Top 20 Nursing Interview Questions And Answers

By Mike Simpson

UPDATED 5/20/2022

Being a nurse takes a special kind of person. Oftentimes, you see 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.

But 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.

For many, becoming a nurse is truly a calling. However, landing that dream nursing job can be tricky, even among the truly dedicated. That’s why reviewing the top nursing interview questions is essential.

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 that an interviewer can learn quickly and easily how you’d react to different situations based on your past experiences and behavior.

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. It’s also wise to prep for questions about how you handle a crisis or 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!

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 20 of the most commonly asked nursing interview questions.

In fact we we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!

Click below to get your free PDF now:

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FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our "Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet" that gives you "word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview.


Top 20 Commonly Asked Nursing Interview Questions

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

This is one of the classic nurse interview questions. 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.


“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.


“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 do you deal with someone who isn’t satisfied with your patient care?

Here is a great example of one of the behavioral interview questions for nurses. As we discussed above, give your interviewer an example from your past, so they can get a feel for how you would behave in a similar situation in the future.


“While I constantly strive to do everything I can for a patient, I had a situation 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, specifically whether I had acted appropriately. Since I had followed the doctor’s orders, I spoke with my supervisor and the attending physician about the situation. 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 with a satisfactory solution.”

4. “Tell me what you feel your greatest skill as a nurse is.”

This is your opportunity to really showcase what it is that makes you unique from all the other applicants! Really reflect on this ahead of time and come up with solid examples that highlight this skill.


“I’m very proud of my ability to really listen to what a patient is telling me. Nothing frustrates them more than feeling as though they’re not being heard. Having spent the past five years in the medical field working directly with patients has shown me just how far actively listening can go in helping make someone comfortable. During my time working in admissions in my last position, I learned that addressing patient concerns and making sure they felt we were genuinely listened to was just as important as receiving quality care. As a result, I helped to establish a patient advocacy program to help teach other nurses those same listening skills.

5. “How do you handle the stress of the job?”

Let’s be honest; nursing can be incredibly high stress. An employer needs to know how you handle that stress and whether or not you work well under pressure.


“I find the best way to handle the stress of the job is through meticulous organization and attention to detail. By making lists and prioritizing what needs to get done throughout my day, I find that tasks which might seem overwhelming all at once are much more manageable. This also makes it possible for me to stay calm and remain focused on what needs to get done when unexpected situations arise.”

6. “Are you comfortable working with other doctors and nurses?”

Nurses work with a wide variety of individuals in the medical field, including doctors, technicians, other nurses, and the friends and families of your patients, just to name a few. While you’re core answer is likely “yes,” you need to go the extra mile for a quality response.


“I find I work well under a variety of conditions and circumstances, and I take pride in my flexibility. I really enjoy working in a team because I often find that different viewpoints can help me find solutions to a problem I might not think of on my own. I also enjoy self-motivating and am equally comfortable working alone.”

7. “What do you find is the hardest part about being a nurse?”

This is a trick question. No, the hiring manager isn’t actually asking you to tell him how much you hate the early morning shifts because you’re just not a morning person, and you hate getting up before the sun does. Remember, they’re there to find a person to fill a job position.


“I think the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is feeling helpless. While it’s my job to provide as much care and comfort as medically possible, there are times when you just can’t do more. Seeing someone in pain or feeling miserable and knowing there’s nothing you can do to help is the most difficult thing I deal with. I am a nurse because I genuinely care about people and want to help, and when I can’t, that’s hard.”

8. “Why are you the best nursing candidate for this position?”

This question is actually one of the best nurse interview questions you could hope to be asked. Why? Because this is your opportunity to really sell the hiring manager on why you’re the Perfect Candidate.


“I’ve been working as a Registered Nurse for the past eight years and loved every day of it. This is more than a job, it’s a passion, and I’ve used that passion to drive me forward. I make sure to stay abreast of all the current advancements in my field, am continuing to further my education, and am constantly striving to make sure that I stay on top of emerging trends and technology. I enjoy the challenges that come with this job and take every opportunity to learn and grow.”

