Nursing Interview Questions and Best Answers
Working in health care requires a special kind of person. Someone who cares, who is in touch with their emotions, but also in control of them. Someone who can stay level-headed during difficult situations.
You will inevitably receive some questions about how you chose being a nurse as a career for you. And those are the most important questions to ace during your interview for a new job.
And since there are so many reasons that could go into your decision, your answer could go in one of many, many ways. When you choose how to answer, make sure you incorporate both the motives that came from the inside (what drove you to healthcare) and the personal qualities you have that will make you an outstanding healthcare specialist. You want to show the two sides – why you want to, and why the profession needs you.
Don’t try to learn your response by heart, but in your preparation process, feel free to write down a couple key points that you want to go through. Start with pros and cons you see in the profession and in your character. Draw the Venn diagram between your qualities and the qualities of a great nurse. Write down sample answers.
Then go editorial. And score them – how true the response is to what you believe in; how impressive the response will be to the interviewer; how easy those will be to speak about during the live interview.
If you are out of ideas or you feel you will miss something, check this article for some good ideas for responses that will impress your new boss.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A NURSE?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is that you are dedicated.
- ‘I always knew I wanted to do something exciting. Something that could require a lot from me, but also give me a lot of experience back. Being a nurse is that – I am read to give it my all every day, because I know I could be the person that will change a life – someone that will contribute to a better life for someone else, even for a day. In this job, you do a lot. Your work is not exhausted by the tasks you have to perform for your patients. You become a part of their life and they trust you. And I think I am worthy of that trust.’
- ‘When you care for a patient it is not just them that you work with. Behind every patient there is a family, and friends, and a loved one, that trust you to provide them with the best care. Fulfilling that role for them gives me the sense of purpose.’
- ‘I come from a family of health care specialists. Ever since I was a child, I was well aware of the satisfaction the job can give you for all the efforts you put in. I wanted to be a nurse from a very early point in my life. Because I knew I was the right fit – I wanted and was ready for that dedication very early on.’
- ‘Originally I was not sure I was cut out for it. Before stepping into nursing school I definitely had my doubts whether that will be the best profession for me and if I will be the best caretaker that patients need. But when I did go to school and took my first real steps towards becoming a nurse, I noticed I was becoming more and more excited for it. I love being there for the patients and their family. I love communicating with them and believe I am good at it – to both provide the care and provide the information that will calm them down and help them feel more content and comfortable in a not-so-easy situation.’
- ‘The world is changing. So many people’s jobs are being changed or taken over by new technology. Part of what I love about being a health care specialist is that the world will never run out of those. A nurse will always be needed. And I am so happy to be a part of the medical community. And it is a great career path for me. I have already had the chance to work in several different environments, I have worked with very respectable and aspiring specialists and I enjoy this line of work a lot. I am very grateful to be able to develop myself in a field where so many great people are employed, and I will have the chance to work with them to help patients who need us.’
- ‘One of the reasons why I love nursing as a career is because I love staying on top of new things. As a nurse, I am always ready to keep up with current trends in the medical field. Those are very interesting to me. I am always excited for new training so that I am ready to provide the best care to the people who rely on me. Daily, as a nurse, I am learning a lot from my patients, my colleagues, and from the job. They inspire me to learn about and explore new options.’
- ‘Being a nurse is not just a job. I could never work in an office. I believe this is my calling. I have always been enthusiastic about science. And I am happy to be able to combine that interest with the desire to help people who need me.’
- ‘Originally I became interested in nursing when volunteered to help the elderly at a very young age. I am happy to spend time with different people with different lives – my life feels fuller now.’
- ‘When I originally became a health care specialist, I surely didn’t comprehend many of the aspects of the nursing career. All I started on was my love for science and helping people. Today I know a lot more about the profession and I am absolutely certain it is not just a calling for me, it is also the career that I want for myself. And I am very happy being on my way.’
Remember being a nurse is more than just talking the talk on your interview. And there is more to proving you are a good fit than words. Make sure you are dressed accordingly, that you know everything there is to be about the position and the facility you will be working in. Come prepared.
Do some preliminary research. Read the job offer over and over. Get on the website of the facility. Try to get some info about who will be interviewing you and what is their general character.
