10 top interview questions and answers for nurses

Last updated: February 27, 2024
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Michael Frash
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10 top interview questions and answers for nurses
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You’re ready to find a new job as a nurse.

Whether you’ve already landed an interview or you’re still searching for your dream job, the sooner you start preparing for your interview, the better. Because let’s face it — interviews can be overwhelming if you walk in not knowing what to expect.

To help you nail your interview, we’ve compiled a list of the five most common interview questions for nurses, as well as the top five behavioral interview questions.

What is a nurse, and what are their responsibilities?

Nursing jobs include all manners of patient care, including treating patients, performing physical exams, providing healthcare counseling, and more.

The nursing profession is high in demand, and it is projected to grow by 7% from 2019–2029.

The average annual salary of a nurse is $46k–$93k, and to become a registered nurse, you need a degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing school.

Top 10 interview questions for nurses

In this section, we’ll dive into both common and behavioral interview questions for nurses.

5 common nursing interview questions

First, let’s look at five common interview questions and how you can answer them.

1. Why did you decide on a career as a nurse?

Since the nursing profession is such a specialized, hands-on field, your potential employer needs to know what drives you to be a part of it.

How to answer:

For this question, it’s perfectly fine to mention a piece of your life story. However, don’t get too personal. Rather, tell the hiring manager what initially drove you to become a nurse and why you love helping people.

2. Do you like working in a team?

Nurses rarely work alone, and a lot of the work that they do depends on other people. As such, the hiring manager wants to know whether you’re a team player who’s able to be part of a successful healthcare team.

How to answer:

Instead of just saying “yes,” explain to the hiring manager how you’re able to adapt to the situation — that you’re happy to complete tasks independently or through teamwork. Doing so will show the employer that you’re flexible and easy to work with.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question will help the hiring manager determine your career goals and show them whether you like the nursing profession enough to stick with it.

How to answer:

Make it clear that being a nurse is your dream job. Mention how you plan on growing your skills so that you can reach a certain skill level in five years.

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4. What’s your strongest nursing skill?

With this question, the hiring manager wants to know what your greatest strength is.

How to answer:

Look at the job description and base your answer around one of the skills that the employer seeks.

For example, critical thinking is a highly-valued skill in the nursing profession. If you have this skill, you can mention it to the hiring manager and tell them about a time you used critical thinking to solve a problem.

5. How do you explain medicines and healthcare topics without using too much healthcare jargon?

One of the main responsibilities of a nurse is to provide healthcare advice and education to patients. This question gives you the ideal opportunity to show how good you are at patient communication.

How to answer:

Here, you can use examples of how you’ve spoken to patients in the past, or you can create a hypothetical scenario where you take a medical term and explain it to the hiring manager as if they are the patient.

5 behavioral interview questions

Healthcare employers tend to ask a lot of behavioral-based questions. For behavioral questions, it’s best to use the STAR method.

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Let’s take a look at five examples of behavioral interview questions and how you can answer them.

6. Describe a time when you had to work with a difficult co-worker. How did you handle it?

Sometimes, disagreements and conflicts happen in the workplace. With this question, the hiring manager wants to see how you handle such conflicts.

How to answer:

Explain a situation where you and a co-worker had a conflict. It’s important that you don’t throw them under the bus but rather focus on how the conflict was resolved and what you learned from it.

7. What would you do during a crisis, such as an outbreak?

The medical profession comes with emergencies and stressful situations. As a nurse, you need to be able to think and act rationally during these situations.

How to answer:

Here, you need to focus on mentioning both your hard and soft skills. Hard skills include your knowledge of how to handle emergency situations. Soft skills include your adaptability and ability to communicate effectively even during crisis mode.

8. Describe how you’d manage a heavy workload

Since the medical profession comes with life and death situations, nurses need to be able to not only handle a lot of work at once — but to handle it without breaking protocols.

How to answer:

Describe a time when you had a heavy workload and how you managed it. Mention how your time management skills came in handy as you were able to tend to multiple patients at once.

9. Describe a time when there was a miscommunication between you and a teammate. How did you handle it?

Miscommunications are bound to happen in the workplace. The hiring manager wants to know how you respond in such situations.

How to answer:

Explain a situation where you weren’t the cause of the miscommunication, but you played a pivotal part in it. Tell the hiring manager how you handled it and what the outcome of the situation was.

10. How would you handle a difficult patient?

As a nurse, it’s your job to speak to patients and their families in a respectable manner, even when the clients are unfriendly.

How to answer:

Give an example of a time when an upset patient or family member spoke with you and how you handled it. Explain how your problem-solving skills helped solve the issue.

You’re ready for your nursing interview

Now that you know the top ten interview questions for nurses, you can start preparing for your interview with confidence.

Learning how to answer these questions comfortably will increase your likelihood of being successful.

If you’re looking for nursing jobs, you can browse the acute care nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner job listings on Jobcase’s job board.



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