Nursing Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

by Emma Rowlands

Nursing Interview Questions

The demand for nursing staff is on the rise. A recent survey by NSI Nursing Solutions stated that 25% of hospitals nationwide reported a vacancy rate in 2015 of 10% or higher, twice the number collected in 2012. Expansion and newly built wards have presented an increase in nursing vacancies, meaning a vaster variety of work available for newly qualified nurses.
Whether you have only just completed your RN training and are looking for your first job, or have a wealth of experience and want a change, nursing interview questions can be tough. Not only do you have to sell yourself as a suitable employee, but demonstrate that you have the technical skills and knowledge to be able to complete critical tasks.

When you attend a one-to-one interview, you'll likely be assessed using a points system, although this can vary depending on the department and position. However, if this strategy is adopted, they will mark your answers on the quality and detail provided. Therefore your answers should be thoughtful, well presented and structured in a way that meets the question criteria.

Common Nursing Interview Questions

What Do You Like About the Nursing Profession?

In a recent international study, nurses around the world were asked what they love about their job. The majority identified four main themes. These were the ability to build relationships, personal identity fulfillment, the mentoring culture within healthcare and the process of compassionate caring.

When you are asked what it is you like about nursing, it presents an opportunity for you to revisit your pre-college roots. Perhaps you were inspired by a role model, perhaps you have a passion for working within a particular patient group, or maybe you're fascinated by a particular aspect of care. Whatever it is, this is a moment to demonstrate enthusiasm and dedication.

What Do You Find Most Challenging About Being a Nurse?

There's no doubt about it. The nursing profession can be extremely difficult. You have a front row seat to some of the most challenging life experiences humans can go through, from long standing chronic diseases to dealing with very sudden emergencies. You wouldn't be human unless you found certain aspects of nursing challenging, even if it's just having to go a long time without a toilet break. Whatever you choose to say, make sure you don't accidentally eliminate yourself from the interview process there and then. A challenge should have its own positive learning experiences attached to it, so make sure you highlight what these are.

Describe a Situation Where You Had to Implement the Diversity and Equality Policy

This almost always pops up as a nursing interview question. A nurse's job is to ensure that every patient is treated equally regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, nationality or disability. An employer needs to know that you understand this, and can recognize the negative implications for the patient as well as the staff if this policy is not adhered to. A thorough knowledge of the latest equality and diversity policy is beneficial at this stage.

Describe a Situation Where You Had to Work as Part of a Multidisciplinary Team

Working as a team is part of a nurse's everyday life in the workplace. According to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, nurses who communicate well are more able to exercise informal power strategies within organizational restraints as patient advocates. Multidisciplinary working ensures the very best holistic care for a patient. It means that you have the skills and professionalism to be able to articulate critical issues with many different professionals. Whether you're discussing medication with a Consultant, receiving a handover from an ambulance crew or attending a risk management meeting with a group of O.Ts and psychiatrists, it's important you can demonstrate excellent articulacy and listening skills. This nursing interview question is designed to test your ability to recognize the importance of multidisciplinary working.

How Do You Approach Personal Development?

There are so many branches to nursing, and a range of managerial levels to aspire to. An employer will want to know which direction you're headed in. Ensure that you research the route you'll need to take to reach your ideal destination, and that the post you're applying for is part of that process. Nurses are students for life and there are many educational advancements available to take advantage of. An employer will appreciate a consistent willingness to learn and refine vital skills.

Describe a Time You've Gone Above and Beyond to Ensure Patient Care

A nursing interview question like this gives you a platform to emphasize some professional successes. There will have been times, whether it was at nursing school while on a placement, or in a previous nursing position, where you put extra effort into ensuring a patient received superior care. Maybe you worked several hours late to keep a patient company so he wouldn't be alone, maybe you pushed a little bit harder to gain a specific outcome for a vulnerable patient so they wouldn't slip through the net. If you are still a student, then your reflective journals may assist in jogging your memory so that you can answer this question in full.

Group Exercise

Often during a nursing interview you might be asked to take part in a group exercise with other nurses while a manager watches. This is usually a discussion centered around a specific health related scenario, although exercises can vary. The purpose of the task is to assess your communication skills, interpersonal techniques and ways of approaching a problem. It's a good idea to take an active role in this task by using clear, concise language, explaining your thought process out loud and reflecting on other nurses perspectives. It's also an opportunity to showcase your knowledge in a particular discipline, something that may not be possible during a one-to-one interview.

The nursing recruitment process is comprehensive and can feel quite intensive. A rigorous and detailed interview is necessary to ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of society are being cared for by trained and caring individuals. To stand out from the crowd, it's important you demonstrate not only your technical knowledge and academic achievements, but also your willingness to learn and passion for the healthcare sector as a whole.

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