18 Nursing Interview Questions & How To Prepare for a Nursing Interview

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As a nurse, you need to understand how to effectively answer nursing interview questions. There are a plethora of benefits that you can acquire from doing this. For instance, you would be calmer and more prepared as a result of understanding these questions.

18 Nursing Interview Questions & How To Prepare for a Nursing Interview

However, many people find it is extremely difficult to understand the common interview questions and this only add to their stress. By ignoring these queries and not preparing for your interview, you will only sabotage your odds of acquiring the job you truly care about.

If you simply take the time to find prepare answers to these common questions, your career could potentially be permanently changed. In this article, we will cover what common nursing interview questions are and how you can answer them.

What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing potential nurses?

Every employer has a slightly different criteria for the employees they seek out. They wanted nurses that are educated and have specific technical skills, but also have numerous soft skills.

If you can find which skills you need to maintain to acquire the job you truly desire, your odds of getting the job will be immense. If you want to find the top skills that employers are looking for in nurses, here are just a few examples of these abilities:

Nursing skills

It should be no surprise that the greatest nurses need to have nursing skills. However, this is a very broad group of skills. Nursing skills include the technical abilities and knowledge that it takes to become a fantastic nurse.

Some soft skills are included in the broad category of nursing skills. These include effective communication, empathy, and more. If you acquire these abilities, you will likely boost your nursing strengths.

Qualifications and certifications

Having key technical skills is extremely important to nurses. They need to be knowledgeable and have certain qualifications to properly work with patients.

To ensure that nurses have these technical abilities, they have to go to educational institutions and acquire certain certifications. Interviewers are particularly impressed when these qualifications come with high levels of success, such as a high GPA.


As with nearly any job, it is crucial to know how to work with others. Nurses do not solely work alone. They speak to residents, technical workers, physicians, nurses aids, and more individuals.

Knowing how to work in a team will boost the nurses’s efficiency. It also allows the nurse to avoid conflict and give the patient the best experience they wish. It also allows the nurse to quickly find answers from colleagues to better serve the patient. 


In nursing, individuals often have to make quick decisions. The environment is often chaotic and planning only goes so far in such circumstances. However, by being adaptable, the nurse will be able to stay focused and calm while dealing with stressful situations. Being adaptable optimizes your ability to make better decisions and helps boost your efficiency as well.

Accountability and organization

Organization is a key skill for nearly any industry. And, better yet, anyone can acquire this skill. To boost your organization skills, you can start using tools such as to-do lists and try to declutter your workplace.

Organization saves you time and frustration. Accountability is also crucial for being a nurse, as it allows you to take responsibility for your actions and helps you establish better relations with patients.

Problem-solving skills

Nurses need to know how to solve problems. Every day, they will encounter problems they may not know how to immediately address.

It is impossible to plan for how you would address every single potential problem, so having a general problem solving structure can be extremely helpful. It will save you time and also boosts your efficiency as well.

Resilience to stress or provocations

Nurses are renowned for being some of the most resilient individuals on earth. They have to work with patients that may be dying as well as crying and confused family members. This certainly makes their work environment extremely stressful.

But, great nurses do not crumble under the stress. They stay focused on helping the patient and their families to the best of their ability. Even if direct confrontation occurs, they know how to keep their cool.

18 Interview Questions for Nurses

Interviews are a stressful time for nearly everybody. It is always unpredictable to at least some degree to understand what questions will come up, and these vary from company to company. However, you can still properly prepare for these interviews.

18 Interview Questions for Nurses

By doing this, you can become more confident, decrease your stress, and ultimately, you can acquire the job you dream of. Here are just a few of the most common interview questions you may be asked during the job interview:

1. Have you ever had to work with a “difficult” coworker? How were you able to communicate and work with them?

Teamwork is absolutely crucial for any nurse. They work with other nurses, nurse’s aids, residents, physicians, technicians, radiologists, and more. However, there will always be some coworker that does not quite work well with your personality.

You should be able to work with even these more “difficult” coworkers for the sake of assisting your patients. The interviewer wants to know you have the social skills to overcome that challenge.

2. Were you ever a leader in your prior work experiences? Tell me about that experience and whether you enjoyed it.

Knowing how to lead a team is great for nurses. They will have to be assertive at times when at work. If you previously led teams or have experience with management, this could be very useful for the interviewer.

They will want to know some more details on that experience, such as what the results of your leadership were. They would also likely be interested in how you reacted to being in a leadership position, as well as if you enjoyed it.

3. What was your proudest moment working in a nursing team? What was your role in this team?

It is helpful to reflect upon your successes as well as failures. Here, the interviewer wants to understand what makes you proud and what you view as a healthy, productive team.

This will help them understand how you could fit into their team and if your goals align with their company’s goals. It will also help the interviewer understand elements of your personality, such as whether you tend to be more dominant in teams or take less active roles.

