MockQuestions

Nursing Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your Nursing interview, here are 48 interview questions and answer examples.

Nursing was written by and updated on March 17th, 2019. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 48

What did you like the best about your last position as a nurse?

How to Answer

This questions offers you an opportunity to be creatively enthusiastic and showcase some of your values. While you may have liked the free parking, tuition reimbursement, and the every other weekend off, these should not be the top of your list. You want to show who you are as a person combined with your love of nursing.

Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

Next Question

48 Nursing Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. What did you like the best about your last position as a nurse?

      How to Answer

      This questions offers you an opportunity to be creatively enthusiastic and showcase some of your values. While you may have liked the free parking, tuition reimbursement, and the every other weekend off, these should not be the top of your list. You want to show who you are as a person combined with your love of nursing.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

      1st Answer Example

      "I worked the evening shift at a nursing home, and I really liked working with the residents I learned so much about life from listening to their stories. I loved when we have theme night in the common room, and different residents would talk about their culture and their lives. I met some incredible people and heard some incredible stories. I once worked with a woman who came through Ellis Island as a 6 year old girl! Imagine seeing the world through her eyes. It was such a privilege. She would tell me stories while I brushed her hair and helped her prepare for bed."

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

      Community Answer

      "I love how we work as a team, and I learn a new skill every time I go."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Cindy Ramsey

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Cindy Ramsey Reviewed the Above Answer

      Good! Can you elaborate on your role in a team environment, how it helped the patients, and why it was gratifying? You can also discuss details about what you've learned so the interviewer can envision how your skill applies to the organization's needs.

  • 2. Tell me about an experience when you had to use ACLS, BLS, or PALS protocols in your nursing practice.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's knowledge and skill level of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) protocols. Every nurse, at a minimum, should be trained in ACLS and BLS, and depending on their work environment, they should also be trained in PALS. This training includes a set of clinical interventions for the urgent treatment of cardiac arrest, stroke, and other life-threatening emergencies, as well as knowledge and skills to execute those interventions. The candidate's ability to effectively respond to a crisis using appropriate life support interventions directly correlates to patient outcomes. To effectively answer this question, the candidate should articulate their knowledge of life support protocols and describe how they have used them in the past.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "Part of my nursing training was to become certified in both ACLS and BLS, and I am interested in becoming certified in PALS as well; however, I have not yet encountered a patient situation where I have had to utilize these life-saving skills. While I have never had experience utilizing these skills, with the training that I received, I am very confident that I will be able to properly execute the protocols. I take my responsibility as a nurse very seriously, and when it is time for me to provide life support measures, I will be ready to do so with confidence and skill."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "I am very familiar with all the life support protocols that you mentioned and have used all of them in my nursing career, but most recently, while working in pediatrics, I have used PALS most often. I actually had to initiate PALS protocols while working on my unit earlier this week, when a young patient unexpectedly coded. While we waited for our hospitalist physician to arrive on our unit to help us with the response, I led the nursing team in giving the patient CPR and determining which meds were needed to stabilize them until the physician arrived. If I had not taken action and properly followed PALS protocols, the patient would have died, but because of the appropriate action I did take, they are expected to be discharged later this week."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      2nd Answer Example

      "I am a relatively new nurse, as I have only had my license for two years. However, I am certified in BLS, ACLS, and PALS. Fortunately, I haven't had too many experiences in the outpatient clinic where I have had to administer life support to patients, but there was one situation where I had to utilize my PALS skills. A young couple with a newborn with pertussis, or whooping cough, had brought their baby to the clinic instead of the ER, and the baby stopped breathing and turned blue while in the waiting room. Once I was alerted of this, I had the front desk call a code and I immediately responded to the family and began resuscitation efforts on the newborn. By the time the paramedics arrived to take the baby to the hospital, he was breathing on his own again, so our efforts in the clinic likely prevented him from dying in our waiting room."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Experienced

      "I have been ACLS and BLS certified for many years and have had to use my skills in these life support methods many times when patients were in distress. While I have never worked directly with pediatric patients and have never been required to be PALS certified, I am confident that I would be able to effectively execute such protocols when necessary, if I receive proper training. Because I have been a practicing nurse for so many years, I have been required to use my advanced life support skills many times, including recently when a patient I was triaging in the emergency department went into full cardiac arrest. After I pressed the emergency button, which alerted my colleagues of an emergency, I immediately got the patient onto the floor and started CPR until my attending physician could get there. Even after my attending got there to take the lead, I continued to assist, and we were able to revive the patient and get them stabilized."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Community Answer

      "I learned the BLS protocols in nursing during an ICU rotation. A patient of another nurse coded. I ran to help, and I entered as she had started compressions. I did glucose checks, and I administered one round of compressions before the patient stabilized."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Rachelle Enns

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Rachelle Enns Reviewed the Above Answer

      This is a great start! When forming your response to behavioral/situational questions (tell me about...), it's best to provide as much detail as possible. If you'd like to learn more about the STAR framework, a method that can help you accomplish the right amount of detail and balance, we have a guide here: Master Behavioral-Based Interviews Using The Star Method

  • 3. Talk about a time that you had to deal with a significant change in your work procedures or in your workplace. How did you handle that change?

