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Nursing Interview
Questions

34 Questions and Answers by Heather Douglass

Updated June 5th, 2019 | Heather has over 20 years experience recruiting and hiring candidates,
specifically in the health care industry.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 34
Tell me about the greatest challenge you have faced in your nursing career? How did you overcome it?
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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.
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1.
Tell me about the greatest challenge you have faced in your nursing career? How did you overcome it?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"When I was new in my nursing career, it took me a significant amount of time to complete patient assessments. It seemed like no matter what, it would take forever for me to fill out the patient information on the assessments. Being a perfectionist, I would spend too much time on the details and would end up getting behind on all my other daily tasks because of the amount of time I was spending on the assessments. In order to overcome this, I had to take a step back, and while I still recognized that these details were important, I moved more quickly through the entire routine of collecting the information, so I could balance my daily tasks and better care for may patients."
Kelly's Answer #2
"I have faced many challenges throughout my nursing career, as this is not an easy job and should not be taken lightly; but I think the biggest challenge I have faced is when I was transferred from the adult medicine unit to the pediatrics unit at the clinic I was working at a few years ago. While I welcomed this transfer, I was not prepared for how difficult the transition would be. With the transition, my responsibilities had significantly increased, and I was suddenly accountable for administering and understanding the pediatric vaccines. Because the pediatric vaccine schedule is so complex and time-sensitive, it was very overwhelming for me at first. I handled this situation by attending supplemental training courses and workshops to quickly familiarize myself with the different vaccines and the pediatric vaccine schedule, so I could quickly assimilate into my new role."
2.
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?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"As a pediatric nurse early in my career, my physician received lab results from a young patient found to have a brain tumor. When the patient and family were called in for their consult, the physician and I were both in the room when the news was delivered. In that situation, it is hard not to break down with the family in tears but I knew that they were looking at me to be the person with strength and have answers to their questions. The physician and I were able to walk them through their next steps and options moving forward with their child's diagnosis and they truly appreciated that."
Kelly's Answer #2
"A few weeks ago, a patient came into our family practice clinic for a suspected eye infection, and unfortunately, upon examining her eye, the physician I work with found that it was not an infection but rather, it was inflammation of the eye, which could have been caused by an autoimmune disease. The patient was very upset by this, but the doctor told her not to worry until initial blood panels came back and we knew if the patient needed to see a rheumatologist for further testing. However, when the test results came back, it showed that the patient likely had Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she needed further testing by a rheumatologist to confirm. I had to call the patient to break this news to her, and she became very upset when I did so. Since the patient was scared and upset, I stayed on the phone with her, comforted her, and answered any questions that I could, and before the end of the phone call, she was calm and collected and told me she felt much better."
3.
How many patients is a full workload for you?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"During my career as a nurse, I have found out that the number of patients that I'm comfortable handling is relative to the unit that I'm working on. In a highly acute ICU, I've worked with as a high as 8 patients on a shift and felt this was overwhelming. On a Med/Surg unit, 8 patients on a unit that I'm responsible for is low. No matter the unit that I work on, I have a great method in place for prioritizing the needs of my patients and make sure that all of my patient's needs are met in a timely manner."
Kelly's Answer #2
"This is a really good question, and it really depends on the situation and the acuity of the patients that I am caring for. However, for the position that I am applying for at your organization, where I would be caring for hospitalized geriatric patients, I would say my capacity would be ten patients, give or take, depending on patient acuity. I feel that one of my strongest skill sets is assessing the patients I am caring for and measuring my capacity, and when I do this if I feel that I am becoming overloaded, I will communicate this to the charge nurse so they can help redistribute or offer help of a CNA. I would not ask for help unless it was absolutely needed, and I only do so when I feel like I cannot properly care for patients who are in my care."
Anonymous Answer
"As a nursing student, the most patients I have been responsible for assessing and administering medications have been two. Since I haven't had the opportunity to experience a typical workload of what I assume to be four patients, I would say that my capacity to care for patients safely is currently two patients. As I move through the Versant program, I am sure my confidence and ability will continue to increase as well as the number of patients I feel I can handle as my workload."
