28 Nursing Interview Questions & Answers To Land Your Dream Job- 2022 Guide

So your big day has arrived and it’s time to hit the proverbial nail right on the head. As a prospective nurse, you’re undoubtedly running through a checklist of what-to-dos as you prepare for your first job interview.

If you want to stand out from the other applicants and get the job, you’ll need to put in a little extra preparation. You don’t have to be a genius or have perfect interview skills — just find what distinguishes you from the rest of the pack and market it.

Table of Contents

What Types of Questions Should You Expect at a Nursing Interview?

Every nurse interview is unique because every employer has certain requirements that they wish their candidates to fulfill. However, there are a few common questions that employers like to ask everyone who interviews for a nursing position. We have put together this list of suggestions to help you understand what employers are looking for and how to make a great impression.

The amount of time you take will have a significant impact on how well you do in the interview. It’s essential to be well-prepared for an interview and to know what sort of questions you can expect to be asked of you.

Responding to Trick Questions

During the interview, you will most likely be asked behavioral questions, i.e., “How do you respond when co-workers are unprofessional?” When an employer asks these kinds of questions, they are trying to find out more than how you responded in the past; they want to know if your personality fits with their hospital’s work culture. Work cultures are formed by the people who work there, so if you can’t establish that you fit in with their way of doing things, you may not be able to stick around for long.

How to Sound Confident Without Being Cocky?

You might also find yourself being asked about your goals and ambitions relating to this job. Be honest but don’t sound hokey about it. If they ask what kind of nurse you would like to be, don’t tell them you want to be a psychiatric nurse or CNO if you have not plan to take your career there. The interviewer will see right through it and your answer will seem silly. Be up front about what you hope to gain from getting a job in nursing, and then focus your discussion on that. Keep it real!

Ask Questions!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during an interview, if that’s what your interviewer tells you to do – but don’t be obnoxious about it. You should know exactly what job is open and what it requires. Experts say that one of the best ways to score a job is to ask good questions about the position and company. If you’re caught off guard by an interviewer’s question, just try to answer in a professional manner.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

It’s not unusual for a nurse interview to go for many hours and be quite stressful for the interviewee. Interview questions and answers might be difficult to predict, but most employers are searching for the same traits in all of their hires. So, by planning and preparing ahead of time, you can make your interview go as smoothly as possible!

Every interview for a nursing position is unique, but there are a number of common interview questions that have been asked throughout time. We’ll go through the most frequent inquiries and how to respond to them in this post.

Remember that the purpose of an interview is to assess whether the applicant has the skills and knowledge to successfully fill a job position. For this reason, you must be ready and willing to talk about yourself and your skills in a positive manner. Be honest and positive -employers can probably determine if you are lying if they know what to look for.

Every question asked at any interview forms part of the employer’s impression of you as a candidate for employment, so always remember that your answers will influence their opinion of you either positively or negatively. You need to demonstrate your ability to perform well and handle the pressure and stress of the job!

Make Your Resume Shine!

Finally, make sure you’re prepared to impress the interviewer with your resume. Don’t use a generic one that looks like a brag sheet from online high school. Make the most of your resume by highlighting your achievements and awards you’ve received during your nursing career. If you’ve been going to continuing ed courses or take on extra volunteer work, make sure to highlight them in positive terms.

How Do You Answer Questions about Your Previous Experience?

This is a common query most interviewees will be asked. The most important thing is to remember that everyone’s previous nursing experience is different. Depending on your background, nature of the position, and location, it may appear that you spent too much time in certain areas. But with proper clarification, employers can understand how effective you were in other areas and why they need you in their workplace.

If you are asked about your previous experience, you should be prepared to describe the most relevant aspects of your work history. Start by providing information about the type of position you held and the size of the facility that you worked in. Next, provide relevant details regarding your main responsibilities in this setting.

You may want to focus on describing events or projects in which you were involved. Describe what approach or technique you used in each example and how well it worked in the end. It’s important to show how smoothly things went when they went well and how effectively you handled problems when they arose.

If you’re exaggerating, embellishing, or just plain making things up, your interviewer will know. Your resume should be your guide. Don’t stretch the truth and include facts that make you appear better than you actually were. If you’ve worked in an unstable environment and it’s reflected in your experience and training, say so and focus on how you make things work well despite challenges. Be honest!