      How to Answer

      The healthcare industry is always in a constant state of change. Organizations merge, laws change and new technology and process are always emerging to better care for a patient. To succeed as a nurse, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can navigate change with ease in the workplace and this is your chance to give a specific change you have dealt with in the workplace with a positive outcome.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "As an inexperienced nurse starting my clinical rotations, every rotation was a significant change. With each rotation, I had to familiarize myself with a new facility, a new staff, a new EMR and new work processes. I feel like these changes from rotation to rotation helped round me out as a new nurse entering the workforce and helped me gain a lot of great knowledge on how to be the best nurse that I can be."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

      1st Answer Example

      "In my last job, my organization went through a buyout to become the current organization that it is. Upon the buyout, just about everything about my job changed. We were working on a new EMR, our pay structure changed, our benefits changed, our leadership structure changed and some of our work processes did too. Knowing about the buyout ahead of time, I was able to prepare myself under the notion that I only can control what I can control. In this instance of a total buyout, my attitude was under my control. As I saw other coworkers complain, cry and even look for new jobs, I took this as an opportunity to embrace change and become a better organization. Learning a new EMR and learning new work processes did end up making me a better nurse in the end and for that, I am grateful for that opportunity."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      2nd Answer Example

      "I have been working as an outpatient clinical nurse for a couple of years now, and six months ago, my company's leadership team began rolling out LEAN initiatives in each department, which significantly changed the way we operate in almost all areas of our practice. At first, when the LEAN project teams were helping us change our procedures, it was very difficult, and I resisted a bit. However, once I started seeing how much the LEAN methodologies were helping us save time and improve our efficiencies, I became more excited and I have even volunteered to lead a few of the implementations. This experience helped me realize that when procedures change, I don't need to resist, and instead, I should help with the rollout to make it easier."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Experienced

      "During my 10 years working as an emergency nurse, my department saw several leadership changes. With each leadership change came a change in philosophy on how the work schedule would be made and worked. In those 10 years, I've worked standard eight, 10 and 12-hour shifts. I've worked straight day shifts, straight evening shifts, straight night shifts and swing shifts from week to week. Each change in work schedule had an effect on my life at home due to childcare and being available for my children's school and recreational events. With planning and communication, I was able to embrace each change in schedule and I learned over time that being flexible to these changes was extremely vital to both my personal and professional well-being."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Community Answer

      "As a student nurse, every clinical rotation presented a significant change. Every semester, I was in a different hospital that had their own set of protocols and their own system of charting. Also throughout the semester, clinical rotations were in different departments and that presented significant changes. I adapted fast and adjusted well to these changes; I gave the very best care to my patients and my care team. Many colleagues commented that they thought I was a real nurse already. I took pride in the compliments from the nurses, patients, and family members I worked with during my clinical rotations."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Rachelle Enns

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Rachelle Enns Reviewed the Above Answer

      Wow - this sounds like a lot of change. The compliments you received would have felt great! When it comes to the adaptations you made, did you have a specific approach or methodology?

  • 4. We are interviewing several candidates for this position. Why should we hire you?

      How to Answer

      Often one of the final questions during the interview, this is your final chance to sell yourself to the interviewer on why you are the best candidate for the job. This is a good question for you to have a prepared, but not rehearsed answer where you can talk about the skills you bring to the table and how they will benefit the organization and the patients. As well, you can discuss your personal traits that you feel put you above the competition for the position.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "Pursuing a nursing career has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. As I made my way through nursing school, my dream of becoming a nurse developed into a passion for helping those patients that are in need of psychiatric help. I know that your psychiatric inpatient unit requires a nurse that is both compassionate and able to handle a large patient load on any given day. You'll find that my past work experience and references will point out that I am a go-getter who can handle a large workload while providing excellent care to my patients."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 5. Do you have any questions about the specific requirements or responsibilities of the job?

      How to Answer

      This will be the question that ends each and every interview and it is very important to come prepared with questions. More often than not, some of your questions will be answered throughout the dialogue of the interview. This is to be expected. While the questions you ask can vary to many degrees, having well thought out questions shows that you have interest in the position and in some of the minute details of the job. It is okay to have questions written down or typed out and to take notes during the interview.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "As a new graduate, the time frame for me to be up and running on my own is important for me to have some sort of expectation on. What does the orientation and training program look like in your department and what is an expected time frame for a new nurse to be working on their own in the unit?"

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 6. Tell me about a time that you had to deal with an unexpected emergency on the job. How did you handle that situation?

      How to Answer

      On this question, the interviewer will be looking to learn how you deal with the unexpected things that arise when on a shift. For your answer, make sure to talk about how you are able to prioritize things in order of importance/need and you are able to pick up the pieces where you left off prior to the emergent situation.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotation in an urgent care setting, a patient that I was seeing with my preceptor collapsed with an apparent cardiac arrest. At that point, instinct kicked in with my basic lifesaver training and I began to administer CPR while my preceptor went to grab the defibrillator. Upon return, the shocked the patient back to stable condition and he was admitted to the hospital that evening. Staying calm and relying on my training was key in that situation to help save a life that day."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 7. Are you able to handle the physical requirement of the job?