Rachelle's Answer
Very well said! It's good that you are cautious and say that you can comfortably take on two patients; rather than putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
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Anonymous Answer
"On these days, we often saw over 20 patients on an 8-hour shift, and I was comfortable on those days due to my ability to stay organized and prioritize what needed to be done first. As an emergency nurse for many years, I was able to successfully manage the shifts where we were bombarded with patients."
Kristine's Answer
Great answer! The interviewer will appreciate that you’ve shared a specific number of patients within a timeframe and that you can handle an even larger workload by staying organized. I reworded slightly for clarity.
"These days, we often see over 20 patients in an 8-hour shift. I am comfortable with seeing this number of patients due to my ability to stay organized and prioritize what needs to be done first. As an emergency nurse for many years, I have successfully managed shifts with a surge in patients."
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4.
How have you responded when your supervisor asked you to work an additional shift to fill vacancies?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"I know that working as an obstetrics nurse on 12-hour shifts that teamwork and helping cover for each other is important. In my current position, we have policies on notification for paid time off, shift swapping and calling in sick. I have been open to help cover extra shifts when needed and staying over for some extra time on shifts as long as I have some notice because I need to make childcare arrangements for our little one."
Kelly's Answer #2
"Since I am just now finishing my nursing program and am a newly licensed nurse, I have not yet encountered this situation; however, I am very eager to learn and am willing to cover extra shifts when needed. Before my career change into nursing, I worked in the business/IT industry, and I often had to pull long days with many hours, so I am used to going above and beyond the standard work week in order to get the job done. As a nurse, my priority will be caring for our patients, and I will pitch in and help however I can in order to ensure they are cared for."
Anonymous Answer
"As a new graduate, I will be more than willing to take on additional shifts while still being mindful of my level of mental exhaustion and will make a choice based on whether or not I can care for patients to the best of my ability at that time."
Rachelle's Answer
Your answer shows a firm level of responsibility while still balancing teamwork. Nice!
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5.
What was your least favorite patient? What was the situation.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"I had an elderly patient who was struggling to maintain their independence, but suffering from dementia while recovering from a broken hip. They were resistant at times when they needed to take medicine, so I learned how to talk to them and involve their family member in order to encourage them to do the things they needed for care."
Kelly's Answer #2
"To date, most of my experience has been working in outpatient family practice clinics, and the most frustrating patients for me are the ones who have no clinical experience or scientific education but question every recommendation the clinicians make because of 'research' they have conducted on the internet. I understand that everyone's opinions are valid and all patients are allowed to ask questions, but the patients who think they know more than the doctors I work with because of a blog they have read on the internet are very frustrating to me. Last flu season, when the virus was at epidemic levels, I had a patient who not only refused the vaccine but was telling me the vaccine caused the flu. I know this is clinically and scientifically impossible, but rather than becoming combative with her, I calmly presented her with the facts and allowed her to make her own decision, which ultimately was to deny herself the vaccine, but I did what I could."
Anonymous Answer
"My least favorite patient was an elderly man on one of my last critical care clinical days. He wasn't rude to me, nor did he have any problems with me, but the way he treated other nurses and techs really frustrated me. He was openly rude to any male that tried to care for him except for his primary physician and was inappropriate in the way he addressed anyone whose skin color was not to his liking."
Rachelle's Answer
Oh my - he sounds like a disaster! How did you cope? The interviewer would want to hear more about what you did and how you reacted in this situation.
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Anonymous Answer
"During my time as an ED nurse, I had seen several patients that were shouting with alcohol heavy drinking. It bothers me so much. Sometimes we don't know the patient nothing have medical problems or not. I have one patient, in particular, became very upset with me when the physician would not prescribe any pain medication. He said he had so much pain in his back at that time, but he's walking well we couldn't find any problems. He's a famous man with our ED. He's come by seeing ED nurses almost weekly with minor problems and alcoholic always."
Kristine's Answer
Great start! You described the situation with your least favorite patient well. I reworded for clarity. Now, show how you handled the case and the final outcome. Were you calm and reassuring? Did you show compassion? Did you help diffuse the situation?
