Perhaps you recently completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program or you are an experienced nurse searching for a new job. No matter which type of nurse you are, you still have to go through an interview process before being considered for employment. That is why it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the kinds of nursing interview questions you may be asked.
What to Expect
While most nursing interview questions follow a certain format, there is always the chance you may encounter some unexpected inquiries. Typically, most interviewers will center on these general areas:
- Degrees and qualifications.
- Previous work experience.
- Strengths and weaknesses.
- Your motivation for applying.
The Common Questions
Hundreds of nurses may apply for the same job so you need to think about how you can stand out in the crowd. When you are asked open-ended questions, the interviewer gives you the chance to use personal anecdotes to illustrate your nursing skills. Here are some standard nursing interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What is the most difficult part of being a nurse?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- How would you handle a challenging colleague?
The interviewer wants to know what nursing traits you have that can translate to effective patient care. You can express that you are detail-oriented, a good communicator and compassionate. You can also share the reason why you became a nurse.
The interviewer needs to establish that you are aware of the hardships in nursing. You should examine what is the most difficult part of the profession for you. Maybe it is caring for a child with cancer or a patient who has lost a limb.
By answering questions about your strengths and weaknesses, you allow the interviewer to discover if you have the necessary skills to fulfill the responsibilities of the job. Talk about your leadership capabilities, interpersonal skills and your approach to urgent or challenging situations. Being asked about your weaknesses is awkward, but it’s an important way for employers to get to know who you are as a nurse. Let the interviewer know that you can always continue to improve your nursing skills.
You want to impress the interviewer with your enthusiasm for the job and your qualifications. Explain why your education prepares you for nursing, and highlight your desire to achieve positive patient outcomes.
When interviewers ask about where you see yourself in five years, they mean “What do you want to accomplish professionally?” such as focusing on a nursing specialty, accepting a leadership role or earning an advanced degree.
An interviewer may ask you how you handle patients who complain. You may want to relay that you understand that patients are demanding due to anxiety about their health conditions and that you are dedicated to making them feel comfortable and confident in your nursing abilities.
Challenging Questions for Nurses
In some interviews, you may be asked some uncomfortable questions. You should never voice negativity when answering nursing interview questions; instead you should always be complimentary. You may be asked the following:
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Describe your current employer.
- Do you have any failures?
- What are your salary requirements?
You should inform the interviewer about the aspects of your current job that you like while honing in on your need to seek out openings that encourage professional development. When discussing your present employer, you should point out the knowledge you gained rather than be critical.
An alternative to mentioning a major failure is talking about flaws and the ways you have corrected them. For example, did you ever made a mistake on a patient’s chart? If you have made an error, you can say that you have learned to double-check a patient’s information. Avoid giving a salary preference so it is not perceived that you are more interested in money than nursing.
Besides prepping for nursing interview questions, you should bring your resume, nursing license, list of references and letters of recommendation to the meeting. You should dress professionally and research the healthcare organization. And do not be afraid to ask the interviewer questions that demonstrate your commitment to your nursing career.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online BSN program.
Heacock, S. (2012, July 5). 11 Tips and Techniques for Your Nursing Interview. Retrieved from http://www.nursetogether.com/11-tips-and-techniques-your-nursing-interview
Nursing Job Interview Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.best-job-interview.com/nursing-job-interview.html
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