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Nurses can positively and directly impact other people’s lives. They are the primary patient care providers. Oftentimes, they are those who aid others during what’s possibly the worst times of their lives.
For this reason, patience, teamwork, adaptability, communication skills, and resilience are qualities that will make a successful nursing career and that are sought by employers in nursing job interviews.
There are hundreds of types of nursing jobs you can pursue, including:
Nursing, although physically and mentally energy-consuming, is not only one of the most rewarding careers but also one of the most important ones.
If you’re reading this, all the respect and best wishes to you! We want to help you kickstart or further your career with some of the most common nursing interview questions, answers, and some nursing interview tips!
Other than medical knowledge and background, nursing characteristics such as patience, teamwork, adaptability, communication, and resilience are what healthcare employers look for in you. Nurses work closely with doctors and fellow nurses, interact with and educate patients and families, and have to stay calm and resolve emergent situations.
So be prepared to display and highlight those qualities in your answers to nursing job interview questions.
Common nursing interview questions include questions about your experience and background, and ones delve into some specifics like nursing behavioral interview questions that help employers assess the qualification.
To know the specific skills required by the employer, you have to review the job description. word by word. Pick up the keywords in it. These key requirements are very likely to appear in questions asked in the nursing job interview.
Compile a list of your qualities or skills that match the requirements in the job description. Make sure you have evidence, specific details or numbers, to back up those qualities and skills in your answers to nursing interview questions.
To prepare a few experiences for one particular nursing job interview in advance, brainstorm some examples of previous successes relevant to the job that might make you stand out, and consider what nursing interview questions might be asked.
STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a strategic technique to showcase your strengths in the case of nursing behavioral interview questions that starts with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Share an example of how…”. These types of nursing behavioral interview questions allow employers to analyze your problem-solving tactics and competency for the job.
The STAR framework:
Practice sharing those experiences using the STAR framework and be sure to tap into your storytelling mode in nursing job interviews!
🔎 Further reading: STAR Interview Method: Definition, Tips, and Examples
Below are some examples of how nursing behavioral interview questions and STAR answers might play out.
Common nursing interview questions include behavioral questions, situational questions, scenario questions and questions about your background.
Your answers to those nursing interview questions shed light on how this position aligns with your past experiences and future plans and how you would handle unpredictable situations in a clinic or hospital.
Q: Why do you want to be a CNA?
How to answer: With these types of nursing interview questions, feel free to share any personal anecdotes or interests that started you on this journey.
A: I enjoy and excel at making sure every patient receives quality care and their families are well informed and prepared. I thrive in helping others and making connections. CNA is a position that offers the opportunity for me to do that to the fullest.
Q: Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a doctor. How did you handle it?
How to answer: With situational nursing interview questions, use the STAR technique!
A: There was a time when I thought the prescription for a patient did not look right. I called the doctor and we went through the prescription together again. We did discover a mistake in the drug dosage and corrected it. So the patient could get their proper treatment.
Q: Share an example of when you handled a difficult situation or patient.
How to answer: This is one of the nursing behavioral interview questions where you can use the STAR method to highlight traits that you demonstrated and share how you are comfortable with working through tough situations.
A: I remember one elder patient I’d worked with a few years ago. She was extremely difficult, always complaining and arguing with staff. I looked at her charts to understand her situation and spent time talking with her, and learned that she had no relatives in the area that could visit her or take care of her. By being more empathetic and caring, she slowly became one of my favorite people to visit.
Q: How do you handle workplace stress?
How to answer: Be honest and concise. This question allows the interviewer an insight into how you can healthily balance your work and life.
A: Through my 2 years working as a nurse, I’ve found and stuck to some hobbies that help relieve my stress: exercising and reading. My regular gym sessions, running, and Kindle all help me clear my head and get in a positive mental space.
Q: What would you do if you don’t know what to do in a situation?
How to answer: It’s completely normal to come across things you don’t know, but it’s also important that you can problem-solve without putting the burden on the rest of your team!
A: I would take some time to research and learn. During my internship, I spent extra time going over patients’ diagnoses before my shift started. I then asked experienced nurses if I couldn’t find the information through my own research.
Q: What will be the most challenging part for you as a charge nurse?
How to answer: Your answer shows how much you’ve thought about this job. The interviewer will look at 1. how your expectations for the position align with reality and 2. what you will struggle with the most and 3. how you plan to overcome that.
A: I believe the most challenging part would be how to effectively allocate and prioritize resources and staff to ensure the best care service. However, with my prior experiences as a nurse manager and adaptability skills, I’m sure I would be a great fit for this role.
Q: How well do you work with your team? Share a situation where you displayed teamwork.
How to answer: Again, with behavioral nursing interview questions, use the STAR framework.
A: In my current role, we had a problem with patients not showing up for scheduled appointments. We held a meeting where everyone can come up with solutions together and found a way to improve the process of organizing the clinic’s schedule by sending out appointment confirmations a day before.
Q: How do you deliver bad news to a patient or their family members?
How to answer: Explain your process and the thought behind it. Guide your interviewers through it like you would with your patient!
A: I understand how hard it is to process or watch a loved one suffer, so I always try to show empathy while being firm in my messages. I would calmly explain the situation, spare time for questions and concerns, share the next steps, and be ready to repeat anything if I feel that they’re having a hard time understanding the information. It’s definitely one of the toughest parts of the job, but I’ve learned to steer the conversation as effectively and soothingly as possible.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
How to answer: With the classic “Tell me about yourself” question, it’s all about sharing how your background, skills, experiences tie into and can contribute to the position you’re applying for.
A: I’m a motivated fresh graduate with a 3.80 GPA with a year of work experience at the Care & Cure General Hospital. Before that, I worked as a CNA for one and a half years at Community Nursing Home. I’m passionate and dedicated to providing the best care for my patients, so I’m very excited about the opportunity to work here.
Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
How to answer: Highlight your strengths and support that with your experience. Be sure to tie it back to their job requirements!
A: I have amazing interpersonal skills. Nothing frustrates patients more than not being understood, and my ability to listen to and identify patients' pain points makes their experiences a whole lot better. Same for patients’ families, it’s as important that their complaints, doubts, or anxiety are being heard. Addressing concerns largely improves the medical process and I’ve been helping fellow RNs work on that as well. As for weaknesses, I sometimes pay too much attention to the paperwork that needs to be done. It takes too much time. I am working on better time management, and I only allow myself half an hour on one document at most.
Nearing the end of your nursing interview questions, the good old “Do you have any questions for us?” often overlooked by interviewees will pop up.
This is a chance not only to answer any concerns you have regarding the position but also an opportunity to leave an impression and show the interviewers that you’re ambitious and serious about the role.
What you ask reflects how much you’ve considered regarding transitioning into this new job or a new phase of your life.
Examples of good questions to ask in a nursing interview:
Good luck with your interview!
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--- Originally written by Yohan Ke ---