You passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)! Your dream job in nursing is just an interview away. Impress the hiring manager with our guide on how to answer nursing interview questions, sample answers and prep tips. 


10 Most Common Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

You can expect a nursing interview to focus on how well you address patient care and crisis management and which skills you possess to be a successful nurse in various settings. 

Check out these common nursing interview questions and sample answers. 

1. Why did you decide to be a nurse?

Nursing is a challenging career. There are late nights, complex patients, a high risk of infections and more. Administrators want to understand what drives you and makes you passionate about nursing. Here’s an example: 

“I decided to be a nurse because I’m driven by a deep-seated desire to positively impact people’s lives during vulnerable moments. Forming meaningful connections with patients, advocating for their well-being, and contributing to their health and recovery is immensely fulfilling. This purpose and opportunity to serve others drive my nurse aspiration.”

2. Describe your approach to working with other nurses, doctors and staff members.

Nursing a patient through an illness is collaborative, so the employer wants to ensure you’re a team player. Use this opportunity to highlight soft skills like interpersonal and communication skills. You can also focus on the positive results of teamwork to benefit a patient. Here’s an example: 

“My approach to working with others is characterized by collaboration, respect, and open communication. I prioritize teamwork to achieve positive patient outcomes, leveraging my colleagues’ diverse expertise and perspectives. I actively listen, value contributions, and ensure everyone feels heard and respected. By fostering a supportive environment and promoting seamless coordination, we enhance patient safety and deliver optimal care while cultivating a positive work atmosphere for all team members.”

3. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

For strengths, focus on the ones that fit the job and back them up with a real-life example. Then, pick a weakness you can be candid about and reiterate that you’re actively working to improve it. Here’s an example: 

“One of my biggest strengths is my keen attention to detail. For instance, during a recent patient assessment, I reviewed the medical history, medications and vital signs, identifying a discrepancy that prompted further investigation. This led to detecting a medication error, allowing timely intervention and preventing potential complications. However, one area I’m actively working on is delegating tasks. While I excel at taking on responsibilities, I sometimes struggle to delegate, but I’m committed to improving this skill through ongoing self-awareness and colleague feedback.”

4. What do you find most rewarding about being a nurse?

Like the first question, the employer wants to understand how much you enjoy nursing. The more powerful you perceive your rewards, the less likely you are to slack at your job or quit. Be honest and throw in an anecdote if you have one. Here’s an example: 

“What I find most rewarding about nursing is my incredible impact on people’s daily lives. One time, I was looking after this elderly patient who was feeling down and anxious because they were stuck in the hospital away from their family. I sat with them, chatted, and was there for them. As we talked, their whole mood shifted. They went from feeling isolated to feeling like they had someone who cared. Seeing that change — that’s what keeps me going. It’s not just about the medical element; it’s about being there for people when they need it most, offering comfort, and making a real difference in their day.”

5. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient.

Behavioral interview questions like this help the hiring manager gauge how well you handle real workplace situations. Your answer should show your conflict management and analytical thinking skills. Use the STAR method to structure your answer. Here’s an example: 

“During a hectic shift in the emergency department, I encountered a challenging patient who was agitated and resistant to medical instructions. I approached the patient calmly, listened to their concerns, and empathetically addressed their anxiety about their condition and the hospital environment. Collaborating with other health care professionals, including a social worker, we developed a plan to support the patient and explore alternative solutions. Through effective communication and teamwork, we successfully de-escalated the situation, gained the patient’s trust, and facilitated their cooperation with the treatment plan, resulting in a smoother continuation of care and appreciation from the patient for the support provided.”

6. How do you manage questions from a patient’s family and friends?

A crucial aspect of nursing is handling family and friend’s questions regarding the patient’s health and treatment. It’s essential to be empathetic while explaining terms or procedures they may be unfamiliar with. Here’s an example:

“I provide clear, honest and empathetic responses while respecting patient confidentiality. I prioritize active listening to understand their concerns fully and address them with compassion and patience. When appropriate, I involve the patient in the conversation to ensure their preferences and needs are respected. Additionally, I offer reassurance and support, encouraging open communication and collaboration to foster trust and understanding among all parties involved in the patient’s care.”

7. Share a story of when you had to manage a busy workload. How did you do it?

Hospitals and patient care centers are typically stressful workplaces. It’s common for a nurse to manage multiple responsibilities at a time. Answer this situational interview question with a story that showcases your organizational and management skills. Here’s an example: 

“During a hectic holiday weekend at the hospital, we were understaffed, and I was already juggling multiple patients with diverse needs, medication schedules and treatments. I prioritized tasks based on the urgency of each patient’s condition and the complexity of their care requirements. I created a prioritized to-do list and delegated non-clinical tasks to support staff where appropriate. Additionally, I maintained open communication with the health care team, providing updates on patient statuses and collaborating on care plans. With effective delegation and collaboration with the remaining team members, we provided quality care to all patients while ensuring their safety and comfort.”

