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Addiction Nurse Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated January 8th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 30
If you begin to feel overwhelmed with a situation at work, how do you handle it?
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How to Answer
Being an addiction nurse requires a great deal of time and attention to detail. It also requires a lot of patience. The interviewer understands the stresses that are often related to being an addiction nurse. He wants to know that you can identify personal stressors and that you are capable of addressing them before the anxiety of a situation gets out of hand.
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Answer Examples
1.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed with a situation at work, how do you handle it?
Being an addiction nurse requires a great deal of time and attention to detail. It also requires a lot of patience. The interviewer understands the stresses that are often related to being an addiction nurse. He wants to know that you can identify personal stressors and that you are capable of addressing them before the anxiety of a situation gets out of hand.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am usually not easily overwhelmed, but we do all have times that some situations affect us differently. If I begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed, if possible, I take a break for a few minutes. Sometimes just stepping outside and getting a breath of fresh air helps me to relax. Also, I am not too embarrassed to call on a coworker or supervisor if I need help. Patient care is my number one priority."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I offer different support based on the patients need. It is important for me to provide emotional, educational and motivational support to patients."
2.
Many times, when people hear the word 'addiction' they think of the abuse of prescription drugs. What are some other addictions you have worked with?
When addictions are mentioned, many people automatically think of the misuse of prescription drugs. In America today, the opioid epidemic is one of the greatest risks for drug abuse related deaths. However, there are many different addictions that addiction nurses help patients deal with. The interviewer wants to know that you are prepared to work with a variety of people who suffer from addiction. If you have a personal story, this is a good time to share it. Remember, do not use any information in your reference that may cause you to compromise patient confidentiality.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked with people who have battled several different addictions. One common addiction that many people are not familiar with is food addiction. Unfortunately, it is almost as difficult to overcome that addiction is it is to overcome substances such as meth. Additionally, many people who are overcoming substance addictions often develop food addiction as a way of coping with their craving for drugs."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have actually spent some time working with clients with gambling addictions. It is really quite devastating to see the effect that lack of control over this addiction can bring to the lives of those who are addicted. I once had a client who lost his family's home because he used the deed for the home to fund his gambling addiction and he lost it all. When he finally hit rock bottom, he checked himself into rehab so that he could be separated from any triggers and start to learn some coping mechanisms."

Anonymous Answer
"I have work with people struggling with several different addictions; alcoholism, heroin, stimulates, and benzodiazepines. Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain. Generally, people do not understand addiction is not due to lack of "will power," there are other factors that predispose some to dependence."
Rachelle's Answer
Wonderful answer! You show a great understanding and compassion for those who struggle with addiction.
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3.
What is one of your weaknesses and what do you do to help address/resolve it?
This is probably one of the most dreaded questions in a job interview. Answering this question requires self evaluation and honesty. Remember, whatever weakness you decide to share, make sure it is not a key characteristic needed to perform your job as a medical office manager.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I think one of my biggest weaknesses is that I can get sidetracked easily. I recognize that in myself and have made a conscious effort to plan my day as much as possible and to stay on target."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I know you may not think this about someone who has chosen a career as a medical office manager, but one of my weaknesses is that I often get nervous around people I don't know. I know we all do that to a certain degree, but for me, it became something that I was very aware of. I now try to attend social activities where I know there are going to be opportunities to meet new people so that I can overcome social anxiety."
4.
What made you choose a career as an Addiction Nurse?
In almost all interviews, the employer will ask why you chose this specific career. Everybody has his own story to tell, and the interviewer wants to hear yours. If you had some experience that led you to this career choice, this is a good time to share that. Remember, though, this is an interview, not a conference where you are a guest speaker. Tell your 'why' and tell it with passion, but be conscientious of the time that you are being given.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If someone had told me many years ago that I would have chosen a career dealing with addiction, I would never have believed them. I have always wanted to help people. It wasn't until I really began to research the different types of patient care related fields that are available that I realized the critical role that nurses can have in the lives of those who are struggling with addictions. The more I researched, the more I felt like this is what I was meant to do."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I wanted to find a career that would challenge me to grow and become a better person by giving back to others. When I started seriously thinking about my future and what possibilities there are, I really felt like if I could make a difference in just one person's life and help them overcome the stronghold of addiction, that it would be worth it all. Being an addiction nurse gives me the chance to work on a one to one basis with patients who are really struggling and need help. I can't imagine ever doing anything else."
Anonymous Answer
"I have always wanted to help people. I had some experience with patients in withdrawal in the ICU. Also, I have family members who struggle with addiction. I have always wanted a deeper understanding of addiction and psychiatry. When the recruiter contacted me, that allowed me to manage patients medically, and through recovery, I was all for it."