Watch this video to get inspired about the possibility of being a nurse:
WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING FOR YOU ON THE JOB?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is that you are able to improve yourself.
During an interview, you always want to put your best foot forward. It is easy to answer a question about your strengths as a nurse, but the weaknesses question is always tricky. How do you answer in a way that will still give you the best chance to land the job?
- ‘I am very dedicated. It often happens that I get too invested in the patient’s live. I feel it my duty to provide the same care for them as I would to my own family. I feel responsible to assure the other nurses who take over after my shift have the same dedication to the patient so they never feel like they are alone or uncomfortable.’
- ‘One of the most difficult parts about this job is when I see a patient suffering. When they are scared about their condition, or in pain, or uncomfortable, I feel for them very much. I try to compensate for that by keeping open communication with the physician to make sure the patient is fully informed about their circumstances. Because the patient is feeling uncomfortable, communication sometimes gets tense. I try to be there to relieve that tension and make sure the dialogue is happening.’
- ‘I don’t like thinking of anything as a weakness. I love looking at it as a challenge to be overcome. That is when I feel at the top of my game – instead of coming to terms with my faults, I put a target on them as a point to work on. One of those things is communication. That could be challenging. For example it has happened before that a patient insists on speaking to the doctor instead of taking me for my word about their condition. The doctors’ time is limited. So the way I learned to deal with this challenge is to get a family member on my side and get their support when I exchange information with the patient.‘
- ‘Originally, my greatest weakness was working in shifts. Those were exhausting. However, now, I have overcome that to a great extent. Part of it is that I learned to shift my routine around it. Another part is that my children were younger back then. It is a more relaxed environment at home now. I am not sure I am already completely okay with rotating shifts, but I will also trust you as the employer to create a sensible schedule which is easy to follow. And I, on my side, will be flexible with taking over for someone if needed. After all it comes with the job, and I love this job.’
HOW DO YOU FIT IN A TEAM?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from that you are an independent worker, but you are also a team player.
- ‘I believe before working in a team you have to be content working by yourself. And I am completely confident to work alone. Adding a team then is always a change for the better.’
- ‘A patient with a health issue will take whatever effort could be spared. And that is why it is always a joint effort to work in a health facility. My role is usually to try and make the most valuable contribution I can.’
- ‘I have the experience to work alone because of my work as an in-home nurse. However, it will be an interesting change to interact with others in my job. Besides, I always find spending more time with like-minded, dedicated people to be inspiring and energizing.’
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH DIFFICULT PATIENTS?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is that you are patient.
- ‘My first thought would be about their condition. If they are on the edge it is possible their pain level is high. I would consult with the physician to make sure that the their pain is being kept under control.’
- ‘I would speak to the patient and ask them if they feel everything possible was being done in order for them to feel comfort.’
- ‘I would try to put myself in their shoes – listen to complaint open-mindedly then, and tell them we are always doing everything in our powers to make them feel better.’
WHO ARE YOU TO YOUR PATIENTS?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you that you care about every single individual.
- ‘My patients are confident they receive the very best care.’
- ‘I will contribute to the team efforts raising the confidence of the patients in us and their trust.’
- ‘I make sure my patients believe that I am there to listen, to give them comfort and contribute to improving their condition.’
WHAT ARE YOUR CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES WITH THE FAMILY?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is that you are careful, considerate and experienced with heavy emotions.
- ‘I have been in situations with a family where we had issues with poor communication. The key is to listen more than you talk.’
- ‘Sometimes there will be a family member who isn’t happy my care of the patient, the truth is they just proof you are doing the best you could because they are worried.’
- ‘My worst experiences have been with a family that wasn’t following our instructions about how to care for the patient after they came home from the hospital. We came up with a plan to exhaust every option to improve the situation but eventually we had to involve the authorities.’
- ‘My colleagues have encountered issues with communicating with a family of foreigners. I myself am bilingual but obviously sometimes it is still an issue. Communication is very important when it comes to healthcare and because of that I always strive to find assistance from someone speaking their language.’
- ‘It is difficult when a family has questions you cannot answer. In those cases I try my best to involve a specialist. And comfort them until they become available.’
- ‘The talk about passing is never easy. Weather expected or unexpected. I try being there for them.’
