Nurse Interview Questions: Tips to Craft Optimal Answers

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 0 comments

A job interview can be one of the most intimidating hurdles involved with securing a new position as a nursing professional. However, being prepared can help calm your nerves and make you stand out as a strong candidate. Here are some frequently asked nursing interview questions and tips to formulating high-quality responses to help you feel relaxed and ready to make a great first impression.


What Do You Feel You Do to Contribute to Your Patients’ Care?

Discuss your strategies for patient care and advocacy here. Because interaction with patients is a major part of any nursing career, employers are looking for individuals who have excellent bedside manner. You want to highlight your skills with this through the interview itself.

As is the case with most interview questions, specific examples are always beneficial. Talk about how you listen to patients and provide comfort as part of their medical care. Consider providing an example in which you did something that moved the needle for them. Whether this was explaining something in a way that finally made it click in their brain, advocating for them to have a certain med change or procedure, or motivated them to work with PT and be involved in their own recovery to expedite their discharge, all of these can be ways in which you are involved in their care.

What Are Your Salary Requirements?

This can feel like a bit of trick, especially as a new grad with very little context in understanding what’s reasonable for your position. You may not get this question, but if you do, make sure you research ahead of time so that you are asking for a realistic amount and aren’t pricing yourself out of the market. Looking around on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor can help give you insight of realistic expectations for a position.

It’s also a good idea to keep your experience level in mind. Try to find out beforehand what the pay grade is at the company and when asked, mention that it’s negotiable. If they want specifics, provide a ballpark figure.

What Motivated You to Become a Nurse?

This question gives you the chance to prove that you’re passionate about what you do. However you answer it, be honest. If you went into nursing for a deeply meaningful reason, that’s great – but keep your explanation concise and not a 15 minute story about a core memory as a child. If you went into it for practical reasons – no shame there! That’s why I did! But make sure you frame it in a way where you acknowledge the deep responsibility nursing carries, as well as the honor it is to be part of very vulnerable moments with patients. Essentially, round out the practicality with some warmth.

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Position?

To answer this effectively, be truthful, diplomatic, and concise. Don’t throw your previous employer under the bus because it makes you seem ungrateful. Talk about the new opportunities that this position will give you, rather than dwelling on negative aspects of your current job. I discuss strategies for answering this awkward question much more in-depth here.

What Do You Find Most Challenging and Rewarding About Your Work as a Nurse?

It’s important to stay positive, even when you’re discussing the more challenging aspects of nursing. Talk about real challenging experiences, but always round it out after with how you overcame the situation (or how you’re currently working to do so).

Consider telling a story or giving a specific example about nursing being rewarding to illustrate this. Rather than saying, “I find being able to advocate for patients rewarding,” consider stating that and following it up with a time in which you did this.

Give An Example of a Major Nursing Care Problem and How You Addressed It

Whenever we have to discuss issues or problems, it can be really tempting to explain someone else’s mistake in detail and really highlight that to make ourselves look better. This doesn’t work. It just ends up making it look like you’re avoiding accountability.

Rather, focus most of your answer on how you fixed it because that’s what they care more about. Top off the answer with why it helped the patient.

To summarize: Problem, your solution, why it made a difference

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

You want your future employer to know that you are motivated and career-focused, so now is the time to explain why you are committed to nursing.

While you may not see yourself in this specific role in five years time, you don’t want to communicate that this job is merely a stepping stone. If you have aspirations to go to graduate school or some other major goal, it’s definitely okay to mention that, but close your answer with your dedication to excelling in this specific role first.

“In five years, I hope to have my MSN. Right now, I’m not completely sure about the specifics of that because my goal is to excel at this role right now and learn as much as I can. My mother is a nurse and always thought she wanted to do pediatrics, but got a job at a mental health facility and became a psych NP! So, I know things can change and I want to see what I learn in this role and see how that may impact my future decision-making.”

How Has Your Experience Prepared Your For This Role?

When the interviewer asks this question, they’re looking to see whether you are qualified. Talk about any relevant experience you have, both during clinicals and in previous jobs or volunteering positions. You can also discuss any relevant research projects you’ve worked on as well. If you don’t have any on-the-job nursing experience, you can discuss other jobs and the transferrable skills you learned while employed there. Close the question with being dedicated to learning more and doing well with this role specifically.

More Resources on Nursing Job Interviews

Are you done with the guess-work of applying and interviewing for nursing jobs?

hired: the ultimate guide to nurse resumes and interviews course cover

Hired from FreshRN is a self-paced, online course for ambitious nurses who want to be the ideal candidate for their dream job. Amber Nibling, MSN RN-BC, and Kati Kleber, MSN RN have interviewed hundreds of nurse applicants and they give you the inside scoop of what interviewers are thinking. Learn everything you need to know to impress potential employers (and yourself) by learning what the hiring team expects from you, so you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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