Most Common Nursing Interview Questions (How to Respond)

April 27, 2023

9 min read

Learn what behavioral nursing interview questions are and how to prepare.

When it comes to nursing, it’s not just about having the right qualifications on paper. Hiring managers are also looking for candidates who have the right personality traits and behavioral qualities that are essential for success in the field. That’s where nursing interview questions come in.

Nursing interview questions are designed to get you to open up about your past experiences and behaviors, so that the interviewer can get a better sense of how you handle various situations. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some common nursing interview questions, and provide tips on how to answer them effectively.

What to Expect from Nursing Interviews

Nursing interviews will vary based on the exact position, location, and type of medical space, but there are some common themes — especially with regard to nursing interview questions — that you should know about.

Nursing interview process 101

The nursing interview process usually consists of a few different types of nursing interviews, like group interviews, one-on-one interviews, and panel interviews. 

In general, the first step in this process is the screening interview. This interview is usually with a recruiter and involves them getting a better understanding of your application or resume. A screening interview is sort of like a “weed out” interview, where recruiters can quickly make a decision of whether or not you meet the bare bones requirements. This makes their applicant pool smaller and easier to manage. 

The second interview could be in-person, on the phone, or over video. This interview might also be with a recruiter. It’s a more informal conversation that involves you speaking with the interviewer so they can get a better idea of your interest in the role you applied for and your soft skills, namely your ability to effectively communicate. 

In this interview, they might also try to get an idea of how strong your foundation of basic nursing information is.

If you make it past the second interview, there will likely be a third. This one will gauge your ability as a nurse and you’ll likely be faced with behavioral interview questions and hypotheticals to see how you’d react in certain situations. 

The next steps in the nursing interview process involve reaching out to your references and eventually, if you’re a good fit, a conversation about the offer and a period of negotiation where you can discuss salary expectations. 

Once you receive an offer, the nursing interview process is essentially complete. 

Nursing interview question themes

Nursing interview question themes include:

  • Patient-care
  • Communication styles
  • Teamwork and cross-collaboration
  • Ambition 
  • Central principles or values
  • Time management
  • Adaptability

There may be other themes you’ll notice, but these are the most common. 

Improve Your Interviewing Skills with Yoodli

Preparing for a nursing interview can be nerve-wracking, but with the help of Yoodli, you can feel more confident and prepared. Yoodli is an AI-powered interview speech coach app that provides feedback on your key talking points, filler words, rambling, body language, and more. You can practice the most common nursing interview questions with its interview simulator, too.

Yoodli can help you practice these behavioral nursing interview questions.
Yoodli can help you practice these behavioral nursing interview questions through its stellar interview simulator.

But this generative AI interview coach goes beyond helping you prepare before your interview; it even gives you private and gentle nudges during your actual interview to help you hit your main talking points, make eye contact, and slow down. Because it’s private, the interviewer won’t see these real-time tips — only you will be able to see them. Just start by downloading Yoodli’s app for free right to your desktop.

Best of all, Yoodli provides a judgment-free environment where you can practice and improve your interviewing skills through answering common nursing interview questions. 

Whether you’re a new nursing graduate or an experienced professional, using Yoodli can help you stand out in your next nursing interview. You can get started for free at http://www.yoodli.ai.

Learn more about this realistic interview simulation below:

You can practice common nursing interview questions for free via Yoodli.

Common Nursing Interview Questions

Although every nursing interview will be at least slightly different in some way, there are definitely some common nursing interview questions that seem to pop up in a majority of nursing interviews. That being said, here are the top nursing interview questions you should prepare for:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize patient care.
  • Describe a time when you had the opportunity to educate a patient or their family.
  • Give me an example of a time when your healthcare team had a conflict. What was it and how did you mitigate this?
  • Describe a situation where you had to work as part of a team to achieve a goal.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient or family member.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult medical decision.
  • What’s the proudest you’ve ever been of your healthcare team? What was the situation and why?
  • How do you talk to people without using any medical jargon or industry-specific terms?
  • Describe a situation where you had to provide emotional support to a patient or their family.