      How to Answer

      The nursing profession can be physically demanding. Standing and walking for long stretches, assisting in lifting patients and staying awake for odd hours and long periods of time are some of the physical demands of the job. For the position that you are interviewing for, make sure to research what the physical demands are for the job and point out how you are able to handle those tasks. It can also be beneficial to discuss your self-care methods because being a nurse often requires being in great

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "I know that as I enter a nursing career, I will be asked to do some pretty extreme physical activity. Lifting patients and standing for long hours at a time comes easy to me as I've participate in sports all the way through high school and continued this through college. Being in great shape and eating healthy is a lifestyle choice that I have made and it will definitely help me in my nursing career moving forward."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 8. Tell me about a time when you have recognized that a patient is in a difficult or dangerous situation. How did you respond and what was the outcome?

      How to Answer

      Since nurses interface with patients and ask them questions that often expose their vulnerabilities, they often recognize when patients are in difficult or dangerous situations without directly being told by the patient. Such situations can include but are not limited to domestic violence, sex trafficking, child abuse, Munchausen by Proxy and even social circumstances such as homelessness. When a nurse recognizes these situations, they have a moral, ethical, and sometimes legal obligation to take action. The interviewer is asking this question to determine what types of situations the candidate has recognized in their past career and how they have responded. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should identify a specific situation when they identified and assisted a patient who was in a difficult situation and describe the outcome.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 9. Tell me about your experience supervising or mentoring other nurses.

      How to Answer

      In the profession of nursing, there is much opportunity for nurses to mentor their peers or advance into leadership positions where they will supervise their colleagues. The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's experience in mentorship and/or supervision to determine how these skills could potentially be utilized at your organization. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should provide an example of a time in which they supervised their colleagues or mentored another nursing professional. If the candidate does not experience supervising or mentoring other nurses, a supervision or mentorship experience in another setting would suffice.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 10. How do you approach the documentation of patient records? Do you have specific strategies that you use?

      How to Answer

      Documentation of clinical encounters in patient records is extremely important and much of this responsibility rests on the shoulders of the nursing staff. If clinical encounters, medications, procedures, vital signs, and other information is not documented properly, unintended consequences could occur, some being dire. The interviewer is asking this question to determine how seriously the candidate takes documentation and to determine if they use any methods to improve efficiencies for documentation. To effectively answer this question, the candidate should talk about how they approach documentation, from beginning to end and give examples of any strategies they use to improve efficiency.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 11. Have you ever been disciplined or asked to resign from a nursing position?

      How to Answer

      Although it may seem to be best to avoid answering this question directly, it's always best to provide an explanation why a previous position went awry. Nursing takes pride in being voted the 'most ethical profession' so it's not a great idea to start a career with a new employer being evasive. This is not a time to overexplain or underexplain the reason. A simple explanation will do. It's not the time to cast dispersions or blame onto others as in 'everybody who works there runs away screaming.' Own your version of the truth is the most direct and matter of fact way without denigrating or blaming others. You may not get the job for being transparent, but getting the job under false pretenses isn't right either.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 12. Can you tell us about what attracted you to a nursing position with our facility?

      How to Answer

      This is a question that deserves a prepared answer. You might have stiff competition for this position or not, but it's still worth being prepared to advocate why your resume should rise to the top of the pile. It's no longer enough to say I graduated top of the class from a prestigious university. While that helps, employers are looking for soft skills as well. They are seeking the most well-rounded and competent candidate who will add value to their organization in both tangible and intangible ways. Nurses sometimes don't stay long in fast-paced environments, but the interviewer will be more interested in the candidate that offers the both the promise of longevity and competence.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 13. Talk about a time you had to communicate a complicated medical issue to a patient or their family. How did you go about relaying the message?

      How to Answer

      Years of nursing school and clinical experience give nurses a lot of medical knowledge. But to most patients and family members on a clinical visit or hospital stay, medical terminology is like a foreign language. Because of this, nurses need to have conversations with patients in a manner that the patient and/or family will understand and be able to make informed decisions if needed.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotations as a pediatric nurse, we had a young girl come in with severe pain in her ear and head. After my initial check on her, I noticed she had some severe congestion in her ear and nasal cavities likely causing the pain. Prior to the doctor coming in and noticing she was very nervous, I used the metaphor that her ears and nose were like a cave and bad monsters had gotten into the cave. I explained to her that the doctor needed to look at the monsters to be able to give her the right medicine to get rid of the monsters in the cave and clear the way again. With that said, she was in a giggling mood and sat nicely for the doctor to fully check her out."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 14. Who is your favorite nursing theorist and why?

      How to Answer

      This is no time to say that you like them all! Review the major nursing theorists and choose one that you align most with and be prepared to explain it. Nursing theories define what nursing is, what nurses do, and why they do it. There are many nursing theories which are frameworks of concepts and purposes that guide nursing practice and science.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 15. Can you describe a career nursing role model and why?

      How to Answer

      This is your chance to give props to someone who mentored you along the way either directly or indirectly. It could have been the nurses on the front lines of 911 when you were a child or current nurses on the COVID front. Or a teacher, or your grandmother who served in France in WW1. What was it about them that inspired you in your nursing journey and how did it impact your nursing practice? Think about the answers and be prepared to showcase your mentor or hero.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 16. What professional organizations do you belong to and which ones would you like to join in the future?

