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Nursing Interview Questions and Answers


20 Common Nursing Interview Questions with Answers

Behavioral Nursing Interview Questions

  1. As clinical healthcare professionals, we have all been in situations where we have developed special bonds with patients and their families. Explain how you handle such situations when these patients face difficult diagnoses or unexpectedly pass away.

  2. Tell me how you would handle a situation where you thought you saw one of your nursing colleagues pocketing a dose of medication that was supposed to be given to a patient.

  3. How will you approach coming into a team of nurses who have been working together for quite some time, who have already solidified their working relationships, and who clinically, have a very specific way of doing things?

  4. You are caring for a patient nearing the end of their life who has a clear Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in their advanced directive, but when the patient codes, their family member who is present begs you to take action. How do you respond?

  5. Tell me how you would handle a situation in which you are pressed for time and it would be easier for you to provide care to your patients if you did not follow established procedures and protocols.

  6. How would you handle a situation where you were curious about what was documented in a friend or family member's electronic health record?

  7. What would you do in a situation where you needed household medical supplies, such as adhesive bandages, and you were aware that there was an abundance of them in the supply room at work?

  8. How would you handle a situation where a new manager or supervisor starts on your unit and immediately starts changing everything about the way the unit has operated for the past few years?

  9. Often in Electronic Health Records, generic drug names are used in lieu of brand names. Tell me how you would handle a situation where you know the brand name of a drug you need to place an order for, but you are unsure of its generic name.

  10. Tell me about a time in your nursing career when you made a big mistake. How did you handle the situation?

  11. Despite our best efforts in providing care, sometimes there are family members who are unhappy with the care the patient is receiving. Tell me how you would handle such a situation.

  12. Tell me how you would handle a situation where you feel a patient is suicidal or a danger to themselves, but they deny these feelings.

  13. Workplace violence is a common issue for nurses. We have protocols in place to prevent workplace violence, but sometimes patients and family members still become violent. Tell me how you would handle such a situation.

  14. You have had a friendly relationship with one of your nursing colleagues for quite some time, but recently, she has been demonstrating passive-aggressive behavior and has been unwilling to cooperate with you. Tell me how you respond to this situation.

  15. You are caring for a pediatric patient whose parent is refusing routine vaccinations due to information she has read on the internet. How do you respond in this situation?

Continue: View All 35 Behavioral Nursing Interview Questions

Situational Nursing Interview Questions

  1. You are caring for a patient who is three-years-old and the physician has ordered a weight-based medication. When you look at the patient's records, you find the weight is documented in pounds. Explain how you proceed.

  2. You are caring for a patient and the physician has ordered an IV medication for them. You have collected the medication and the supplies needed to administer the IV. Tell me how you will proceed from this point.

  3. You are conducting intake on a patient who was just seen at your facility earlier in the week. After you enter the patient's vital signs, you see their medication list, which was updated earlier in the week. Tell me how you proceed.

  4. You are caring for a patient on your inpatient unit who is bedridden and unconscious. When the patient came to you, they already had a bedsore. How do you prevent this from happening again?

  5. You are caring for a patient on your inpatient unit who is taking a turn for the worse. You decide you need to call the hospitalist physician. Tell me how you will proceed.

  6. You are caring for a patient on your inpatient unit, and after making a call to the physician hospitalist on staff for support, you learn that the patient's medication regimen needs to be changed. Tell me the first steps you take.

  7. You are rounding on your patients on your inpatient unit, and as you enter an elderly woman's room, you find her sitting up and alert. Tell me what steps you take to prevent her from falling between now and the next time you round.

  8. In your inpatient unit, you are caring for a patient who is still weak from surgery. Upon reviewing physician orders, you see the patient is to get up and walk two laps in the hall. Tell me how you would proceed.

  9. You just finished preparing IV medications for a patient, and you thoroughly washed your hands before doing so. As you enter the patient's room with the medication, describe the first thing you do to prevent patient infection.

  10. You are caring for a young patient who is being discharged with a prescription for an inhaler. Upon asking the patient if he knows how to use the inhaler, he says, "Yes, I do." Tell me how you proceed.