Most Common Nursing Interview Questions (with Answers) That You Will Most Likely Be Asked

Although we have supplied answers to these typical nursing interview questions, they are really just guides. You should adapt the answers to your particular situation and the type of nursing job that you are applying for. You can find more comprehensive guide for the most common nursing interview questions from this extremely well reviewed guide “Cracking the Nursing Interview” by Jim Keogh here, which I can recommend.

You may also find the following video helpful in preparing for the big day-

Q1: What made you choose nursing as a career?

A: I’ve always loved nursing, but my interest in healthcare really started when I volunteered at a homeless shelter in college. This really inspired me to pursue a career where I could devote my time to looking after others. The more times I volunteered, the more I knew that nursing was what I really wanted to do.

I wanted to do something that is challenging, interesting and make’s a real difference in people’s lives. I feel very passionate about the healthcare profession and also see it as a way of contributing positively to society.

Q2: Tell me about yourself.

A: I’m a very energetic person and a good communicator. I’ve been working in healthcare for the past two years and this has helped me build my confidence and taught me the importance of very good patient care,

In my last role, I juggled a variety of patient loads, assisted in a charity fundraiser and also was an advocate for senior patients. Because of this, the hospital is launching a new educational program to teach nurses how to better care for elderly patients.

Q3: What do you find most rewarding about being a nurse?

A: The nicest thing about becoming a nurse is the variety of ways you can serve others. I like being able to work alone while yet having the support of my coworkers. Being an advocate for my patients and providing them with the resources they need to recover gives me a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment. Moreover, I like collaborating with other nurses to ensure the well-being of their patients.

Q4: How has your nursing training prepared you?

A: My clinical training in the ER of City Hospital prepared me for the fast-paced care required of an ER Nurse. I also had an internship position at an Oncology Center after graduating last May which provided me with hands-on experience treating patients with cancer.

When I was undertaking my nursing studies, I was also fortunate to work part-time as a research assistant for Dr. Montgomery in San Diego who was undertaking clinicals on a new treatment for heart disease.

Although I was only there for the first 12 months of my nursing program, the knowledge that I obtained has help prepared me to assist with cardiac patients in a more effective way. I am very keen to specialize in cardiac nursing care if I can get the opportunity.

Q5: Where do you see yourself in healthcare in five years?

A: I really think that the nursing experience that I will have gained will have helped me become a first-rate nurse. I believe in providing the best care that I can to all patients but there is nothing like the exp[experience gained from working in a medical unit for a number of years.

Ideally, I see my long-term future in hospital administration where I could put more people skills and nursing experience to good use to not only benefit the nurses under my control but also the patients and the healthcare facility overall.

Q6: Why are you leaving your current nursing position?

A: I’m looking for new challenges. I think it’s essential that I broaden my nursing experience and set new goals for myself otherwise I will remain stagnant. I hope to learn new skills, see how other units operate and really improve myself as a nurse.

I think it’s important to keep moving ahead and getting better whatever career you are in. But particularly in nursing which is changing rapidly with new nursing and healthcare technology. I see this job as being able to further develop my potential as a nurse and a person.

Q7: What do you think of your previous boss?

A: My last boss at the hospital where I worked taught me the importance of time management. He was extremely deadline-driven and wouldn’t take excuses if the job wasn’t done properly and on time. His no-nonsense approach pushed me to work harder and manage my caseloads much more efficiently.

Q8: What did you like least about your last job?

A: There was nothing I really hated. Sometimes we would be a little short of nurses on the unit and I remember a couple of nurses were not pulling their weight as much as they could.

As a result of having to bear the additional burden, my responsibilities were a bit more taxing than they should have been. After about 6 months of this, I was beginning to feel a bit worn out and worried that I wasn’t giving my patients the care they deserved. So that was a little vexing. But, as I already said, I never disliked or resented my work.

Q9: What interests you about working at this particular facility?

A: Quite honestly, it is your cardiac care unit. As I mentioned earlier, I have a particularly strong interest in cardiology and your hospital has one of the top three cardiac units in the country.

I really want to get as much nursing experience as I can with cardiac patients in a hospital that is leading the way with the latest heart research and procedures. Your facility has a very good reputation for its programs and population and I believe I can gain a lot by working here.

