Every step in your nursing education and development has been a test, and the interview is no different. Whether you’re going out for a job at your top hospital, a volunteer position or to work in nursing education, the interview will be designed to test your knowledge and wherewithal.
Our pro tip for getting ready for the interview is to print out or make notes about the employer’s requirements for the job. Build a picture of your employer’s dream candidate and then work out how you fulfill all of the criteria. Don’t worry if you don’t have the experience yet, work out what you can say to show the interviewers that you’re a quick learner or that you have experience in a similar area and are willing to learn.
Types of Interview Questions
So, you’ve landed an interview. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get your head down and prepare your answers. The good news is that not all questions will be aimed at scrutinizing clinical practices or putting your interpersonal skills to the test, you can also expect a number of questions that you would be asked for any other job like “Tell me about yourself” and “What would you say are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” Just make sure not to neglect these ones when you practice your answers as these will tell the interviewers a lot about you and your personality. Among the other most common questions will be ‘behavioral questions’ which will help the interviewers to understand how you would react to different situations based on your past experiences. So, make sure to prep answers about how you’ve reacted in crisis situations before and how you’ve worked in teams before.
Common Questions and Sample Answers
Why Did You Choose a Career in Nursing?
Explain what drew you to nursing from a mission standpoint. What do you love most about it? What gets you excited about the field? What about taking care of patients resonates with you? Don’t be afraid to tie it back to a personal anecdote, either, such as a childhood experience or a relative who was a nurse.
Sample Answer: I was inspired to build my career in nursing because I come from a long line of nurses. Growing up in my family and seeing how much my parents loved what they did every day was both inspiring and motivating to me. I am interested in this job because I feel that I have learned a lot from them about what it means to solve problems, care for patients and make a difference in people’s lives.
How do you handle the stress of this job?
Stressful moments are inevitable for healthcare professionals. Acknowledge the stress, but keep the focus of your response on your coping mechanisms.
Sample answer: I know how stressful this job can be so I take self-care very seriously. In previous job I felt like I had to bottle up my emotions and I felt like I didn’t have enough emotional support so I reached out to other team members and told them that I was available whenever they needed to talk. This small thing changed my team’s dynamic and it meant that we grew closer and felt more able to share our emotions when we felt stressed or upset. I have a great support network and my partner is also working in healthcare so they really get it when I explain why I feel stressed out. I also make time during the week to go to the gym and I try to respect my free time by not taking my work home with me.
Do you prefer to work alone, or as part of a team?
Nurses often need to do both—work independently and also collaboratively. Be honest in your response, but avoid being negative about either work style.
Sample answer: That depends on the circumstances. I enjoy being part of a treatment and support team, but I also like the autonomy of working alone.
How Would You Deal With Someone Who’s Not Satisfied With Their Patient Care?
This question is asked to find out how nurses problem-solving skills are and how they can address confrontation. As with the previous question, you want to show that you can maintain stellar patient care in even the most difficult of situations. Building off a past experience can help in this, or you can choose a hypothetical situation and explain step-by-step what you would do to solve the issue.
Sample answer: I once had a patient who had googled their symptoms and thought that the care I was giving them was inadequate. There were adamant that my team should be treating their infection with a different drug and even convinced their family that they weren’t being looked after. In the end, I googled the symptoms too and found a different article in which our treatment was recommended and shared this with the patient. I then spent some time explaining to the patient and their family why we’d chosen this specific drug over the other. They were still skeptical but we managed to persuade them that we were giving them the best level of care.
What’s the hardest thing about being a nurse?
Many aspects of being a nurse are challenging—interviewers want to know which ones are hardest for you. Do not complain in your response. Instead, keep it positive, using your response to highlight positive attributes in your resume and personality.
Sample answer: Definitely losing patients. This is something that is difficult to deal with especially when it’s unexpected. But I try to get through it by telling myself that I still made a difference and that for the time that they were in the hospital I did my very best for them.
How would you handle a patient who complains constantly of pain?
Interviewers want to know how you’d tackle this potentially tricky situation. Walk through the steps you’d take. You can use examples from past work experience if you’d like.
Sample Answer: Some patients like to complain about everything. It’s just their nature and also I understand that they can be worried about being in a hospital. So I always try to be very patient and reassure them that we were doing our very best for them.
I would confer with the attending doctor to make sure that the patient’s pain was being managed effectively and tell the patient that everything possible was being done to alleviate their discomfort. At all times I would listen sympathetically to their complaint, reassure them that their concerns were being heard and that we were doing everything possible to help them.