The Résumé Rx

Nurse Interview Questions & Answers: Tips for Landing That Job!

Amanda Guarniere

When you’re sitting across the table at a nursing interview, be ready for your interviewer to delve into your ability to thrive in a high-pressure environment, and how well you manage to work collaboratively with others.

This article provides a comprehensive list of nurse interview questions and answers that are sure to impress your interviewers. These well-thought-out sample answers aim to showcase your competence, compassion, and commitment — the three Cs at the heart of a successful nursing career. So, feel free to jump straight to the questions you’re eager to ace first:

Personal and Background Questions (+examples)

Tell me about yourself.

This question is essentially asking “Why are you the perfect fit for this nursing job?” How you answer is a chance to prove your compatibility with the role and highlight your unique qualifications. It’s important to not use a generic answer, as this won’t set you apart from other candidates. Instead, you should thoroughly research what the job requires and align your response with these specific requirements, while sharing traits about yourself that match the role. 

Start by reviewing the job description in detail, paying special attention to the skills and experience the employer is seeking. Use this information to shape your answer and ensure that it directly addresses the role’s necessities. 

Lastly, take the time to rehearse your response. Practice elaborating on the best and most unique achievements listed on your resume, and consider how these accomplishments demonstrate your suitability for the job. Remember, it’s all about showing the interviewer that you have what it takes to excel in this position.

Sample answer:

“I’m just finishing up nursing school. I’ve got a 3.78 GPA and a student nursing award for proactiveness in the medical field. As a precept nurse at Mayo Clinic Care, I received various accolades from the nursing department for efficiency and positive patient evaluations and was assigned the lead supervisor for bedsore prevention. Before that, I worked as an RN Assistant for one year at Lenox Hill Hospital. My manager hired me there because of my work ethic and positive patient interactions. There are many things I like about being a nurse. I love impacting patients positively and enjoy the challenge of nursing and the opportunity to take on new responsibilities.”

Why did you decide to be a nurse?

Explaining your WHY for becoming a nurse allows employers to gauge your commitment to the profession and assess how well your values align with the demands of nursing. Moreover, it provides insight into your genuine passion, compassion, and long-term dedication to providing care.

Begin by sharing a brief overview of what attracted you to nursing, such as a desire to help others, make a positive impact on lives, or embrace the challenges and rewards of healthcare. Then, provide a real-life example that showcases your passion and commitment to nursing.

Sample answer:

“The decision to become a nurse was driven by my deep-rooted desire to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. From a young age, I witnessed the incredible impact that compassionate healthcare professionals had on my own family during times of illness. 

Their empathy, knowledge, and unwavering support left an indelible impression on me. This experience ignited my passion for nursing, as I realized that being a nurse would allow me to combine my love for science with my innate compassion for others. I’m genuinely fulfilled by the opportunity to provide holistic care, support patients and their families during vulnerable moments, and contribute to their overall well-being. 

It’s a privilege to be part of a profession that values competence, compassion, and commitment, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to positively impact lives every day.”

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This question allows employers to assess your self-awareness, honesty, and ability to reflect on your personal and professional attributes. It helps them understand how you can contribute to a team and identify areas where you may need support or development.

Begin by discussing a couple of your key strengths relevant to nursing, emphasizing how they contribute to your effectiveness as a nurse. Then, briefly mention a weakness or an area for improvement and explain how you are actively addressing it.

Sample answer:

“One of my key strengths as a nurse is my ability to remain calm and composed in high-pressure situations. This helps me make sound decisions and provide effective care during critical moments. Additionally, I’m highly organized and detail-oriented, which allows me to stay on top of multiple tasks and ensure accuracy in documentation and patient care. 

However, I recognize that there is always room for growth. One area I have been actively working on is my ability to delegate tasks efficiently. As a natural problem-solver, I often find it challenging to let go of certain responsibilities and trust others to handle them effectively. 

