Often, our work environment holds the possibility for awkward or tense situations, especially in the field of healthcare. It can be challenging to know how to respond when you have a fellow nurse who is moody, or when your attending physician lacks social skills and is a brief communicator. The interviewer wants to know that you can keep your cool in situations like these.
"I have had my share of awkward situations and having raised two kids, I am no stranger to them! In the workplace, if an uncomfortable situation arises I tend to face the issue head-on, but tactfully. Sweeping things under the rug rarely helps. I have no problem being open with my team of nurses if I am not feeling comfortable in a particular situation."
"I try to avoid conflict, but I have a high tolerance for discomfort. I've learned to try to let the people in question sort it out, but have no problem rolling up my sleeves and diving in to help mediate the problem."
"Uncomfortable situations don't phase me. It takes a lot to make me uncomfortable and I just roll with whatever awkward thing is happening and try to either change the conversation or address the root of the awkwardness. It's all part of the gig, being in healthcare."
The interviewer wants to gauge if you can maintain healthy relationships in the workplace. They want to know more about the dynamics with your coworkers. Think about what you enjoyed about some of your relationships with past coworkers. Excellent communication, sense of humor, and support are all great qualities that make co-worker relationships healthy and harmonious.
"I get along great with my coworkers. I try to maintain a positive attitude and be supportive, whether I am offering to assist someone who is overwhelmed, or if I am taking time to listen to someone who is having a bad day."
"I can work with pretty much anyone. If we don't see eye to eye, I will work to find common ground."
"I enjoy the people I work with and can get along with anyone. I have made some of my closest friends from different hospitals which I have worked. I know how important harmonious relationships in the hospital are for not only camaraderie but also for accomplishing optimum result for our patients."
This question is something that you should have an answer ready for at all times. Perhaps you look up to a parent who was a hard worker, or a teacher who encouraged you to become who you are today. Whomever this inspiring person may be, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.
"My inspiration comes from my grandmother. She has spent every day of her life working hard, and I have never once heard her complain about being tired and overworked. She taught me the value of a good reputation, and I still seek out her opinion when I need inspiration."
"Many industry leaders inspire me, but I would have to say that my greatest inspiration comes from my mother who always taught me to stay focused and goal oriented, no matter the obstacles that come my way. This way of thinking has greatly attributed to my success."
"I work in a volunteer capacity with a women's clinic that was founded to give low-income women a safe place for health care. I have always been taught to give back and "be the change," but to be honest, these women that I treat are the ones who are changing me. Their stories of overcoming hardship are amazing, and I admire their tenacity."
Career progression can be a touchy subject, especially if you feel that your career hasn't progressed as well as you would have liked. Talk to the interviewer about your career progression and what you would like to see in the future.
"Overall, my career has progressed a touch slower than I would have liked. I have held a couple of positions in smaller facilities that didn't offer the growth and learning that I was expecting; however, I have bounced back nicely. I feel that this particular position would take my career exactly where it should be."
"I am pleased with the progress of my nursing career. I am proud of my accomplishments and the path my education has taken me."
"Overall, I am satisfied with my career progression. Everyone, including me, hits roadblocks or setbacks, but I have been able to push through them and stay on track. Gaining prescriptive authority a couple of years ago helped me to gain traction so, that was a great career decision."
Every health care professional handles the stress and disappointment of patient setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with setbacks in the workplace.
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If my patient experiences a major setback, I will take a few moments to debrief with the doctor and discuss what I could have done differently, if anything."
"Setbacks can be trying, for the patient and all involved. I remind myself to keep a positive outlook and to remain focused because that is what the patient needs most from me in times like that."
"I used to tend to take things personally when a patient would have a setback in their recovery. I would immediately go through a mental rundown of what I did wrong or what I could have done differently. It was emotionally taxing. I now allow myself to learn from these experiences without taking them personally. Everyone's health story is different, and there are factors that I cannot control."
We all like to be recognized in some way for our accomplishments in the workplace. Share with the interviewer how you would want to be known for your hard work. Public recognition? Kind words? Title promotions?
"I am very much an over-achiever and find that the best way for me to be recognized for a job well done is to be given words of kindness and recognition. I am easily encouraged, and the best reward for me is to know that my hard work is being noticed."
"I am very simple. I do not really require any formal recognition, but kind words from my coworkers and superiors will keep me motivated and working hard."
"I love accolades given, in sincerity, by those whom I respect. It feels so great to know that my hard work is not only noticed but appreciated and commended."
It is highly recommended that clinical nurse specialists obtain prescriptive authority. Not only does this strengthen you as a health care professional, but it also benefits your patients! This is a simple yes and no answer; however, if you do not currently have prescriptive authority you should discuss your interest in gaining this credential.
