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Top Ten Interview Questions for Nurses

nurse job interview
Rob Marmion/123RF.com

You want to recruit the best possible nurse for your company. The job is a demanding one, and you need a smart, capable, and effective nurse who can navigate the tricky waters of meeting the needs of patients, families, team members, and administration.

After weeding out a handful of candidates, it’s time for a face-to-face (or at least a telephone) interview. You can always fall back on traditional interview questions (tell me your strengths and weaknesses, for example), but try asking questions that your applicants may not expect, and you might get more compelling answers that reveal more about the applicant. Here are some of the best interview questions to ask your nurse candidates:

  • What are your professional goals? Find out if your candidate’s goals are in alignment with your company’s opportunities.
  • What is your philosophy of nursing? This allows you to discover more about your candidate and what fundamental beliefs will guide him or her.
  • You are responsible for supervising several unlicensed support staff. How would you handle it if one of your support staff was not performing his or her job duties? Good nurses need to be able to professionally manage support staff when needed. Nurses who have no idea where to begin may not be quite ready for the responsibility.
  • Tell me about a recent crisis situation and how you handled it. Strong nurses think critically and are able to be effective leaders, whether the issue is environmental, a medical crisis, or other otherwise.
  • What would you do if one of your patients or family members is being verbally abusive? Grumpy patients and their families are a part of nursing, and a good nurse can listen to the concerns of the patient and the family and help them feel heard, even if their immediate wishes are not realistic.
  • In light of funding being affected, in part by patient’s satisfaction scores, how do you try to create a positive patient experience? Like it or not, Medicare funding is increasingly tied to outcomes and patient survey scores. If a nurse isn’t thinking about ways to make patients healthy and happy, then the nurse may not be the one for you.
  • Tell me about a recent experience you had providing patient education. If patients don’t learn, then the long-term outcomes will suffer. Can your nurse candidate provide effective, appropriate patient education?
  • Why did you choose this specialty? It helps to know if the nurse truly picked this specialty, or if this was simply where an opening was. Has the nurse kept up with trends in the field?
  • Describe a time you made a mistake at work. Nurses are human and make mistakes. An effective nurse should be able to identify an error made and how he or she handled it. You want nurses who are willing to admit mistakes and not cover them up.
  • Describe a difficult decision you’ve made and the process you went through to reach that decision. Nurses have to be able to identify a problem and then create a solution, often within a short period of time. The ability to think critically is crucial.

Those are the suggestions we have for this blog post, and thanks for reading them. What are some of your go to questions for nursing interviews? Please share in our comments section below.

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About Angie Best-Boss RN

Angie Best-Boss, ASN, BA, MDiv is a psychiatric nurse and freelance writer from the Indianapolis, Indiana area. Angie has three daughters and can usually be found with her nose in a book, crafting or, in warm weather, geocaching.