To address this, I have been proactively seeking opportunities to delegate tasks and collaborate closely with my team. I have also been honing my communication skills to ensure clear instructions and effective teamwork. Through these efforts, I have seen significant improvement in my delegation skills, and I’m committed to continuous growth and development in this area.”

Why do you want to work here at this hospital? What do you like the most?

For employers to sift the wheat from the chaff, they start by gauging your level of interest in their hospital and assessing your alignment with their values, mission, and work environment. This question helps them determine if you are genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity and if you have done your research.

Start by expressing your genuine interest in the hospital and highlight specific aspects that appeal to you. Next, discuss what you appreciate the most about the hospital, such as its reputation, patient-centered approach, commitment to excellence, or specialized services. And, finally, connect these aspects to your own values and professional goals, demonstrating how working at the hospital aligns with your aspirations.

Sample answer:

“I’m truly excited about the prospect of working at [hospital name]. What impresses me the most is the hospital’s unwavering commitment to patient-centered care. Your reputation for delivering high-quality healthcare services, coupled with the emphasis on compassion and empathy, deeply resonates with my own values as a nurse. 

I appreciate the hospital’s dedication to providing holistic care and creating a supportive environment for both patients and staff. Furthermore, I’m drawn to the collaborative and multidisciplinary approach that is evident in the hospital’s teamwork and the emphasis on continuous learning and professional growth. 

I believe that this focus on excellence aligns perfectly with my own commitment to delivering exceptional care to patients and continuously improving my skills as a nurse. It would be an honor to be part of a team that shares my passion for compassionate and patient-centered healthcare.”

What are your professional goals?

Want to showcase your clinical skills and drive for knowledge expansion, leadership development, or quality improvement? This question allows the interviewer to assess all those things and more, including your ambition, motivation, and alignment with the organization’s objectives. It helps them understand if you have a clear vision for your career and if it aligns with the opportunities and growth potential within the organization.

A memorable answer starts with your enthusiasm for professional growth and advancement. Discuss your overarching career goals and how they align with the nursing profession. Emphasize your commitment to continuous learning, skill development, and contributing to the healthcare field. Then, connect your goals to the specific role or specialty you are pursuing, demonstrating your passion and dedication.

Sample answer:

“My professional goals revolve around continuous growth, both personally and as a nurse. One of my primary objectives is to enhance my clinical skills and expand my knowledge base in [specific specialty]. I’m committed to pursuing advanced certifications and staying up-to-date with the latest research and evidence-based practices in this field. 

Additionally, I aim to further develop my leadership abilities, as I believe effective leadership plays a vital role in promoting positive patient outcomes and fostering a collaborative work environment. 

Ultimately, I aspire to make a meaningful impact in patient care by actively contributing to quality improvement initiatives and advocating for patient safety. My goal is to be a trusted resource for both patients and colleagues, providing compassionate and evidence-based care while promoting a culture of continuous learning and growth within the healthcare team.”

Describe a situation where you were under a lot of pressure. How did you deal with it? What methods worked well for you?

The interviewer will want to assess your ability to handle stressful situations, your coping mechanisms, and your problem-solving skills. Answering this question demonstrates your resilience, adaptability, and composure under pressure.

Begin by briefly describing a specific situation where you faced significant pressure in your nursing role. Explain how you recognized the pressure and share the specific steps you took to address it. Discuss the coping mechanisms and strategies that worked well for you, highlighting their effectiveness in managing the situation and minimizing stress. And don’t forget to emphasize the importance of effective communication, teamwork, and self-care in handling pressure.

Sample answer:

“During one busy shift in the emergency department, the waiting room was overflowing with patients, and the healthcare team was stretched thin. To relieve the pressure, I immediately prioritized tasks and organized a team huddle to delegate responsibilities effectively. Clear communication was key in ensuring everyone was aware of the situation and aligned in our approach. 