"Yes, I have gained prescriptive authority through the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). I was able to complete this step after completing my pharmacology-related courses. This authority has added a great deal to my professional opportunities and ability to help my patients more effectively."
"I have not yet obtained prescriptive authority; however I plan to apply once I complete my pharmacology courses. This opportunity should come in the next two months."
"I was the first clinical nurse specialist to gain prescriptive authority in my current hospital. It is a credential that I am incredibly proud of, and I encourage all other CNS' to gain this authority as well."
You likely have a long list of experiences worth sharing! After logging your internship hours, you have learned about treating everything from broken bones to infectious diseases. Stick to a couple of notable highlights to avoid rambling on in your answer. Make sure they are memorable so that you become a candidate not quickly forgotten!
"One of my most memorable experiences was working with an elderly lady who broke her hip. She survived the hip surgery, which was amazing, but we noticed some problems with her heart in the meantime. After some investigating, we learned that she had a blockage. I learned how delicate and sensitive elderly patients could be, but I also learned how powerful having a good attitude can be. After multiple surgeries, this 85-year-old woman was still going and still smiling!"
"My most powerful experience during my internship was working with the pediatric oncology unit. I had worked with cancer patients in the past, but never with children and this rotation sparked my passion for oncology care and research. I left that rotation knowing that I wanted to work in hospitals for the rest of my career. This experience lit a spark in me."
"I completed my internship many years ago and still have an amazing network of nurses, and other health professionals, that I have kept in touch with. This network has been a huge support to me and was the highlight of my time as an intern."
You won't always agree with the decisions of other professionals at your facility. That's a reality of being a nurse; however, your response is far more important than your opinion in those situations. If you argue or put up a fuss, you're not helping the case. When the doctor decides what they believe is best, taking a step down and following orders might indeed be your best option.
"During a recent surgery, the Doctor found something that we didn't expect. He decided to complete the operation even though there was a risk to the patient due to other health issues. Things move quickly in the operating room, so even though my gut reaction was to pull him aside and request we not continue, I knew that I needed to trust the doctor's wishes and support him."
"While I was completing the intern hours I worked under a veteran nurse who had quite an unpleasant disposition. I didn't feel that I had the power to say anything to her so I spent my time ensuring that her attitude didn't rub off on me, and I also made sure to give extra smiles to her patients so they would feel cared for."
"Luckily I work with a great team of professionals who know what they are doing and accept constructive feedback with ease. I recently worked with a physician who was very rushed and making rash decisions due to work overload. I pulled her aside and gently mentioned that I saw her making decisions much more quickly than usual. I didn't question her judgment, I simply offered to help. She appreciated the check-in, and all was well."
Do you encourage others, show kindness and respect to others? Then you are a compassionate person! One of the best qualities to have as a CNS is to be kind and caring. It's important to let the interviewer know that your compassion isn't turned on and off like a switch. Your kindness spills into your daily routine and to those around you. Show the interviewer that you are a genuine and caring person in your personal life as well as at work by sharing a quick, and applicable, story.
"A family member of mine was struggling with addiction. I spent a lot of time hearing their story, their fears, and how they got into this situation, to begin with. I feel like they confided in me because they were ready to take that step to help themselves. I was able to reach out and help them find a recovery program. I visited as often as I was allowed, encouraged them to continue the fight, and shared their enthusiasm."
"As a clinical nurse specialist, I show compassion to my patients but also their family members. I want everyone to know they are good care with me, and when my compassion overflows to the family, everyone feels more at ease."
"Yes, my patients and colleagues have often commented on my level of compassion. It is easy to become hardened after many years working in the medical field; however, I choose to smile during the day, encourage my patients with kind words, and remark when I notice a big improvement in their mobility or health."
A clinical nurse specialist should be tech savvy and able to pick up new medical records software quickly. You should also be at least an intermediate skill level when it comes to typing, data entry, and creating word documents. Rate your skill level and list the types of programs and software in which you are best versed.
"I am trained primarily in Microsoft Suite, and MediTouch. I would rate my skill level as an 8/10. There is always more to learn, but I am confident in my technical abilities and have trained other nurses as well."
"My technical abilities are sound, and I pick up new systems very quickly. For that reason, I would rate myself as an 8.5/10. In addition to having used Azalea Health, a cloud-based EHR, I am also a certified in Microsoft Office."
"Throughout my career, I have worked with a wide range of software and systems. I have spent the most time with WebPT, CureMD, and eClinicalWorks. I rate my skills as expert level. 10/10!"
The interviewer would like to know the type of equipment that you have spent the most time with. Your answer will allow them to gauge if you would be prepared to train other nurses on the use of the equipment or use the devices with minor levels of supervision. You can rate your skills from 1-10 or application language such as beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. If specific types of equipment are mentioned in the job posting or job description, be sure to say those as well.