  11. Your patient, who has just returned from surgery, now has multiple tubes and lines that you did not insert. You need to administer a drug into her central line, but are having a hard time finding this tube. As you are in a rush, tell me how you proceed.

  12. You are preparing medication in your unit's med room when you are paged to the nurse's station. You plan to immediately return to the med room, which you can see from the nurse's station. Do you lock the door upon leaving the med room?

  13. You are assisting a physician perform a procedure, when you are asked to retrieve a bottle of acetic acid that can be used on the patient. After retrieving the bottle from its normal location, what do you do you do before passing it to the physician?

  14. Everyone on your unit is busy and you requested that your unit's nursing assistants bathe one of your patients earlier today. The patient has yet to be bathed and she is upset about it. Tell me how you proceed.

  15. You are working phone triage for your physician practice when a patient calls asking for advice as he is having chest pains. Tell me what you direct the patient to do.

Continue: View All 42 Situational Nursing Interview Questions

LPN Interview Questions

  1. What made you choose a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse?

  2. As an experienced LPN, what would you say to someone who is just now beginning a career in the nursing field?

  3. Are you willing to work nights, weekends, holidays, or overtime if needed?

  4. If you discovered that a coworker was violating patient privacy by discussing information outside of the care team, how would you respond?

  5. What is your greatest hesitation when it comes to your work as a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Continue: View All 30 Licensed Practical Nurse Interview Questions

Critical Care Nurse Interview Questions

  1. Working in the ICU can be very stressful. What are some ways you manage stress on the job?

  2. What are some aspects of your specialty that make it unique compared to other specialties?

  3. Do you anticipate any significant changes in your life within the next 2-3 years that may prevent you from continuing employment here if you are offered a position here?

  4. What is your greatest fear about being a critical care nurse?

  5. Working with critical care requires a great deal of attention to detail and often multi-tasking. What do you do to help keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed?

Continue: View All 29 Critical Care Nurse Interview Questions

Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions

  1. Why did you choose to advance your studies beyond your RN degree?

  2. Are you comfortable making tough decisions in regards to a patients care?

  3. How do you plan to continually grow as a nurse practitioner?

  4. What type of nursing tasks do you find least desirable, or most challenging?

  5. Tell me about a crisis situation you faced at work. How were you a part of the solution?

Continue: View All 25 Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions

Travel Nurse Interview Questions

  1. What measures did you take to prepare yourself for the travel demands that this career requires?

  2. What is something you learned from your previous boss?

  3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

  4. Has there ever been a time when you received negative feedback, and how did you handle it?

  5. Some travel nurses are assigned to well-child clinics. Have you ever done wellness exams or given immunizations to pediatric patients?

Continue: View All 30 Travel Nurse Interview Questions

How to Ask the Right Questions to Land Your Best Nursing Job

It’s important to remember that you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you! It’s easy to become overwhelmed and anxious when applying to a new job but it’s important to figure out if this job is an ideal fit for you.

Do your homework. Try not to waste precious interview minutes asking questions that could easily be answered with a quick GOOGLE search. Do your homework on the organization before you apply and save you and them time and money. When you figure out a couple of organizations that appear to be your best fit, streamline your questions to ones that really make sense and possibly add to a long-lasting relationship. Asking thoughtful and appropriate questions can showcase the following in an applicant.

  • Shows your genuine interest in the position
  • This shows that you have done your homework
  • Shows dedication and commitment to yourself

1. What does the ideal candidate for this position look like?

Rationale: Even if you think that working for this organization would be a home run, pay careful attention to the interviewer’s answer. The interviewer’s answer may further clarify why you would excel at this job or may give you insight into why you may not. Whatever their answer, the detail and the body language of the interviewer will give you intel into how to answer the possible follow-up questions.

2. What is the overall nursing workplace culture like in this organization?

Rationale: The answer to this question can be very telling. The answer you are looking for is about workplace culture. Is it a just culture where problems are considered opportunities for growth and learning? Is the general nursing culture based on cooperation and collaboration? Are the leaders transparent and available to nursing staff when needed? Workplace culture is super important to overall job satisfaction and retention. Nursing is difficult enough without having a corrosive workplace environment as a factor.

