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Critical Care Nurse Interview
Questions

29 Questions and Answers by Heather Douglass

Updated November 21st, 2018 | Heather has over 20 years experience recruiting and hiring candidates,
specifically in the health care industry.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 29
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?
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How to Answer
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.
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Answer Examples
1.
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.

Heather'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."
Darby'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
"No, I do not anticipate any significant changes. My family lives here, and I plan on staying in the area while I work on my BSN."
Rachelle's Answer
Straightforward and genuine. Good answer!
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2.
What makes you feel you will be a good fit for our organization?
Rather than just sharing how you have gone above and beyond expectations in the past, focus on how your qualities will help you meet and exceed expectations with their organization. Discuss the reasons why will you be great at this job. Talk about your qualifications and skills that will help you to do this job well. If you can, match your strengths to the requirements outlined in the job description.

Heather's Answer #1
"I know I will be successful in this role because I have been working in this industry for five years with great training and mentorship. I have a solid understanding of X, Y, and Z (skills listed in the job description). Also, I have all of my updated certifications as outlined in your job description. I am well-prepared for this next step in my career."
Darby's Answer #2
"I feel I have the education and skills necessary to become an asset to your organization and I believe, given the opportunity, I can prove that."
3.
Salary is often commensurate with experience. How do you feel about someone with more experience than you having a higher salary but doing the same job?
Most employers do offer higher salary incentives to get more seasoned employees. This is not meant to devalue a person's knowledge or experience, but rather paying for more experience. It is important to note that the interviewer is not saying you will definitely make less than someone with more experience. Many times this question is to see how you respond and how badly you want a position. If an employee is willing to put in the work and earn the pay increase, employers often see them as someone worth investing in. This is a good time to ask what the beginning salary is and discuss options that are negotiable such as benefits and paid time off.

Heather's Answer #1
"I realize that salaries are often determined by the amount of experience an applicant has. I appreciate the fact that employers recognize experience as a factor in determining pay and am willing to show that I am worthy."
Darby's Answer #2
"I don't have a problem with someone who has more experience than me making a higher salary. I respect the experience that others have and know that I will have to prove myself."
4.
Do you participate in any outreach or volunteer work?
Although being a community volunteer is not a requirement for employment, willingness to give of your time and resources to others without compensation shows the interviewer that you have a sincere desire to serve others. If you have volunteered, share a positive experience you had as a volunteer. If you have not volunteered, it is not necessary to embellish your answer. Stating that you have not volunteered previously is not going to disqualify you from employment.

Heather's Answer #1
"I love to volunteer! A group of ladies from my church volunteer at a soup kitchen close to my home once a month. There is nothing like the feeling of giving to someone that you know cannot give back to you! Are there opportunities for employees to volunteer through the hospital?"
Darby's Answer #2
"I have volunteered at MedCamps for kids a few summers. I do think community involvement is important."
Anonymous Answer
"Yes, I love to give back to the community. I volunteer through my school community and my temple. Collecting money to support childhood cancer and within soup kitchens. There is no greater pleasure than give to individuals that you know appreciate your efforts, and you don't expect anything in return."
Rachelle's Answer
Wonderful answer! Hiring authorities are much more likely to choose candidates who have a background of volunteer work so, all of this involvement should give you an excellent edge.
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5.
In your opinion, what personality type is best suited toward this specialty?
Each person you meet has his own personality. Certain jobs require specific characteristics of those who are performing the job. The interviewer really wants to know what you would consider a valuable characteristic or trait of someone who is providing care to critically ill patients.

Heather's Answer #1
"Critical care seems to be a world of its own sometimes. We take care of some of the most fragile patients. I believe that someone who works in this specialty needs to be very compassionate and know how to exercise patience."
Darby's Answer #2
"I believe nurses, as a whole, should have a caring and compassionate personality. We see people at their worst. They are sick and often afraid. It is up to us to be patient and kind as we are working and caring for others."
6.
Why do you think you are a good critical care nurse?
This is a chance for you to 'sell yourself' to the interviewer. Share what you think sets you apart from other critical care nurses who may be applying. Remember, be positive. Make sure to mention some of your personal qualities, such as compassion, rather than only your hard skills.

Heather's Answer #1
"I am a very committed and dedicated to my job and helping those I am responsible for giving care to. I feel I will bring a great sense of passion for critical care to this job and look forward to being a part of such a great team of critical care nurses."
Darby's Answer #2
"I am passionate about being a good nurse and doing all I can to make a difference in the lives of my patients. I am a hard worker and believe in teamwork. I believe I could be an asset to the team of critical care nurses you have here."
Anonymous Answer
"I am passionate about nursing and want to make a difference in the life of the patient. I am a hard worker and eager to learn. I believe I will make a great asset to the team."
Rachelle's Answer
It seems you are ready to take your new career by storm, learning everything that you can, while making a very positive impact on others.
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7.
Do you feel comfortable working with clinical nursing students in the critical care setting?
While not every nurse is required to mentor students, most healthcare facilities have nursing and other healthcare students who rotate through different departments to achieve their required training hours. If you are comfortable mentoring or would like an opportunity, this is a good time to share that with the interviewer.

