20 Most Asked Nurse Interview Questions and How to Answer them
So you have finally been selected for an interview at your dream hospital and so are going through sample interview questions to better prepare yourself. Remember that nursing job interview questions are wildly different from the corporate ones. If you have had prior experience in the profession, you probably know this. But if you are just fresh out of your Registered Nurse course, you need to keep certain things in mind.
- These are just frequently asked questions. Expect a wide number of variations, or more difficult questions than the ones listed here.
- There is no point in mugging up answers because that would show. Not only would it create a bad impression, but it may also damage your prospects. Always rely on your own experiences, and put in what you really feel.
- Emotionally prepare yourself for the interview. To an extent this is your job played out on a much smaller scale. Not only do you need to think well and think fast, but you also need to articulate well.
So here are some common interview questions for nursing and their best answers that would give you some idea of how such interviews are actually like.
1. Why did you choose to be a nurse in the first place?
There can be many reasons why one would choose nursing as a career. Remember this is one of the most common interview questions for nurses to test the amount of commitment you have for the job at the ideological level. It should be much more than ‘to get a job’.
Sample answer: I wanted to choose something as a career option that would not only be challenging and interesting, but would also help me make a difference at a personal level. Being a nurse helps me deal with many new things and with many new people and helps me make a difference.
2. How have you trained yourself to deal with the real challenges?
You need to remember that you are a newly qualified nurse, and there would be no supervisor to guide you, and no one ready to overlook your mistakes. You need to make the interviewer understand that you know what you are getting into. Again, state real experiences.
Sample answer: My clinical training at the Emergency Room of so-and-so hospital prepared me to deal with real challenges that may arise.
3. What is the most difficult part of the job according to you?
The answer to this can be varied. While for some it would be young children back at home, for others it would be getting used to the pain of the patient. Stick to your own problems. Take some time to answer this question if required, because through this not only do you get to show that you are committed to the cause, but also to make your interviewer understand the challenges that you would be overcoming.
Sample answer: The most difficult part of the job for me is maintaining a distance from the patient. I find it extremely difficult not to invest in the patient’s sufferings all the while monitoring his or her condition minutely. It becomes all the more difficult when the patient has problems communicating the pain to the doctor.
4. What do you do to handle stress?
Through this question, the interviewer wants to know three basic things- whether you recognize stress to be a very real part of the job, whether you can handle it well at a personal level, and whether you are well-equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Sample answer: I handle stress by prioritizing on the most important thing at the moment. That way, I am not only able to make the best out of the situation, but also ensure that there is no further stress arising from the possible mistakes at present. In the ER, it is the patient. In my home, it is exercise.
5. How would you deal with an unfriendly doctor?
This is an extremely important nursing behavioral interview question, because through this the interviewer wants to know many things at once- how you would deal with negatives during emergencies, how efficient you are as a subordinate, how much you prioritize the hospital as a professional space.
Sample answer: I would try to talk to the doctor to know if it is anything that I should look into. But if the thing is more complicated, I would talk to the supervisor.
6. How would you do with a patient or his family displeased with your services?
This is a top nursing interview question, especially for newly graduated nurses.
Sample answer: I understand that it may not always be possible for the patient or the family members to agree with my recommendations. In that case I would like to use my communication skills to the best of my abilities. And if that does not work, I would speak to the supervisor or the attending medical officer, depending on the case.
7. What does good care mean to you?
This is again a two-pronged question. On one hand, the interviewer wants to judge your standards. On the other, you get to express your own ideas about the optimum care for a patient and it may bring up new ideas on board which would be beneficial for all the parties involved. So think very carefully before giving the answer. Remember that if you are already of a disposition suitable for nursing, this should not be a very difficult question.
Sample answer: Good care for me means where the conditions are optimum for me to give the best to the patient under my care. Ideally, I should not be troubled by uncooperative peers, unrealistic schedules and overbearing relatives. Good care for me is ensuring that the patient gets the best out of her stay with me.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Try not to give a personal answer to this question. Your interviewer is looking for a value addition to the hospital. So, hints of plans to leave soon will not be taken well.
Sample answer: In five years’ time, I see myself as someone with better understanding of the medical industry. And I want to have contributed more to healthcare services than is possible for a CNA. So I definitely see myself in a managerial role in this hospital where I would be able to benefit the patients more.
9. What do you think recommends you for this position?
With this question, or with questions of this type, you are judged for the six Cs- care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. This is why you need to give very honest answers to this, based on what you believe about yourself.