3. How is bullying and incivility between nurses handled in the organization?

Rationale: Nurses are known for being trustworthy as evidenced by their number one rating in the Gallop poll yearly. Unfortunately, another common description has been that “nurses eat their young.” Bullying in the nursing workplace is not uncommon. It is highly unlikely that an authentic answer would be that they do not experience bullying in their organization. When bullying is silently condoned or ignored, it suggests a toxic workplace culture. The applicant must remember they are trading their skills, their energy, their passion, and their time for their job, and many nurses have left the professional for other fields. When leaders minimize or ignore problem behaviors, they are perpetuating a toxic workplace culture. The answer should not be that they do not have a problem but rather give specific leadership management details on the protocol for management when it happens.

4. Can you tell me about the management style in this organization?

Rationale: There are multiple leadership styles in healthcare and the eight most common are charisma, innovation, command, and control, laissez-faire, servant, situational, pacesetter, and transformational. The applicant doesn’t need to know all the ins and outs of each one, but much can be learned if the person asked the question doesn’t have a firm answer. Nursing leadership can and should segue between styles depending on the situation, but there should be a top leadership style and the leaders should know it. The interviewer should know how to answer, and also know how to explain it to future employees. If they don’t or hem and haw around an answer, that should be a clue that there isn’t a clear leadership style.

5. Can you tell me about the management style in this organization?

Rationale: This is a fair question, and applicants should not be afraid to ask the interviewer for a direct answer. Always pay attention to body language and the directness of the answer. If the individual answers enthusiastically and positively, it indicates that they like their job and the environment. There are lots of answers hidden in this question. The person may answer six months or 11 years. They may answer in a monotone and with a gleam in their eye. You may be observing their overall personality rather than their quality of job contentment but combining those observations with answers to the rest of your questions can help you learn some subjective data to make your best decision. The answer to this question can give you lots of insight into the dynamics of the organization.

6. Can you describe some of the challenges nurses in this organization are currently facing?

Rationale: There is not a nursing facility or organization that employs nurses that are not managing some nursing challenge whether it is the COVID-19 crisis and its associated shortages or another. Be astute to the answer which should not be general or generic. The appropriate answer should be transparent and authentic and contain both the challenge and the plan to mitigate it.

7. Can you describe some of the best ideas or actions I can implement to succeed in this unit?

Rationale: At the first stages of nursing interviews, it may be possible that the interviewer will not be able to help you with unit-specific answers. However, they should be able to explain in depth the overarching nursing policies and procedures in place to help you with any concerns and additional ways to succeed.

8. Can you describe the structure of the annual performance review and the criteria for success?

Rationale: The interviewer should be able to answer this question smoothly and without hesitation. The structure of the annual performance review should be system-wide and not unit-specific or up to the fancy of individual nursing leadership. There should be definite criteria in place that all nurses are rated against for annual performance reviews and wage increases.

9. What is your best advice to a new nurse in this hospital?

Rationale: This is an interesting question, and while it should not be on the top of your list in a time-crunched interview, it can shed some light on nuances if the interview goes long. This question can be dependent on the personality style of the interviewer, but also some of the best guidance can be gleaned from these kinds of questions. Answers such as “Always be prepared for impromptu inspections.” “Always take your complete breaks.” “The meditation room on the 3rd floor can be a great resource during a busy shift.” Even, advice such as “Take advantage of the tuition reimbursement policy. It’s incredible and check out Mount Morris NP program!” This question allows the interviewer to share some tidbits of wisdom with a potential new hire and allows both participants to feel good. Questions like these help build relationships.

10. What kind of shifts are offered on your unit, and will they be available to me right away?

Rationale: You may have a particular shift in mind and took the interview out of excitement. Clarify what shifts are currently available, and what that looks like in practical terms. If a day/night split is available and that is something that you know cannot work due to school or other responsibilities, then the position is not for you. Sometimes it is not possible to know or it isn’t clear what the shifts are on the application, but it’s an important question to ask. A satisfactory answer should address the following questions. How are the shift assignments determined? Does everyone have the same opportunity to bid on the best shift? Once you are employed, can you bid on a different shift if one becomes available? Ask the questions that are important to your situation? Do not be afraid that you will look choosy or difficult. The best-looking job on paper can become the work job in practice or you are exhausted and unhappy all the time.