Additionally, I practiced self-care by taking short breaks to reenergize and refocus. Deep breathing exercises helped me stay calm and maintain a clear mindset. By remaining composed and focused, I was able to contribute to the efficient flow of patient care and maintain a supportive and collaborative environment within the team.“

Questions on Patient Care (+scenarios) 

Describe a problematic patient you have had in the past. How did you handle the situation?

Here’s your golden opportunity to highlight your skills and abilities. It’s your time to shine, so don’t shy away from boasting a little about your unique outcomes, ways in which you improved patient care, or innovative solutions you’ve brought to your previous roles. The key is to demonstrate how your skills and experience translate to real-world effectiveness. 

Remember, professionalism is paramount. Never speak negatively about a patient. We’re all human and mistakes happen, but what truly matters is how we handle them. If you’ve made a mistake in the past, don’t hide it. Instead, openly acknowledge it and talk about what you learned from that experience and how you put those lessons into action to prevent similar issues in the future. This shows accountability, growth, and the ability to learn from your experiences, all traits highly valued in the nursing profession.

Sample answer: 

“I once had an elderly patient who had a new order for wound care from his doctor. Following those instructions, I undressed the wound and used a different type of dressing. His caregiver was unaware of those new instructions and yelled at me for using a different kind of dressing. To ease her concerns, I explained the new procedure in a way she could understand. I apologized that the new instructions were not relayed to her and let her know I was available for any more clarifying questions.”

How do you address questions from a patient’s family and friends?

Interacting with patients’ loved ones is crucial as they seek reassurance and information about their family member’s condition. Employers want to know how well you can handle such situations with empathy and professionalism, as it directly impacts the patient’s overall experience and satisfaction. Your response should highlight your ability to communicate effectively and provide compassionate support. 

Start by acknowledging the importance of family involvement in patient care. Share your approach to addressing their questions with patience, respect, and clarity. Emphasize active listening, as it allows you to understand their concerns fully. Provide examples of how you’ve handled previous situations, maintaining confidentiality and offering emotional support to worried family members.

Sample answer:

“In my nursing practice, I understand the significance of involving patients’ family and friends in their care journey. When they have questions or concerns, I ensure I’m approachable and take time to actively listen to their inquiries. 

For instance, I once cared for an elderly patient who had undergone a complex surgery, leaving the family understandably anxious. The patient’s daughter approached me with a list of questions about the post-operative care plan. I greeted her warmly, found a quiet space to talk, and attentively listened to her concerns. 

With a compassionate tone, I addressed each question, providing clear explanations that eased her worries. Additionally, I shared information on the patient’s progress and the steps we were taking to ensure a smooth recovery. By the end of our conversation, she expressed gratitude for my approach, which made her feel more at ease during a challenging time.”

Can you explain situations without using a lot of medical jargon? Give an example.

Avoiding excessive medical jargon is vital in not just educating patients but also empowering them to take a more active role in decision-making. Employers value nurses who can convey information clearly and ensure patients understand their conditions, treatments, and care plans. 

To showcase your commitment to patient-centered communication, make sure to explain medical concepts in layman’s terms without sounding condescending. Next, highlight the importance of active listening to assess patients’ understanding and tailor your explanations accordingly. And, finally, provide an example that demonstrates your skill in simplifying complex medical information for patients and their families.

Sample answer:

“As a nurse, I recognize the significance of providing information in a way that patients can understand, without overwhelming them with medical terminology. For instance, I recently cared for a patient who was diagnosed with hypertension. 

When discussing their condition, I used everyday language to explain that their blood pressure was consistently elevated, which could lead to health complications. I described the factors that contribute to hypertension, such as diet, exercise, and stress. 

To ensure their understanding, I asked open-ended questions and encouraged them to share any concerns or questions they had. By adopting this approach, I noticed an improvement in their comprehension, engagement, and adherence to the recommended lifestyle changes and medication regimen.”

