An interview is an opportunity to convince hiring managers you are the best candidate for a role. When preparing for a nursing interview, there are several questions you can use to practice. In this article, we explain how to answer nursing interview questions and list some common ones you can expect. We also provide sample answers to help you form your answer.
How to answer nursing interview questions
Use the STAR technique to respond to questions in a nursing interview because it provides structure to your answer. STAR stands for:
- situation: Describe the challenge or issue you faced
- task: Explain your responsibilities in the situation
- action: Describe the steps you took to perform the task
- result: Explain the outcome of your actions and what you learned or accomplished
13 sample nursing interview questions and answers
Here are some questions you should expect in an interview and how to answer them:
1. Why did you choose a career as a nurse?
When asking this question, your interviewer is looking for what inspired you to choose the profession. They want to understand what motivates you and whether you're passionate about caring for people. Tell them what draws you to the position.
Example: "My mother was a nurse, and she loved caring for people. I liked assisting her, and I knew from a young age that I wanted to experience the satisfaction she felt from her job. Choosing a career in nursing felt natural to me, and I love making a difference in the lives of others."
2. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
Teamwork is an essential skill for healthcare professionals. Having a good relationship with your colleagues can improve your communication skills and enhance patient satisfaction, too. When answering this question, express your interpersonal skills. Demonstrate that you understand the importance of being a team player.
Example: "I enjoy being part of a treatment and support team, but I also like the idea of working alone. During my clinical training at the general hospital in Saskatchewan, I discovered that having strong interpersonal and communication skills is essential for anyone in this field. I like listening to other people's ideas and thoughts and sharing mine. I feel everyone has something to contribute, especially in a field like nursing."
3. How would you handle aggressive patients?
As a nurse, you will face challenges. If an interviewer asks you this question, they want to know how you use your interpersonal and conflict resolution skills to manage difficult situations. You can offer an example to answer this question.
Example: "I understand that patients have different personalities, and I have to make sure they get the best care available. Firstly, I would show empathy towards the aggressive patient and try to understand their needs and calm them down. I know that being compassionate is part of my job, and most times, it helps me get through to patients. I would also provide reassurances and look for a solution to their needs."
4. How do you deal with stress at work?
When an interviewer asks you this question, they want to know which steps you take to manage tasks effectively. You should have a detailed and convincing explanation ready about how you handle the demanding aspects of being a nurse. You can talk about your hobbies and other aspects of your life that help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Example: "When I was in college, I had a roommate who taught me the importance of learning other skills and dealing with stress. Whenever I have to work demanding shifts, I schedule time afterward to knit bags. I also read books and play video games in my spare time. These activities make me feel relaxed and I find I have the strength to take on new tasks afterwards."
5. Why are you the best candidate for this position?
When an interviewer asks you this question, they are giving you an opportunity to convince them that you're the right person for the job. Explain your skills, experience and other qualifications that make you stand out.
Example: "I've been a registered nurse for six years, and I love every minute of it. To me, nursing isn't just a job. It's my passion. I love caring for people, and I have strong communication and interpersonal skills. I stay current on all the recent innovations and techniques in my field. I enjoy overcoming the challenges of this job and take every opportunity to grow and make a difference in the lives of others."
6. How would you handle an unprofessional doctor?
Nurses play an important role in hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities and they collaborate with doctors. As with any position, workplace conflicts may arise and managing those situations is vital to smooth operation and patient care.
When answering this question, highlight your problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.
Example: "In my previous role, I worked with various medical professionals. While some had excellent communication and interpersonal skills, others were challenging to work with. I always made sure I was composed when dealing with unprofessionalism. I once reported a doctor to the upper management team because the issue was affecting my ability to care for a patient."
7. Imagine a friend asks for a diagnosis outside of your work environment. What would you do?
Your friends or family may need a diagnosis or ask for medical advice. While it may seem wise to help them, you should direct them to a doctor or other medical professionals who can perform thorough examinations.
Example: "I would listen to the request of the person and understand their concerns. Then, I would explain that I can't diagnose patients outside of my professional environment. However, I would offer alternative contacts and follow-up with them to make sure they get the medical advice or diagnosis they need."
8. How would you deal with a patient who complains of recurring pains?
Empathy is an essential skill when dealing with any type of patient. Explain how you take care of patients with recurring pain using an example.
Example: "I would sympathize with the patient and reassure them that we could find a solution to the problem. In my previous role, a man who was experiencing chronic shoulder pain came into the clinic. He complained that his medication wasn't giving him the results he had hoped for. I recommended some non-medicinal options, but they didn't help. Finally, I redirected him to a doctor who thoroughly examined him and found an alternative medicine."
9. Why are you leaving your current position?
When a hiring manager asks this question, they are trying to understand your motivation for making a career change. Regardless of what brought you to the decision, be sure to stay positive.
Example: "My previous role allowed me to learn and improve my clinical and communication skills in a friendly environment. Although I've learned a lot there, I'm looking for new opportunities that provide more challenges. I'm eager to learn new skills and techniques that come from working in an environment like this one."
10. What would you do if your shift replacement is unavailable?
Nurses are responsible for staying at their post until their shift replacement arrives. By asking this question, an interviewer wants to know how you would sustain quality services even if your replacement was unavailable.
Example: "If my shift supervisor isn't available, I would call my replacement to understand their reason for not coming to work. If they're busy with something or stuck in traffic, I would inform my supervisor and we would figure out a solution. In my previous role, my supervisor adjusted our schedules to make sure a nurse was available for each shift."
11. How would you grade your organizational skills?
Being organized is an important skill that all successful nurses need. You have to manage many patients and ensure you provide the best care for each and every one. When a hiring manager asks this question, they want to know whether you can handle several patients and manage your time.
Example: "I would grade myself nine out of ten. As a nurse, I understand that I must have strong organizational skills to perform my duties effectively. I learned several clinical analysis methods and how to manage multiple patients in my previous role. I also understand the importance of time management skills."
12. Imagine you made an error with a patient's medication. What would you do?
Nurses sometimes make mistakes, just like every other healthcare professional. By asking this question, an interviewer wants to find out if you are honest and willing to correct your mistakes.
Example: "If I made a mistake with a patient's medication, I would first inform my supervisor. Then, I would tell the patient or their family. Finally, I would take steps to prevent such errors from happening in the future."
13. How would you manage a situation if a patient's family is displeased with the care you provide?
By asking this question, your interviewer wants to understand your problem-solving skills and ability to manage difficult situations.
Example: "I would meet with the patient's family and listen to their concerns. Then, I would create a plan to improve the care services the patient receives and inform my supervisor."