Rachelle's Answer
Wonderful answer! You show both a personal and professional connection to this line of nursing.
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5.
What are some aspects of being an addiction nurse that make the career different from other nursing careers?
This question really gives the interviewer a chance to see what your personal thoughts are regarding being an addiction nurse. There is really no right or wrong answer to this question. This is another opportunity for you to show what you thought was special about this specialty that led you to choose it as a career.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I suppose all nurses could tell one thing or another that makes us feel like the area we work in is unique. All nursing departments have their own uniqueness."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am new to the area of addiction nursing, so I may not be qualified to make comparisons. I feel comfortable saying that I chose to work in addiction care because I have a focused interest in addictions and the associated medical conditions and treatments."
Anonymous Answer
"As a nurse, we focus on all patients holistically. Nursing works in areas where management concentrates on things you can interpret and analyze visually, like vital signs and physical assessments. The difference with Addiction is a disease of the brain and focuses more on psycho-social aspects of their life."
Rachelle's Answer
You make an excellent case here for why addiction nursing has its unique challenges. Good answer.
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6.
What is something that is rewarding to you about being an addiction nurse?
Working a field where addictions is the focus can often have days that feel very difficult, even heartbreaking. However, there are times that something happens that can give you a feeling of assurance that all that you do is not in vain. Sharing how you feel about your job and something that makes you happy or makes you feel rewarded shows the interviewer that, despite the difficulties the job brings, you can still find the positive in what you do.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"This job is rewarding to me in so many ways. More than anything, I am happy and thankful when I see someone who has been my patient who actually follows through with a rehab path after detox, and begins counseling and then chooses to stay in a life of sobriety free from drugs and alcohol. There have been times when some of my previous clients have stopped by just to tell me that they are ok and that they are living a clean life and how their lives have changed. This is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever experienced."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I love being an addiction nurse. I don't love the fact that we are needed, but because we are, I pour everything into my job. One of the most rewarding things for me is seeing someone who graduates from rehab and decides to initiate counseling or some type of 12-step program for himself. Taking personal initiative to continue with therapy and make a conscious effort to get sober and clean and to stay that way takes a lot of effort for the addict, and seeing that is more rewarding than I can even explain."
7.
How do you approach dealing with an angry patient, and why?
Knowing how you will handle a difficult situation will tell the interviewer if you have the the right attitude for this job. Being a physician means you have to deal with people from very different backgrounds and with varying personalities. Give the interviewer an example of how you would handle an angry patient.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe acting calmly and speaking rationally is a great way to calm someone who is angry and I try to be the voice of reason without making someone feel that I am belittling them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I think it is important to try and find out what has made the patient mad. If it is something such as not being called as quickly as he had expected, a simple explanation regarding what caused the delay may help calm him."
Anonymous Answer
"I feel the best approach is to ask what has made the client upset. Listen without interruption. Apologize and resolve the underlying cause, if possible."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a great approach and one that would most likely prevent further escalation. Good answer!
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8.
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?
Knowing what goals you have and any changes you anticipate in your life will give the interviewer an opportunity to evaluate two things: 1. what positions are available that won't disrupt your plans and, 2. are you interested in having a long-term relationship within the company? Either way, being upfront and honest is always appreciated.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I recently became engaged. Although we have not set a date yet, we have agreed to wait twelve months before the marriage. My fiance' just passed the Bar exam here and has been offered an opportunity to join an existing law firm. Presently, our plans are to stay where we are and build a career, not just work a job. Also, we do not plan on having children for at least two years after our marriage. We both feel that being able to become established in our careers and save for our future would be the responsible thing to do before starting a family."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My goal is to find a position that will allow me to work long term. I do not anticipate any significant changes that would affect that. I have family that live nearby and close ties to the community."
Anonymous Answer
"I do not anticipate any significant changes in my life in the next 2-3 years. Quite the opposite I am looking for stability in an organization (to call home) that I can grow in."
Rachelle's Answer
Excellent! The interviewer should appreciate that you are looking for a stable, long term fit.
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9.
Tell me about a time you had to deal with significant changes in your workplace. How did you manage those changes?