What is your idea of effective patient and family education?

Employers want nurses who can effectively build trust, encourage self-care, and foster long-term health management with patients and their families. An effective education is key to making this happen. So, how do you do it?

First, highlight the importance of personalized education tailored to the unique needs of each patient and their family. Next, emphasize the significance of clear communication, active listening, and using various educational tools and techniques. Lastly, provide a real-life example that showcases your approach to patient and family education.

Sample answer:

“To me, effective patient and family education involves creating a supportive and personalized learning experience. It begins with active listening to understand each individual’s needs, preferences, and level of health literacy. I strive to explain complex medical concepts in simple terms, using visual aids, demonstrations, and interactive discussions to enhance understanding. 

Recently, I had a patient with diabetes who struggled to manage their condition. I recognized the importance of educating not only the patient but also their family, as they played a key role in providing support. I provided step-by-step guidance on blood sugar monitoring, medication administration, and lifestyle modifications, ensuring the information was accessible and tailored to their specific circumstances. 

By fostering open dialogue, answering questions, and addressing concerns, I helped them feel empowered and confident in managing their diabetes effectively.”

Have you dealt with a family or patient who was displeased with your care? How did you handle it?

Dealing with displeased patients or families is a common challenge in healthcare. Employers value nurses who can effectively manage these situations with professionalism, empathy, and a commitment to resolving concerns. It demonstrates your ability to maintain patient satisfaction and ensure a positive healthcare experience.

To answer this question successfully, begin by emphasizing the importance of active listening and empathy when addressing dissatisfied patients or families. Then, discuss the significance of open communication, acknowledging their concerns, and collaborating on finding solutions. And, finally, provide a real-life example that illustrates your approach to handling such a situation.

Sample answer:

“I have encountered situations where patients or their families expressed dissatisfaction with the care provided. When faced with these challenges, I believe in the power of open communication and empathy. 

Recently, I cared for a patient who was unhappy with the response time for pain management. To address their concerns, I actively listened to their frustrations, validating their experience and empathizing with their discomfort. I acknowledged their feelings and took immediate action to involve the healthcare team, reassess the pain management plan, and provide alternative options to alleviate their pain. 

I also initiated regular check-ins to ensure their needs were being met and to address any new concerns. By taking a proactive and empathetic approach, I was able to rebuild trust and improve their overall satisfaction with the care they received.”

Questions on Teamwork (+examples)

Describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult co-worker. How did you handle it?

This question seeks to gauge your conflict resolution skills and ability to maintain professionalism in challenging situations. It’s crucial not to place blame or speak negatively about the individual involved. 

Remember, every experience, good or bad, provides an opportunity for growth and learning. So when you describe the situation, don’t just focus on the problem. Highlight the steps you took to address the issue, emphasizing the strategies you used to de-escalate tension, foster understanding, and find a resolution. 

Turn any negative aspects into positives, and outline what you learned from the experience. Did it make you more patient or understanding? Did it teach you new strategies for dealing with difficult individuals or situations? Also, discuss if the conflict resolution process helped to build a stronger bond between you and the individual involved and if you were able to talk through any differences and achieve mutual understanding.

Sample answer:

“I had a coworker who worked the opposite shift of me. During handoff, she would rush to close her shift, giving me partial information about a patient. This was frustrating as I had to spend a lot of time digging up patient information rather than attending to them. One day, I came to work 20 minutes earlier and explained the situation to her and that I wasn’t happy about it. Although the first part of the conversation was a bit uncomfortable, she agreed that proper handing over would work best for us. That encounter taught me that speaking up whenever a problem arises is a good way to resolve it.”

Tell us about a time that you were in a leadership position. Were you happy with the results?