Heather's Answer #1
"I would love to mentor students! At my previous employment, clinical students were assigned only to those nurses in supervisory positions. I understand the reason for scheduling students with supervisors but always hoped to have an opportunity to precept students."
Darby's Answer #2
"I am new to critical care, and although I have every confidence in my skills, I think I would prefer to have a little more personal experience as a critical care nurse before I mentor students in that area."
8.
What are your primary interests outside of work?
No matter what profession a person chooses, everyone needs some time to unwind and relax. Psychologists today say that a healthy balance in life allows a person to recharge and refocus which can result in better productivity at work. The interviewer simply wants to know what you do for you. Maybe you have a favorite pastime or hobby. This is yet another way for the interviewer to get to know you as a person.

Heather's Answer #1
"One of my favorite pastimes is writing. After a busy day at work, I like to journal or write articles for a blog that I author. Both of these forms of writing allow me to release any feelings of frustration I may experience, especially after a stressful day or a difficult situation at work. The writings in my journal are private and my way of 'letting it all out.' The blog articles, on the other hand, are my way of using creative writing to share stories with my followers."
Darby's Answer #2
"I really enjoy working out at the gym and, I also take a kickboxing class twice weekly. After a good workout or class, I always feel like I can rest better and wake up energized and ready for the next day."
9.
Nurses at our facility often work on rotation. Are you willing to work, nights, weekends, holidays, or overtime if needed?
Being flexible with the schedule you are willing to work is always a plus. However, many people work more than one job or have a one parent home which requires them to have a flexible schedule. Others simply prefer to work one shift rather than another. Being upfront with the interviewer about what schedule suits your preference could help prevent conflict later on. It is easier to plan a schedule you can agree on than it is to fix problems that arise due to fear of being rejected. Be honest and direct.

Heather's Answer #1
"I am not married and have no children at this time. So, I am pretty flexible with my schedule. If I had a choice, I would prefer the late shift, as I am a bit of a night owl. However, I am excited about the opportunity to become a part of this team and am willing to work where I'm needed."
Darby's Answer #2
"While I am not unopposed to working overtime or extended schedules such as holidays, I would like to have the opportunity to spend time with small children, as well."
10.
Has there ever been a time when you received negative feedback, and how did you handle it?
Receiving negative feedback can be discouraging, but it doesn't have to be something that leaves you feeling incapable of doing your job. The important thing to remember when answering this question is don't talk negatively about the person who gave you the feedback. Rather state what was said and how you grew from the event.

Heather's Answer #1
"I remember when I first began my nursing career, I thought I had to do everything for everyone. I ended up taking on too many tasks and falling behind with my assignments. One of my supervisors told me that a patient had complained because I seemed too rushed and asked for a new nurse to be assigned to her. I was so embarrassed because I didn't want anyone to feel like I couldn't do my job. I apologized to the supervisor and to my patient and explained that I had taken on some extra assignments, but that I didn't mean to make her feel neglected. When I apologized, the patient agreed to let me continue caring for her. I learned from that experience that it's ok to want to give more, but that I should not stretch myself too thin and risk
compromising patient care."
Darby's Answer #2
"I once received negative feedback when I was working the ER. One of my patient's mother was very upset that her child was not being treated as quickly as she thought and she complained to my supervisor that I was not doing my job. After talking with the supervisor, I asked if I could spend some extra time with the patient and his mother so that she could experience the good care that we give. Fear and uncertainty is often a reason that people lash out. Sometimes a gentle word is all that one needs to help relieve a stressful situation."
11.
Working in the ICU can be very stressful. What are some ways you manage stress on the job?
Providing care for critically ill patients is inherently stressful. Each shift presents what could be a life or death situation. A hiring official needs to know that you can handle stress. Moreover, how you handle it, speaks volume. In a critical care nursing interview, be prepared to provide examples of how stress impacts you.

Heather's Answer #1
"As a critical care nurse, I realize my care is crucial in patient outcomes. This is stressful, but I always try to compartmentalize my stress and channel it, in a healthy way. I have a strong support network and yoga is my 'go to' stress reliever, after a shift."
Darby's Answer #2
"I have always taken time to examine how I feel after a shift and deal with my emotions in a healthy way. I like to write, so I use that as an outlet for any feelings that need to be resolved."
12.
Have you ever considered relocation? If so, what area would you be willing to travel to?
While relocation may not be a determining factor for employment, larger companies almost always ask this question. The important thing to remember is, if you are 100% confident that you are willing to relocate, answer yes. However, if there is any hesitation, there are ways to answer this question without an emphatic NO.

