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Top 25 Nursing Interview Questions & Answers [+Examples from Pros]

Tom Gerencer
Career Writer
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You’re about to see the top 25 nursing interview questions and answers.

 

But first—

 

There are two solid reasons you’ll ace the interview.

 

  1. Most applicants don’t have answers ready for common nurse interview questions. (You will!)
  2. It’s not hard to prep job-getting answers to the toughest interview questions for nurses.

 

You passed the NCLEX.

 

With a little work you’ll pass the nursing interview too.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • The 25 most common nursing interview questions and answers.
  • Tips for how to get ready for nursing job interview questions so you’re cool and prepared.
  • How to answer interview questions for nurses with achievements hiring managers love.
  • How to answer RN interview questions when you’re fresh out of school.

 

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In a nursing interview, you’ll need to prove you’ve got very specific skills. Those may cover patient care, crisis management, patient education, and more.

 

To probe your nurse superpowers, interviewers will ask nursing behavioral interview questions. These are scenario questions or “situational questions.” See our guide to get ready:

 

 

Some nursing interview questions are based on more common job interview questions. Our guide can help you prep for those:

 

 

Can’t land an interview in the first place? Your nursing resume might be to blame. Use our guides to fix it:

 

 

1

The 25 Most Common Nursing Interview Questions

 

The nursing interview questions and answers below fix the reason most applicants flunk.

 

Namely, they don’t have answers ready for common questions.

 

Good answers are specific and draw on real life examples.

 

They’re not beauty-pageant speeches about saving the world.

 

They’re, “One time a patient was lashing out at all the staff. I talked to her and learned she was terrified because she thought she was dying. I took the time to educate her and she was calm and friendly the rest of her stay.”

 

Great answers to nurse interview questions fit what the job offer is searching for. Does the job want communication skills? Budgeting? The best answers fit the manager’s needs.

 

So, to answer the most common questions for nursing interviews:

 

  1. Read the job description and learn its requirements.
  2. Brainstorm your achievements that prove you fit.
  3. Rehearse your answers until you can give them in your sleep.

 

Answer right, and the administrators will ask you a question:

 

“When can you start?”

 

  1. Why did you want to be a nurse?

 

Why did you choose nursing? Administrators love this nursing interview question. They know nursing is hard. Nurses face fear, frustration, and hardship that makes superheroes look like slackers. Will you give up? Answering the “why do you want to be a nurse” question shows the driving force inside.

 

Example Answer

 

Why do I want to be a nurse? Nursing is my passion. I love providing comfort and education to those in need, and intervening in difficult situations. Last year I was tasked with handling a tough patient. I did my best to listen and provide comfort. As she was leaving, she said, “I’ll never forget you as long as I live.” It hit me that my life was important to her. That’s what makes nursing so meaningful to me. Every day, in small and large ways, my existence truly matters to those in my care.

 

Pow. That’s a great answer to motivation-based nurse interview questions. It explains why nursing matters beyond a paycheck. It uses a specific story. It addresses another of the common interview questions for nurses: “Tell me about a time you handled a difficult patient.”

 

Pro Tip: Many of the nurse practitioner interview questions in this guide also work as CNA interview questions. Just customize your answers to CNA skills and duties.

 

  1. Tell me about yourself.

 

Let’s magically translate this trickiest of all nursing interview questions. It actually asks, “Why are you perfect for this job?” Please don’t give a generic answer. Do your homework. Find out what the job requires. Then rehearse the best achievements from your resume to tell a story.

 

Example Answer

 

I’m just finishing up nursing school. I’ve got a 3.99 GPA and I received an Outstanding Undergraduate Nursing Student Award for leadership and caring. As a precept nurse at Newark General Hospital, I received frequent commendations from the preceptor for efficiency. I also maintained 95% positive evaluations for patient education. I supervised bedsore prevention on my ward, for which my patients were in the top 98%.

 

Before that I worked as a CNA for two years at Hilldale Nursing Home. My manager there wants to hire me because of my strong work ethic and the way I interact with patients. I’d love to work for her, but I’m very excited about being a nurse here at Clifton Bluffs Hospital. Your commitment to ongoing staff training and patient education fit my skills and drive, and I think I’d really grow in this environment.