Being asked about your leadership experience doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have been in an official management or supervisory role. It’s all about instances where you took the reins and demonstrated initiative. Maybe you led a project, directed a small team, or even just stepped up to handle a situation when no one else would. The key is to focus on a situation where you were the one calling the shots, making key decisions, or taking responsibility for an outcome. Here’s a helpful framework you can use: 

  • Choosing a Leadership Experience

When selecting an example to share, consider a situation that truly tested your leadership skills and demanded you to step up. Perhaps it was a challenging situation that required quick thinking, effective communication, problem-solving, and delegation. It could be anything from a stressful shift where you had to coordinate patient care, to a project or committee you led at your healthcare institution.

  • Explaining Your Actions

Once you choose your example, explain the circumstances that led you to assume a leadership role. What was the problem or challenge? Why did you have to take the lead? Was there a particular skill or strength that allowed you to excel in that position? These are the key elements of your story.

  • The Positive Outcome

Finally, don’t forget to highlight the positive outcomes that resulted from your leadership. This could be an improved process, a satisfied patient, a successful project, or a learned lesson that improved your nursing practice. Demonstrating a positive outcome not only shows that you were effective as a leader but also reveals your impact on the overall care environment.

Sample answer:

“I have acted as a management nurse several times before. I have led core teams, responded to rapid emergencies, and delegated patient assignments to ensure every member is allocated work equally. There was a day my supervisor left the hospital and I was left to attend to patient emergencies. Coincidentally, a critically-ill patient was brought to the hospital, and transferring them to the ICU needed my supervisor’s approval. Since she was out of the office, I took the lead and approved the patient’s transfer, knowing I’d explain the situation to my supervisor later. Although my decision slightly breached protocol, I knew that saving the patient’s life was our top priority, and the supervisor and management commended me for making that bold decision. “

Describe a situation where you felt proud of your healthcare team. What was your role?

Demonstrating your ability to work well in a team is crucial in nursing. This question allows you to highlight your understanding of the collaborative nature of healthcare and your commitment to providing the best care for patients.

Start by explaining the significance of teamwork in nursing, emphasizing effective communication and coordination. Then, share a real-life example from your experience that highlights your role. This way, you demonstrate your ability to thrive in a team-oriented environment, leaving a lasting impression on interviewers.

Sample answer:

“I recall a challenging case where our team’s coordination was exceptional. We were caring for a critically ill patient and, as the charge nurse, I actively communicated with team members, providing vital updates and leveraging my clinical experience. During a sudden complication, our team swiftly gathered, assessed the situation, and collaborated on a comprehensive plan. Each member’s unique skills contributed to our success, and witnessing positive outcomes for our patients filled me with immense pride.”

How do you like working with a team?

This question helps interviewers assess your attitude towards teamwork and your ability to function effectively within a group. So, it definitely pays to show your commitment to fostering a cohesive and patient-centered work environment!

Start by expressing your enthusiasm for working with a team and highlighting the benefits it brings to patient care. Then discuss how you value open communication, cooperation, and shared responsibilities.

Sample answer:

“I genuinely enjoy working with a team as it allows us to provide exceptional care to our patients by leveraging each other’s strengths and expertise. Through effective communication and coordination, we can collectively tackle complex cases and achieve optimal outcomes. 

For instance, during a recent project, I collaborated with fellow nurses, physicians, and therapists to develop and implement a comprehensive care plan for a patient with multiple comorbidities. Our collective efforts and shared insights led to a significant improvement in the patient’s condition and overall quality of life. It was rewarding to witness the positive impact we made by working together and creating a supportive environment for everyone.”

Describe a time there was a miscommunication between you and a teammate. How did you handle it?

Handling miscommunication with a teammate effectively and respectfully not only demonstrates your problem-solving skills and ability to work through challenges but also showcases your empathy — a crucial trait in the nursing field. 

Start by acknowledging the importance of clear communication in healthcare settings. Discuss how you proactively address miscommunication by listening attentively, seeking clarification, and maintaining a respectful attitude. Then emphasize the steps you take to resolve conflicts, such as open dialogue, compromise, and finding common ground.

