33 ER Nurse Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying to work as an ER nurse, reviewing typical interview questions can help you feel more prepared and go into the meeting with confidence. These questions can help hiring managers learn more about you and assess how you might fit within their team. When you know what to expect, you can develop responses that demonstrate your value and qualifications as an employee. In this article, we list common ER nurse interview questions, and provide several sample answers to help you prepare.

Related: How To Prepare for a Job Interview

General ER nurse interview questions

A hiring manager may ask general ER nurse interview questions to learn more about you and discover unique personality attributes that can make you a good fit for their team. Your answers can differentiate you from other candidates applying for the same position, helping you secure the role as an ER nurse. Answer truthfully so you can accurately represent yourself to the hiring manager or peer interview team.

Explore these general interview questions for ER nurses:

  • Why is working in the ER appealing to you?

  • Why did you choose to become a nurse?

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?

  • What skills do you want to learn in a new role?

  • What are your biggest strengthens and weaknesses?

  • Tell me more about your career goals. Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What motivates you?

  • What made you decide to apply for a position with our organization?

  • How might your coworkers describe you? What about the doctors you've worked with?

  • What questions do you have for us?

Related: 17 Interview Tips To Help You Get the Job

Questions about experience and background

During an interview, you may receive several questions about your experience and background so a hiring manager can understand what makes you an ideal candidate for the role. They may ask about previous ER experience or other areas you've worked as a nurse to better understand the situations you've encountered and the patients you have experience managing.

Here are some questions you may receive about your experience and background:

  • What are the greatest assets you would bring to our team?

  • Which other hospital departments do you have experience in?

  • How do you react when something unexpected happens and you have to think quickly?

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you correct the situation?

  • Which charting programs are you familiar with using?

  • How do you communicate department updates to the oncoming nurse?

  • Have you ever been responsible for department inventory?

  • What are some of the most unique patient symptoms you've had to triage?

  • What is the most amount of patients you've been responsible for in a single shift?

  • Describe a time when you've had to work with a difficult patient. How did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience?

In-depth questions

It's common for hiring managers to ask in-depth questions during the interview process to gauge your knowledge of the medical field. Through their questions, they may want to know more about both your technical and soft skills so they can evaluate how well you'd do working in the emergency room. Because these questions are typically more detailed, consider pausing before answering so you can think of a relevant example situation. This can show the hiring manager that you have experience in a similar circumstance as they're describing.

To prepare for your interview, review these questions:

  • What soft skills do you possess that would make you an ideal candidate for this position?

  • Have you ever had to collaborate with non-medical personnel, like foodservice staff?

  • What are some of the most recent medical trends and updates you've learned about?

  • How would you describe your communication style when working with other healthcare professionals? What about when you're communicating with patients?

  • Have you ever had a patient who you had a hard time diagnosing? How did you work with other team members to provide care?

  • What do you think are the greatest attributes an ER nurse can have to be successful in their careers?

  • As a nurse, your opinion on a patient's care may differ from other professionals. How would you manage a situation like this?

  • What are some techniques you can use to care for a non-responsive patient?

  • What would you do if the nurse who was taking over for you at the end of your shift didn't arrive to work on time?

  • How do you ensure you remain up to date on emerging trends and new treatment options?

Related: 8 Essential Skills To Include in Nursing Resumes

Interview questions with sample answers

Review these example interview questions and matching answers to further prepare for an interview for an ER nurse position:

1. How would you deliver bad news to a patient or their family members?

Being an ER nurse requires having strong interpersonal skills because you interact with various types of people throughout your workday. Potential employers may ask a question like this to assess how you use those skills to communicate with individuals during difficult moments that may arise. In your answer, demonstrate the techniques you use to offer comfort and provide excellent care to patients and their loved ones. If you describe a specific example of a time you encountered this situation, it can serve as evidence of these skills.

Example: "When I have bad news to deliver, I always try to demonstrate empathy. I calmly explain the patient's condition and the next steps we need to take, giving them time to process that information and ask as many questions as they need. I recently spoke to a family whose father was not likely to make it through the night. Even though the news was upsetting, I knew I needed to be honest about the situation to manage their expectations appropriately. However, I also emphasized our medical team's commitment to providing him the best care and treatment options available."

2. How do you manage patient triage during your shift in the emergency room?

As an ER nurse, one of your responsibilities may include assessing patients' needs and determining how to prioritize their treatments. Potential employers want to learn how you navigate this process in a high-pressure environment. In your answer, provide the steps you take and the reasoning behind your decisions. When possible, you can describe a specific scenario when you had to prioritize patients. You can also use this as an opportunity to mention the specific technical skills you use to evaluate patients.

Example: "When managing patient triage, my first step is to take patients' vitals. For example, I check their blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate, and pulse. I also ask them questions about what brought them into the emergency room and their medical history. After I've gathered all the relevant information, I can begin prioritizing patients based on the severity of their situation. Those that have unstable vital signs, such as shortness of breath, would take immediate priority. I want to make sure they receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible to save their lives."

Related: How To Prioritize Work Tasks

3. What techniques do you use to care for yourself as an ER nurse?

ER nursing can be a physically and emotionally demanding job. Potential employers may ask a question like this to ensure you have the emotional capabilities to cope effectively and the stamina to remain focused on your job during long days. They're likely not looking for a specific answer, but are interested in learning what unique or special strategies you use during or after work to manage daily stresses. When possible, describe a specific time when you navigated an emotional or stressful day effectively.

Example: "As a nurse, I realize that it's just as important to care for ourselves as it is to care for our patients. I have developed a habit of practising yoga and meditation at the start of my day to help focus my mind before work. This routine has helped me arrive to work with a positive attitude that I hopefully pass on to my patients and colleagues.

Whenever I can, I also take time for myself during the workday. Even though there may be busy days, I try to take breaks between patients, which can help me be a better problem solver and decision maker."

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