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Nursing Interview Questions: How Can You Stand Out From the Rest?

  • An interview is the last chance you have to make a lasting impression on employers.
  • Nursing interview questions can be tricky, so it’s best to prepare an outline of answers beforehand.
  • Do you have an interview coming up? Check out Nursing CE Central’s guide to help you land your dream nursing job!
Morgan Curry, RN/BSN

Morgan Curry, BSN / RN

Intensive Care, Outpatient Surgery, Aesthetics, Education, and Nursing Leadership

May 19, 2021
Simmons University

Whether you are a new grad preparing to step into your first nursing interview or a seasoned professional with years of experience looking to make a job change, you will be faced with a plethora of nursing interview questions regarding your work ethic, personality, and interest in the role.

In order to ace your nursing interview, start by preparing a rough outline of answers to specific questions that you anticipate the interviewer asking you.  

Remember, you do not need to memorize these, just be prepared to think quickly in case they throw you off guard.  

Check out some examples of nursing interview questions followed by our sample answers below! You got this!

Nursing Interview Example Questions

Many of your interview questions will be situational and behavioral-based; how you interact with others, the care you would provide to a patient, how you would respond to high-stress circumstances 

“How did you deal with someone who wasn’t satisfied with your patient care?”

Give your interviewer an example of your past and how you dealt with the situation. If you don’t have previous patient care experience, link it back to a time when someone in your life was unhappy with something that you did.

Although I try to give my all to every patient I see it is important to understand that you cannot always please everyone, no matter what you do.

Some people may feel intimidated by your personality type, or perhaps an ICU patient with heart failure exacerbation is upset with you for not putting salt on their eggs as they requestedour job is to do what is in their health’s best interest.  

Whatever the situation may be, regardless of if someone is not happy with your care or not, you must be communicative and explain to the patient, I am sorry, I understand that you wanted salt on your eggs, but I am not only doing what the order says, but I am doing what is best for your health.

“Describe a time where you had to deal with a difficult patient and how you handled that.”

Having a difficult patient every now and then is inevitable. Nursing is not always sunshine and rainbows, but if you have made it this far, you already know this. Employers want to hire a nurse who is going to be able to respectfully handle these types of interactions.  

Working in the ICU, I had a patient that did not like me. He yelled at me every time I came into the room. No matter what I did, he found something to be negative about and was extremely rude.  

He kept calling me a pion,and saying that I was nothing and didnt matter. I respectfully and calmly talked to him and told him that I was sorry that he felt that way.  

Upon leaving the room, I brought my charge nurse in so that she could witness his behavior. He continued to make these mean comments.  

Despite his attitude towards me, I persevered through the shift.  The following day, I received him as my patient, again.  

As I walked into the room, preparing for the worst, he greeted me with kindness and was the calmest I had ever seen him. It turns out that the day he had full-blown delirium the day before. 

The moral of the story is to be kind and patient. You do not know what people or going through.

“Why do you want to work here?”

It is almost a full guarantee that this question is going to be asked, so you must be prepared to develop a great, honest answer! 

Do your research on the facility, view their standards and core values and incorporate them into your answers; interviewers love this! 

Make sure to talk about your goals, but do not talk about money under any circumstances.

I am truly invested in helping others. I want to work in an environment where I can continually grow and learn.

Your company/hospital has a wonderful reputation. I am excited about becoming a part of the team and making a difference in peoples lives, whether it be my patients or those around me helping provide care. 

“Why should we hire you?”

This is one of the best nursing interview questions. Your interviewer will most likely ask you this, and your response has the potential to be pure gold.  It is your main opportunity to shine. 

This is the part of the interview where you must sell the hiring manager on why your skills, personality, and experience make you the perfect candidate for this role.   

I have always wanted to be a nurse.  

During college, while my friends were out partying and just making it by in classes,I was graduating. I have always had a strong drive to be successful. I know what I want, and I dont stop until I achieve it. 

I am a gogetter.  I love caring for others and making an impact.  

Although I know there will be challenges and hurdles along the way, I will take those and use them as a foundation to make myself stronger. I want to be a part of something bigger. 

I love being a part of a team, and will go above and beyond to help those around me while simultaneously providing the best care to my patients.

nursing interview panel

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

This is a time to be transparent, but of course, not too transparent to the point where they may not hire you.

You should walk the fine line of showing them that you recognize your faults and that you are constantly striving to better them. Focus on your strengths that fit the job position, and as for weaknesses, just be open.  

I would have to say my biggest strengths are my drive and organizational skills.  I am extremely driven. 

If there is a problem in front of me that I do not know how to accomplish, I struggle, fail, and persevere until I figure it out. 

I am the personality type that thinks, Never tell me I cannot do something because I will move mountains to prove you wrong. It is not boastfulness, it is confidence. 

I am extremely taskoriented and efficient in my workI always get things done. 

As far as my biggest weaknesses go, I would say that I get frustrated when other people in their job roles don’t pull their weight. When more work falls on me or a teammate because of someone else not contributing, it is frustrating and can create additional problems. 

“Do you have any questions for us?”

Even if you don’t think you have questions, this is a great time for you to make a lasting final impression. 

Ask about the length of hire orientation, how their orientation system works, the nurse-to-patient ratio, or for the potential for advancement! There are so many great questions to ask potential employers.  

Remember, it is important to ask questions that show the interviewer that you were paying attention and that you genuinely care about the position you are interviewing for. 

Need More? Here Are Some Specifics On Nursing Interview Questions

Nursing interviews may be comprised of several different question types, including traditional, situational, and behavioral based.  

It is very important to prepare for all of the above 

In my first interview, I was straight out of college and had an individual interview with the human resources team for the university I was applying to; it wasn’t too bad, and they mainly focused on traditional and behavioral interview questions that any employer would ask.   

Once I had made it past the first hurdle, I was asked to do a formal panel interview.  

This was extremely daunting and nerve-wracking for several reasons:

  • My ageI was fresh out of college and had never had intensive interviews before, so I felt like a small fish being thrown into the ocean. 
  • Lack of experience – I had no nursing experience prior to the interview. 
  • Intimidation – In this type of interview, you sit on one side of a room, while 2 or more interviewers sit on the other side; it can be extremely intimidating. 

Despite my inexperience, I was interviewing for one of the most critical units in the hospital, which required immense training, skill, and knowledge; and I’m sure you’re wondering how this went.

Well, I killed it and landed the job. Want to know how I did it?

Other than my captivating personality and wit, I was prepared for the questions they asked me, and you can be, too! 

 Now that you are a pro at nursing interview questions, it’s time for you to go ace your interview. Good luck! 

Still think you need some practice? No worries! Check out our “How to Ace Nursing Interview Questions” blog! 


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