Q10: Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a nursing team?

A: That really depends on the situation. I love working with a good team because I believe that providing the best care and treatment in a hospital is a team effort. But I have worked alone on wards before and enjoyed the autonomy and responsibility. But ideally I would prefer to be part of a well-structured unit that works together as one.

Q11: Would you describe yourself as an organized nurse?

A: Yes I would. I have a very systematic approach to my work, and I have a great sense of time management. My favorite organizational tool is my iPhone calendar which I update in the morning with all of my day’s events. I like to have a checklist and make sure that each item gets the attention it needs. I’m very organized and thorough and I think this has definitely made me a better nurse.

Q12: What really motivates you?

A: Doing the best I can for every patient. I believe that every challenge can be overcome with the right attitude and hard work. I enjoy nursing, and recognizing that I am making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, regardless of the disease, injury, or trauma they are experiencing, drives me every day.

Q13: When were you the happiest in your job?

A: When I’m talking to patients. I’m happy when I know I’m doing a good job for them and giving them the greatest care possible. When a patient appreciates me or smiles at me, it brightens my day.

I think this attitude shows in the way I have been reviewed and rated so highly in my peer reviews. One of the reasons I would like to work for your hospital is that I will have even more interaction with patients on a more critical level.

Q14: What do you feel you contribute to your patients?

A: I provide all of my patients with the very best care and advocacy that I can. It’s important for me to ensure that my patients are always comfortable and are confident in my abilities so they know they are being looked after properly. Also, I will act as their advocate if necessary and give a voice to any concerns they may have about their treatment.

Q15: How would you handle a patient who complains?

A: 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. I would always listen compassionately to their issue and tell them that their worries were being heard and that we were doing all we could to assist them.

Q16: How do you handle stress on the unit?

A: By concentrating on the well-being of my patients. I feel obligated to be calm and attentive for them. I’ve worked in an emergency room where really stressful circumstances occur on a regular basis. I always rely on my expertise and experience to tackle any situation calmly and methodically.

Q17: Have you ever had any differences with nurses you have worked with?

A: I once worked with a nurse on a pediatrics ward and we simply didn’t get on with each other. It was just a clash of personalities. After about 3 months it was becoming almost impossible for us to work together so finally I pulled her aside and asked her to have a quick coffee after work and find out what was wrong.

It turned out she was just to communicating differently with nurses in her unit in the past. After we talked about this for about 15 minutes we actually began laughing at what we both perceived to be slights on each other.

I’m a very easy going person but sometimes that doesn’t always come across well. She thought I was being too casual at times and it upset her while I thought she was too stressed and uptight every day. We ended up working it out and we’re very good friends now believe it or not.

Q:18 Describe a situation in which you had to use your clinical judgement to make a decision.

A: The purpose of this question is for employers to determine if you have the ability to quickly assess a circumstance and decide on the best course of action. You should prepare examples from your past work experiences that demonstrate your ability to make good decisions under pressure.

It’s important that you discuss an example from a nursing position so employers can see what you can do with their help. Tell a story about a time when something happened while working with a specific patient or group of patients.

Q19: How would you deal with a doctor who was rude?

A: If it was just a once-off occasion I would probably let it slide as he could be stressed or worried about something I’m unaware of. But if he or she was constantly being rude to me – especially in front of my patients – I would definitely bring it to the attention of my supervisor.

If the doctor was unhappy with me in any way, I would want to find out so I could take action to rectify the situation. I would also ask the doctor if there was something in my care of the patient that they felt needed discussion.

Q20: Would you become a doctor?

A: No, I appreciate the personal contact with my patients and the camaraderie with my coworkers that is unique to nursing. I want to further my career as a nurse rather than a doctor. I am really interested in the medical area and want to further my studies as a nurse throughout my career. I don’t want to be a doctor; I simply want to be the greatest nurse I can be.

Q21: How do you feel about co-workers and supervisors who come to work late, leave early or take long breaks?

A: That is unacceptable to me. To run the institution and ensure the patients’ well-being, we must all work together as a team. I would not put up with other nurses or supervisors arriving late, leaving early, or taking extended breaks during working hours. The sooner we can get everyone started on their given shifts, the better it will be for everyone.

Q22: What is your worst trait?