      How to Answer

      You may or may not get this question in an interview, but not belonging to any is not the answer that employers are asking for if they do ask it. If you don't belong to any nursing organizations, maybe the first question to ask yourself is why not. If you are desiring a job as a critical care nurse, then join the organization before the interview. It's worth it, and it may tip the balance in your favor. Belonging to organizations brings access to other members and cutting edge information. There are lots of nursing organizations to join depending on your interests and career trajectory.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 17. Do you carry professional liability insurance? Why or why not?

      How to Answer

      Nurses run the risk of litigation every time they go to work. After all, they are working with patient's lives. Some nurses think that they will be covered by the organization's liability policy, but it's good practice to carry your own insurance. There really isn't a good answer as to why a professional nurse would not carry liability insurance. This is an opportunity to illustrate your understanding of the necessity and your commitment to safe nursing practice.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 18. Which nursing publications do you subscribe to and which one is your favorite?

      How to Answer

      Nurses subscribe to nursing journals to keep updated with the latest nursing news and trends. There are online and print journal for just about all fields and specialties for a nominal yearly fee. Often CEU credits are offered free each month. It is very important that any nurse applying to a specialty position report subscribing to the journal of that specialty as it demonstrates interest and investment in improvement. It's not enough to say that you read them all. Describe the benefits of the journal and how they upgrade your nursing practice.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 19. How much supervision do you want or need in your role as a new nurse in a new position?

      How to Answer

      This is a tricky one so think it through and be prepared to give an answer that illustrates that you are 'coachable' without being too dependent or needy, but also that you are confident and competent without being arrogant or a management nightmare. The employer wants the best of both worlds so be prepared to describe your competency, initiative, and willingness to both ask for and receive supervision and direction.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 20. What are your professional nursing goals?

      How to Answer

      Of course your immediate goal is to get this job that you are applying for, but interviewers also want an idea of where you would like to go from here? These types of questions are gold mines of information for the interviewer, and unfortunately it's often not clear what they are mining for. However, answer the question authentically and with some forethought. The interviewer is not going to believe the candidate that says that their goal is to retire from this job unless they are an older candidate established in the community. Interviewers want motivated candidates but they also do not want to be a farm club for other hospitals where new nurses get a years worth of training somewhere to improve their skills so they can seek employment elsewhere. It should be a nice balance of ambition and stability, and your answer should reflect this. The following answer is transparent in the intent to use the tuition reimbursement program and it's associated 3 year commitment. This answer also showcases the desire to continue to move up the career ladder and the willingness to perhaps continue that journey at this organization if the opportunities are available.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 21. What are your goals in reference to furthering your education?

      How to Answer

      Nursing is an ever evolving profession and education is key to keeping up with the changes. Whether it is obtaining a professional certification, taking CEU courses, or obtaining your doctorate in nursing, you should have educational goals. Nursing isn't stagnant and neither should you be with your career. Ask intelligent questions regarding educational opportunities at the organization, or tuition reimbursement. If you have no plans to pursue further education, at least set the stage for that possibility by asking information seeking questions. If you are uncertain, you can state that you want to work as a nurse for a while to clarify further educational goals.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 22. Do you have plans to pursue certification in your chosen field?

      How to Answer

      Registered nurses with an equivalent of 2 full-time years and a minimum of 2000 practicing hours their specialty with 30 hours of CEU's in that specialty can apply and test for certification in their specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification Program showcases expertise and experience in a chosen specialty area.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 23. Do you have nursing management or leadership goals?

      How to Answer

      Even if you do not have any clearly defined management or leadership goals or are trapped in the thought pattern that management equals charge nurse, have a well-thought out answer to this question prepared. All nurses should have clear leadership goals, because at any given moment you may be in charge of a code, a shift, a unit, or a patient's changing condition. Even if you do not aspire to run the hospital, you must know how to lead yourself and run your shift. Interviewers are seeking candidates who can take charge when necessary, and to do this well the individual must know how to lead themselves and others.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 24. How much orientation time do you feel is reasonable?

      How to Answer

      There is not a one size fits all answer to this question because it depends on the new hire's experience. A novel or graduate nurse would require a much lengthier orientation than perhaps someone who is transferring from in-house or has worked a specialty unit recently.
      There should be a standard orientation for all nurses for hospital-wide information and procedures and a unit-specific one. The interviewee should clarify if there is a hospital-wide orientation that all hires attend and a nursing/unit specific one. It shows intelligence and interest by asking them to explain what their current orientation policy is and then asking pointed and relevant questions about the policy. Be honest about what you need. Do not overpromise you can hit the ground running. Do what is right for you, the organization and the patient. Be clear about what you need and be clear about what they offer as you do not want to find yourself on day two with a difficult patient on a short-staffed unit with minimal support.

      Written by Ryan Brown on June 5th, 2019

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  • 25. How do you approach providing patient discharge instructions or patient education?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability and skill level in providing patient education. Providing patient education and/or discharge instructions cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, as patients have varying capacities for comprehending information and discharge instructions. If nurses do not adjust their delivery of patient education and/or discharge instructions so that patients and their family members understand what to do, the consequences could be dire. To effectively answer this question, the candidate should specifically explain how they deliver education and/or discharge instructions to patients. A stronger answer to this question would include a specific example of how the candidate adjusted the delivery of educational information or discharge instructions to ensure the patient understood what was being communicated.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "After each patient is seen at the clinic I work at, discharge instructions are printed automatically from the EHR when the clinician finishes up the visit. After the instructions are printed, I take them to the patient room and allow the patient to look over them for a couple of minutes. A few minutes later, I return to the patient room and ask if they have any questions about the discharge instructions, and if they do, I address the questions with them before they leave."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 26. How do you stay current on the latest health research?

