12 most common interview questions for nurses

Whether you’re a career-changer, a recent nursing graduate or an experienced nurse looking for a better paycheck, one thing’s for sure – job interviews can be really scary. But, here at kununu – one of the world’s largest employer rating platforms – we wanted to make it all a bit easier for you. Not only do we help you to research potential employers and give you an honest look behind the scenes thanks to our 3,766,736 authentic employer reviews, we’ve also compiled a list of 15 of the most common interview questions to help you prepare for your interviews.

Before we start, let us congratulate you on your choice of career. Not only is nursing a highly rewarding career, it’s also a job that is in real demand right now. In fact, the Bureau for Labor and Statistics predicts that there will be a job growth of 12% for registered nurses by 2028, which is much faster than most other jobs. This is due to a number of reasons with the main one being that America’s population is aging rapidly and in need of more care, which means that registered nurses are needed now more than ever. What’s more, since the RN role is so versatile, there are nursing roles on offer that you can do in healthcare facilities, in care homes or even at home that are both administrative and hands-on, so there’s never been a better time for you to find the right employer and job for you. Forget the gender stereotypes, it’s time to get the job you deserve!

Types of interview questions you can expect

So, you’ve landed an interview. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get your head down and prepare your answers. The good news is that not all questions will be aimed at scrutinizing clinical practices or putting your interpersonal skills to the test, you can also expect a number of questions that you would be asked for any other job like “what is your greatest strength” or “what is your greatest weakness?” Just make sure not to neglect these ones when you practice your answers as these will tell the interviewers a lot about you and your personality. Among the other most common questions will be ‘behavioral interview questions’ which will help the interviewers to understand how you would react to different situations based on your past experiences. So, make sure to prep answers about how you’ve reacted in crisis situations before and how you’ve worked in teams before.

Getting ready

Our pro tip for getting ready for the interview is to print out or make notes about the employer’s requirements for the job. Build a picture of your employer’s dream candidate and then work out how you fulfill all of the criteria. Don’t worry if you don’t have the experience yet, work out what you can say to show the interviewers that you’re a quick learner or that you have experience in a similar area and are willing to learn.

12 most common interview questions (and answers) for nurses

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Example answer: “I was inspired to build my career in nursing because I come from a long line of nurses. Growing up in my family and seeing how much my parents loved what they did every day was both inspiring and motivating to me. I am interested in this job because I feel that I have learned a lot from them about what it means to solve problems, care for patients and make a difference in people’s lives.”

What is the most rewarding aspect of this job for you?

Example answer: “The most rewarding aspect of being a nurse is the feeling that you can really do something to make someone’s life better. Whether it be supporting your patient to process a difficult diagnosis, or making a patient more comfortable, or interacting with a patient’s family and friends. It’s an amazing feeling to think that you can really make a difference every day.”

Explain to us how you would deal with someone who is not satisfied with your level of care

Example answer: “I once had a patient who had googled their symptoms and thought that the care I was giving them was inadequate. There were adamant that my team should be treating their infection with a different drug and even convinced their family that they weren’t being looked after. In the end, I googled the symptoms too and found a different article in which our treatment was recommended and shared this with the patient. I then spent some time explaining to the patient and their family why we’d chosen this specific drug over the other. They were still skeptical but we managed to persuade them that we were giving them the best level of care.” 

Tell us what you think is your greatest skill as a nurse

Example answer: “I think that my greatest strength as a nurse is my ability to really listen to what a patient is telling me. I’m able to listen and record everything, from the severity of their symptoms to their worries and fears, which means that I am very empathetic and able to treat them on their level, as a confidant and friend.” 

How do you handle the stress of this job?

Example answer: “I know how stressful this job can be so I take self-care very seriously. In previous job I felt like I had to bottle up my emotions and I felt like I didn’t have enough emotional support so I reached out to other team members and told them that I was available whenever they needed to talk. This small thing changed my team’s dynamic and it meant that we grew closer and felt more able to share our emotions when we felt stressed or upset. I have a great support network and my partner is also working in healthcare so they really get it when I explain why I feel stressed out. I also make time during the week to go to the gym and I try to respect my free time by not taking my work home with me.” 

Are you a team player? Tell us about a time that you worked well with a team.

Example answer: “I would say that I’m a good team player. As I said, I like to make sure that my team knows that I’m there for them and I make sure to support all of my colleague’s decisions. One great example of this is when we lost a patient in my last job. It was really sad and unexpected, but I supported the physician I was working with and ensured her that she’d made the right call in terms of the medication and I made sure that my colleagues could share their feelings with me. We also talked about it later on to work out if there was anything we could have done differently so we turned a difficult situation into an opportunity to grow.” 

What’s the hardest thing about being a nurse?

Example answer: “Definitely losing patients. This is something that is difficult to deal with especially when it’s unexpected. But I try to get through it by telling myself that I still made a difference and that for the time that they were in the hospital I did my very best for them.” 

What makes you the best candidate for this nursing position?

Example answer: “Well, after looking at the requirements for this position, I would say that I tick all of the boxes. I have more than 5 years worth of experience, I have knowledge of all of the procedures and responsibilities and I bring a lot of passion to this role. I believe that I would be an asset for your team.”

Pro Tip: This is your opportunity to bring out your research and really make your case. Make sure to back up everything you say with lots of evidence, and if you don’t fulfil the criteria 100% then be honest and explain that you’re willing to learn.

Why are you leaving your current position?

Example answer: “After a number of years, I feel like I was getting too comfortable. I am now looking for new challenges and opportunities to grow as a nurse.” 

Pro Tip: Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your current or former employer, chances are that anything you say will make it back to them, one way or another. Also, the employer you’re interviewing with doesn’t want to think that you’re somehow disloyal.

What do you find most appealing about working with us?

Example answer: “After doing a lot of research, I feel that your values as a healthcare provider match mine the best. (Insert their values here and explain why they mean a lot to you). 

Pro Tip: This is your chance to bring up all of the research you’ve done about the employer. You could even mention comments that you’ve found on our platform to explain why the work environment at this employer appeals to you.

What are you passionate about?

Example answer: “I’m passionate about giving the absolute best possible care to all of my patients. I take pride in my work and I am passionate about making a difference to people’s lives.” 

Pro Tip: Check out our article about how to answer this question and formulate the perfect answer for your interview.

Do you have any questions for us?

Example answer: “Yes, absolutely…”

Job interviews are always a two-way street, so make sure that you use this opportunity to find out everything you need to know about your potential employer. Whether you need to know how family friendly the job is, what the shifts are like or even what the company culture is like, this is your chance to show genuine interest in the company and work out if it’s the right place for you. Here are some questions that you should ask in the job interview, to get you started.