Sample answer: I would make a good choice for this position because for me the patient’s health is of the utmost priority. I am a good caregiver, I make people around me comfortable, I am an excellent listener and communicator, and I am not afraid of speaking out when the need arises.
10. What was your previous boss like?
Do NOT bitch about your ex-boss in the interview room. Your interviewer also wants to understand whether you are reliable concerning the institution’s reputation in the event of a resignation in the future.
Sample answer: So-and-so was an efficient manager who knew how to get the best out of her team. I have leant a lot working under her.
11. Why are you leaving your current position?
Again, you need to steer clear of the negatives, because this is a loaded question.
Sample answer: I feel that I have contributed enough to where I am engaged at present, and I want to broaden my horizon and take up new challenges and contribute better to the cause of healthcare.
12. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
It is important to note here that you need to put out more strengths than weaknesses. Be honest about your weakness, and don’t downplay it. Instead make it appear as something you are working on and which you believe you can soon control.
Sample answer: My biggest strengths are that I can keep a cool head and think on my feet, I am very good at listening to and following up on instructions, and I have good leadership qualities.
My weakness is my tendency of getting attached to my patients. While a certain level of attachment is necessary in my area of occupation, at times it affects me emotionally. But with increasing experience, I am gaining better control over it.
13. What kind of salary do you expect?
Most often these jobs do not come with a definite salary tag. So it is best to not zero in on a sum, because that can backfire either way.
Sample answer: I would be comfortable with a salary that is appropriate for the position and the amount of effort that I would be putting into it. I would also expect it to take into consideration my experience and the high costs of living in New York City.
14. What have you learnt from your past experiences?
It is good to talk about your own mistakes now and then. Most respondents have a tendency to talk about others’ mistakes. However, convincing the interviewer that you are a human being with the ability to actually evolve from her past experiences goes a long way. Give very detailed answers to this question.
Sample answer: Just when I was starting, I made a mistake in one of the patient’s charts. Thankfully, the doctor noticed it on time and prevented further complications. Since then, I have always made it a point to at least double check the data I enter and put my complete focus on the job at hand.
15. What gives you the greatest pleasure in the job?
The best way to approach this would be to cite some good happenings, all the while showcasing your commitment. It is important to not give vague answers to such questions.
Sample answer: I receive the greatest pleasure when my efforts to meet the requirements of the patient are fulfilled. I like the patient under my care to stay happy. And I love it when they are able to trust me. For instance, in my last job, I had a peer rating of 95% most of the times, and that made me proud.
16. What do you do to stay up to date in your field?
This question is asked as a measure of how passionately competent you are in your field. It is important to state all the past efforts you have made in order to improve your nursing skills, in addition to the future ones you are willing to make.
Sample answer: I regularly keep in touch with my instructors and peers from my nursing school to keep myself updated. I also am a subscriber to numerous journals and magazines. I attend many seminars in this field. In addition to these, I had enrolled in an advanced course for improvement of managerial skills.
17. What would you do if you were not relieved of your shift?
This question is aimed at knowing how far you can push yourself. Remember that each shift is grueling, so don’t give overenthusiastic answers- they would only make you appear needy and fake. Be practical.
Sample answer: I would attend to the matter at hand till the replacement arrived and then I would talk to my supervisor to know what happened.
18. How comfortable are you being part of a team?
Nursing is not always about personal care to individual patients. During operations, critical situations depend often on co-ordination between different members of the team. So even if you are not great at working with people, you need to show that you are okay to put up with the minimal requirements.
Sample answer: While I enjoy the independence that working alone provides me, I know the importance of being part of a team and always look forward to learn from my peers and from the new challenges arising out of the situations.
19. How would your friends describe you?
This is a deceptively personal question. Your interviewer doesn’t want an agony aunt, so don’t treat it as a mere ‘tell me about yourself’. You need to stick to points that would make you appealing for the post.
Sample answer: My friends would describe me as someone who has excellent communication skills and is very level headed when it comes to stress situations. There was a time when a patient’s blood pressure was falling. I was among the few in the room who was not nervous and was able to execute the doctor’s orders to the T. Everyone was impressed.
20. What would you do if you saw another nurse administering an incorrect drug?
This question is asked to test not only your commitment, but also your courage and your thinking skills. Remember that such questions can be the deal breaker or maker.
Sample answer: I would immediately protest. If the colleague owns up to his mistake, I would immediately set about administering the correct procedure. Else I would run to a doctor and explain the situation.
So armed as you are with these interview tips and answers, it is best to go soul searching in preparation for your interview. Not only would the effort show during the interview, but it would also make you understand yourself much better in terms of your profession.
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