 

See that? It’s a greatest hits of your achievements. Even better, it fits perfectly with the job. This is one of the harder nursing interview questions. But if you prep and rehearse, your chance of getting hired will go through the roof.

 

Chances are, it’s going to come up in your nursing phone interview as well, so make sure you nail it from the start: The Perfect Answer to the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

 

  1. Tell me about a time you had to handle a difficult patient.

 

Why does this come in at #3 on our list of interview questions for nurses? Patients can be tough. The ability to deal with them is crucial. You’ll almost certainly face this question in your nursing interview. Look for the worst possible situation in your past with the best possible outcome.

 

Example Answer

 

I’ve often faced difficult patients. Handling them is part of the job. One patient in particular was yelling at everyone, even for minor problems. It was over a holiday, so I was able to get him moved to a private room. After that, I talked to him and realized he was upset over a hopeless diagnosis. He had no friends or family and nobody to talk to. I told the hospitalist and she was able to get a therapist to speak with him. After that he was actually pleasant. All the other staff and patients on the ward were visibly more relaxed. There’s always a reason someone is being difficult. Treating people with respect can often have surprising outcomes.

 

That answer shows compassion, critical thinking, and problem solving. All key skills for a nurse. Haven’t worked in healthcare yet? That’s not a deal-breaker. Just tell a story about working with a difficult co-worker instead.

 

Think about preparing your answers roughly to the STAR format. Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Carl P.
Carl P.
nursing interviewer

 

The STAR method works great for both experienced and new grad nursing interview questions and answers. Want to use it? See our guide: STAR Method for Acing Behavioral Interview Questions

 

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

 

You probably have dozens of strengths and just as many weaknesses. Focus on the ones that fit the job offer. Then use real achievements that prove them. For weaknesses, avoid “spin.” Instead of, “My biggest weakness is that I have no weakness” (yikes) use a real flaw that’s manageable. Do that, and you’ll nail these nursing interview questions every time. Let’s pick a job that values compassion and problem solving above all other skills:

 

Example Answer

 

My biggest strengths are my compassion and my ability to solve difficult problems. There was this one old man who had night terrors. He’d wake up screaming every few hours. I thought how I would feel if it were me instead of him. I took some time to talk to him. I quickly found that just ten minutes of conversation took away his fear. I came in early for the next five nights to spend time with him. His night terrors left and the other patients on the ward could sleep peacefully again. My biggest weakness? I get irritated when other nurses don’t pull their weight, and it shows.

 

Solved. The strength story fits perfectly with the hospital’s needs. The weakness is understandable and real, but it shows a strong work ethic. Answer RN interview questions like this and you’ll ace the interview.

 

For more, go to: How to Answer the "What Are Your Strengths?” Interview Question

 

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 

In other words, do you like this job enough to stick with it? Registered nurse interview questions like this want to know if you’re just filling an employment gap. Make it clear that this is your dream job. Talk about how good you want to be at this job in five years and how you’ll get there. Tip: that means you’ve got to know what this job is, so do your homework!

 

Example Answer

 

In five years, I’d like to be the most valued nurse on your team. I plan to take full advantage of the continuing education reimbursement you offer to expand my skills beyond their current level. I’m skilled in patient education and EHR, which I know you value. There are so many new skills I’d like to gain, including budgeting and training others. I think Cliffton Bluffs Hospital is the perfect place to grow into a better nurse.

 

That’s the perfect answer to “where do you see yourself” nursing interview questions. It basically says, “I see myself still helping you, and getting better at it!”

 

  1. Why are you the best person for this nursing job?

 

This isn’t one of those generic interview questions for nurses. More than any other question, this one depends on how well you know the job. Beyond just reading the job description, talk to other nurses who already work there. What challenges does the facility face? Talk about past times you’ve met those needs.

 

Example Answer

 

I know your biggest concern right now is compassionate budgeting. At NGH, I was put on a team tasked to fix our budgeting problems. We cut inventory costs by 15% while actually increasing patient satisfaction. We did this through relocating the stockroom more centrally, which saved time. We also put common supplies on a use-based replenishment system. Patient care has always been my passion, so maintaining standards while cutting costs was a huge win.