In any healthcare setting, change is inevitable. Technology, processes, leadership, laws and organizations change on a regular basis and with change at a high level comes changes in work processes. For this question, it is important to stress how you are open to change when it makes the end results better for, not only the patient, but for those who work with you. As a medical office manager, you should be able to recognize changes that are needed and be prepared to address them with employees and provide any training necessary. Talk about a specific change you had to endure in the workplace and express how you embraced the change.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my previous employment roles, I have been a part of many changes that affected my day-to-day duties on the job. I have always embraced the technological changes and work process advancements because, in the end, they make our jobs easier, safer and better for the individual patients. The biggest change that I had to endure was an organizational merger when a private hospital I was working for merged with a larger health system. During this merger, my day-to-day work was flipped upside down from new computer systems to work on, a new work location, new leadership structure and a change in pay and benefits. With a focus on the end in mind and how great it was going to be to work for a much larger and well-established employer, I was able to be a positive influence on my team for helping others embrace the change and see the light at the end of the tunnel while changes were happening."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"During my years in college, I worked at a large grocery store as a cashier. After working there for one year, the company purchased a new touchscreen register system that replaced the old system I was familiar with. Knowing how much more efficiently and accurately I would be able to work when the changes came, I was happy when the announcement was made to our team of cashiers. Of course others were not happy as they'd have to learn a new system. For me, knowing how much the new system would help our work process made it easy to embrace the change. Moving forward, I fully understand how the healthcare world needs to embrace change on a regular basis and you'll find that I'm a person that can help lead change management among my peers."
10.
What would your response be if your 15 yr old patient asked you to withhold the results of a positive drug screen from her parents?
Recent polls of adolescent patients (under the age of 18) have shown a tendency to not seek medical care or treatment if that care cannot be independent of a parent or guardian. Among those patients polled, many of them stated that there were certain topics that they do not want their parents to know about (sexual activity, presence or treatment of STDs, and alcohol or drug abuse). Many said that they would prefer to have no treatment at all if notification of their parents was required. As an addiction nurse, some of your patients will be younger than the legal age of consent for treatment. Knowing the law and how it affects what information you can or cannot provide is crucial. The interviewer wants to know that you are not only familiar with the law, but that you are able to explain legal issues to your patient so that she understands.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have had patients in the past who did not want their parents to know certain test results. While I understand some situations may cause a patient to feel reservation about disclosing information, I would explain to the patient that, because of her age, I cannot keep the information regarding her test results from her parents."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have come across some difficult patients in my career as a nurse.I would say the most challenging patients are those who do not follow their treatment plan yet tell me that they are. It's hard to work around dishonesty, so I gently remind these patients that the only person they are hurting is themselves."
11.
If you felt threatened by a patient, what would your response be?
All areas of nursing involve difficult patients but those working within the addiction recovery discipline are more exposed to this than others. Difficult patients require specific handling and this question aims to establish whether you're a suitable candidate for this demanding work. Talk your way through how you would handle a potentially threatening situation so that the interviewer can see that you are able to think quickly in a possibly tense situation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I felt threatened by a patient, I would make sure that patient/caregiver boundaries were verbalized to him. I would speak calmly and try to assure the patient that my goal is to provide safe care for him. I would ask him to calm down and talk to me about what has him angry or frustrated and see if we can work through the situation without any threat of harm to anyone."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I felt threatened by a patient, I would speak calmly, but firmly, and ask her if she can tell me why she is upset. I would tell her that my responsibility is to provide care for her in a safe environment, which means that we all need to feel safe and free of harm. If the patient does not calm down, I will ask a team leader or supervisor for assistance in diffusing the situation."
12.
What would you do if a patient complained to you about a coworker's conduct toward him/her?
This question aims to test your knowledge of internal procedures used within healthcare establishments. While the exact protocol for this may be specific to the place you're applying, there are general rules that should be followed by all healthcare providers, no matter which facility you work in. It is important to explain that all complaints must be handled seriously and be directed to the appropriate member of staff so that appropriate action can be taken. Emphasise that patient concerns should never be ignored.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"It is unfortunate that situations like this ever occur. However, when they do, patient safety and concerns should always be acknowledged. If a patient presented a complaint to me, I would notify my immediate supervisor and give him whatever information I have so that he can investigate the validity of any allegations and act accordingly."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I've never had a patient complain to me about one of my coworkers. If I were to be faced with this situation, I would assure the patient that I will talk to my supervisor so that he can help address the situation. I believe it is important to let a patient know that any concerns will be addressed, but to not 'choose sides,' as this can make the situation worse. I believe that leaving the responsibility of investigating the complaint with my supervisor is the most appropriate action to take."
Anonymous Answer
"I would listen to the patient's complaint. Thank them for informing me of the situation and let them know we take all complaints seriously. And ensure them someone will follow up immediately about the situation. I would follow up with my immediate supervisor or MAT coordinator, depending on the claim."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds as though you would approach this situation with great care. Good work!
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13.
What advice would you give to a nurse looking to enter your field of nursing?
