How To Ace That Nursing Interview

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Interview Guide: Nursing

After the excitement of passing your nursing board wears off, you have to start looking and preparing for a job. It doesn’t matter if you already have a job lined up, or if you are starting out fresh, you need to prepare.

I clearly remember when it was time for me to prepare for interviews. I wondered what should I wear? What questions will they ask me?

This article will help you to prepare for a nursing interview.

How To Ace That Nursing Interview

You need to know your personal and professional goals that you can contribute to the organization. You need to ask yourself, ” How can my strengths, interests, and work values”  make this organization even greater.

You need to research the organization thoroughly.

A potential nurse needs to know why they would like to work for an organization. You need to know why you would like to work in a particular setting. In this article, we will be discussing new nurse inter questions, and seasoned nurse interview questions.

Most of these pointers are geared toward clinical staff nurses; however, all nurse positions can take tips from this article.

Things To Do To Prepare for the Nursing Interview

The first thing you should do before the interview is to research the employer. With the internet, this should not be a problem.

You should go to the website and read their mission and vision. You should ask yourself? Do their mission and vision compare with what I want to do in my career?

Look at the organizational culture.  The culture of the organization is the way that they perform tasks, set objectives, and make decisions.  Also, make sure you know who you are meeting with.

Web Sites to research the Organization

  • The company web site
  • Linkedin
Nurse interview tips

What Do You Have To Offer To The Organization?

This is where you have to do some self-reflecting. You need to be able to verbalize what you are able to bring to the table. You need to compile a list of your accomplishments. These may include:

  • Your related experience
  • What leadership qualities do you have?
  • What team activities have you participated in?
  • Have you volunteered?

All of these are things that you should consider when applying to an organization. Just remember, you have to convince the organization that you are special! Here are some sample interview questions and answers for a nursing interview.

Common Questions That Are Asked on a Nursing Interview

  • Tell me about yourself? This is where you really get to shine! Give your best impression in about 90 seconds. This is where you highlight your skills, your awards, your academic success, and your community involvement. Make sure you let the interviewer know how hour skills match up with the job you are applying for.
  • Why did you choose nursing?  Why do you want to be a nurse?  This question always come up in the interview. This is where you get to tell the interviewer why you became a nurse. You should be honest, but brief. Let your passion flow through for nursing.  For example, I have always wanted to be a nurse since I was 5 years of age. I used to look at a particular show, I can’t even remember what the shows were called, but this nurse uses to wear her nurse’s cap. I really wanted to wear that cap! Ironically the year I graduated, they stopped wearing the hats!
  • Why are you interested in our organization? Maybe you are a current employee or you had a clinical rotation there, it is important to let the interviewer know that you like the organization and everything that it stands for. Be prepared to state the organization’s mission, philosophy, and values. Make sure you do some research on the organization and you need to know the current news that is going on with the organization.
How do you stand out on a nursing interview? WHat shoukd a nurse wear to an interview? WHat qualitie should a nurse have?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization? This is where you need to emphasize your skills and experience. You need to know about the population that the organization serves. Also, it would be nice if you could know some of the specialty programs that the organizations has.
  • What three things would be most important to you in your job? This is where you need to be honest, but your answers should be centered around the organization culture. What values are important to you? Teamwork? Challenging work? Benefits? Pay? Educational benefits?
  • What experience do you have that will make you an excellent candidate for this position? If you are a new grad, this question might be challenging. If you were a nursing assistant at a hospital, this is a chance for you to high lite all that you learned and all of the skills that you acquired. If you never worked in a hospital, think about your clinical rotations. What were your favorite rotations? What were some of your favorite patients? What did you do for them?

  • What are your personality and character? What are your strengths? Are you a good communicator? Are you a good listener? Are you a team player? All of these are good qualities that any healthcare organization would appreciate. Be sure to give some examples of your strengths.
  • What are your weaknesses? This is a question that many people struggle with. We all have weaknesses.  Explain your weaknesses, but make sure you tell the interviewer that you are working on them. Now don’t be negative about yourself! When you do mention a negative, make sure that you turn the negative into a positive. Express how you have learned from your negatives. Mention a weakness and then stress its positive aspects or ways you are working to improve your weakness.
  • How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you? Focus on your strengths. Think about the praises and the compliments that you received from your professors. In fact, ask your professor for a reference!

What is your work style? It is important to think about what job are you applying to. Focus on specifics that fit with the company. When you are applying to work as a nurse, teamwork and dependability are excellent qualities to have. Make sure you tell the interviewer you are a problem solver and you take initiative to solve problems. Frame your answer in the contest of what you know about the organization and culture.

Other Questions You Might Encounter

  • Describe a stressful clinical situation and how you handled it.
    • Describe an encounter with a frustrated patient or family member and how you handled it.
    • Tell me about a time when your performance did not meet your expectations.
    • Give me an example of when you encountered an unexpected change and how you
    handled it.
    • Tell me about a time when you received difficult (or less than positive) feedback from your
    supervisor. How did you respond to the feedback? What changes did you implement as a
    • Recall a situation that resulted in poor communication. What happened and how did you
    resolve it?
    • Give me an example of when you had to make a quick decision. What were the results?

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Questions You Should Ask the Interviewer

• What is the management philosophy of this company?
• What are your company’s greatest challenges?
• What are the ideal attributes necessary to succeed in this position?
• How and when would I be evaluated in this position?
• What are the career opportunities in this organization for someone entering this
• How will the selection process proceed from here? When might I expect to hear from you
regarding a decision?

Plan For the Interview

I can’t stress enough the importance of dressing for the interview. You should always wear a black or grey suit. Got tattoos? Cover them up!

Make sure you bring a copy of your resume and a list of references. Bring a uniform and shoes in case you are asked to shadow.

Things You  Don’t Do in a Nursing Interview

Make sure your cell phone is turned off. There is nothing more distracting than a cell phone going off. Don’t be “long-winded” when answering questions. Each question should take no more than 1-2 minutes. Don’t interrupt the interviewer, and thank them for the interview.


Applying to your first position is an exciting time for a nurse. Healthcare organizations are anxious to hire new graduates. If you play your cards right, you will ace the job interview every time!


Ace the Nurse’s Interview

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Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN is a Registered Nurse of 27 years. Phyllis is passionate about the prevention and healing of heart disease using traditional and alternative methods. She has experience in emergency room, telemetry, infusion, and critical care. Phyllis currently practices in an intensive care unit.

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