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Nursing

34 Interview Questions & Answers

1.
Tell me about an experience when you had to use ACLS, BLS, or PALS protocols in your nursing practice.
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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.

1.
Tell me about an experience when you had to use ACLS, BLS, or PALS protocols in your nursing practice.
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"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."
Kelly's Answer #2
"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."
Anonymous Answer
"To start the nursing program at UTA, I became BLS certified through the American Heart Association. I am not ACLS or PALS certified but would like to be certified in both. I have not encountered a situation in clinical where I have had to use these skills; however, at the beginning of each semester, we have a refresher day at the smart hospital where we practice BLS on a medical manikin to ensure our skills are still up to par."
Rachelle's Answer
Very good answer! It's great that you are already BLS certified and that you show an interest in both ACLS and PALS.
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2.
How do you approach the documentation of patient records? Do you have specific strategies that you use?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"I am new to nursing, as I just finished nursing school, but I understand how important clinical documentation is. During my clinical rotations, when I had the opportunity to document my clinical encounters, I made sure to document everything, and before signing the note, I would double-check to ensure everything was correct. Since I am new to this and have not had a chance to develop my own efficiencies, I cannot speak to that, but I can say that my background in IT project management will allow me to think outside the box, and I can see myself coming up with ideas for standardization that others may not ever think of."
Kelly's Answer #2
"Documentation can be hard, especially on the days when I am extremely busy and I feel like I hardly have time to give basic care to my patients. While I know that I have to fill out the clinic notes completely, I also do not always have time to complete the full note at the patient bedside. What I will do is fill out the basic information and save the note so I can go back and edit it later. Then, when I have time later in the day, I will go back and complete the note using the shorthand notes that I left myself in the medical record."
Anonymous Answer
"Since I am a new graduate, I haven't necessarily found specific strategies when it comes to documentation; however, I am well aware of just how important accurate and concise documentation is. In school, I've generally stuck to documenting everything, even normal findings, instead of documenting by exception like most systems use."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a great way to answer, considering you are a new graduate. You show an understanding of the importance of documentation and remaining organized. Good response!
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3.
Tell me about a time that you had to deal with an unexpected emergency on the job. How did you handle that situation?
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.

Heather's Answer #1
"In my current position, I am on the hospital's trauma team. If a trauma emergency is called, I am pulled from my regular duties on my Med/Surg unit to attend to the emergency trauma. This happened a few weeks ago during a medication pass and I didn't have help to back me up. Upon hearing the call over the PA system, I let my leader know that I needed to be present when the trauma arrived at the hospital. I made a quick note to myself on where I left off with the patients on my unit. Upon returning to the unit an hour and a half later, I was able to pick up the medication pass where I had left off because I had taken a quick minute to jot some notes down to myself."
Kelly's Answer #2
"Becuase I have spent most of my career working as a nurse in an outpatient family practice clinic, many people think that I have never dealt with emergencies; however, this is not the case. Many times, patients who arrive at our clinic are very sick and are in need of emergency care. Just last week, I was on my way into the clinic, and I stopped at the public restroom in the building lobby before reporting to work. While I was at the sink washing my hands, one of our patients, called out from one of the stalls, told me she needed emergency assistance. I immediately used my cell phone to call the clinic and asked them to call a code blue, and I crawled under the stall, got the woman into the floor, and began administering care to her before our emergency team could reach her. The woman's vital signs were dangerously low, and she ended up leaving by ambulance, so my quick thinking likely saved her life."
4.
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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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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