4. What are your top teamwork strategies?

The interviewer will likely ask you numerous questions on the topic of teamwork. This is so because it is absolutely crucial to maintain a strong and productive team.

You need to have a general understanding of when you work best and the top teamwork strategies you use to create cohesion and boost productivity in a team.

For example, you could talk about making compromises and avoiding conflict answering this question.

5. Tell me about a time when you did not communicate effectively with a coworker. How did you remedy the situation?

Nurses should focus on building their communication skills. However, it is also not possible to communicate well 100% of the time, and there will always be small slip-ups and miscommunication. You need to effectively address these circumstances, too.

You should highlight your ability to listen and adapt when answering this question. Do not say that this has never occurred, as this will only make you look dishonest and overly arrogant. Instead, be honest but highlight how you remedied the solution as well.

6. Have you ever encountered a patient who is particularly difficult to assist? How did you work with them?

Nurses will sometimes have to assist patients who are tough to work with. For example, they may be extremely disrespectful or overly angry. You must be able to assist all patients, not just the ones which are calm and respectful.

To answer this question, you must state the strategies you used to help these individuals. Underline the point that you care about their wellbeing more than about your personal emotions, and that you are willing to go the extra mile to overcome your personal thoughts to assist them.

7. When speaking to a patient’s family or friends, how do you respond to their queries?

When a family member is in the hospital, individuals are likely stressed and need to know answers to pressing questions.

As a nurse, it is your job to provide those answers to the best of your ability. This question will help the interviewer determine your communication style as well as bedside manners. When responding, try to speak to how you use empathy when answering questions.

Also note when you are specific in your responses and when you feel that being technical is unnecessary. Finally, note how you would speak to a family whose questions center around their loved one potentially dying.

8. Can you simplify medical terms in a way that is understandable to the laymen? Give you one example.

When someone asks a nurse a question, they do not want a response filled with medical jargon. They want a clear answer they can comprehend. This, the interviewer wants to know if you are capable of providing such an answer.

Give the interviewer an example of how you can simplify medical terminology into terms nearly anyone can understand. Choose an illness and explain it to them, including the treatment process and prognosis.

9. How would you help educate patients and families?

Patient and family education is crucial when a family member is going through medical issues. Every nurse has a slightly different way of promoting education to not just their patients, but the broader public as a whole.

The interviewer wants to know how committed you are to helping others stay healthy. They want to see your passion for this topic, and the strategies you would use to assist families in patients with filling their knowledge gaps.

Be specific when answering and give prior examples of you using these strategies, as well as the impact this had on patients.

10. Have you ever received negative feedback from a patient or their family members? How did you respond to this feedback?

It is admirable to always strive to serve patients in the best way you can. However, here will always be someone that you cannot satisfy, no matter how hard you try.

You should also be able to take this negative feedback with grace, adapt your strategy, and ultimately seek to implement what you learned from that feedback into your future responses to patients. Be honest and do not say that this has never occurred.

Your response should include what you did specifically that the patient did not like and how you changed that behavior or considered their feedback for the future.

11. Tell me about yourself.

This is a question which is asked at nearly every job interview, regardless of which job you are applying to. When answering this question, you should focus around your personal goals, values, and passions.

Try to tie this question into your experiences with nursing and why you love this field. Show how this field gives you purpose and fulfills a key need for you.

You can also include some more lighthearted examples of your personality in action, such as those unrelated to work.

12. What made you want to become a nurse?

Nursing can be an extremely tough and emotionally taxing job. To stay committed to this line of work, you need to have an immense amount of passion for this field. Your answer to this question is what will determine your passion and motivation in the eyes of the interviewer. If you can bring in emotion and personal examples when answering, that would be ideal. You need to have a solid basis for being a nurse to be successful.

13. Which nursing strengths and weaknesses do you have?

There is no such thing as perfection. Every nurse will be more skilled in certain aspects of the job than others. You should openly admit this. Destine what you think you are most skilled at. Try to give some examples of these strengths in action and use data as well as specifics if you have any. When speaking about your weaknesses, try to choose something that is not absolutely crucial to begin a nurse. For example, you could speak about your creativity lacking when making decisions, but saying you cannot communicate effectively will be a major red flag.

14. What made you apply to this particular job (and this hospital)? Is there anything that stands out to you?

There are likely numerous nursing job openings in your area. The interviewer wants to know what makes you committed to their specific organization and why their team interests you more than the other job openings, which they may view as competitors. They do not want employees who are willing to leave their team in favor of some other healthcare system. Therefore, you should highlight the unique aspects of the hospital and this opportunity, as well as why you find them meaningful.

15. In what way do you work around cultural differences with your patients?

At times, you will have to interact with patients who have a completely different worldview and cultural background from you. Still, you should treat them with the same level of attention and respect as any other patient. For example, if you interact with a fundamentalist Christian who rejects some scientific facts, highlight how you would come to a treatment agreement with them. Note how you would still be respectful to them and acknowledge their autonomy to make decisions, but still suggest the most rational course of treatment.