"During my time as an Emergency Department or ED nurse, I had several patients who were in alcohol withdrawal and were shouting and demanding pain medication. In these unnerving situations, I had to do my best to assist the physician in finding out if the patient really had medical problems. I remember one patient who said he had a lot of pain in his back, but he was walking well, and we couldn’t find any evidence of back injuries or trauma so the physician would not prescribe pain medication. The patient became very upset with me. I found out that this man was well known in the ED because he would be in the emergency room nearly weekly with minor problems and always demanded pain medication."
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6.
Describe your typical relationship with physicians you work with.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"During my career, I've taken great pride in being able to communicate and relate to the physicians that I have worked with. Together, we ultimately work as a team to provide the best care that we can for each patient and our working relationship is key in accomplishing this goal."
Kelly's Answer #2
"I pride myself in the fact that I am able to develop and maintain very professional relationships with the physicians I work with. As I nurse, I am part of the care team, but I look to the physicians I work with for orders and for guidance. While there are times that I must bring various things to their attention and ask questions in a professional manner, I do not blatantly challenge the decisions physicians have made like I have seen some of my nursing colleagues do in the past. Also, when it comes to dealing with difficult physician personalities, I never take any difficult encounters personally. I recognize that physicians are typically under a significant amount of pressure and stress and if their emotions run high because of this, I do not need to add stress to their lives by complicating the situation."
Anonymous Answer
"As a nursing student, I have had the opportunity to work with many physicians in my clinical settings. The physicians I've communicated with have always been helpful, encouraging, and understanding."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds as though you've had many harmonious workplace relationships. Way to go!
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7.
Are you specialized in a particular area of nursing, i.e. neo-natal, pediatric, geriatric, or women's health?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"Having worked in Family Practice as a nurse for my entire career, I've had the joy of working with mothers and their newborn children for their care when they were sick. I've provided care for newborns that have had a wide array of sicknesses and have always loved that aspect of that of my job. With my career goal always being working on an obstetrics unit, my experience working with newborns will translate well."
Kelly's Answer #2
"Since I just recently graduated from my nursing program and obtained my nursing license, I don't consider myself specialized in a particular area of nursing yet. However, during my clinicals, I excelled the most in my emergency department and critical care rotations. I attribute my success in these rotations to the years I spent working as a technician in the emergency department at the local hospital. So, while I cannot honestly say I specialize in a particular area of nursing as of yet, I am most comfortable working with emergency and critical care patients."
Anonymous Answer
"As a new graduate, I don't currently have a specialty. I want to use my entry-level position as a way to cultivate my skills and knowledge to prepare me for the rest of my career. Part of the reason why I chose THR's Versant program is that we will be rotated through other specialties to gain the confidence needed to support our careers."
Rachelle's Answer
Great answer! Although you do not yet have a specialty, you make a clear case that this role will help guide you into one.
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8.
Do you have any questions about the specific requirements or responsibilities of the job?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"You've done a great job of answering some of my questions that I've had prepared throughout the interview. Thank you for that. The long-term fit is ideally what I'm looking for in my next job so I'm wondering what it is about this organization that keeps you working here and what do you love the most about working here?"
Kelly's Answer #2
"If I have the opportunity to join your team and start working on your inpatient clinical unit, this will be my first experience working outside of outpatient care. Given this, what do you think my biggest challenges will be as I transition to this new type of clinical environment?"
9.
We are interviewing several candidates for this position. Why should we hire you?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"Throughout my career as a nurse, I have demonstrated that patient care is a top priority in any job that I have held. It has always been my dream to work on an obstetrics unit and I know that everything that I have worked for in my career has brought me here, speaking with you. My compassion and drive to succeed in this position make me the top person for this job and you'll find quickly that I will be a top contributing member of your obstetrics nursing team."
