Top 20 Nursing School Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Ah, the nursing school interview. For many, meeting with an admissions board to see if they are going to get into their top-choice program is nerve-racking. After all, the panel is essentially deciding how your future is going to pan out. If that doesn’t stress a student out, we don’t know what will.

Today, the competition to get into nursing school is, in a word, fierce. Many people find this shocking, especially since the United States will need more than one million new registered nurses by 2022. That’s on top of the estimated 3.9 million nurses (and midwives) in the nation right now.

While there’s a serious shortage of nurses, even qualified applicants don’t always get into nursing school. In 2017, 56,000 students were turned away. That’s an intimidating number.

But that doesn’t mean nursing students should freak out. Instead, it signals one simple thing; you need to be prepared to shine during your nursing school interview.

By nailing your nurse school interview questions, you increase your odds of standing out for all of the right reasons. With some research and practice, you can showcase why you are an excellent addition to any nursing program.

So, how do you make sure that you are ready?

Well, for starters, spend time learning about common nursing school interview questions and how to answer them. And, by being here, you are already taking that important step.

Let’s get cracking!

How to Answer Nursing School Interview Questions

Before we dig into the actual questions, let’s take a moment to cover how you want to answer them. The approach isn’t unlike a job interview. And, with the right strategy in place, you can be ready for common questions as well as unexpected ones.

How do you create an effective strategy? First, it helps to understand what the admissions board is looking for.

Nursing schools want to know that you can succeed not just as a student, but as a nurse, too. Along with a strong foundation education and GPA, nursing schools want to know that you have drive. Many consider nursing a calling. If you can show them that you have a passion for patient care and health, you’re more likely to impress.

Additionally, they look for a range of other traits. Nurses need stellar organizational skills, the ability to adapt to hectic or chaotic environments and ever-changing priorities, and to be accountable for their actions. Having empathy is also a must, ensuring you can connect with your patients and put yourself in their shoes. Communication skills are vital, as well.

Now that you know what you need to highlight, it’s time to dig into how to showcase your talents. Usually, you’ll tap on the qualities mentioned above when answering behavioral interview questions. We’ve discussed behavioral interview questions in depth before but, for those who aren’t familiar with what they are, here’s a summary.

Behavioral interview questions are designed to learn more about how you think and act, usually in a professional context. You’ll commonly be asked to discuss specific kinds of scenarios, either based on past experience or as theoretical situations you might face. Since this is a nursing school interview, some of the questions will pertain to being a student, while others may focus on your future potential as a nurse.

Usually, the best approach to behavioral interview questions is the STAR method. Essentially, the STAR method allows you to answer interview questions using a storytelling approach, allowing you to shine a spotlight on your capabilities in an engaging way.

But you don’t want to stop there. With all of your answers, you also need to make use of the Tailoring Method. It’s really a form of customization, ensuring your answers speak directly to what a particular nursing school thinks is important. To put it simply, it’s not about focusing on what the college can do for you but what you can do for the school and the nursing profession as a whole.

IMPORTANT: By personalizing your response based on the school’s mission, values, and priorities, you are speaking the admissions board’s language. You make a connection with them, and that can make all of the difference.

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Top 3 Nursing School Interview Questions

Now that you have a reliable strategy for handling nursing school interview questions, it’s example time. By knowing the questions you’ll face, and how to tackle them, you’ll be more confident and poised when you meet with the admissions committee. You’ll be ready for the inevitable, and that’s important.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in nursing?

Nursing schools ask this question for one reason; they want to see if you are passionate enough about the field to endure any challenges you may face. Being a nurse (or a nursing student) isn’t easy. It takes more drive, dedication, and motivation that many people can muster.

An answer like, “I want to help people,” isn’t going to work. That’s cliché and generic. Plus, there are tons of ways to help people, so it doesn’t really explain why nursing is right for you.

Your answer needs to be personal and a tad bit vulnerable. If you were inspired to pursue nursing because a nurse helped you or a familiar member through a challenging health situation, talk about it! If you’re passionate about health and wellness, and ensuring patients can live healthier lives sparks joy for you, then talk about that!

As long as your response touches on something personal, you increase your odds of nailing this nursing school interview question.