- ‘It is tough when a family member that wants to blame you for the poor health of their loved one or a bad outcome of the treatment. My experience is in those cases we need to stay objective. I talk to them about the chances for a situation to get better or worse.’
- ‘I was once put in a situation where a patient did not want their diagnosis to be given to family members. It was a first, so I would add that to the challenges I have encountered. What I did in that case was to consult with the Legal department if their wish could be fulfilled – if I could withhold the information. Turns out I could. However, I believed the patient should be open to their family. Two weeks in, I learned they had informed their family.’
Watch this video to gain an interesting perspective of the relationship between nurses, patients and their family:
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CONFLICT IN THE TEAM?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is that you will keep an open mind and never make a conflict worse than it is.
- ‘I wouldn’t say I have often found myself in the middle of conflict. Luckily, I have always worked with specialists are always professional in our work together. If I happened to be involved in a conflict at the workplace, I would bring the question to my superior immediately. Ideally I would try to keep an open mind – if I am to blame for the situation I would try to take all feedback as constructive criticism, but I will try an involve a third party, just to make sure there is an objective observer.’
- ‘I have experienced a situation where a doctor went to my supervisor to ask that I wouldn’t care for a particular patient. The way I acted in this situation is that I asked to discuss this directly with the doctor. I was worried I was doing something wrong and didn’t realize what it was. So I did and I asked them what I was supposed to improve. What it turned out was the whole thing was a miscommunication about the schedule. This taught me you should always have an open mind instead of immediately jumping to conclusions when there is the perception of conflict.‘
- ‘I really avoid interpersonal conflict. But if I come across it I will immediately try to address it by softening my behavior – not by feeding into the conflict. However, sometimes it is a regular occurrence. Once I was in a situation where a doctor was always rude to the nurses. The way I handled it is I talked to my boss, and made it clear that it wasn’t just my perspective. It turned out it was not by chance. That doctor had personal issues at home. After a short leave on his side, the situation improved significantly.‘
- ‘I have had a bad experience where a doctor seemed to have an especially bad attitude towards me in particular. It turned out to be a scary situation because that doctor claimed I was not doing my job well. Luckily he didn’t seem to articulate himself too well and everyone else was very happy with my work. Both me and my supervisor attributed it to an interpersonal issue and the solution was to adjust my schedule to work more often with other doctors.’
DO YOU SEE BEING A NURSE AS YOUR CAREER?
Whenever you are answering this question, you need to keep in mind that what your future employer wants to hear from you is proof you will be loyal to the job.
- ‘There are just so many things that make the job so rewarding. For example when a family sees their baby for the first time. Any time you get to tell a worried family everything will be okay you know you have done your job. Of course, I am prepared to deliver some bad news as well.’
- ‘My favorite part of nursing is when I manage to get through stressful situations or help doctors to persevere through a bad moment.’
- ‘I have spent time as an Emergency Room nurse, and even though it has been the most emotionally exhausting job I ever had at the end of the day it was so fulfilling. Because I know without my intervention the life or that question might have had another outcome. I believe this job has changed me in a really positive way and I am looking forward to improve myself even further.’
- ‘My teammates have told me telling a patient a bad diagnosis is stressful to them, but I see it as giving them their best chance for improvement.’
- ‘Nursing is my thing is because I know how to help people to the psychological and physical challenges standing between them and their recovery.’
- ‘Sometimes recovery is overwhelming even to very strong minded individuals. Especially when there are unexpected complications. Their hospital stay is extended. Their therapy ends up being challenging for them financially.’
- ‘I feel being a nurse is my calling especially when I work with kids. It is be both painful and rewarding. To them it always comes so unexpected. And it is scary. I am happy to be there for them in a bad moment.’
There are 3 key moments that your future employer wants to know about you.
First, they want to know you feel confident you are right for the job. Second, they need to know the patients in their facility are safe in your hands – both as a specialist and as a communicator.
Third, they need to know you are a good person. You will be able to put yourself in the shoes of the family when you have difficult talks. You will not create interpersonal conflicts and you will do your best to contribute to your team’s work.
But at the end of the day, when nursing is your calling, you don’t need to prepare too much. Be confident and true. And they will know you are it.
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