Top 15 Nursing Interview Questions (Sample Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Being a nurse takes a special kind of person.

Oftentimes, you’re seeing people in the middle of what can easily be the worst day of their lives. You need patience, resilience, a sense of humor, attention to detail, and a thick skin.

Of course, it can also be one of the most rewarding careers, full of excitement and drama and the kind of rush you can only get when you’re helping others. Becoming a nurse is truly a calling for the right person, but sometimes getting that first job can seem like the hardest part of the entire process, starting with those nail-biting nursing interview questions.

Luckily, we’re here to help! We’ll go over exactly what types of questions nurses can expect to be asked in an interview. We’ll give you some pro-tips on how to answer those questions including how to tailor.

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Finally, we’ll give you the ten most common nursing interview questions you are most likely to encounter along with how to best answer them.

Sounds easy, right? So, let’s get started!

But just before we do, have you ever stopped to consider that there are hundreds of other, non-nursing-related interview questions you could be asked in your interview?

Several of our students have confirmed that nursing interviews are not only made up of nursing-themed questions, but also of both traditional and behavioral interview questions commonly found in a standard, non-nursing  interview.

But don’t worry, because we’ve put together a foolproof PDF cheat sheet that will outline the most common interview questions you can expect to be asked:

Types of Interview Questions For Nurses

First off, let’s discuss the different types of interview questions for nurses.

Being a nurse is a unique position, and the questions you’ll be asked in your interview are just as unique.

Yes, it’s true, you’re going to inevitably end up being asked some of the same questions you’d come across in any other job interview situation like “Tell me about yourself” and “What is your greatest strength/weakness?” but you’re also going to get asked some very specific nursing questions, and knowing how to properly answer those is going to help set you apart.

Let’s start with what makes nursing so unique in the job world.

Unlike most other careers and industries where your interactions with the public would be more along the lines of a “client” or “customer,” your interaction with the public is as a caregiver to a patient.

That requires a set of finely honed and carefully crafted interpersonal skills.

As a result, a lot of your interview questions will revolve around patient care and satisfaction and how you meet their unique needs in incredibly varied situations and circumstances.

Those questions fall under the category of behavioral questions and are asked so an interviewer can learn quickly and easily how you’d react to different situations based on your past experiences and behavior.

They’ll also tell an interviewer how you’ll handle working on a team and with other medical professionals including doctors and technicians as well as relatives and friends of patients.

Be prepared to answer questions about why you chose nursing and what it is about the career that interests you.

You’ll also be asked questions about how you work in a team as well as your ability to self-motivate and work alone.

You should also prep for questions about how you handle a crisis or how you deal with stress.

Feeling a little feverish with all these potential nursing interview questions and answers? Don’t worry! All it takes is a little prep beforehand.

Pro Tips For Answering Nurse Interview Questions

The first thing you need to do when preparing for an interview is to go over the job description with a fine-toothed comb.

Make a list of everything the employer is looking for in their Perfect Candidate.

Now, sit down and look back over all your experiences and see exactly how you’ve met all those requirements before.

It doesn’t matter if the experiences you have aren’t 100% related to the job description you’re applying to. Basically, what you want to do is give your potential future employer tailored examples of how you’ve handled situations in the past so they can extrapolate how you’d most likely react in future situations…and in some cases, examples outside of work show how you’re adept at thinking on your feet and handling yourself beyond just your job. Just make sure that no matter what, you’re answering their questions with personal examples that highlight your skills and abilities.

MIKE'S TIP: Does this style of answering questions sound familiar? It should if you’re a reader of our blog. We’re essentially covering the STAR Method. Start with a description of your example, explain the situation that you found yourself in, and then describe exactly how you responded to that situation using your skills and knowledge.

While you’re doing your prep and looking over the job description, it’s a good idea to also do a little research into where you’re applying. Having specifics on their techniques or their way of doing things and relating that to how you do things will not only show them you’re already in tune with their style, but it will also help to reinforce the idea that you’re the Perfect Candidate!

It’s also an opportunity to familiarize yourself with who you might be working with and for, and that can help you immensely if you find yourself invited to a panel interview.

In most situations, being a nurse means working on a team and as a result, your interview might consist of members of that potential future team. Be prepared to meet with the hiring manager, other nurses, doctors, technicians and members of the hospital administrative staff and try to know a little about each person before you go in (just don’t make it creepy.)

Now that we’ve covered some basic tips, let’s take a look at 10 of the most commonly asked nurse interview questions.

Top 15 Commonly Asked Nursing Interview Questions

1. “Why did you decide on a career as a nurse?”

While this isn’t exactly a behavioral question, it’s still one you need to be prepared to answer ahead of time. Because this is such a hands-on, specialized field, employers need to know what it is that makes you want to be a part of it. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal with your answer…just don’t go overboard!

Example answer:

I come from a long line of nurses. Both my grandmother and my mother are nurses. Growing up in that environment and seeing how much they love what they do every day is both inspiring and motivating. I love the challenges and thinking outside the box to come up with solutions keeps me excited and engaged. I’m proud to continue the tradition of nursing in my family. Above all, knowing that I’m truly making a difference in people’s lives is what truly makes it all worthwhile.

2. “What do you find rewarding about this job?”

There are lots of rewards that come with a good job; the paycheck, proximity to where you live, the retirement benefits…but remember, when you’re in an interview, it’s not actually about you…it’s about them and satisfying their need, which is finding the Perfect Candidate (hint, it’s you!).

Example answer:

I truly love helping people, and when those people are children, there’s no better feeling in the world. I remember having one little boy as a patient who had a long-term issue resulting in the loss of one of his legs. During the course of his treatments we discovered we had a mutual love for robot movies. I stayed with him all through his amputation surgery, and when he was fitted with his prosthetic, I was there to cheer him on. We celebrated his first step with his new leg by throwing a robot movie marathon in the common room. His dad pulled me aside that afternoon and told me how grateful the whole family was for all our help and support. It wasn’t an easy time for that boy or for his family, but knowing that it was a little easier because I was there and had made a genuine personal connection with them all was humbling and inspiring.

3. How you deal with someone who isn’t satisfied with your patient care?

Here is a great example of a behavioral question. The interviewer is asking you for a concrete example of how you handle a situation. Remember, as we discussed above, give your interviewer an example from your past and how you dealt with a situation, so they can get a feel for how you would behave in a similar situation in the future.

Example answer:

Nobody likes not feeling well, and it’s easy to have those feeling manifest as frustration and anger. While I constantly strive to do everything I can for a patient, there are times when even that isn’t good enough and someone takes issue with my care. I had a situation like that once with a patient who complained to my supervisor about me, telling them I was denying them specific care for an issue. The first thing I have to do in that situation is to step back and really assess what’s going on. Are they upset because of something I’m doing or not doing? Is it something I can correct or should correct? I spoke with my supervisor and told her that I was following strict doctor’s orders. We spoke with the attending physician about the situation and she agreed to come with me to speak to the patient. It turns out that the patient had misunderstood something the doctor had told her, leading her to assume I was neglecting a step in her care process. Once the confusion was cleared up, we were able to work with the patient to come up w