9.“Tell me about yourself.”

This is one of those important questions to answer properly, regardless of your field. Remember that they’re not asking you for your life story. Instead, they’re asking you this question to find out from you what you think is important and how well that matches up with what they’re looking for.


“I’m a motivated self-starter who really enjoys the hands-on and human aspect of our industry. To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than helping people out when they need it the most. Having spent the past five years in the medical field working directly with patients has shown me just how far actively listening to a patient can go in helping make someone comfortable. My most recent position included working with patients directly in admissions which meant I was often the first face they’d see when they came in and the last on their way out, as well as everything in-between. During that time, I learned that addressing their concerns and making sure they felt their voices were being heard was just as important to them as receiving quality care. As a result, I helped to establish a patient advocacy program to help teach other nurses those same skills.”

10. “Why are you leaving your current position?”

This question is a potential land-mine. Do NOT use it as an opportunity to badmouth your current or former position. Future employers don’t need to know you hate where you worked or that your old boss was a tyrant. Rather, focus on the positive aspects and how you’re leveraging those in your new job.


“While my last job was an opportunity for me to learn and grow at a comfortable pace in a smaller clinical environment, I’m looking for new challenges and opportunities to continue to expand my knowledge in a larger, hospital-based environment. I am eager to try new things and learn skill-sets that come from working in a faster-paced environment like this one here.”

11. “Why do you want to work here?”

Here, you need to be strategic. Don’t discuss salary opportunities. Instead, talk about your career goals and your vision for your future in your industry and how those directly relate to what you will be doing if hired.


“I’m fascinated by the new and emerging technology involved in ongoing patient care, especially in the field of pediatrics. Your hospital has been ranked in the top five hospitals in the nation for the past seven years running in new innovations, and I’m excited by the possibility of being a part of that and learning from your experts.”

12. “Would you say you’re a team player?”

As a member of the medical field, your first answer had better be yes. Of course, what you say after that is what is going to make or break you in your interview.


“I find I work well under a variety of conditions and circumstances, and I take pride in my flexibility. I really enjoy working in a team because I often find that different viewpoints can help me find solutions to a problem I might not think of on my own. I also enjoy self-motivating and am equally comfortable working alone.”

13. “Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult patient and how you handled that.”

Tough patients are going to be a regular part of your daily routine, and no employer wants to hire a nurse who is going to be unable to handle these types of characters.


“Working with elderly patients always presents unique challenges as you’re dealing with people who are used to being independent and who are now totally reliant on strangers. I remember one gentleman who had a reputation for being extremely difficult. He was angry and argumentative and would often fight with the other nurses over things as little as the temperature of his room. I admit, I wasn’t excited when I found out I was going to be working with him, so to prepare, I looked over his charts. I discovered that his wife had died a number of years ago and that he had no friends or family in the area and hadn’t had a visitor in ages. Rather than treating him just as a patient, I did my best to connect with him as a human. I would talk to him, not just at him. It took a little, but eventually, he came around and ended up being one of my favorite people to visit with every day.”

14. “Why should we hire you?”

Here’s another question that really gives you a chance to showcase the best of what you’ve got. Take advantage of it1


“For me, nursing it’s just a career; it’s a passion. As a result, I spend time seizing opportunities to learn and grow, prioritize patient care at every step, and embrace advances that can lead to higher quality outcomes. Additionally, I know the value of teamwork and agility and also enjoy the challenges that come with this job. Overall, I can’t imagine doing anything else and will always go the extra mile for both patients and my employers.”

15. If you disagree with a physician’s approach to treating a patient, how do you handle it?

In some cases, nurses and physicians don’t see eye to eye. That’s why hiring managers are going to ask how you handle situations of that nature.