Heather's Answer #1
"I have never really thought about relocating. However, I think it would be something I would consider within reason."
Darby's Answer #2
"I love to travel, so I am definitely open to the idea of traveling for work. My goal is to find a position within a company where I can grow. So, if I am offered a position with your company, I would be happy to discuss what area I would be most valuable to the company."
13.
Have you ever been in a situation in which a co-worker put a patient in jeopardy? If so, how did you handle it?
If you have ever been faced with a situation that resulted in you having to make a judgment call that may have affected the job of a friend or co-worker, you know how disheartening it can be. However, nurses are bound by law to protect patients and other co-workers by reporting anything in appropriate or dangerous. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of identifying and reporting a situation if needed.

Heather's Answer #1
"I actually have experienced a time that I had to report a co-worker to my supervisor. One of my peers had a diabetic patient who had insulin order per sliding scale. The nurse gave insulin to the patient without checking his blood sugar level first. She told me and asked me not to tell anyone. However, I knew that patient safety the responsibility of everyone. So, I did notify the supervisor."
Darby's Answer #2
"I have never been in a situation that required me to report a co-worker. Honestly, I hope I never experience a situation like that."
14.
Why do you think critical care nurses often report experiencing 'burn out' and what do you do to help try to prevent that?
Being a healthcare provider is a great responsibility. Unfortunately, because of the great responsibility, many providers do report experiencing the need to take a break. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of handling stress and that you know when to ask for help.

Heather's Answer #1
"I understand how some healthcare providers can experience burn out. It has nothing to do with wanting to change professions or leave a job. Sometimes it's just hard to lose patients or to feel like we can't save them all. I try to schedule myself some personal time, whether its a few days away when I am off work or going hiking. Anything to help create some balance in my life."
Darby's Answer #2
"I had a great mentor when I was in nursing school. She told me if I didn't remember anything else she told me, that I should always remember to take care of myself. I have grown to understand what she meant. If we are bogged down physically and emotionally, it is easy to become overwhelmed and experience feeling burned out."
15.
What is a risk that is associated with a patient being in critical care and being bed bound?
There are many risk factors associated with people who are ill. Being bed bound creates additional risks. A critical care nurse understands what risk factors patients in requiring critical care have. Share an example with the interviewer.

Heather's Answer #1
"Bedbound patients are at higher risk of developing decubitus ulcers, or pressure sores. This is because when a patient is in critical care and unable to move around, pressure is placed on the bony prominences of the body, such as the heels, buttocks, and shoulder blades. The pressure hinders blood flow and the result is damage to the tissue."
Darby's Answer #2
"One of the risks that are associated with critical care patients is the development of pneumonia. Being unable to move around and often having difficulty with respiration causes fluid to pool in the lungs and the development of pneumonia."
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29 Critical Care Nurse 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. 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?
  2. What makes you feel you will be a good fit for our organization?
  3. Salary is often commensurate with experience. How do you feel about someone with more experience than you having a higher salary but doing the same job?
  4. Do you participate in any outreach or volunteer work?
  5. In your opinion, what personality type is best suited toward this specialty?
  6. Why do you think you are a good critical care nurse?
  7. Do you feel comfortable working with clinical nursing students in the critical care setting?
  8. What are your primary interests outside of work?
  9. Nurses at our facility often work on rotation. Are you willing to work, nights, weekends, holidays, or overtime if needed?
  10. Has there ever been a time when you received negative feedback, and how did you handle it?
  11. Working in the ICU can be very stressful. What are some ways you manage stress on the job?
  12. Have you ever considered relocation? If so, what area would you be willing to travel to?
  13. Have you ever been in a situation in which a co-worker put a patient in jeopardy? If so, how did you handle it?
  14. Why do you think critical care nurses often report experiencing 'burn out' and what do you do to help try to prevent that?
  15. What is a risk that is associated with a patient being in critical care and being bed bound?
  16. In addition to providing care to seriously ill patients, critical care nurses must attend to stressed out family members. How do you approach offering support to family members?
  17. What would you say is your greatest strength as a critical care nurse?
  18. What about your job as a critical care nurse gives you the most satisfaction?
  19. What advice would you give to a nurse looking to enter your field of nursing?
  20. 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?
  21. Have you ever considered choosing a different career?
  22. Tell me about a time you were trusted with confidential information regarding a patient's care.
  23. If you were the person responsible for hiring new employees, what qualities would you look for in a candidate, and do you think you possess those qualities?
  24. Do you have experience working with peers from diverse backgrounds?
  25. What is your greatest fear about being a critical care nurse?
  26. What would you describe as your biggest weakness?
  27. Do you feel like you have strong relationship building skills?
  28. What are some aspects of your specialty that make it unique compared to other specialties?
  29. Do you feel you have good problem solving skills?
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