      How to Answer

      The healthcare field is continually changing with new technology and research methods. Due to this, most healthcare organizations require nurses to attend continuing education courses. On top of required education, many nurses choose to stay up to speed in their field by attending training, reading publications or participating in workshops. To successfully answer this question, candidates should talk about one of the most recent training sessions they attended and expand on their particular interests in learning more in the nursing field and how they educate themselves.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "As a new nurse, I have thrived in my learning environment through my nursing program in college. The faculty that I was educated by and the preceptors that I worked with on my clinical rotations were instrumental in helping me get up to speed on the current field of nursing. I know that the nursing field is a continually changing work environment and I look forward to attending training and seminars to learn as much as I can in becoming a successful nurse with your organization."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 27. Tell me about a time when you committed a medical error in your nursing career. How did you handle it?

      How to Answer

      No matter the career or profession, mistakes happen in the workplace. In the medical field and the practice of nursing, mistakes are often medical errors which affect the patient. The repercussions from medical errors can range anywhere from minor to very severe and life-threatening. When a medical error is committed by a health professional, it is important that they immediately report the error and do not attempt to cover it up. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should explain a situation in their career when they committed a medical error and how they took action to resolve and report the situation. A stronger answer to the question would include details of what the candidate learned from the error, and how learning from the situation will prevent them from making the mistake again.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "The most serious medical error that has happened under my watch took place during my first few months as a floor nurse in a geriatric unit at the hospital. At the time, I was working nights, and on this particular night, I was exhausted and I admit that I was not being very friendly to my patients. Before I left one patient's room, I had forgotten to ensure her water cup was within reach of her bed. Later, when the patient woke up and was thirsty, instead of calling for me to assist her, she attempted to get up on her own to retrieve it, and she fell. Unfortunately, the patient sustained an injury upon falling, and since I did not hear her fall or hear her cry for help, she laid on the floor and suffered for an undetermined amount of time. This was a terrible experience for the patient and I felt terrible. After getting assistance for the patient, who had to undergo surgery for the injury she sustained, I was very honest with the incident nurse when she was asking me questions for the incident report, and I took full responsibility for what happened."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 28. How have you responded when your supervisor asked you to work an additional shift to fill vacancies?

      How to Answer

      Any nurse knows that one of the downsides to the career is the need for coverage on most units 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. There may be times when you are asked to alter your schedule or pick up additional shifts to fill for vacancies in the work schedule. Due to being shorthanded, you may also be asked to stay for longer hours on your current shift. Working as a cohesive team is important among fellow nurses in a department and they need to be willing to help each other out when needed. As well, it is important for you to be open and honest about your availability and for you to ensure that the job you are interviewing for fits your schedule.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "As a new nurse entering the workforce, I will be more than willing to pick up extra shifts and work extra hours when needed. I am very eager to work with and learn from as many experienced nurses as I can and this would enable me to do that. Through college, I worked in the student center book store and I picked up any extra shifts that my school schedule allowed me to. There, covering the schedule was a team effort and we had to be in constant communication due to us all being full-time students."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 29. How do you prioritize when multiple patients and procedures demand your attention at once?

      How to Answer

      Working in any patient unit or clinic comes with times where the patient load can be overwhelming. During these times, nurses are often the glue that holds everything together in the department to ensure that things run smoothly. The interviewer is asking this question to determine how the candidate manages such as situation and how they will be able to manage these types of situations at your organization. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should talk about a particular situation when they had to prioritize multiple patients at once, how they handled the situation, and what the outcome was.



      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotation in an Urgent Care clinic, we had a very busy day where many patients were coming in due to a flu virus that was being spread around. In working with my preceptor, I learned from him how to communicate to patients what their wait times would be and how to best triage patients based on their symptoms. His calmness in handling the situation was inspiring. Personally, during my final year of coursework in college, I was taking 18 credits each semester. During these semesters, I had to learn to prioritize my classwork by due dates and order of importance. By utilizing checklists and working through each thing one at a time, I learned invaluable skills that I can bring to my nursing career."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 30. Describe your typical relationship with physicians you work with.

      How to Answer

      As a nurse, you have a working relationship with several physicians. This question will enable you to showcase your relationship with the physicians that you have worked with and what your communication style is. As a nurse, building trust with physicians is important as well so some examples of how you've built that trust can be beneficial.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotations, I had the chance to work with and relate to many different physicians. By getting to work with and learn from so many different physicians, I obtained a much greater understanding for what they are looking for in a great nurse and how I can better work with them to treat our patients. At first, I was intimidated by the fact I'd be working directly with a doctor, but after communicating and working with them, I look forward to building more of these relationships with my first employer as a nurse."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 31. Tell me about your education.