When you are asked to share advice, remember to always be positive. Anyone can find a negative about something, and true enough, there are some days that are more difficult than others. The interviewer wants to know that you are confident about your decision, confident enough that you can share this with others.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I would tell someone considering this profession that there is so much more to this job than I ever could have imagined. I would say, the only limit to your potential in nursing is what you believe you can or cannot do. Never sell yourself or your capabilities of bringing value to other's lives short."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I were to talk to someone considering the field of nursing, I would encourage them to have confidence in themselves and to go after their dreams passionately."
14.
Have you ever discovered patients acting in a behavior that is against facility regulations, and if so, how did you/would you handle that?
Any time there are patients in a community-like setting, such as an addiction recovery center, the chances of some of those patients 'pushing the limit' increases. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of identifying inappropriate behavior and that you will handle the situation professionally. If you have an example of a time this happened, this is a good time to share that experience. Remember, though, do not use names or infer anything that could compromise the confidentiality of the actual event.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In addiction recovery centers, intimate contact between patients and/or staff is not allowed. At one facility where I worked part time, it was discovered that two patients had been kissing and fondling one another in the dayroom. I notified my supervisor and wrote an incident report. The supervisor met with each patient and explained that non-compliance to rules would be grounds for termination of care."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not yet had a patient who acted outside of facility regulations, although I have heard of instances. I would like to think that, if and when this happens, I can be objective and professional. I would explain to the patient why the behavior is unacceptable and report the occurrence to my team leader or supervisor."
15.
How important is it for an addiction nurse to be a patient person?
Interaction with staff and patients requires good communication skills. Part of practicing good communication is the ability to be patient with others. Working as an addiction nurse can be a very satisfying job, but it requires a lot of work and patience. The interviewer wants to know that you are comfortable with your ability to be patient and offer guidance/support when needed.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe that being patient is a very important characteristic for any person to possess, especially those who work in patient care. We often have very hectic schedules and work with staff and patients who have diverse personalities and needs. Being able to focus on the needs of others while performing our job can be very demanding. However, patience is a must."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Being patient is very important for an addiction nurse. Some patients or staff we work with require only simple assistance. Others require more detailed assistance as they are learning new life skills and coping mechanisms. We have to know how to identify those who require a little extra time and try to accommodate that."
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30 Addiction Nurse Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. If you begin to feel overwhelmed with a situation at work, how do you handle it?
  2. Many times, when people hear the word 'addiction' they think of the abuse of prescription drugs. What are some other addictions you have worked with?
  3. What is one of your weaknesses and what do you do to help address/resolve it?
  4. What made you choose a career as an Addiction Nurse?
  5. What are some aspects of being an addiction nurse that make the career different from other nursing careers?
  6. What is something that is rewarding to you about being an addiction nurse?
  7. How do you approach dealing with an angry patient, and why?
  8. 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?
  9. Tell me about a time you had to deal with significant changes in your workplace. How did you manage those changes?
  10. What would your response be if your 15 yr old patient asked you to withhold the results of a positive drug screen from her parents?
  11. If you felt threatened by a patient, what would your response be?
  12. What would you do if a patient complained to you about a coworker's conduct toward him/her?
  13. What advice would you give to a nurse looking to enter your field of nursing?
  14. Have you ever discovered patients acting in a behavior that is against facility regulations, and if so, how did you/would you handle that?
  15. How important is it for an addiction nurse to be a patient person?
  16. What are some characteristics that you think an addiction nurse should have, and why?
  17. Have you ever been the intake nurse for addiction patients, and what is something common that you find among patients entering treatment?
  18. Tell me about a time you may have had a disagreement with a team member and how you handled it.
  19. If a patient were to exhibit feelings of affection or infatuation with you, how would you address the situation?
  20. One common recommendation for people in addiction recovery is to avoid an intimate relationship with someone else in recovery. How would you explain the importance of this to a patient?
  21. If you had a client who told you he was only in drug rehab because he was ordered to by a judge and that he had no intention of quitting drugs, how would you handle the situation?
  22. If you suspected that one of your co-workers was abusing drugs, how would you handle the situation?
  23. If, during shift change, the nurse you are replacing told you to expect the narcotics count to be off because it was off when she began her shift, how would you handle the situation?
  24. Being an addiction care nurse can be very stressful. What are some ways you manage stress on the job?
  25. Give me an example of a workplace challenge you encountered, and how did you handle it?
  26. Is there a type of patient or specific diagnosis that you find it more difficult to work with?
  27. If you were to teach new nurses regarding signs to observe for that may indicate drug abuse, what would you tell them?
  28. What are some major factors that may cause a patient to relapse, and how do you approach preparing clients to cope with or avoid these risk factors?
  29. Have you or a loved one ever been directly affected by an addiction?
  30. Has there ever been a time when you felt threatened by a patient? If so, how did you handle the situation?
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