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Acing the Nursing Interview

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Nurse

Nursing candidates are not your average job seekers. When first starting out in the field, it can seem daunting to break into an often high-stress profession with duties that can  include making life-or-death decisions. However, knowing how to ace the interview can help ease the nerves that go with applying for a nursing position.

Researching the Nursing Role

As with any interview, be sure to research the hospital or facility at which you are applying. You will be asked why you chose to apply at that particular location, and providing a relevant and clear answer will assure the hiring manager/interviewer that you have done your homework. Look into the community, the population served, and innovations and/or health care provisions pioneered at the facility.

To prove you have stayed current with the nursing profession, be sure to prepare yourself to recall medical/nursing journals you subscribe to, forums you frequent, and conferences you’ve attended to better your knowledge of the field.

What To Bring on the Nursing Interview

In addition to obvious items like your resume, make sure to bring your nursing license, proof of passing board scores, additional certificates from any advanced training programs, driver’s license, immunization records and social security number. Bring the original documents and a few copies of each to give to the human resources department and the interviewer. Being prepared with a folder of these items will impress upon the interviewer your preparedness and foresight. Anticipate a background check as well, which would require addresses going back as far as 7 years.

Nursing Interview Questions

Nursing interviews often start with the same question: What made you choose this career? Answering in a concise, honest manner is the way to go here.

For example: “The medical field has always interested me. The effect you have on people is really tangible and measurable. I love knowing that each day I’m helping people and am making a real difference in their lives. ” Include specific reasons for choosing your specialty area of nursing to further personalize your answer.

Another oft-asked question regards “Team work” or “Team playing”. Obviously, in this line of work, you’ll be expected to mesh well with others and communicate effectively. If the interviewer broaches this topic, be sure to stress your willingness to solve problems.

You will also very likely be asked to list challenges facing those in the nursing profession, and how you would help to solve such problems. Cite examples from your nursing career, no matter how short. Even referencing your schooling can be helpful, especially in the case of negative situations made positive.

Here are some additional questions to prepare for:

Basic Nursing Questions:

1. Please walk me through your resume and your nursing training and experience.
2. Why are you interested in this particular nursing job?
3. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a nursing professional?
4. What do you consider your most relevant qualification for this nursing job?
5. Why did you choose your specialty area of nursing?
6. Why do you want to work in this facility?
7. How do you stay current with the nursing profession?
8. Describe a situation in which you had to handle a difficult and demanding patient
9. Tell me about a decision that you had to make quickly regarding a patient
10. When have you disagreed with a colleague over the management of a patient. How did you handle it?
11. Why are you the right person for this nursing job?

Advanced Nursing Questions:

1. What is your philosophy of nursing?
2. Describe a time in your clinical nursing experience when you demonstrated critical thinking.
3. Provide a specific example of how you utilize evidence-based practice in your nursing career.
4. Tell me how you would deal with a patient whose family was upset over the care he was receiving?
5. What have you identified as your strongest clinical skill?
6. What skill challenges you the most?
7. Describe a clinical situation that taught you a memorable nursing lesson.
8. What are your future goals in the field of nursing?
9. How do handle the pressure of working as a nurse?
10. What is your management style?

In addition to these questions, you’ll likely be getting behavioral questions covering competencies or skill-sets like: Calm Under Pressure, Team Player, and Decision-Making.

NOTE: If you’re looking to get in a lot of practice, and prepare for the above questions as thoroughly as possible, we recommend trying out our Big Interview mock-interview system.

How to Impress During the Nursing Interview

Be prepared to discuss your training and experience in detail. Be sure to keep specific achievements in mind, and list accomplishments. Touch on key competencies required of a nurse.

Most questions will be competency based, and the interviewer is trying to ascertain if you have these competencies.

Once the interviewer has run through his list of questions, it will be your turn. Be sure to have a number of questions prepared to ask your interviewer. These can be anywhere from general to very specific to the field.

This area of the interview is your chance to prove once and for all that you have prepared, are qualified, and have been alert and interested throughout the process.

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Written by

Pamela Skillings

Pamela Skillings is co-founder of Big Interview. As an interview coach, she has helped her clients land dream jobs at companies including Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. She also has more than 15 years of experience training and advising managers at organizations from American Express to the City of New York. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and an instructor at the American Management Association.

2 Comment to Acing the Nursing Interview

  • Dustin

    I’ve done dozens of nursing interview’s and never been asked any questions that you mention. Nursing interviews tend to ask specific questions like “What would you do if your patients has low bp and is systematic?” or “Your patient is 4 hours post-op and has not produced urine into his catheter. What is your first step?” Your advice is too broad to be helpful to nurses and sends people to their doom!

  • Krystina Gunn

    I just had an interview this week and I got asked almost every one of those questions.