Kelly's Answer #2
"Although I am sure you are interviewing more experienced candidates, I feel that I am the best candidate for this position. I left a successful career in IT project management to become a nurse, which proves that I have a passion for nursing and am committed to the profession. Also, in addition to my newly acquired nursing skills, I have a host of IT, data, project management, and informatics skills that I can bring to the table and add to the team. I am not sure, but I doubt you will find another candidate with such a diverse skill set."
10.
Tell me about the most stressful situation you've had to deal with in the workplace.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"As an emergency nurse, I was working a night shift during the winter where a bus accident brought in 10 critically injured patients on top of the standard winter visits to an ER. When we received the call that the ambulances would be showing up, I went into immediate triage mode with our current patients. This mode continued when the accident victims arrived as well and I prioritized those with the most traumatic injuries first and worked down the line. I great piece of advice I got early in my career was that I am only one person who can only focus on one thing at a time. In these situations, this sage advice keeps me focused on the patient in front of me and not letting my mind wander to the other patients."
Kelly's Answer #2
"By far the most stressful situation I have ever dealt with took place while I was working as a technician in the emergency department at County Hospital. You may or may not remember seeing this on the news, but there was a day when we had a Code Silver, or a warning for an active shooter because there was a family member who was extremely upset over a bad outcome and had come in threatening to shoot everyone. Because the ED was extremely busy that day, we had patients in beds in all empty spaces we could find, so beds were essentially lining the hallways. Once the Code Silver was called, we had to immediately get these patients moved to a secure location. Doing this while not knowing if a shooter was right around the corner was terrifying, and the hardest part was remaining calm for the patients."
Anonymous Answer
"The most stressful situation I had to deal with in the workplace was working my shift with three nurses out sick. But the whole nursing team came together and managed to figure out a solution to provide expected care to the patients."
Rachelle's Answer
This would be stressful, indeed! To give the interviewer more context, be sure to include details such as how many nurses you usually work with in total (for instance, 3 out of 5 nurses is a different picture than 3 out of 15 nurses). Also, be sure to outline the part that you played in getting the whole nursing team together.
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11.
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.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"Since I work at a family medicine practice, I have experience collecting many types of lab samples, including blood, urine, fecal, skin, and other types of samples. Any time I collect a sample from a patient, I always confirm their name and date of birth to ensure I am matching the sample back to the appropriate patient, then after the sample is collected, I document it in our laboratory log, so there is a record of it going out to the lab. It is just important that the lab sample is documented appropriately, so we can track and monitor the sample, and ensure the patient gets the results."
Kelly's Answer #2
"I have experience collecting many types of specimens at the point-of-care of the patient, which is very helpful, as it prevents the patients from having to make an additional stop at the lab. At this point in my career, I have the most experience in collecting blood and specimens of anyone on my unit, and if there is ever a complicated blood draw or tissue sample to collect, I am called in to take care of it. I also am the point person to conduct monthly documentation audits and training for new staff because of my advanced experience."
12.
Why are you leaving your current position?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"While I've enjoyed my time working in my current role, your position for a nurse in your women's health clinic will help me expand my horizons as a nurse and put me where I have always dreamed of being a nurse. I came into the profession to help work with women with specific health issues and this would be my dream job in doing so."
Kelly's Answer #2
"I love my current job caring for pediatric patients who are hospitalized for various conditions, but I am ready to take a step in a different direction and work with a different population of patients, such as the orthopedic surgery patients that I would work with in the position at your organization. While I love children and the pediatric patients I work with, it can be emotionally draining, and after being in this position for over five years, I feel like it is time to move on to something else and not only allow myself a reprieve from the emotional aspect but also expand my skillset."
Anonymous Answer
"I'm leaving my current position because it's time to take this next step in my journey. I have been working towards being a nurse for the past 4 1/2 years of my life, and I am so grateful to the family I currently nanny for, but I am ready to reach this goal of becoming a nurse and embark on an entirely new journey."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds as though you are highly prepared for this transition and the next step in your career. Your answers are thoughtful and honest. Very well done!
