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Critical Care Nurse Interview

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.
Question 1 of 29
Do you participate in any outreach or volunteer work?
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How to Answer
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.
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Top 25 Critical Care Nurse Interview Questions with Full Content
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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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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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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