“My typical approach is multifold. First, I consider what about the recommended course doesn’t seem like a fit to me. Second, I determine why I believe another option is a better match. Finally, I reflect on why the physician may have chosen that direction. That allows me to factor in their point of view, as well as present my perspective effectively to the physician. Once I’ve made my recommendation, I listen to the physician’s response and, ultimately, follow the approach they select. The only exception is situations where I believe a prescribed treatment puts the patient in legitimate danger, at which point I follow internal processes regarding who to inform and how to approach the matter.”

16. How do you explain complex medical terms and procedures to patients who don’t have a healthcare background?

Overall, the world of medicine is complicated, particularly for those who haven’t studied or worked in the field. Since ensuring patients understand conditions, test results, treatments, and procedures is essential, hiring managers ask this question to see how you approach the situation.


“Since patients have different levels of understanding regarding medical terminology, I use a combination approach when speaking to them. Usually, I’ll lead off with a formal term and couple it with an informal term or description, depending on the situation. For example, I may tell a patient that a medication is used to treat ‘hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.’ That introduces the phrases physicians may use when speaking with the patient while using terms that feel familiar to ensure understanding.”

17. How do you ensure you remain up to date on advances in nursing?

Advances in the healthcare field are a regular occurrence. While medical facilities often provide training opportunities, they typically favor candidates who go the extra mile on their own time to remain current.


“I use several approaches to remain up to date. Along with continuing education courses, I subscribe to several industry publications to learn more about what’s on the horizon. I also follow thought leaders on social media, giving me additional insights, and converse with my network regularly to find out about their discoveries.”

18. When you don’t have an answer to a patient’s question, what do you do?

Even the most experienced and educated nurses won’t have every answer. The hiring manager wants to know you’ll use an appropriate approach in situations where you aren’t certain about a topic.


“If I don’t know the answer, my first step is to let the patient know I need time to get the information they need. Then, I’ll use a combination approach, conducting research on my own while also conferring with colleagues with expertise in that arena. Along with ensuring I have a thorough understanding of the answer, this allows me to develop a sound way to relay it to the patient, increasing overall accuracy and understanding.”

19. Describe a time when you were in conflict with a fellow nurse. How did you handle the situation?

This is another question that showcases how you navigate the workplace, making it a favorite among hiring managers. Generally, you’ll want to outline a typical strategy, using an example along the way.


“My preferred approach always focuses on communication and empathy. For example, in one of my last positions, a fellow nurse was regularly late for their shift start. This harmed the transition, causing the team to fall behind. Instead of filing complaints or berating them, I took them aside and asked if they were having challenges getting to work on time. It turned out that there was a childcare challenge, one that would be solved with a different shift. I helped them arrange for a schedule change, and the problem was solved, something that wouldn’t have happened without communication and empathy.”

20. “Do you have any questions for us?”

Yes. Yes, you do. Having something to ask makes you seem engaged and passionate about the opportunity, so you need a few questions to toss out there. You could ask about the length of new hire orientation and what you’d be doing exactly if you were hired. You might ask about the nurse-to-patient ratio or how a typical day is structured. We have written a dedicated article on this: Questions To Ask In A Nursing Interview.

Regardless of what you ask, it’s important that you do ask. The point is that by not asking questions, you’ll appear uninterested and unmotivated, and we know that’s not possible!

Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve gone over the types of questions you might be asked, given you a few nursing interview tips, brushed up on some practice questions and some sample answers, and gotten you thinking about your own questions, I think it’s safe to say you’ve got the perfect prescription for nailing that interview. (Groan!)

Good luck!


P.S. Now that you’re an expert on the nursing interview questions you are going to be asked, don’t forget that there are hundreds of non-nursing interview questions that you could be asked in your interview! Thankfully we’ve outlined the most common questions AND given you word-for-word answers in our free PDF below:

FREE: Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet!

Here's what you're getting:

  • Word-for-word sample answers to the most common interview questions
  • Tell me about yourself, why should we hire you?, What's your greatest weakness and more!
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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.