You have two options:

  1. Pick a positive that could have negative impacts, and emphasize the positives.  If you’re hard-charging and sometimes miss details, you can focus on your single-minded determination.  Or, if you are very blunt, you can show how your honesty benefited one of your previous employers.
  2. You can choose an aspect of your personality, and see how it rings true with the interviewer.  Some firms don’t mind as much if you’re a bit cantankerous, or if you may have some negative traits.  They may focus simply on the fact that you’ve chosen to be honest.

To figure out ways to turn a negative into a positive, use your past superiors for help.  At review meetings, they may have brought up a negative trait of yours, and talked about how it was still useful.  Or, you can even think about conversations with friends and family where it’s become the subject of a joke.  Use these, and see what positive aspects of them have come up, similar to what was mentioned above.

If you don’t have any negative traits, please don’t tell an interviewer that. Again, look at what friends and family joke about, or what previous co-workers have said.  And if you are still having trouble, come up with something.  Even if you’re perfect, no hiring manager wants to hear that you are.

Q23: Do you have any professional affiliations?

A: Yes I do. I feel it’s important to stay informed about the nursing profession. I’m a member of the American Nurses Association and the California State Nurses Association.

Q24: What are the top 3 things your patients like best about you?

A:I think my patients appreciate that I listen to them and don’t judge them for the decisions they make. I try to empower them to make their own decisions and remind them they have choices. And I think my patients appreciate that I always return their calls in a timely manner and will answer any of their questions.

Q25: How would your friends describe you?

A: My friends would probably say that I’m pleasant but persistent. I make and keep friends easily and I never give up. I know that if I try hard enough I can achieve anything. Loyalty is one of my biggest qualities and my friends would attest to that too.

Those are some of the types of nursing interview questions that you can expect to be asked in an interview. Of course, the actual questions will be different for each hospital and healthcare facility but these give you a general idea of what to expect.

Q26: How did you manage the extra stress related to the COVID crisis?

A: I was concerned but I had a clear understanding of the situation and therefore knew what I needed to do. I stayed calm and did not allow it to affect the other nurses on my ward. We pulled together, brought in extra staff, and had enough supplies to facilitate the needs of our patients for the most critical hours.

Q27: What sort of salary are you looking for?

A: A salary that rewards my experience, abilities, and ambition. At this hospital, I am far more interested in the role and the opportunities it offers me than the pay. But I would expect to be paid the appropriate range for this job, based on my five years of experience. I also think a fair salary would bear in mind the high cost of living here in Los Angeles.

Q28: Why should I hire you?

A: I’ve been an RN for the past five years and was an available team member at my last facility. I was regularly praised for my hard work ethic and ability to get along well with doctors and nurses and my patients.

I’ve also taken the time to educate myself on some of the latest industry trends and changes brought about by new technology. I believe that I can bring many years of experience and an excellent attitude to your hospital. I will be a valuable asset to any unit here.

Few More Tips to Get You Ready For Your Interview

To answer a nursing interview question, you want to be able to show that you have the skills, knowledge and experience necessary for the position. This means that your answers should demonstrate your proficiency in patient care and problem-solving skills through what you do, not what you say. It is important to practice answering these types of questions before going into an interview so that they become second nature and natural talking points.

Couple of things to keep in mind during the interview:

  • There is no need to be nervous! The interviewer is just trying to gauge your interest level and find out if you have any experience with nursing.
  • When answering questions about a previous experience, try to be brief and don’t brag about how great of a job you did. Good examples are better than bragging about how amazing you are!
  • Show enthusiasm in your answers and try to keep it professional at all times!
  • Always be sure to talk about why you want the job, what motivates you, and how passionate you are about being a nurse.
  • Have a positive attitude! It will reflect in your answers and give you a better chance of the interviewer feeling comfortable with you.
  • Avoid giving “yes” and “no” type answers. This will come across as rude and unprofessional!
  • Interview answers should focus on how you relate a specific experience or skill set with the job requirements specifically listed. The interviewer is looking for some sort of correlation between your previous experiences and what the hiring manager is currently seeking in their candidate. Be sure to establish yourself as the right candidate by giving good examples of your previous work.

Additional Resources (Books)

  1. Cracking the Nursing Interview
  2. You’re Hired! A Nurse’s Guide to Success in Today’s Job Market