"I have worked with a range of equipment in my nursing career. I am most experienced with heart monitoring device, EEG, and IV devices. I am an expert in catheterization and have trained many nurses in this area as well. Is there any other specialty that you are looking for?"
"I have approximately two years experience with suction devices, and nebulizers, as requested in your job posting. If I could choose one area of specialty, I would say that I am advanced with EEG and IV devices."
"In my twelve-year career as a clinical nurse specialist, I can confidently say that I am an advanced user of all types of equipment related to this job. I have trained other nurses on a variety of equipment such as heart monitoring devices, IV devices, and catheterization. Is there any medical equipment experience you are most interested in hearing about?"
The interviewer would like to know what you consider to be strong leadership qualities. When describing leadership qualities, try to avoid general terms and give some unique ideas. A great leader is someone who people naturally want to follow. They have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with nearly any personality type. A respected leader will take ownership of their mistakes and will always lead their team by example. True leaders see the importance of motivating others and recognizing even the smallest achievements. Which of these qualities do you most identify with?
"I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize the nurses on my team by celebrating small wins. That motivates them to continue achieving."
"My leadership skills are best summed as enthusiastic, knowledge-based, adaptable, and open. A leader wants to nurture others to their fullest potential, and that is something I have enjoyed since childhood. I love to be seen as an example to follow and help guide others to bettering themselves and their careers."
"I believe I lead effectively by showing others respect regardless of their position or title, and creating an open environment in which everyone knows that ideas are welcome. I like to set high, but achievable, expectations for myself and the teams that I work on."
A clinical nurse specialist must be highly skilled in both written, and verbal, communication. In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or oral? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer.
"I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."
"I do not lean one way or another when it comes to verbal or written communication. Both are equally important to me. If I have to choose just one, I will choose written communication as one can always look back on written communication for reference."
"I am comfortable with both so that it would depend on the message, I suppose. Urgent news needs to be communicated verbally and followed up in written form, but quick messages on simple changes can be communicated effectively through email or instant message."
A clinical nurse specialist must be registered with their appropriate state. Assure the interviewer that you are registered and legally able to operate as a CNS in the state which you are interviewing. Your answer should remain simple. If you have supporting documentation, bring this with you.
"I am registered to work as a clinical nurse specialist in the state of California. California is the only state which I have worked as a nurse. I have the documentation to support my registry as well."
"I am currently awaiting final approval of licensure through the State of Texas. I will have proof of this registration within the week."
"I have traveled a bit throughout the years and have obtained state licensure in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. I brought all supporting documents with me. Feel free to take a copy for your files."
The interviewer would like a short overview of your post-secondary education. There is no need to go into significant depth when answering this question; however, you should include a bit about your GPA, any special awards or accolades you may have received. Include your specialty if that is applicable information.
"I have my Masters of Science in Nursing from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Since earning my elevated degree, I have been so pleased with the opportunities that have come my way. I graduated with a 3.34 GPA and took a keen interest in Pediatric Health."
"This past year I completed my Post-Master's Certificate, with a focus on Gerontological Critical Care, from Columbia College. I graduated with a 3.82 GPA and was top of the class in most of my coursework."
"I am happy to say that I achieved my Masters of Science in Nursing with a major in Health Systems Management, approximately eight years ago. This elevated degree significantly changed my career trajectory, and I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way since returning to school."
Interviewers want to hear that you have experience teaching or mentoring other employees one-on-one. This could include registered nurses or junior hospital staff. You may have taught a new hire all of your department's standard processes. Perhaps you taught a long-standing employee how to use a newly implemented medical records software. All of these scenarios are great examples to draw on. Better yet, if you have personally seen someone struggling with workplace skills or knowledge, approached them, and offered to mentor them, it is a shining example of leadership! Whatever your scenario may be, tell the interviewer what you helped the person with, while highlighting the positive outcome of their skills improvement.
"Last month our hospital introduced a new module in our EMS system. I could see that our more seasoned clinical nurse was having some troubles with the new module. I was familiar with it already so I offered to help him learn the module. We spent his lunch hour for the next 3 days working on it. He perfected the module in no time!"
"I'm proud to say that, even without any official management capacity, I often seize the opportunity to teach others at work. Not only have I helped contribute to the training of a new medical software system, but I have also been able to take a couple of interns under my wing this year. It's fun to teach others, especially since I am always seeking out learning opportunities for myself. It's nice to give back or pay it forward."
"I have had many opportunities, in my eighteen-year career, to teach important skills to my co-workers. Because I am more seasoned, I am often tasked with training interns, newly registered nurses, and other junior team members. I am known as a catheterization specialist in our ward, so that is one particular skill that I train often. The same goes for IV device training. I look forward to showing you my leadership skills in action!"