      How to Answer

      Your path to becoming a nurse has included a great deal of education and certification. Your resume will obviously show the school(s) that you attended, what level your degree was and what dates you attended. Now is your chance to expand upon what is on your resume by talking about your experiences through nursing school, your clinical rotations or your master's program that led you to this point in your career and how specific pieces of your education led you to this job you are interviewing for.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "As a new nursing graduate, you can see that I attended Southeast Technical College for my associate's degree in nursing. After passing my state licensure exam, I am very eager to begin my nursing career with the great education that I received from SETC. During my semester of clinical rotations, I gained great knowledge of the nursing profession and obtain many skills while working in urgent care, dialysis, emergency and critical care settings. Down the road, I want to pursue both my bachelor's and master's degrees to pursue a leadership position later on in my career."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 32. Tell me about a time in which you had to handle an irate physician, co-worker, or patient. How did you handle it and what were the results?

      How to Answer

      As a nurse, you deal with patients, family members, and co-workers during very stressful times. These stressful times can lead to emotional outbursts like rage or sadness. In dealing with someone who was angry, it is important to demonstrate your listening skills, problem-solving skills and your ability to remain calm and collected to not escalate the situation.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my time in nursing school, there were several group projects that we had to work on. In one particular group, we had a team member that was continuously missing our agreed upon meetings and wasn't responding to our requests to help with the project. The lady who took the lead for our group became very frustrated when the group was meeting at this particular person. I let the lead know that I would reach out to the person missing the meetings as I had a previous relationship with her in a class before. This put the group leader at ease and after speaking about the concern directly to the person in-person, she attended all of our regular meetings the rest of the way and pitched in to help along the way as well. By calmly addressing this face to face, the person not pitching in was able to hear the concern in my voice and stepped up to help."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 33. Are you specialized in a particular area of nursing, i.e. neo-natal, pediatric, geriatric, or women's health?

      How to Answer

      On this particular question, the interviewer is looking to hear from you where your passions fall in the nursing field. They can tell where your experience comes from in your resume and now it is time to showcase your passion for the job that you are interviewing for.

      If you are interviewing for a specialty area within nursing that you have worked in the past, talk about your interests in that area and why the job is important to you. If you are interviewing for a new specialty area of care, look to point out similarities of your past duties and experiences and how they will translate to this potential new job. New graduates to the nursing field should talk about their clinical experiences and why they see this job as the best fit for their career.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "As a new graduate not being specialized at this time, I want to gain as much nursing knowledge as I can in my first job out of school. During my clinical rotations, my opportunity working on a Med/Surg unit was great as I worked with patients from a very diverse background with a variety of illnesses and injuries. This rotation is what brings me here today for your open Med/Surg nursing position. I'm really looking forward to broadening my nursing skills on a unit like this and working with patients from all walks of life."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 34. Describe a recent issue you had with a doctor or co-worker's decision. How did you handle it?

      How to Answer

      In the fast-paced nursing world, you won't always agree with the decisions that are made by your co-workers or physicians that you work with on a daily basis. When a disagreement happens, you have to make a decision whether it is something to bite your tongue about or if you need to step up and intervene due to a patient safety issue. Showing your interviewer that you trusted your final decision and the outcome of the situation was acceptable is important for this particular question.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotations, I was training in a PACU and there was a particular patient that I noticed wasn't coming out of anesthesia very well. After the standard waiting time for their surgery, the patient was still very drowsy and incoherent but the operating physician gave them the clearance to be released to their family members and leave the hospital. I was against the decision, as the patient still couldn't walk very well or talk very well but I wasn't in a position to question the physician's decision. The unit was busy that day and in stressing my concern with my preceptor, she followed up with me weeks later when she had seen the patient was in great shape to come in for a follow-up procedure."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 35. How do you make seamless transitions on shift changes?

      How to Answer

      In almost any nursing setting, handing off a unit at shift change time in a smooth fashion is extremely important. The interviewer is looking to see how you handle the hand offs to and from your colleagues during the shift changes. Here, it is important for you to showcase your communication and listening skills and how you take information and put it to work. Walking step by step through your previous employers' handoffs can be beneficial as well because it will reassure the interviewer that you are familiar with step by step processes in these situations.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my clinical rotation on a Med/Surg unit, I had the chance to sit in the shift change huddles that occurred each day at the end of my shift. Witnessing how important the communication was between the nurses coming on and off shift was very vital in my learning how to be a great nurse. They took the time to talk about any patient issues and problem solved on any issues that required problem-solving. These are great learning experiences I will be able to bring to this job."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 36. Tell me about a time when you had to assist with an administrative project or task. What did the project/task entail and which software programs did you while completing the tasks?

      How to Answer

      While the focus of most of a nursing career is on patient care, administrative duties are often a part of the job, especially if a nurse chooses to transition into management positions. There are many nurses who are great in working with patients on a daily basis but struggle with the administrative duties that their employer requires and this can lead to on-the-job performance issues. The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability to successfully complete administrative duties and tasks and to determine which software programs they may be proficient in. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should describe, in detail, an administrative task or project that they have worked on in the past, including details on how they used software programs to organize their work. A stronger answer to this question would include an example of when the candidate led or spearheaded an administrative project.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "When I first started working in my current position in pediatric primary care, we would send young patients to the lab for their blood lead tests; however, management found that the parents were not following up and taking the patients to the lab for the tests. Since this test is important, we started doing the tests in the clinic. Along with conducting the actual tests, I was responsible for tracking how many tests were conducted at our clinical location each week and reporting the count back to our department administrator. Each day, as I closed the clinic, I would count the number of testing slips that were ready to be shipped to the lab and document them on a manual tracker; then at the end of the week, I would email the daily counts to my administrator in a table format so she could get an overall visual of our daily progress."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 37. What motivates you to provide top-of-the-line nursing care?

