Most nursing interview questions revolve around themes like your communication style, skills in time management, adaptability, attention to detail, and ability to work well with others.
To set yourself up for success, practice your responses to nursing interview questions ― which can range from standard to completely unexpected ― before your interview day. Read our nursing interview questions and answer guide to help you prepare.
Preparing for a nursing job interview
No matter what questions they ask, most interviewers are trying to determine if you're going to be a good fit with their organization. They already have your resume, so they have an idea of your education and nursing skills.
The interview is your chance to prove you're the best nurse for the job. Offer examples of how you've used or would use your skills through actual or hypothetical situations, and how you can be an asset to their organization.
Preparing for a nursing job interview by reviewing potential questions can help you have the best response ready instead of thinking about what you should've said after you have left the interview.
Common nursing interview questions
Most interviews start with standard interview questions. You can prepare by drafting a few sentences beforehand that show you're a strong candidate. This preparation also helps ensure that you don't find yourself speechless.
"Tell me about yourself."
Don't just repeat the information from your resume – or offer your life story. If you know the job requirements, describe yourself in a way that displays how your skills will meet those requirements. You don't have to feel intimidated by this nursing interview question as a new grad. Describe any internships or personal caregiving experiences and how they helped prepare you for this role.
"Why did you choose nursing?"
You can't teach passion, and it's a quality most employers and patients are looking for in a nurse. Think about what you find rewarding in nursing. If someone encouraged or motivated you, share that story.
Vague or open-ended questions
Open-ended questions can be challenging, especially in a nursing interview. Practice your questions and answers out loud, so you'll be able to succinctly redirect any vague questions back to concrete details about who you are and how you work.
"What inspires you?"
The employer may want to determine if you are a self-starter and if you'll fit in with the organization's culture. This is a good opportunity to talk about why you chose to enter nursing and why you find it rewarding. If you like to learn new things, work in a fast-paced environment, or work with a team, this would be a good time to mention those attributes. If possible, share some examples.
"How do you handle stress on the job?"
High levels of nursing burnout and compassion fatigue have smart employers considering how well nurses can cope with stress to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Show you're one step ahead by discussing a situation where you were able to stay calm and work with others during a stressful situation, or offer examples of how you prioritize self-care so you can care for yourself and patient needs.
Behavioral nursing interview questions
Behavioral or situational questions usually start with "tell me about a time" or "describe," to help the employer gain additional insight about the kind of worker and team member you are. Respond to these questions by including examples of how you can work under pressure and prioritize essential tasks. Be sure to include any learning experiences.
"Describe how you dealt with a difficult situation with a patient or coworker."
Collaboration is essential in nursing, but you aren't always going to please everyone. There are times when you may have to give or receive constructive criticism. Organizations count on patient satisfaction, so it's important to hire nurses who make this a priority. Discuss how you can do this in a professional, constructive manner. Describe an actual or hypothetical situation. Explain how you would adapt, ensure there wasn't miscommunication, and what might be learned from the situation.
"Describe the best and worst characteristics of a boss."
Employers want to gauge whether you work well with authority and respect leadership. Describe what you think makes a good leader for the organization. Try to avoid petty or self-centered examples, such as a boss that denied your requested days off.
Unexpected interview questions
No matter how much you prepare, there are likely some questions that will come up that you haven't considered. Take an extra moment to pause and think before answering. Here are two questions that you might not have prepared for yet:
"If I asked your previous supervisor to describe you, what do you think they'd say?"
Try to think of your strengths and list what your previous supervisor appreciated about you. If it was a difficult relationship, here's your opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings, so there's no miscommunication. Discuss how you worked on improving that relationship, or what you learned from that experience.
"What are your salary requirements?"
An interviewer might be trying to gauge if they can afford you, or if you know your worth. Do your research on nursing salaries while considering your experience and location, which can affect salary. Provide a salary range and ensure the lower amount is close to what you'd be happy with. You could also deflect the question by saying you'd like to get more information about the job so you can weigh the responsibilities, and any benefits, in your decision.
Bring questions of your own
Don't forget to bring questions of your own to the nursing job interview to show that you're interested in the company and you've done your research. Consider asking about the culture of the organization or something else that piqued your interest when the hiring manager discussed the job.
If you're still trying to stand out from the applicant pool and land that interview, check out our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder. They will help you craft your resume and cover letter in a snap with ATS-compliant layouts and expert tips and advice.