 

Perfect. When answering RN interview questions, always come back to how you can help. If this hiring manager had been more interested in raising HCAHPS scores, you might have had a different answer.

 

Beyond the technical nursing questions, I’m always surprised when folks don’t have answers prepared for common nursing interview questions.
Carl P.
Carl P.
nurse interviewer

 

  1. What do you find most rewarding about being a nurse?

 

Nursing interview questions like this look for your passion. The more powerful your rewards, the more powerful you’re perceived to be. Better still, if you see huge rewards in nursing, you’re less likely to seek them in some other job.

 

Example Answer

 

For me, the rewards of nursing never stop coming. Every day I’m learning and growing in ways I never dreamed possible. I feel so good when I see my patients improve and when I hold the hands of family members, providing emotional support in times of tragedy. Helping people feels better than anything else I’ve ever done, and I get paid for it! It’s the most amazing career I could imagine for myself.

 

Great answers to nursing job interview questions like this show how nursing ties into your life story. Do the rewards of nursing outweigh any monetary gain? Use a story to explain that to the interviewer.

 

  1. What’s your strongest skill as a nurse?

 

Homework comes in handy for nurse interview questions like this. It’s similar to the “strengths and weaknesses” interview question (#4). The interviewers want to know you’ll fit. If their biggest need is better patient education and that’s your strongest skill—ding! You’re hired. Lying is a no-no, but in a toss-up between three big skills you have, talk first about the one they value most.

 

Example Answer

 

My strongest skill is patient education. It can soften fears and improve outcomes. One patient was unable to reduce his blood pressure following a heart attack. I was tasked with helping educate him about diet and exercise. I sourced some video case studies about patients just like him who’d changed their routines. Three months later he wrote me a letter. His blood pressure and lipid profile were all down into a normal range.

 

That’s a great answer to skill-based nursing interview questions. That said, if the job offer really wants people who can manage EHR records and your strongest nursing skill is problem solving, don’t be afraid to say it. Honesty is always the best prescription.

 

  1. How do you deal with the stress of nursing?

 

Nursing is stressful. Interviewers want to know you’ve got the strength to stick it out. Interview questions for nurses like this seek to know if you’ll vent frustrations in healthy (and HIPAA-compliant) ways.

 

Example Answer

 

Dealing with stress is one of the most important parts of being a nurse. As a CNA in an Alzheimer’s care ward, I saw lots of patients without hope. Joining the Alzheimer’s Association forum helped. It gave me ways to manage my stress and showed me strategies to give emotional support to patients and their families. Support groups are my go-to for managing my stress.

 

Answer stress-management RN interview questions like that, and you’re on your way to hired. That answer shows resourcefulness about one of nursing’s toughest challenges.

 

If you’re doing a phone interview, why not write out your answers to common nurse interview questions in case you forget? As long as you don’t read them in a monotone, the interviewer will never know.
Carl P.
Carl P.
nurse interviewer

 

Nail that phone interview with this guide: Top Phone Interview Questions & Answers [+Examples to Prepare For]

 

  1. What’s the hardest thing about being a nurse?

 

It’s no secret nursing isn’t easy. With nursing interview questions like this, interviewers want to know if you can handle it. If you say it isn’t hard, you’ll set off alarm bells. So, pick a real challenge, then show your solution.

 

Example Answer

 

For me, the hardest thing about nursing is the physical side. Being on my feet for an entire 12-hour shift, working night shifts, and lifting patients takes a toll. I take weekly yoga classes and do CrossFit for stamina and endurance. The stronger I am physically, the better I can deal with whatever nursing throws my way.

 

That applicant sounds like a champion. She faces a big obstacle, but she’s gathered the tools to handle it.

 

Those are the top 10 interview questions and answers for nurses. Don’t miss the next 15, plus nursing interview tips to get you hired fast.

 

Pro Tip: Once you’ve got answers to the top RN interview questions, rehearse them! If you practice interview questions and answers, you’ll be cool and happy in the interview.

 

2

15 Less Common Nursing Interview Questions [#11–25]

 

 

These interview questions for nurses aren’t as common.