      How to Answer

      Most people who go into the nursing profession are naturally attracted to helping people who are most in need of help. They thrive on helping patients through very tough times by providing both medical care and emotional support. No matter how many years of experience a nurse has, they must stay motivated in order to provide top-of-the-line nursing care. Nursing, while often a very rewarding career, can be exhausting and emotionally draining, so it is important for nurses to be able to stay motivated in their current work environments. The interviewer is asking this question to determine what motivates the candidate and to determine if their environment would be a good fit for the candidate. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should provide details as to what motivates them to become a better nurse. A more successful answer would include a specific example of a situation that motivated a candidate to continue or better their nursing practice.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During high school, I knew that nursing was my true calling in life when my grandmother was ill in the hospital and I watched the great care she received while there. During my clinical rotations through nursing school, I had the awesome opportunity to work in several specialty areas and in each one, I found myself in a great place internally just being able to help patients. The opportunity on the Med/Surg unit at your organization has me very excited to be able to help patients and family members when they are at their most vulnerable, and the fact that I will be able to help patients and their families is what will drive me to become a better nurse and provide the best care possible."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 38. What precautions do you take with a patient in poor health?

      How to Answer

      This question gives you the opportunity to point out how you customize your approach to each patient on an individual basis. Nurses see patients with levels of sickness and poor health that span a wide degree of severity. It is important to talk about how you communicate with your patients and using specific examples from your past can be beneficial here as well.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my schooling as a nurse, we were required to take a communications class. Here, I learned excellent question and answer techniques to get to know a patients health history better. As I enter the workforce as a new nurse, I know that I will be able to put these skills to use with each and every new patient that I encounter to help me give them the best care possible."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 39. Tell me about the greatest challenge you have faced in your nursing career? How did you overcome it?

      How to Answer

      Nursing is a very challenging career, and there are many instances where nurses are faced with changing situations and/or working environments. The interviewer is asking this question to determine what types of challenging situations the candidate has faced in their careers and what actions they have taken to overcome the challenges. The types of challenges that can be used in the candidate's answers include but are not limited to: task management, complex patients, technical or systems issues, coworker conflicts, and/or conflicts with patients and family members. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing an example of a time in their career where they faced a challenging situation and providing a detailed explanation of the steps they took to overcome the situation.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 40. Tell me about a time when you cared for a patient whose values or beliefs were different from your own. How did you handle the situation?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability to set aside their biases and provide care for patients whose values and beliefs are different from their own. By being employed in the healthcare field, nurses will encounter patients from all walks of life and from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds as well as genders, religions, and other belief systems. In order to provide the best care to all their patients, nurses should always be aware of any conscious or unconscious biases they may have and set them aside while providing care. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should give a specific example of a time when they recognized a patient had values and beliefs different from their own and how they dealt with it.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "Spending most of my career working in a rural medical office, in a town that is very homogenous, I have not encountered many patients who are much different from myself. However, a patient came in not too long ago with his partner and because the alternative lifestyle that the couple lead is not very common in our community, and several of the nurses refused to assist with the patient. But, since I am not uncomfortable with this type of lifestyle, I stepped up and helped the patient and provided him with the same quality of care that I provide all my patients."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 41. Tell me about your experience and abilities in collecting lab samples, such as blood, tissue, and and other specimens. Elaborate on the entire end-to-end process of collection.

      How to Answer

      In many clinical situations, nurses are responsible for collecting lab samples to send away for testing, such as blood, tissue, and other types of specimesns. The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability and experience in collecting various types of lab samples and their knowledge of documenting samples. In order to effectively answer this question, the candidate should talk about their experience in collecting lab samples and documenting such collections. A stronger answer to this question would include an example of when the candidate streamlined a process for collection or documentation.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "I do not have much experience with phlebotomy, so my current experience with collecting lab samples is limited to collecting tissue samples and other types of samples such as fecal and urine samples. However, each time I take a sample that is going to the lab for additional testing, I ensure that it is appropriately documented in our laboratory log, to ensure we can audit and ensure that the patient got their results. I hope to take additional training soon so I can become more comfortable with blood draws and I can begin collecting blood samples on site as well, so the patient does not have to make an extra stop at the lab to have these tests completed."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 42. What was your least favorite patient? What was the situation.

      How to Answer

      Any experienced nurse has had to deal with a patient that was unruly, untruthful or just downright mean. For this question, be sure to provide a specific time where you had to handle a patient like this, how you handled the situation and what the final outcome was. The interviewer is looking for you to stay calm, cool and collected despite wanting to fight back.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "While not experiencing this type of patient directly during my clinical experiences during nursing school, I did encounter a few angry customers during my time working as a waiter through college. One particular customer became upset that I had brought him a different soda than he ordered. Where most customers would have simply asked nicely, he loudly proclaimed to the entire establishment that I was a poor waiter that couldn't get an order right. Knowing that his anger obviously stemmed from much more than a wrong soda, I simply apologized and returned with the correct order for him. My boss said I handled the situation properly and made sure that I put his meal on the house's tab for the day."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 43. Tell me about your IV skills. Are you able to start an IV?