Sample answer:

“Recently, while working on a critical patient case, a miscommunication occurred between a fellow nurse and me regarding the administration of medication. Instead of making assumptions, I immediately approached my teammate and calmly asked for clarification. 

By actively listening to their perspective, we identified the root cause of the miscommunication — a difference in interpreting the physician’s instructions. We engaged in a respectful discussion, sharing our viewpoints and clarifying the next best steps. We agreed to implement a double-check system to ensure accurate medication administration moving forward. This experience reinforced the importance of open communication and reinforced my commitment to fostering a collaborative environment.”

Questions on Adaptability (+scenarios) 

Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. How did you manage it? 

Explain a situation where you were stressed and under pressure to perform. This is a common question that provides you with an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving and stress-management skills. Interviewers are interested in seeing how you handle high-pressure situations, which are inevitable in the nursing profession. You are expected to provide a detailed account of the scenario, highlighting your actions and reactions. Follow this framework to help you answer: 

  1. Describe the process you took to make it through the situation. Here, you should recount the exact steps you took to navigate the stressful situation. This will give the interviewer an insight into your decision-making process, critical thinking skills, and ability to remain calm under pressure. 
  2. The Result: It’s crucial to follow up your response with the outcome of the situation. This will help the interviewer understand the effectiveness of your actions and how you handle the consequences of your decisions. 
  3. What you learned: This question aims at understanding your ability to learn from your experiences. Mention the lessons you learned from the situation and how they have helped improve your professional skills. 
  4. What you can do differently now: Reflecting on your experiences and identifying what you could have done differently is a sign of personal growth and critical thinking. This shows that you are open to improvement and always looking for ways to better your skills and techniques

Sample answer:

“I was the most senior nurse in the unit by over five years. On top of handling patient assignments, I had to train newer nurses on the team. I had to make sure my time management was excellent and be available to help newer staff members. This could sometimes get overwhelming when I was in the middle of something, yet my presence was needed elsewhere. At some point, I could attend to three junior nurses in an hour. With time, I learned that being fast and organized was the recipe for perfecting my work while helping others.”

How do you handle a crisis or an outbreak?

Your answer to this question demonstrates your capacity to stay calm under pressure, adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, and prioritize patient safety and well-being — all key factors in being an exceptional healthcare provider.

Start by explaining your approach to crisis management and outbreak response. Discuss the steps you take to gather information, coordinate with the healthcare team, and implement necessary protocols. Emphasize your ability to remain composed, make swift decisions, and communicate effectively with patients, families, and colleagues. Then, highlight your commitment to maintaining a safe and supportive environment during challenging times.

Sample answer:

“During a crisis or outbreak, I prioritize patient safety and efficient communication. I stay updated with the latest information from reliable sources and follow established protocols and guidelines. I collaborate closely with the healthcare team to ensure a coordinated response. 

Effective communication is essential, so I provide clear instructions to patients, families, and staff, addressing any concerns or questions they may have. I maintain a calm and composed demeanor to instill confidence in those around me. By prioritizing patient well-being and fostering a supportive environment, we can work together to manage the crisis and provide the best possible care.”

Tell me about a time when you didn’t know the answer to something at work. How did you go about researching the information?

This question evaluates your ability to adapt and problem-solve when faced with uncertainty or gaps in knowledge. A great answer shows the interviewer your willingness to seek information and resources to find solutions, highlighting your commitment to continuous learning and professional growth.

Start by describing your approach to researching information when faced with a situation where you didn’t know the answer. Explain how you identify reliable sources, leverage available resources such as journals, textbooks, or online databases, and consult with colleagues or subject matter experts. And don’t forget to emphasize your commitment to thoroughness and ensuring accurate information to provide the best possible care.

