Nurse Interview Preparation Guide: Tips, Strategies, and Questions

This guide will provide you with tips, strategies, and a collection of interview questions to help you ace your next nursing job

 min. read
September 26, 2023
Nurse Interview Preparation Guide: Tips, Strategies, and Questions

The nursing profession is a challenging yet rewarding career path. Whether you're a pediatric nurse or a critical care nurse, you are on the front lines of patient care. You are the primary caregiver, teacher, comforter, and advocate for your patients. As a nurse, your role is vital in the healthcare system, and the job market for nurses is competitive. Therefore, it's crucial to be prepared and stand out in your nurse job interview. This guide will provide you with tips, strategies, and a collection of interview questions to help you ace your next nursing job interview.

Understanding the Nurse Job Interview Process

Before diving into interview strategies, it's important to understand the nurse job interview process. The interview is an opportunity for you and the potential employer to assess if you are a good fit for each other. The process typically involves a phone or video interview followed by an in-person interview. During these interviews, you'll be asked a series of questions related to your nursing skills, experience, and personal qualities.

Interview Preparation: The Basics

Being well-prepared is the key to a successful nurse job interview. Here are some essential tips:

  • Research the employer: Understand the healthcare facility's mission, values, and patient population. Familiarize yourself with the specific unit or department you're applying to.
  • Review the job description: Understand the role's responsibilities, required skills, and qualifications. Match these with your skills and experiences.
  • Know your resume: Be ready to discuss any aspect of your resume in detail, including your education, work experiences, certifications, and skills.
  • Prepare your documents: Bring multiple copies of your resume, list of references, and any relevant certifications or transcripts.
  • Practice: Practice answering common nursing interview questions. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses.
  • Plan your outfit: Dress professionally for your interview. Avoid casual attire and opt for business or business-casual attire.

Interview Strategies: Making a Great Impression

Beyond preparation, it's important to employ effective interview strategies. Here are some tips to help you make a great impression:

  • Arrive early: Being punctual shows respect for the interviewer’s time and demonstrates your reliability.
  • Show enthusiasm: Express your passion for nursing and the specific role you're applying to.
  • Use positive body language: Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and sit up straight.
  • Listen carefully: Ensure you understand the question before answering. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if needed.
  • Be confident: Confidence comes from knowing your strengths and being able to articulate them.
  • Ask insightful questions: Asking questions shows your interest in the role and gives you additional information to decide if the job is a good fit for you.

Most Common Interview Questions for Nurses

In a nursing interview, you'll be asked a variety of questions to assess your nursing skills, patient care approach, and personal qualities. Here are some commonly asked questions along with brief responses:

Questions on Nursing Skills

1. Can you describe a time when you had to handle a difficult patient? How did you manage it?

I had a patient who was extremely anxious about their surgery. I spent extra time explaining the procedure, answering their questions, and reassuring them about the care they would receive. This helped to alleviate their anxiety.

2. How do you handle pressure or stressful situations at work?

I prioritize my tasks, taking care of the most critical ones first. I also take short breaks when possible to clear my mind and refocus.

3. Can you provide an example of when your attention to detail prevented a potential problem?

Once, I noticed a slight change in a patient's vital signs which was an early indication of a serious health issue. Immediate medical intervention prevented the situation from worsening.

Questions on Patient Care

4. How do you handle family members who are unhappy with a patient's care?

I listen to their concerns empathetically, provide clear information, and involve the healthcare team if necessary to address their issues.

5. How would you handle a patient who refuses treatment or medication?

I would try to understand their concerns, provide clear information about the importance of the treatment or medication, and involve the healthcare team if needed.

6. Can you describe a time when you advocated for a patient?

I once advocated for a patient who was in pain but wasn't scheduled for pain medication yet. I communicated the situation to the doctor, who then adjusted the pain management plan.

Questions on Personal Qualities

7. Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I became a nurse because I have a passion for helping people and making a difference in their lives.

8. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse?

My strengths include my communication skills and my ability to remain calm in stressful situations. One area I'm working on improving is my ability to delegate tasks more effectively.

9. How do you handle feedback and criticism?

I see feedback and criticism as opportunities to learn and grow. I always try to take them positively and use them to improve my nursing skills and patient care.

Remember, these are just brief responses. In an actual interview, you would want to provide more detailed answers using the STAR method.

Questions for Different Types of Nurses: Pediatric Nurse, Critical Care Nurse, and More

Depending on the specific nursing role you're interviewing for, you may be asked different types of questions. Here are some sample questions for various nursing roles:

Pediatric Nurse Interview Questions

1. How do you deal with an anxious child who is refusing treatment?

I try to engage the child in a conversation or a game to distract them, explain the treatment in a child-friendly way, and reassure them that the treatment will help them get better.

2. Can you describe a time when you had to handle a difficult situation involving a child's parents?

I once had to deal with parents who were in denial about their child's diagnosis. I listened to their concerns, provided them with clear information, and involved a social worker to provide additional support.

Critical Care Nurse Interview Questions

1. How do you handle high-pressure situations in the ICU?

I stay focused, prioritize my tasks based on patient conditions, and collaborate closely with the healthcare team.

2. Can you describe a time when you had to make a critical decision about a patient's care?

I once had to make a quick decision when a patient's condition suddenly deteriorated. I initiated immediate medical interventions and communicated the situation to the doctor, which led to a prompt treatment change.

Remember to prepare for these types of specialized questions in addition to the general nursing interview questions.

Post-Interview Follow-Up: The Thank You Note

After the interview, it's important to send a thank-you note to the interviewer. This is a professional gesture that shows your appreciation for their time and interest in you. It also provides an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and the organization.

Using Jobcopy for Your Job Search

Jobcopy is a great tool for job seekers in the healthcare field, including nurses. It provides a platform where you can search for the best job opportunities based on your qualifications, preferences, and location. You can also get helpful tips and resources for your job search, resume writing, and interview preparation.


Being a nurse is a rewarding career that comes with its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to job interviews. However, with thorough preparation, effective interview strategies, and a clear understanding of the questions you may face, you can excel in your nurse job interview. Whether you're a pediatric nurse, a critical care nurse, or any other type of nurse, always remember that you have the skills, knowledge, and passion to make a difference in patients' lives. Good luck with your next interview!

Please note: Although we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the content in this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.