16. What are your goals for pursuing this career?

It is always great to have some goals to motivate you in your work. This is what this questions is aimed at. The interviewer wants to understand what you have in the back of your head each day you come to work. Having a solid answer to this question will also reveal some of your morals and values to the interviewer. This will also help them in making the decision of whether you are the right match for their company or not.

17. Recall the moment that you believe was the most stressful in your career. How were you able to work under that stress?

It is undeniably true that nurses will need to work under extremely stressful circumstances. They see patients dying daily, work in chaotic emergency rooms, and so much more. Being able to manage stress is absolutely crucial to this line of work. So, you need to show the interviewer you have experience doing so effectively. You must highlight the specific strategies you used in your example to overcome the stress. The interviewer knows these strategies could potentially be used again when you work for their organization.

18. How do you react when you do not know how to react to a particular situation—such as a question asked by a family member or making a decision for a nursing team – how would you acquire more information?

It is impossible to know everything about every topic, even if you are an expert. You need to be open-minded and willing to learn. Great nurses should seek out more information when they do not know the answer to something. The interviewer wants to make sure that when you are confronted with something you do not know the answer to, that you do not just get flustered. Instead, they want to know your strategy for seeking out information. Also, include how you process and decide which information is important to seek out.

Questions for You to Ask in a Nursing Interview

Previously, we described why it is absolutely essential for you to understand the questions you could be asked during a nursing interview. However, this is not all there is to a job interview.

Questions for You to Ask in a Nursing Interview

You should also ask questions that interest you, not just answer the interviewer’s questions. By doing this, you will seem more engaged and curious about working for the organization.

Here are just a few of the questions you should consider asking the interviewer during or after the interview:

  1. How quickly are you looking to hire someone?
  2. Who will I be reporting to?
  3. What shifts are you hiring for: night, day, mid-shift, or alternating?
  4. WIll I be required to work on-call shifts?
  5. What is your training process for new hires?
  6. How frequently do you perform performance reviews?
  7. What is the management style of this unit?
  8. What does an ideal candidate look like for this role?

Tips For Preparing for a Nursing Interview

If you ask anyone seeking for a job what one of the most stressful parts of finding work is, the job interview probably ranks near the top of that list. Interviews can be tough to prepare for. They create stress and anxiety in nearly all job candidates.

However, there are ways you can manage this stress and effectively prepare for an interview. It does not have to be overly time consuming or costly, either.

One way to start preparing for a job interview as a nurse is to look over commonly asked interview questions for this industry. You will likely hear some of these questions during the interview.

So, it can boost your confidence and ease your nerves if you prepare a few answers to the most commonly asked queries. That way, you will not be forced to think on the spot and you will have more insightful as well as detailed answers prepared.

In addition to that, you could also look at the company’s value and mission statements as well as job description they posted. This will give you a better insight into what they want to see as in a job candidate.

When you have this in mind, you can tie in how you would help them achieve their goals in a more direct manner. It would allow you to be more convincing to interviewers and show that you have done your research.

Finally, another great way to prepare for a job interview is by preparing a few questions of your own. Participating in a job interview is about much more than just answering the interviewer’s questions.

If you prepare your own questions, you will show that you are curious and passionate about the subject. This will also demonstrate that you are prepared, which is important for being a successful nurse.

Nursing Interview Questions FAQs

How do you handle a difficult patient?

Nurses have to assist patients from different backgrounds, with different temperaments, different conditions, and different beliefs. Sometimes, they will inevitably encounter a patient that is difficult to work with.

However, they still have to give them the same level of respect. Great nurses will listen to the patient’s concerns and engage in an open conversation, even if the patient’s suggestions or demeanor are not rational and/or appropriate.

Great nurses try to avoid further conflict in such circumstances. If they still cannot address the patient’s needs, they may refer them to another individual.

What are your strengths as a nurse?

Every nurse has a slightly different skillset and strengths. That is what makes each nurse unique. However, there are generally some strengths that nearly all nurses need to have. In general, a nursing strength is a trait that allows a nurse to more effectively more with patients and bring them better outcomes.

One example of such a strength is communication, as it helps create bond and trust between the patient and the nurse.

Additionally, skilled nurses are also empathetic, have knowledge on their subject, know how to solve problems, are adaptable and think quickly, de-escalate conflicts well, work well in teams, and much more.

What are the 5 priorities of nursing care?

Nurses often have to balance certain values and priorities during their work. And, each nurse has a unique value structure that is influenced by the patient and their family’s background and desires. However, there are generally 5 top priorities for nursing care.

The first is to recognize that an individual is dying, because in these near death situations, nurses need to act quickly. Next, nurses must be able to communicate effectively and with empathy to the patient’s family.

The nurse cannot make all the decisions by themselves: they must also involve the family, which is the third priority. After that, nurses are obligated to support the family and patient during this difficult time. Finally, they must create individualized plans for each patient, so their unique goals and needs are taken care of.

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