      How to Answer

      One of the skills many nurses will be expected to have is starting intravenous lines (IVs). IVs can be used for many purposes including administering fluids, blood transfusions, and medications. Proper delivery of IV therapy is extremely important because if the therapy is delivered incorrectly, the patient's life could be put in danger. In order for IV therapy to be properly administered, the IV must be inserted into the vein properly, which requires a specific skill-set and the ability to follow protocols. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should elaborate on their ability and experience in starting and managing IVs. A more successful answer would include an example of when the candidate successfully handled a difficult circumstance while starting and/or managing and IV.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "While I was in nursing school, I was trained on administering IVs and in my clinical rotations, I had the opportunity to get hands-on experience, especially during my rotations in the emergency department and urgent care. While in these rotations, I started more than fifteen IVs, and I became very comfortable in doing so. However, since I finished nursing school and started working in the outpatient adult medicine clinic, I have not had the opportunity to practice this skill and I have not started any VIs in over two years. But, I feel very comfortable with my IV skills, and I think I will be able to quickly get back into good practice in only a few weeks."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 44. Why are you leaving your current position?

      How to Answer

      This question is a time for you to be up front and honest with the person that is interviewing you, but to a point. Under no circumstance should you talk negatively about your current employer as that is a major red flag for interviewers. If you are truly leaving your former position because the organization has done bad things, make sure to find reasons that the organization you are interviewing with is better for your long term well being and career. Don't make money or benefits the sole focus of this interview question either as that will be a red flag that you may jump ship later on for more money. Focus on how the new position would better you as a nurse and a person.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "I have been working in my current position for two years, and while I appreciate all the opportunities I have had to learn and become a better nurse in the position as an outpatient nurse in an adult medicine clinic, I feel like it is time to move on. My current position was my first job out of nursing school, and while it has helped me strengthen my clinical and interpersonal skills, I feel like I am ready for a position in the inpatient environment where I will be more challenged. I want a position where I can grow clinically and not one where I feel my clinical skills are waning, and I feel that this position at your organization can offer me that."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 45. How many patients is a full workload for you?

      How to Answer

      This is a question where you can open up and be honest with your past experiences and what you feel comfortable working with. Each facility/unit/department has different patients with different acuity levels, so the exact number of patients can vary from department to department. This is a good time to emphasize how you keep yourself organized in your work and let the interviewer know that you can take on any workload that comes your way.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "Going into my first job, I have put a lot of thought into this question without having direct experience. Through my clinical rotations during nursing school, I never had a unit with patients to myself as I was always working with a preceptor. In a Family Practice clinic, seeing around three patients per hour, or between 20-25 per day, seemed very manageable in the way I watched her manage the day. For myself, handling a large patient load for a day will come down to my organizational skills and ability to prioritize needs in a timely manner."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 46. Tell me about a time you had to communicate bad news to a patient. How did you effectively communicate that news and what was the outcome?

      How to Answer

      As a nurse, the need to communicate effectively to a patient is vital and this is no more evident than when delivering bad news. The interviewer will be looking to see how you handled yourself in a particular instance by showing empathy and composure where most individuals wouldn't be able to. Think of a time when you had to do this and talk about an instance that had a great outcome.

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

      Entry Level

      "During my time in clinical rotations on a Med/Surg unit, I had been working with a patient throughout the day that was planning to be released back home by 4:00 pm that afternoon. As my day shift was ending, the physician notified us that due to the fact the patient's blood pressure hadn't dropped to an acceptable level, he would have to stay another night for observation. When I was in the room with my preceptor, she gave the news to the patient calmly and explained the reason why it was necessary. While certainly excited to be sent home, he fully understood the reasoning why and took the news well due to her simple delivery of the message."

      Written by Kelly Burlison on March 30th, 2021

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  • 47. Tell me about the most stressful situation you've had to deal with in the workplace.

      How to Answer

      Nurses can find themselves in very stressful working conditions from time to time due to a variety of reasons. Here, the interviewer is looking to see how you personally manage those stressful situations. Think of a specific time you had to manage a stressful situation, how you handled it, what tools or resources you used and what the outcome was of the situation.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "Working my way through nursing school, I worked a near full-time job and was attending classes. To try and finish a semester early, I packed 19 credits in my final two semesters and this was a stressful time for me. While not having a lot of time for family and friends, I made sure to take care of myself by eating healthy when tempted not to and still get a good amount of sleep each night. By taking care of myself, my daily stress was lessened and much more manageable when it could've been easy to live off of fast food and caffeine with many sleepless nights."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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  • 48. What is your work availability? Are you able to work nights? Weekends?

      How to Answer

      Heading into the interview, you should have a pretty good availability of the work expectations of the position through the job posting that you read or the advertisement you saw. In truthfulness to yourself and potential future employer, you should be as honest as possible in what your availability is in regards to evening, night, weekend and holiday shifts.

      Written by Elisabeth Walter

      Entry Level

      "As a new nurse entering the workforce, I am ready to work any shifts on any days that I can. I want to let you know that I do have my son every other weekend and would like the chance to not be on the schedule on those particular weekends or be given the opportunity to trade shifts if I were scheduled on those weekends."

      Written by Ryan Brunner

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