Top 20 Nursing Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Completing a job interview is an important step in the hiring process for nurses. Job interviews allow employers to assess your skills and determine whether you're a good fit for their establishment. Learning some common interview questions for nurses can help you prepare ahead of your interview and feel confident in your answers. In this article, we cover 20 common nursing interview questions with example answers and we answer a few frequently asked questions about nursing interviews to help you prepare.

Related: Body Language Tips for a Job Interview

9 common nursing interview questions with answers

Here are some common interview questions for nurses with example answers:

1. Why did you choose to become a nurse?

An interviewer might ask this question to understand your motivation for becoming a nurse. When answering this question, explain what drives your passion for nursing or provide a short story explaining what inspired you to become a nurse.

Example: "I've always wanted to be a nurse. When I was little, my father became sick with a critical illness, but I remember the nurses always treated me with kindness and respect when I went to medical appointments with him. They took the time to explain the treatments they had planned, which helped me understand what was happening and reduced my worries. Now I want to return that kindness by helping my patients and their families."

2. Do you work well with others?

Nurses often work as part of a healthcare team. An interviewer might ask this question to assess your teamwork abilities. Answer this question by emphasising your interpersonal skills, such as teamwork and active listening.

Example: "I enjoy working with others, and I feel that I have strong communication, listening and collaboration skills that help me work well as part of a team. For example, I always enjoyed doing group projects at school. I usually took on a facilitator role in these projects by ensuring that my classmates understood their responsibilities as part of the team, assisting them by taking on extra responsibilities as needed and supporting them through challenges."

3. How would you handle a difficult patient?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to respond to challenging patients with compassion and professionalism. In your response, you might give an example of a time when you reassured a patient, communicated effectively with them and improved health outcomes for them.

Example: "When I worked as a paediatric nurse, I had a teenage patient in my care who called me into the room several times within an hour. The calls caused me to fall behind in my other work, but I took a few minutes to sit and talk with this patient. After talking, I realised he was worried about his condition and anxious about being away from home. I spent some time answering his questions and validating his feelings. After our short conversation, he felt assured enough to sleep for the rest of the night."

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

Nursing can be an emotionally challenging job, so showing your passion for the role is important in an interview. When an interviewer asks this question, focus on what motivates you to work hard and deliver the best quality of care to your patients.

Example: "As a nurse, I get to make a difference in the lives of others every day. It's rewarding to me when I can help a patient feel better by listening to their concerns or assisting them with a task. Supporting families through difficult times makes me feel like my job is important and motivates me to continue learning and growing my skills."

5. How do you manage work stress?

Since nursing can be a challenging career, interviewers may ask this question to evaluate your ability to manage stress. Describing what stress management techniques you use to handle difficult situations and keep yourself healthy can show interviewers your ability to deal with stress.

Example: "Good stress management abilities are an essential part of being a nurse. For me, I like to spend quality time with friends and family. They help me relax, laugh and enjoy my free time. I also make sure to care for my physical health by eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep every night."

Related: Interviewing Skills To Ace a Job Interview

6. What are your strongest skills as a nurse?

An interviewer may ask this question to understand what you see as your strongest assets. When answering this question, consider your professional attributes, but also keep the job listing description in mind. If the job posting mentioned looking for a nurse with a certain set of skills, you might include those skills in your answer to this question.

Example: "My strongest skill is communicating with patients. Communication helps me to understand my patient's needs, build trust with them and explain important details about how to manage their condition or use their medications. When I communicate well with my patients, it improves outcomes by ensuring they understand their own health needs and have the knowledge to care for themselves."

7. How would you handle a patient who struggles with pain management?

Empathy is a vital skill for nurses to use when interacting with patients who may live with pain. Express that you take your patient's concerns seriously and provide an example that shows you can help them through empathy and problem-solving.

Example: "I worked with a patient who expressed a lot of pain during her pregnancy. I taught her some stretches and stress management techniques to help her with her pain, but she reported they weren't working as well enough for her. I took her concerns into account and communicated them to her doctor, who recommended another approach that worked better for her."

8. How do you respond when people ask for your personal diagnosis outside of the clinical setting?

There may be times when people in your personal life come to you for medical advice. However, it's best to refer them to their primary care team for a full evaluation. When answering this question, describe how you might encourage a friend or family member to seek medical advice in a clinical setting.

Example: "I have a family friend who would ask me about symptoms he was having and what I thought he should do. After I told him I couldn't give him a diagnosis outside of the clinic where I worked, he finally made an appointment to see the doctor there. It's always best to evaluate patients in a professional setting so we can gather all the right information to do what is best for them."

9. What's the hardest thing about being a nurse?

An interviewer may ask this question to understand how you handle difficulties in your job. Nursing can be a challenging career, so it's important to acknowledge those difficulties while also focusing on how you overcome them.

Example: "Nursing can be physically difficult for me. It's hard to work overnight or spend a 12-hour shift on my feet. I started taking fitness classes on my days off to improve my strength and endurance. I love my profession, and I'm excited and motivated to improve my physical fitness so I can enjoy a long and fulfilling career."

Additional questions for nurses

Here are a few other questions an employer may ask during an interview:

  • How would you uphold the mission and values of this organisation?

  • What makes you want to work for our organisational?

  • What experience do you have in this speciality?

  • How would your coworkers describe you?

  • Describe a time that you stepped up as a leader.

  • What are your career goals in the next few years?

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Why are you leaving your previous position?

  • Describe a time you educated a patient or their family.

  • Describe your proudest moment as a healthcare professional.

  • Why are you the best person for this job?

Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yoursel**f"**

Nursing interview FAQs

Here are some common questions about nursing interviews:

What can I expect at a nursing interview?

Most often, an interview is a conversation with an employer who asks questions to assess whether you're a good fit for their team or facility. Though the process varies by facility, you can expect to spend about an hour talking to the employer about your nursing experience, education and credentials. Also, remember that an interview is an opportunity for you to learn about the facility to determine whether it's right for you.

How do I prepare for a nursing interview?

Though every facility has a different interviewing process, arriving prepared with the right materials and knowledge of some common nursing interview questions can help you feel confident in your interview. You can prepare for an interview by:

  • Printing and bringing at least three copies of your resume

  • Rehearsing your answers to some common interview questions

  • Having a notepad and pen or pencil with you to take notes

Related: Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

What questions should I ask in a nurse interview?

Asking follow-up questions can show that you've done your research about the job. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What is the training outline for new employees?

  • What does a typical day look like for this role?

  • How is performance measured?

  • What growth opportunities are available to nurses?

  • What are the next steps in the interviewing process?

Explore more articles