The toughest nursing interview questions are often the ones that don't have a definitive answer. Questions about dealing with doctors or challenging patients can be especially difficult. The good news is that there usually isn't a wrong answer, so if you stay calm and focus on moments of growth and useful experiences, you can navigate these questions with ease.
You can't anticipate every interview question, but if you highlight your effective communication techniques in nursing, you'll have a better chance at landing the job.
How to respond to questions about doctors
Healthcare is a collaborative field that requires teamwork. Your communication skills can reflect on how well you adapt to stressful situations, prioritize patient care, and work with colleagues.
When an interviewer asks you a difficult or open-ended question, try to describe an actual or hypothetical situation that roots the question in the experience and skills you listed in your resume and cover letter. Be sure to outline your actions and the outcome to better reflect your communication style.
Situational nursing interview questions about dealing with difficult scenarios with doctors provide an opportunity to display how you cope in a stressful work environment or while working with challenging colleagues.
Question #1: How would you deal with a rude doctor?
Answer: Rather than speaking negatively, try to communicate positively and include what you feel you learned from the situation. Provide an example of when you successfully handled, or how you would handle, the situation. Here's one sample question and two appropriate responses: "When Dr. Z. spoke harshly to me in front of the patient…"
- "I tried to rectify the situation by not overreacting. I addressed it with the doctor in a professional manner away from the patient."
- "If the doctor's rude behavior was ongoing, or inappropriate, or my attempts to rectify the situation are ineffective, I would bring the matter to my supervisor."
Question #2: What would you do if a doctor asked to remove you from a patient's care?
Answer: Displaying a desire to modify behaviors can show how you deal with conflict. Provide an example that includes how you'd get to the heart of the matter rather than view the issue as a personal attack.
- "I'd go to my supervisor to discuss the doctor's rationale for the decision. This could help to rule out any miscommunication or determine if there's something I need to rectify."
- "If it's personal, or rooted in a personality conflict, I'd take ownership of anything I did wrong and look to see what I could improve upon. If issues remained, the patient's care is my priority, so I'd agree to rearrange my schedule."
How to respond to questions about patients
Nurses work with people when they're at their most vulnerable. Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in patients who are challenging to work with, act unpredictably, or even become aggressive. Communication with patients is often the first line of defense to develop a patient's trust and can aid in maintaining safety.
Question #1: Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult patient.
Answer: This question can provide an opportunity to show how well you use communication tools in nursing. You could choose to describe a situation involving a patient you had to deescalate or one who was noncompliant. Remember that communication isn't always limited to talking. Be sure to discuss your awareness and use of nonverbal signs of communication and body language.
- "If I'm working with a patient who is agitated, I check to ensure that my body language and tone is non-threatening."
- "In my communication with patients who are noncompliant diabetics, I would ensure they've received education and that they understand the situation. Then I have a conversation with them to help validate their feelings and frustrations. Together we can try to come up with a plan that works with their lifestyle."
Question #2: Describe a time when you dealt with a family member who was dissatisfied with your care.
Answer: Communication with patients often extends to their family members. Express your awareness of how it's essential to recognize the family member's role in the patient's care and provide support and reassurance.
- "I actively listen and then summarize what they said to display that I understand and ensure there is no miscommunication. Then I ask follow-up questions to determine if there's something more I can do."
- "Sometimes, it helps to describe both perspectives, even if I can only listen sympathetically to ensure I'm maintaining HIPAA regulations and patient confidentiality."
Get ready for the rest of your interview
Don't forget to prepare questions of your own, smile, be aware of your tone of voice and maintain eye contact. Ask about the organization's culture, and then describe why you believe you would fit in to that culture. Communication is important for nursing career success, whether it's with supervisors, colleagues, patients or families.
In order to ace these questions, you first have to land that interview. Use our Cover Letter Builder to highlight your strengths and our Resume Builder to ensure your skills stand out from the other candidates. Our builders help you create your resume and cover letter quickly, with step-by-step instructions and advice and tips from our experts.