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Clinical Nurse Specialist Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 30th, 2018 | 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 25
How many days were you absent from work last year?
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How to Answer
A part of being a diligent health care practitioner is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance.
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Answer Examples
1.
How many days were you absent from work last year?
A part of being a diligent health care practitioner is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I had zero unexcused absences last year. In total, I took 12 vacation days out of my 15 allotted days. I was sick just 2, and a note from my physician accompanied those. Once I was late due to a terrible snow storm, and I always try to be 10 minutes early for my shift."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I cannot recall the exact number, but I think it was around three days total. All absences were excused and with notice."
2.
Who would you say inspires you?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
3.
How do you like to be recognized for your nursing accomplishments?
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?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
4.
What are some highlights of your internship?
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!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
5.
What type of medical equipment are you best versed in?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
6.
In which states are you registered to work as a clinical nurse specialist?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am currently awaiting final approval of licensure through the State of Texas. I will have proof of this registration within the week."
7.
We look favorably on volunteer work. How do you give back to your community?
Did you know that 82% of hiring managers give preference to candidates with volunteer experience? Show that you can spend time giving back the community, in any way, big or small! Be sure to give examples that are more recent. A hiring manager will not care that you volunteered for your sons t-ball club fifteen years ago.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe that it's my responsibility to give back to the community by offering free nursing services to programs in need such as the local drop-in center and the women's center. I have volunteered twice per month for the last two years. It's gratifying to contribute to the health of others."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I recently completed my nursing internship at the local women's health care center. They asked me if I would volunteer one Saturday per month after I am fully certified, and I happily agreed."
8.
Are you applying for any other jobs?
It always puts a little bit of fire under the hiring manager if they are aware that you are actively looking for a new position. Tell the interviewer about your search so far.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am keeping an eye out for viable positions. Although I am not in final stages with any other hospital, I am actively seeking a new position."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a recent graduate and am interested in making a move as soon as possible; however, I need to ensure that my next career move is one that aligns well with my career goals and desire for a healthy workplace culture."
9.
A nurse must have high integrity. When have you shown great integrity at work?
Integrity is best displayed through honesty and consistent moral values. Talk to the interviewer about the way(s) that you show your integrity in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have never had a complaint or a discrepancy, in the four years that I have worked as a nurse. I best show my integrity by being a consistently reliable healthcare professional."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Honesty and integrity are two values at the center of my being. I like to think I practice this in the workplace by always doing the right thing by the hospital for which I work, my colleagues, and my patients."
10.
How do you deal with uncomfortable situations?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
11.
How do you get along with your fellow nurses and physicians?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I can work with pretty much anyone. If we don't see eye to eye, I will work to find common ground."
12.
Have you progressed in your nursing career as you have expected?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am pleased with the progress of my nursing career. I am proud of my accomplishments and the path my education has taken me."
13.
When a patient suffers a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
14.
Have you obtained prescriptive authority?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
15.
Describe a recent issue you had with a doctor or co-worker's decision. How did you handle it?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
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25 Clinical Nurse Specialist Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  2. Who would you say inspires you?
  3. How do you like to be recognized for your nursing accomplishments?
  4. What are some highlights of your internship?
  5. What type of medical equipment are you best versed in?
  6. In which states are you registered to work as a clinical nurse specialist?
  7. We look favorably on volunteer work. How do you give back to your community?
  8. Are you applying for any other jobs?
  9. A nurse must have high integrity. When have you shown great integrity at work?
  10. How do you deal with uncomfortable situations?
  11. How do you get along with your fellow nurses and physicians?
  12. Have you progressed in your nursing career as you have expected?
  13. When a patient suffers a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
  14. Have you obtained prescriptive authority?
  15. Describe a recent issue you had with a doctor or co-worker's decision. How did you handle it?
  16. Would people say that you are compassionate?
  17. Which automated medical records software are you trained in? Rate your technical abilities from 1-10.
  18. We are looking for a CNS with exceptional leadership skills. Tell me about your leadership qualities.
  19. Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator?
  20. Do you have a Master's Degree or a Post-Master's Certificate? If so, what is your area of specialty?
  21. Have you had the opportunity to teach an important skill to a co-worker?
  22. What do you know about our hospital?
  23. As a CNS you will be on your feet most of the day, and often lifting patients. Are you able to meet the physical demands of this role?
  24. What are your salary expectations?
  25. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake with a patient. What happened and how did you correct it?
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