11. Are there on-call and weekend requirements?

Rationale: Many nurse positions have on-call responsibilities and weekend shifts. Ask for clarification and a good response will answer the following questions. Is it every weekend? Every other weekend? What does on-call look like? Is it telephonic only or do you have to come to work? What is the payment structure for on-call work?

12. What is your overtime policy?

Rationale: Some facilities are anything over 8 hours a day. Some are over 80 hours in 2 weeks. Some are anything over 40 hours per week? Also, some positions may be salaried and exempt from overtime. Is there mandatory overtime? The best answer addresses these questions to your satisfaction.

13. How often do your nurses work overtime on the unit each week? Each month?

Rationale: This question is different from the standard and rote explanation of the company overtime policy. This is a direct question on the number of overtime hours worked in any given amount of time? What is the average because you can expect the same? Is there an expectation of overtime, and what would happen if you are not in agreement with that? Units become acute, the staff becomes ill and there will always be times when OT can be expected, but the general average throughout the year can be telling. Some staff like OT, but if all staff is working OT, it should be a clue to overall workplace culture and generalized organizational leadership.

14. How often are nurses mandated on the unit?

Rationale: Nurses get mandated. Nobody likes it, but it's part and parcel of nursing and must be expected occasionally. It should be the exception and not the rule. If nurses are mandated frequently due to patient acuity or staff call-offs, what is the management plan for that? The answer should address this as a challenge and offer a solid and reasonable plan of action for remediation.

15. How often are nurses mandated on the unit?

Rationale: If you are applying to a particular unit, you may have several interviews. You may interview with an overarching committee first and then interview with a unit-specific manager. But no matter who you are interviewing with, they should know the chain of command in the nursing organization and be able to give you direct guidance on management and leadership. Is there a nurse manager on the unit or is there just a charge nurse for the shift? Ultimately and ideally, you want a position that has solid leadership and a designated, consistent individual to assume responsibility for the unit.

16. What is the dress code for the unit?

Rationale: This is a very important question to ask? Nurses want to know the answers because they may have a closet full of preferred scrubs and will be dismayed that the unit color is black or blue or gray. Does the hospital provide scrubs or a stipend? What kind of shoes are allowed? What about jewelry, nail care, perfume, or others? For example, in some psychiatric wards staff are not to wear ponytails, scarves, or any necklace that cannot break away.

17. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Rationale: Some individuals are reluctant to ask this as not to seem too bold or to “jinx” the interview but why not? It’s a reasonable question to ask. Simply asking what to expect and how to expect it shows continued interest and intention on your part without seeming demanding or pleading. It’s reasonable to ask if you will be contacted either way and in what time frame. After all, you are a viable candidate who needs to either accept or decline other offers. You don’t necessarily have to tell them that, but pleasantly asking what the next steps might be can decrease anxiety and help build your confidence.

18. If hired, what does the onboarding process look like?

Rationale: This is an important logistical question and knowing the answers right away can help prevent delays in starting. A new hire may require criminal background checks which take time or may have to apply to a new state license. Are there facility training or tests that need to be taken? What about mandatory vaccinations or health reports? Asking questions about additional requirements and the timeline for doing so can streamline the onboarding process and prevent delays. Ask about classroom training and orientation.

19. What are the usual job duties of the job I am applying for?

Rationale: Some position responsibilities are very similar as in ER nursing jobs, but even so, there could be quantitative and qualitative differences that you are unprepared for. It is a perfectly reasonable question to ask what exactly the job entails. Nursing responsibilities can vary from organization to organization and it’s a great idea to start that conversation sooner rather than later. For example, some nurses draw their blood work and other units may call the lab. Ask the interviewer to give the basic rundown of a typical shift.

20. What benefits are available to employees, spouses, and children?

Rationale: A good answer will describe what benefits are available and how soon after employment they take effect. Benefits are important. You will want to know about parking and if it is free or paid, tuition reimbursement, vision and dental, Health Savings Accounts, employee health services, pension planning, and even discount cafeteria services if it is important to you. Do your homework, and determine the minimum you need for the maximum life and ask the hard questions to get the best job for you all-around.

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