioned that I should be more social at work and establish better relationships with my colleagues. I did not think that the criticism was justified as in my opinion socializing too much is not important in the workplace. Limited socialization gave me more time to focus on taking my career to the next level by studying for additional certifications. It helped in securing better job opportunities.
Sample Questions for Core and Motivation Values
These are an integral part of nursing interview questions as they showcase a candidate’s values and passion for work.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Select the most profound accomplishment and share all the steps you took to achieve it. Mentioning other people who were involved in your success shows strong core values. Mention the positive things that came your way because of the accomplishment.
I worked extremely hard to earn my advanced pediatric certification. The certification is a validation for the years I spent sitting at the bedside.
While sharing the situation where you had to take charge of a difficult situation, mention what encouraged you to take charge and what strategies you used. Highlight the positive results you were able to achieve.
Has your profession as a nurse ever felt dissatisfying and how did you change that feeling?
Nurses come across difficult situations while working and there can be several dissatisfying moments. Share the circumstances, your role in the specific situation, and the reason for dissatisfaction.
I once became dissatisfied with my profession as a nurse because I was consistently getting easy assignments. I became frustrated because I felt my skills and experiences were not being used to the full extent. I took my concerns to the nurse manager and once the charge nurse became aware of the situation she made sure that assignments were fairly distributed.
Did you ever go over and above your job requirements and what was your motivation behind it?
The answer must highlight that you are a hardworking and committed nurse. Start the answer by saying that all patients are important to you and you do your best to offer the best health care. Share a specific experience as well.
I was once assigned a patient who was dropped off by his family and no one visited him while he was in the hospital for months. I realized that there was a major milestone missing from the development of the child. He was becoming depressed because of loneliness. I requested to be assigned the primary nurse in his case and worked with him tirelessly. I helped in improving his vocabulary and helped with communication. I felt the patient needed extra help and I could not avoid it.
How do you handle the mistakes you made at work?
People make mistakes so you should never be afraid to admit that you have made one. Admitting is key to making things right. Make sure you share the role you played to fix the mistake you made. It shows you have a strong character.
One mistake that I will always remember was leaving the gastronomy tube unclamped with medication administration. When I used it again the last medicine came out along with the formula. I could not clamp it quickly enough to prevent the leak. To fix the error I went to the pharmacy and medical team to get them replaced. After this incident, I have never forgotten to clamp it.
What is the most challenging thing about being a nurse and what did you do to overcome this?
Always answer this question honestly so that you can show your interest in the profession is genuine. Do not be shy to mention things you find challenging whether it is taking on leadership roles, interacting, or working with a certain patient population.
Watching patients lose the fight of their lives is probably the most difficult part of being a nurse. It is heart-breaking and sometimes I need to take some time to gather my thoughts and get back to work.
How to Answer Behavioral Nursing Interview Questions
Answering behavioral questions is tricky and the best approach is to use the STAR method. It will make sure you have a clear and concise answer to these questions.