Sample Questions for Nursing Job Interviews

by | Oct 31, 2017 | Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 0 comments


You’re going to graduate nursing school soon and have started applying at different facilities and finally gotten some interviews. You’ve read you’re supposed to practice questions beforehand, but what questions are those exactly… and why is this necessary?  

You’d think you’ll be able to recall the various patient scenarios mid-interview, but it’s harder than you’d think. Eventually, your clinicals blend together and you forget some things. Now you’re in a high-pressure situation and it’s even more difficult to recall.  By going over questions beforehand, you can get these scenarios fresh in your mind so you can recall them confidently and promptly.

So, let’s go over a list of sample questions for nurse job interviews.

Sample Questions for Nurse Job Interviews

Jot down some notes, think about specific patient situations, and have answers ready for the following questions.

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you interested in this specific unit?
  • Why do you want to be a nurse?  
  • Tell me about your greatest strengths.
  • Tell me about your biggest weaknesses.
  • Have you ever had to have a difficult conversation with a colleague?
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to prioritize your time quickly.
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to do service recovery; how did that go?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake; what did you do to handle it?
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to advocate for a patient how did that go?
  • Have you ever observed someone else do something incorrectly? How did you handle that or react?
  • Tell me about the most memorable patient you’ve cared for and why they stick out in your mind.
  • Have you ever had a conflict with a peer/colleague, how did you handle that?
  • What are your short-term goals (within the next year)?
  • What are your long-term goals (in the next 5 years)?
  • Is there anything that would impend your ability to meet the job requirements?

If you are interested in becoming an ICU nurse, I have an article with specific ICU nurse interview tips.

If you’d like to have a download of these questions and more, sign-up below. I’ll email one to you, including one that is a fillable PDF so that you can type out your thoughts right into the document!

Questions to Ask the Nurse Interviewer

At the end of every interview, the interviewee will ask you if you have any questions. It is really important that you do this because you are a valuable nursing commodity – this is not a one-way interaction of auditioning for a role you desperately need. You want to see if this hospital is a good fit for you as well. This also makes you look more confident, as you are trying to see not only what you can offer them, but what they can offer you as well.

  • What is the current nurse: patient ratio? Has that changed recently?
  • What is the current turnover rate in this hospital as a whole and this specific unit? Has that changed recently?
  • Do you have a clinical ladder program?
  • You should know if you’re applying to a Magnet Facility. If they already are one, ask when they’re up for redesignation and how long they’ve had this designation. If they are not, ask if they are planning on pursuing it in the future.
  • What are the incentives for a specialty certification? (Increased pay, paying for the exam, etc.)
  • What is the culture of safety like on your unit?
  • Do you have a rapid response team, an IV start team?
  • Which computer charting system do you use?
  • How often is overtime and/or call time required?
  • The last question – always ask this! Do you have any reservations about me for this specific job? This gives you the opportunity to address any of them and leave on a positive note.

Please don’t use the initial interview to inquire about vacation time. It doesn’t look so hot.  My advice is to ask about this if you are given a second interview and are considering multiple offers. I would not start off asking about vacation because that makes people think not working is your priority.

Things You Shouldn’t Do in a Nursing Job Interview

Don’t make the mistake of not practicing questions. It makes the intense Q&A of an interview go much smoother, especially if you’ve had limited clinical experiences to pull from.  Take some time to refresh your memory and write them down if needed.

When describing experiences, don’t cut down other nurses to make yourself look good. It doesn’t work, you just end up looking like someone who has to put down others to elevate yourself…. Not a good look.

Don’t make up answers. Nurses are good at reading people and can typically tell when someone is making up an answer just to get through it. If you don’t know something, admit it, but counteract that with an opportunity to learn, a similar experience, or something you observed but really spoke to you.

Don’t refer to the same scenario over and over again. This is why practicing is so helpful because it brings various situations back to the forefront of your mind.

More About 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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