Sample answer:

“When I encountered a situation where I didn’t know the answer, I approached it with a proactive mindset. First, I acknowledged my knowledge gap and recognized the importance of finding accurate information. Second, I utilized reliable resources such as reputable medical journals, trusted textbooks, and evidence-based practice guidelines. And, lastly, I also consulted with colleagues who had expertise in the specific area or sought guidance from subject matter experts. 

I believe in the importance of continuous learning and staying updated with the latest evidence, ensuring that I can provide the best care to my patients. Through this approach, I was able to gather the necessary information to address the situation effectively.”

Give me an example of an awkward situation at work. How did you remove yourself from the situation?

Employers want to make sure that you can handle uncomfortable situations with grace and maintain professionalism in the workplace. Your answer to this question demonstrates your adaptability and interpersonal skills, which are crucial in actively diffusing tension, fostering positive relationships, and maintaining a harmonious work environment.

Begin by describing how you handled an awkward situation by removing yourself from it in a respectful and professional manner. And then explain your approach to pacifying conflict or discomfort and emphasize your commitment to maintaining a supportive and collaborative work environment.

Sample answer: 

“In an awkward situation at work, my priority is to ensure a positive and professional environment. On one occasion, there was a disagreement between two colleagues that escalated and became uncomfortable for everyone involved. Recognizing the need to de-escalate the situation, I intervened calmly and suggested taking a short break to allow everyone to collect their thoughts and emotions. 

By giving them space, I removed myself — and everyone else — from the immediate situation and encouraged a more constructive conversation when tensions had subsided. This approach allowed for open communication and a resolution to be reached in a respectful manner.”

Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?

In high-stress, fast-paced environments, employers want teams who are self-aware, resilient, and committed to personal and professional growth. This question helps them assess your ability to learn from failure, adapt, and persevere in challenging situations. 

To answer, share a specific example of a failure or setback you experienced, explain how you handled the situation, and highlight the steps you took to learn from it and improve. Remember to emphasize your ability to adapt, problem-solve, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.

Sample answer:

“Failure is an opportunity for growth, and I believe it’s important to learn from setbacks. In a previous role, I was assigned to lead a team project, but due to miscommunication and a lack of proper planning on my end, we missed an important deadline. 

Realizing the impact of this failure, I took immediate responsibility for my part and gathered the team to address the issue. We had an open and honest discussion about what went wrong and identified areas for improvement. Together, we created a revised plan, set new milestones, and increased communication within the team. I also sought guidance from a more experienced colleague who provided valuable insights on project management. 

Through this experience, I learned the importance of effective communication, thorough planning, and seeking help when needed. I used this failure as a motivation to improve my organizational and leadership skills, ensuring that similar mistakes would not be repeated in the future.”

Other Nurse Interview Questions and Answers (+examples)

Why are you leaving your current position?

When discussing your motivation to seek new opportunities, it’s crucial to convey a genuine desire for personal and professional growth. Emphasize your eagerness for new challenges and enriching experiences that would expand your skill set and fuel your passion for nursing. 

Remember: Always maintain a positive tone when discussing previous employers or teammates. Rather than focusing on any negatives, highlight the accomplishments and valuable experiences you’ve gained. It’s not about what went wrong, but what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. 

If salary is the primary reason behind your decision to leave your current position, be honest, but tactful. There’s no need to imply an insatiable desire for wealth. Instead, emphasize your belief in fair compensation for your skills and contributions. 

For those seeking more responsibilities, convey this as a natural progression of your career aspirations. Express your readiness to take on more challenging roles and your long-term goals in the nursing field. This shows your dedication, ambition, and commitment to excellence in your profession.

Sample answer:

“I am leaving my current position because I am looking for a new challenge. I understand that this comes with changing my environment and outgrowing my comfort zone so that I use my skills and knowledge differently. I’m also looking forward to a position with new opportunities for growth and development in all facets of my career.” 

What do you think are the essential qualities of a successful nurse?