How to Answer Nursing Interview Questions

When answering nursing interview questions, it’s important to be specific and provide as much detail as possible. Use the STAR method to structure your answers:

  • Situation: Describe the specific situation you were in.
  • Task: Explain what you needed to accomplish.
  • Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation.
  • Result: Share the outcome of your actions.

It’s also important to highlight your skills and qualities that are relevant to nursing, such as empathy, communication, problem-solving, and attention to detail. Use real-life examples from your past experiences to showcase these skills.

Good and Bad Answers to Nursing Interview Questions

If you’ve never participated in a nursing interview before (or if you just need some ideas of what a good interview might look like), reviewing examples of good and bad answers to common nursing interview questions is a great idea. It’ll help shed light on the type of response you should be shooting for. 

Here are five common nursing interview questions and both good and bad examples of how to answer them. 

1. With regard to the latest nursing standards and practices, how do you stay up-to-date? 

This nursing interview question aims to get a better understanding of whether or not you pay attention to the latest standards and the extent to which you do. 

A good answer to this question might be something like: “I really prioritize staying up-to-date with both the latest nursing standards and practices and I do this in a few different ways. For example, I like to regularly attend nursing conferences and routinely read nursing journals for the latest information. I also am an active participant in online nursing forums and am a member of various nursing organizations.”

However, a bad answer to this question could be something like: “Personally, I don’t have the time to keep up with every last nursing standard and practice, especially the latest ones. Plus, I can always rely on my coworkers to remind me and keep me up-to-date on the latest standards and practices.”

2. As a nurse, what are your strengths and weaknesses?

For this nursing interview question, the interviewer is trying to get an idea of what you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses in nursing. 

A good answer might look something like: “In terms of my strengths, I’m adept at critical thinking and problem solving, and I think my communication skills are top-notch, which allows me to really build good relationships with patients and their families. However, sometimes I can get too caught up in the weeds of patient care thanks to my detail-oriented personality. I’m working on this by focusing on the big picture of patient care.” 

On the other hand, a bad answer could be: “My strengths are things like effective communication and critical thinking. But I don’t really have any weaknesses.” 

3. Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Interviewers that ask this nursing interview question are trying to get a better idea of whether or not you’re in nursing for “the right reasons.” 

For example, a good answer could be: “I decided to be a nurse at a young age. From the time I was 5 years old, my mom developed lung cancer, and I grew up taking care of her and watching medical professionals prioritize her and her care. Because of this personal connection, I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, particularly nursing.” 

A bad answer could be something along the lines of: “Basically, I decided to go into nursing because I just wanted something that pays well. I also like the benefits offered.” 

4. With regard to nursing, what are your career goals?

Interviewers like to know that you’re self-motivated, and this nursing interview question is useful for highlighting that. 

A good answer could be something along the lines of: “Although I have multiple career goals with nursing, the goal I’m most focused on right now is specialization, particularly in subjects like pediatrics or oncology. Providing specialized care is a very important goal of mine and will help me not only help others, but also build on my foundation of knowledge in this field.” 

However, a bad answer could be: “I don’t really have any specific career goals. I just wanted to make some money and get my foot in the door.”

5. Tell me about a time when you had to handle a challenging situation or patient.

With this nursing interview question, the idea is to gauge your ability to react appropriately in difficult situations or with patients who might present unique challenges. 

A good answer might be something along the lines of: “One time, I was stationed in the ER when we had a patient come in with a significant injury. She was visibly upset and anxious, and as such, was yelling at other nurses and doctors, including me. However, because I recognized how panicked she was, I was able to stay calm and focus on her treatment. By speaking to the patient in a calm, collected manner, I was able to get her to trust me and get the help she needed as quickly as possible.” 

However, a bad answer could be something like: “Actually, I’ve never had to deal with a difficult patient or situation. It’s all been smooth sailing for me. I just don’t really know how I’d deal with someone like that.” 

The Bottom Line 

Nursing interview questions are an important part of the nursing interview process. By preparing specific examples of your past experiences and using the STAR method to structure your answers, you can showcase your skills and qualities that are essential for success in the field. And with the help of Yoodli, you can feel more confident and prepared for your next nursing interview. 

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