 

Many are still likely to show up in a nurse interview. So—prep and practice answers for them too.

 

With each, try to tell a story with a situation, task, action, and a positive result.

 

  1. Are you at ease working with other nurses and doctors?
  2. Why did you leave your last job?
  3. Why do you want to work here?
  4. Would you call yourself a team player?
  5. Why should we hire you?
  6. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult coworker.
  7. When were you proudest of your healthcare team?
  8. Describe a time when things got hectic. How did you handle it?
  9. Tell me about a time you effectively educated a patient or their family.
  10. Describe a time when you handled a leadership role.
  11. Tell me about a time you spotted upcoming problems with a patient.
  12. Describe a time when you didn’t know how to deal with a healthcare issue.
  13. Have you ever accidentally caused a conflict?
  14. Tell me about a time you had to persuade a patient about something.

 

Those are the top 24 nursing interview questions and answers. Want one more question that can really boost your hireability? That’s next.

 

Can’t seem to land the interview, even though you’ve got a great resume? Maybe it’s your cover letter. See our guide for help: Nursing Cover Letter Sample & Complete Writing Guide

 

3

The Best of All Interview Questions for Nursing

 

Here’s the most important nursing interview question:

 

“Do you have questions for me?”

 

Why’s that critical?

 

  1. It shows your interest in the job.
  2. It gives you a chance to learn about the opening.
  3. It grants an opportunity to show your value as a candidate.

 

Take time to prep for this queen among nursing interview questions.

 

Think through the list of questions to ask during a nursing interview below. Based on the job description, pick 2–3 that fit best.

 

Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview

 

  • What kind of training do you offer?
  • What’s the culture like here?
  • What’s your policy for tuition reimbursement?
  • Which system do you use for EMR?
  • What’s your requirement for weekend rotation?
  • Can you tell me about your staffing ratios?
  • What do the other nurses like most about working here?
  • What's your policy on overtime?
  • How long are the shifts?
  • How do you measure nursing success?

 

Why are those the best nursing interview questions to ask? They show you’ve thought through the most challenging parts of the job.

 

Pro Tip: When answering interview questions for nurses, be honest! Interviewers will ask follow-up questions to check if you’re lying. If they catch you, you’ve blown the interview.

 

Want more reverse-nursing job interview questions and answers? See our guide: 65+ Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer & Land Top Jobs [Proven Tips]

 

4

Nursing Interview Tips

 

Got your nursing interview questions and answers ready and rehearsed?

 

Once you know how to answer nursing interview questions, move on to step 2: How to prepare for a nurse interview.

 

Here are some nurse interview tips to help you land your dream job.

 

  • Know where you’re going. Healthcare facilities are often big and confusing. Take a little time to learn your route before the interview.
  • Dress professionally. Professional attire tells interviewers you take them and the job seriously.
  • Rehearse your nursing interview questions. Don’t just prep answers. Drill them until you can rattle them off at will.
  • Pamper yourself. Get plenty of sleep before your nursing interview. Make sure to eat and hydrate too.
  • Listen and take notes. Taking notes on paper helps you listen. It’ll also help you remember important details. Finally, it shows you care.

 

What to Bring to a Nursing Interview

 

Besides answers to RN interview questions:

 

Bring folders that contain the following (one kit for each interviewer).

 

  • A copy of your resume
  • A copy of your nursing license and other certifications
  • Any letters of reference
  • A business card with a picture of yourself

 

Also bring a pen and notepad.

 

Want more tips to help you nail the interview? Got your answers to interview questions for nursing down cold? See our guide: 50+ Successful Interview Tips, Advice & Guidelines

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s a recap of common nursing interview questions and answers:

 

  • Research the facility and the job. You can’t answer nurse interview questions in a vacuum.
  • Read the 25 nursing interview questions in this guide.
  • Prepare answers with achievements from your past. Make sure they fit the job description.
  • Rehearse your answers until you can recite them in your sleep.

 

Do you have questions on how to answer interview questions for nurses? Not sure how to describe your past experience? Give us a shout in the comments! Let's get you hired now.

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Author
Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a full-time writer in the fields of personal finance and careers. He's been sharing expert advice on all stages of the recruitment process at the Zety career website for more than two years.