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Anonymous Answer
"After spending EIGHT years as a Nephrology, oncology, and ED nurse in Japan, I have realized that I have gained as much experience as I can there and am looking to expand my horizons and get into ED nursing in State . My job search has been very meticulous and thorough in looking for an employer that can meet my needs both personally and professionally and your organization can provide that."
Kristine's Answer
Good answer. I revised grammar in a couple of places for accuracy.
"After spending eight years as nephrology, oncology, and ED nurse in Japan, I have realized that I have gained as much experience as I can there, and I am looking to expand my horizons and get into ED nursing in the states. My job search has been very meticulous and thorough in looking for an employer that can meet my needs both personally and professionally, and your organization can provide that."
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13.
How do you stay current on the latest health research?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"As part of my continuing education requirements, I recently attended a Child Maltreatment training. Working in a Family Practice clinic, this training was extremely useful as it educated me on how to spot potential child abuse on patients that I see. As well, I learned new changes in law about mandatory reporting if child abuse was suspected. On top of regular continuing education credits, my passion lies in the treatment of children that are diagnosed with cancer. I am a subscriber of the 'Journal of Pediatric Nursing' and enjoy reading and learning about new research in the field."
Kelly's Answer #2
"As a nurse with many years of experience, am well aware of how quickly medicine and nursing practices advance, so I understand the importance of keeping up with the latest health research. I subscribe to several nursing journals through my membership in the American Nurses Association, and I use the information in these journals to stay abreast on newly published research. Reading these journals as well as attending CME courses have helped me stay ahead and on the cutting-edge of nursing practice throughout my career."
Anonymous Answer
"As a nursing student, I stay current on the latest health research by listening to podcasts. I am also subscribed to the American Nurse Association, so I often keep up to date by reading American Nurse Today."
Rachelle's Answer
Fantastic! These resources are very reputable, which the interviewer will be happy to hear. Try offering up more specifics on the podcasts such as who the host is, what the topics are, or a great nugget of information you just learned.
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Anonymous Answer
"Continuing education courses I have attended throughout my career have helped me become a better nurse. As a nurse that has worked most of her career in the Emergency Department, I have had to adapt to changes in procedures and technology throughout my career. As part of my continuing education requirements, I recently took a course on the pediatric patient in the emergency room. Even having been a career Emergency Nurse, I learned new research and methods to help treat pediatric patients when they come to the Emergency Room."
Kristine's Answer
Great start! Your interviewer will be impressed that you recently took a course as part of your continuing education. I reworded slightly for clarity. You can elaborate by sharing something new you learned from the training, such as a method for treating pediatric patients in the ER. The interviewer would also be interested in hearing about areas in nursing in which you want to learn more and your future training plans.
"As a nurse who has worked most of my career in the Emergency Department, I have successfully adapted to changes in procedures and technologies throughout my career. I recently took a course on best practices in caring for pediatric patients in the emergency room. Even as a career Emergency Nurse, I learned new research and methods to help treat pediatric patients when they visit the Emergency Room."
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14.
Tell me about your education.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"As you can see, I obtained my bachelor's degree in nursing back in 1991. Since then, I have attended many continuing education courses that have helped me grow significantly as a nurse. Last year, knowing that I wanted to eventually become a nurse in a substance abuse treatment facility, I attended a conference on the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the country right now. In the conference, I learned so much about spotting the signs of addiction, how it is effectively treated and how families are impacted negatively."
Kelly's Answer #2
"As a newly licensed nurse, I recently graduated from a post-baccalaureate nursing program that is specifically for career changers who have bachelors degrees in non-nursing fields. My bachelor's degree, which I earned in 2004, is in business, and after working as a project manager in the corporate IT world since graduating, I decided to go back to school for nursing. The post-baccalaureate program was great for me because it helped me become an RN without me having to take basic undergraduate courses that I had already taken while pursuing my business degree. However, I was required to take all the practical science and nursing courses."
15.
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?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"I am very active in my church, and I consider myself a very devout Christian. At the hospital that I work at, I often care for patients who have much different religious belief than my own, as I work in a very culturally diverse area. While some people in my church family have asked me if it is 'weird' for me to care for these people, for me, it isn't weird at all. I enjoy taking care of all people, and feel like it is my calling, no matter who they are or what religion they practice. I strive to give the best care possible to all my patients, despite how different their beliefs, religious or otherwise, may be from mine."