“A few years ago, one of my family members fell ill. They were hospitalized and, during their stay, the nurses who treated them were such a critical part of their care. They were empathetic, capable, and an integral part of their recovery. After such a positive experience, I realized that I wanted to be that for someone someday, so I began my journey towards becoming a nurse.”

2. What would you do if you felt you were struggling or falling behind in a nursing class?

Many nursing courses are astonishingly challenging. Plus, the learning can be surprisingly fast-paced. It isn’t uncommon for students to struggle in at least one class or subject area, or to potentially fall behind.

The admissions committee wants to know if you have a strategy in place for dealing with this situation, as it’s almost guaranteed to arise. It’s all about you being accountable and taking ownership of your education, as students who can do that are more likely to thrive.


“If I began having difficulties in a course, there are a few steps I would take. Along with dedicating more time to studying that subject, I would also make use of other potential resources. For example, I would look for study groups consisting of my fellow students or may seek out a tutor. I would also speak with my professor to see if there are any resources they could recommend, such as reading beyond the textbook provided. Additionally, I would consider my past assignments and tests as a resource, reviewing anything that was incorrect and using that to guide my studying. If I’m still not clear, I would reach out to my professor and ask for their help in understanding the topic.

3. If you were treating a patient, and they or a family member of theirs became verbally hostile, how would you handle it?

When a person is experiencing a medical crisis, their stress levels can be incredibly high. After all, it’s scary, and fear can make people do uncharacteristic things, even to those who are trying to help.

The same goes for their friends and family members, who are probably just as worried as the patient. On occasion, someone is going to lash out, and you’ll need to be able to handle it. Nursing schools want to know that you can keep your cool under pressure, even if a person you are treating becomes hostile.


“First, I would listen to what the patient or family member was expressing. By using active listening techniques, I would focus on understanding their perspective, summarizing what I was being told and asking clarifying questions if needed. That would give me valuable insights into how to potentially diffuse the situation, as I’ll have a great understanding of what they may require to feel confident and that proper care was being delivered. Then, I would identify actions I can take to alleviate their concern and move forward. However, if the person became violent, I would rely on the clinic’s or hospital’s protocols in that situation, as they are designed to ensure the safety of everyone, including the patient, family members, and medical staff.”

17 More Nursing School Interview Questions

Here are 17 additional nursing school interview questions you might be asked when meeting with the admissions committee:

    1. What about our nursing program convinced you to apply?
    2. Many nurses struggle with the long hours they may be asked to work. What is your perspective on working for extended periods?
    3. How do you feel about mandatory vaccinations for nurses or other healthcare staff members?
    4. What qualities make a good nurse, and why?
    5. If you have a conflict with a professor, how would you handle it?
    6. How would your classmates describe you?
    7. If you saw a medical professional acting unethically, what would you do?
    8. What about being a nursing student intimidates you the most and why?
    9. What nursing skill appeals to you most, and why?
    10. If you were treating a patient who speaks a language you don’t, what would you do to ensure good communication?
    11. What aspect of nursing do you think will be the most challenging?
    12. Can you describe a nursing industry trend that’s caught your eye? Why does it interest you?
    13. Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you handle it?
    14. We are interviewing more applicants than we can admit. Why are you the best candidate?
    15. What is your personal care philosophy?
    16. Can you describe one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing the world today? How do you plan to work toward solving it?
    17. How will you make a positive impact on the nursing profession?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Nursing School Interview

As your nurse school interview begins to draw to a close, you’ll usually get a chance to ask a few questions yourself. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! It’s a chance for you to see if this is the right program for you, so you need to make the most of this time. If you don’t know what to ask, here are a few questions to keep in your back pocket.

    1. What is the biggest challenge students face in this program? What do I need to do to be ready to overcome or avoid it?
    2. How does this nursing program distinguish itself from other schools?
    3. What do your most successful nursing students have in common?
    4. What resources are available to assist nursing students who may be struggling with a subject?
    5. What career resources are available to students and program graduates?

NOTE: For more great questions to ask in an interview check out our article!

Putting It All Together

While attending a nursing school interview might be scary, it’s also exciting. It’s an opportunity to move towards your dream career. With proper preparation, you can shine. Don’t forget that you’re an amazing, passionate aspiring nursing student. Just make sure you show that to the admissions committee, so they won’t have any doubt that you’ll excel if admitted.

As always good luck!

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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.