When the interviewer asks this question, they are trying to gauge how prepared you are, and your level of interest in the position. An employer wants to know you are enthusiastic about their organization. Express how keen you are by doing your research on the hospital's history, values, goals, and by examining their culture and what makes them unique. To really impress the interviewer, pay special attention to their online reviews, employee reviews, special mentions in the news, or community involvement.
"I did some research on your facility and I think it's inspirational that you are the first hospital to ever open in this city. I understand your facility underwent substantial growth with new construction last year, which is exciting. Also, I took a look at your blog and saw a posting about the major donation you received for your pediatric ward this year. That must have made such a positive impact on your work here."
"Your facility came highly recommended to me as a potential employer when I was completing my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. Since that time, I have always had an eye on your facility for new openings. I have met a few nurses from your hospital, and they say the workplace culture here is very collaborative and positive."
"I am very familiar with your hospital since I have worked as a clinical nurse specialist in this region for eight years. You are the leader in this city for cardiology and also have a strong reputation for patient support. I have kept an eye on opportunities here for quite some time. I am very eager to continue building my career with your hospital."
The interviewer would like to know that you can handle the demanding physical requirements associated with nursing. Every day, you will need to lift patients, walk around the hospital, stand for long periods of time, move equipment and beds, and all with a smile on your face! Assure the interviewer that you are capable of meeting these physical demands.
"I fully understand the physical demands associated with being a nurse and, rest assured, I can meet these. I am physically fit and spend my time off often working out, hiking, and attending yoga classes."
"Yes, I can certainly meet the physical demands of this role. There are no concerns on my part."
"I have been a nurse for fifteen years, so I fully understand the physical demand on me, in this role. I can meet all requirements including heavy lifting. If I need to take a moment, I will sit down while making notes in patient files. I know my limitations and respect them."
Before your interview, make sure you have researched the median salary for the position (and location). You can look at salary reviews on Glassdoor.com or Payscale.com. Consider giving a salary range. Providing a range allows you to negotiate down the road if you are given an offer. However, if you just tell the employer you are looking for $50K it doesn’t leave room for negotiating later on. Also, make sure the lowest number of your range is something you are comfortable with! Another great option is to tell the interviewer what you are currently earning and tell them that you are seeking a competitive offer.
"Currently, I am earning a base salary of $78K plus health benefits. I'd like to earn a bit above that in my next position."
"I am seeking a base salary of $70,000-75,000 per year which is in alignment with Clinical Nurse Specialists with under five years of experience."
"I am currently making $100,000 per year with two bonus opportunities. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides an opportunity for growth."
We are all human, and the interviewer is looking to see how you've handled past mistakes. Don't try to fool the interviewer by stating you've never made a mistake. Instead, indicate the error, how you corrected it and what you learned from it. Don't play the blame game. The interviewer is asking for your mistake, not a facility mistake.
"I assumed too soon that an elderly patient understood my post-care instructions. The patient came back to the front desk asking to speak to me about 20 minutes later. I then realized that my directions weren't as clear as they should've been. Even though my mistake didn't cause harm, it did cause unnecessary steps and wait time. The patient was accepting of my apology, and I was able to write out the instructions, so there was no further misunderstanding."
"Recently, I accidentally gave an incomplete report to the patients' physician. I learned a great deal about nursing reports while earning my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing; however, it's a different story and pace when you're actually on the floor. I was quite embarrassed, and luckily my error did not cause harm. I am extra diligent with my reports now!"
"I made a dosing error with a patient on a Heparin Lock. I'm grateful for my second set of eyes, and my colleague caught my miscalculation. I corrected my error before it went to the patient. Because of this close call I've made a point to slow down with all of my patients."
A Clinical Nurse Specialist is an advanced-practice expert who provides patient care and consultation services for a variety of health care areas. These Clinical Nurses may specialize in oncology, pediatrics, geriatrics, psychiatric/mental health, adult health, acute/critical care, and community health programs. In addition to working in speciality areas, Clinical Nurse Specialists engage in teaching, mentoring, consulting and research for their fellow colleges and patients.
Clinical Nurse Specialist candidates are registered nurses who have a master’s or doctoral level degree. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist be prepared to take on a lead role. Candidates will be expected to not only serve as a mentor to other nursing professionals but serve as a consultant to other nurses and multidisciplinary health care team members. Candidates will also demonstrate professional leadership by taking an active role in the formulation and implementation of policies at the community, state and national levels.
When preparing for your interview you'll need to be able to speak to the specialized experience in your resume. Make sure you've done your homework on the facility and how you will fit into the team. Clinical Nurse Specialists are known to hold leadership roles based on their years of experience. Did your team win awards or get recognized for its accomplishments? If you are an experienced supervisor let the interviewer know how you led your team to its success.