This question allows you to demonstrate your insight into the profession and your ability to prioritize the essential attributes needed to provide quality care. Start by identifying and briefly describing the key qualities that make a successful nurse. 

Focus on attributes such as compassion, strong communication skills, critical thinking, adaptability, and a commitment to lifelong learning and patient advocacy. Remember to support your answer by explaining how these qualities contribute to providing excellent patient care.

Sample answer:

“The essential qualities of a successful nurse encompass a combination of clinical skills and personal attributes. 

Compassion lies at the core of nursing, allowing us to empathize with patients, understand their needs, and provide holistic care. Effective communication skills are crucial for establishing trust, actively listening to patients, and collaborating with healthcare teams. Critical thinking enables nurses to make sound decisions, prioritize care, and adapt to changing situations. 

Adaptability is vital in a dynamic healthcare environment, where nurses must handle unexpected challenges. A commitment to lifelong learning ensures that nurses stay updated with evidence-based practices and advancements in healthcare. And, lastly, patient advocacy involves advocating for patients’ rights, autonomy, and well-being. These qualities collectively contribute to delivering safe, compassionate, and patient-centered care.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

No interview would be complete without the interviewer wanting to know about your future plans — and for good reason.  This question allows them to gauge your long-term goals, ambition, and commitment to the nursing profession. It helps them assess if you align with the organization’s vision and if you have a clear career path in mind.

Start by sharing your aspirations while maintaining a realistic and achievable outlook. Express your desire to grow professionally, gain experience, and contribute to the field of nursing. Emphasize your commitment to continuous learning and mention any specific areas or roles you would like to explore in the future.

Sample answer:

“In the next five years, I see myself advancing in my nursing career while making a positive impact on patient care. Initially, I aim to excel in my current role, gaining hands-on experience and further developing my clinical skills. I’m eager to participate in relevant training and certifications to enhance my expertise. 

Additionally, I have a keen interest in leadership and would like to explore opportunities to take on more responsibility, such as charge nurse or preceptor roles. Furthermore, I’m open to pursuing advanced education, such as a master’s degree in nursing, to expand my knowledge and contribute to research or teaching in the future. 

Ultimately, my goal is to become a well-rounded and influential nurse who promotes the highest standards of care and serves as an advocate for patients.”

How do you practice self-care?

We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” — as a healthcare provider, you know this all too well. This question demonstrates your awareness of the significance of self-care and how you prioritize your own well-being.

To start, share specific self-care practices that help you recharge and maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Focus on activities that promote relaxation, stress management, and overall health. And don’t forget to emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and allocating time for self-care, as well as the positive impact it has on your ability to be an effective nurse.

Sample answer:

“Practicing self-care is vital for me to maintain my well-being and provide the best possible care to my patients. I prioritize regular exercise to stay physically active, which not only helps me manage stress but also boosts my energy levels. 

Additionally, I make sure to allocate time for activities I enjoy outside of work, such as reading, listening to music, or spending quality time with loved ones. These activities help me relax and recharge, allowing me to return to work with a refreshed mindset. 

I also find value in practicing mindfulness and meditation, which helps me stay grounded and centered in the midst of a demanding work environment. Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life is crucial, and I make a conscious effort to disconnect and recharge during my time off. 

By taking care of myself, I’m better equipped to provide compassionate and effective care to my patients.”

1 Comment

  1. Jackie

    Hi, Amanda!

    Thank you for creating such a helpful resource for nurses looking to make the next move in their careers. I really like your sample answer of “speaking up to resolve conflict” for the question, “Describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult co-worker”. That is such a valuable communication skill. So many people think that avoiding conflict makes it go away- when in fact, it only piles up.

    One interview question I would like to contribute is, “Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume”. The answer will vary from person to person, but it doesn’t hurt to be ready for this curve ball. This could be an opportunity to reveal a little-known fact that could be used to segue into why they are a great fit for the job.


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