Kelly's Answer #2
"This may be an atypical answer, but I once was in a very complex situation where I had to put my values and commitments as a nurse ahead of my personal feelings. A few years ago, while working in the ICU at the local hospital, a patient was admitted who had committed a horrific crime and had been critically injured while trying to escape the police. The crime was all over the news, and I was well aware of what the patient was accused of; but, when I walked into his room and assessed his needs, I did not see an accused criminal, I saw a human in need of care, love, and compassion, and I did everything I could to provide the best care I could. It was my job to provide care to the patient and not to judge the patient for the crimes he was being accused of."
Anonymous Answer
"During my junior semester, an older woman was watching the news and saying some things that I really didn't agree with. I chose not to say anything until she asked my opinion on the matter that was being discussed. I continued with my care and honestly replied with my beliefs and some facts to back it up, and we ended up having a lovely conversation hearing each other point of view."
Rachelle's Answer
The fact that you did not jump in with your opinion until asked shows a great deal of maturity and self-control. It sounds, by the outcome, that even when you did express yourself, you did so intelligently and respectfully. These are all characteristics that any interviewer will be keeping an eye out for :)
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Anonymous Answer
"It has been hard for me to understand why the Jehovah's Witness don't accept the blood transfusions and let them die instead. Recently, my niece passed for this horrible misunderstanding. However, I am a professional nurse, and I gave her the last final care with love and respect as she wants."
Alexandra's Answer
Great answer! I have re-written it below with some suggestions to display your actionsa little more clearly.
"One example of a time when I experienced a difference in beliefs from a patient is when I cared for my niece who recently passed. Due to religious reasons, she would not accept blood transfusions. This was difficult for me to understand, as I saw blood transfusions as something that could provide healing. However, given that I am a professional nurse, I knew it was my duty to give her final care with love and respect, honoring the treatment that she chose. While this was difficult for me, because I saw an alternative form of treatment, I was comforted in knowing that I handled the situation in a way that honored her values and beliefs."
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34 Nursing Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. Tell me about the greatest challenge you have faced in your nursing career? How did you overcome it?
  2. 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?
  3. How many patients is a full workload for you?
  4. How have you responded when your supervisor asked you to work an additional shift to fill vacancies?
  5. What was your least favorite patient? What was the situation.
  6. Describe your typical relationship with physicians you work with.
  7. Are you specialized in a particular area of nursing, i.e. neo-natal, pediatric, geriatric, or women's health?
  8. Do you have any questions about the specific requirements or responsibilities of the job?
  9. We are interviewing several candidates for this position. Why should we hire you?
  10. Tell me about the most stressful situation you've had to deal with in the workplace.
  11. 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.
  12. Why are you leaving your current position?
  13. How do you stay current on the latest health research?
  14. Tell me about your education.
  15. 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?
  16. Describe a recent issue you had with a doctor or co-worker's decision. How did you handle it?
  17. Tell me about a time that you had to deal with an unexpected emergency on the job. How did you handle that situation?
  18. Tell me about an experience when you had to use ACLS, BLS, or PALS protocols in your nursing practice.
  19. How do you approach the documentation of patient records? Do you have specific strategies that you use?
  20. Tell me about your IV skills. Are you able to start an IV?
  21. How do you prioritize when multiple patients and procedures demand your attention at once?
  22. What precautions do you take with a patient in poor health?
  23. 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?
  24. How do you make seamless transitions on shift changes?
  25. What motivates you to provide top-of-the-line nursing care?
  26. 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?
  27. Tell me about a time when you committed a medical error in your nursing career. How did you handle it?
  28. How do you approach providing patient discharge instructions or patient education?
  29. What is your work availability? Are you able to work nights? Weekends?
  30. 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?
  31. 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?
  32. Are you able to handle the physical requirement of the job?
  33. 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?
  34. Tell me about your experience supervising or mentoring other nurses.
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