8. How would you handle an outbreak?

You may not have encountered an outbreak before, but you have to be prepared for one. Show off hard skills like outbreak management practices to ensure the employer you’re ready for a crisis like this one. Here’s an example: 

“I would implement a comprehensive plan to handle an outbreak effectively, prioritizing containment, communication and collaboration. First and foremost, I would work closely with infection control teams to identify the source of the outbreak and implement appropriate isolation and infection control measures. Simultaneously, clear and transparent communication would be essential internally with health care staff and externally with public health authorities and the affected community. This would involve providing timely updates on the situation, guidelines for prevention, and instructions on seeking medical care if necessary. Additionally, I would coordinate closely with other health care facilities and community partners to ensure a coordinated response and adequate resources to manage the outbreak effectively. Regular monitoring and evaluation of the situation would also be crucial to adapt strategies as needed and mitigate the further spread of the infection.”

9. Tell me about when you had a family member or patient unhappy with your care. How did you handle it?

If it has not happened, there will come a time, or multiple times, when someone will be dissatisfied with your care. Explain how you would handle the situation by looking for solutions and prioritizing their comfort. Here’s an example: 

“A patient’s family member once expressed dissatisfaction with the pain management provided to their loved one. I took the time to listen attentively and empathetically to understand the root of their dissatisfaction. I apologized for any distress caused and assured them that I valued their feedback and would address it promptly. I then collaborated with the health care team to reassess the patient’s pain management plan, ensuring that it aligned with their needs and preferences while adhering to medical guidelines. Throughout the process, I maintained open communication with the family members, providing updates on the adjustments and actively involving them in decision-making whenever possible. By addressing their concerns with empathy, transparency and a commitment to improving care, we resolved the issue satisfactorily and restored trust in the care provided.”

10. What are your goals?

Hiring managers want nurses with a clear vision for their future and ambitions to go for it. Consider what you want to achieve in your career and give a thoughtful answer. Here’s an example: 

“My primary goal is to make meaningful contributions to nursing by actively participating in initiatives that drive positive change within the health care industry. I aspire to advocate for policies that improve patient care standards, enhance health care accessibility, and promote holistic approaches to wellness. Moreover, I’m passionate about mentoring and empowering aspiring nurses, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, to pursue their career goals. Through mentorship programs and educational initiatives, I aim to inspire the next generation of nurses, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to excel in this rewarding profession.”

15 Extra Nursing Job Interview Questions

We listed 15 extra nursing questions for you to prepare and ace that interview: 

  • How would you handle a patient who struggles with pain management?

  • How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor?

  • What makes a great shift?

  • What do kindness and care mean to you?

  • Tell me about a time you had to navigate cultural differences. How did you do it?

  • Can you explain a situation without excessive medical jargon? Use an example. 

  • Share a time when you were incredibly proud of your health care team. 

  • How would you respond to a distressed relative?

  • Describe a time when you had to take on a leadership role. 

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What motivates you?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Share an example of a time you spotted upcoming problems with a patient. 

  • What is your biggest achievement?

  • Tell me about a time you experienced conflict with a fellow nurse. How did you handle it?


Nursing Interview Questions to Ask

Writing down questions to ask during a nursing interview is just as important as preparing your answers for the hiring manager. It shows you’re serious about the job and helps you decide if the role fits you. Consider these five questions to ask the interviewer

1What kind of training do you offer?

2Can you describe the culture here?

3Which system do you use for EMR?

4How do you measure success?

5What do other nurses like most about working here?

Nursing Interview Tips

Now that you know how to answer nursing interview questions, it’s time to prepare for your interview. Follow these tips to impress the hiring manager:

  • Review your qualifications:

    The goal is to touch on those key skills and accomplishments that make you an ideal candidate. Re-read your resume to keep your most impressive credentials on top of mind. 

  • Conduct mock interviews:

    Ask a friend or family member to practice interviewing you so your responses and body language show you’re confident and prepared. 

  • Arrive early:

    Health care facilities tend to be big and confusing. Show up 10 to 15 minutes early to get your bearings. 

  • Bring a notebook and pen:

    During the interview, you can write down questions or comments you want to reevaluate when you can. 

  • Dress professionally:

    Although nurses wear scrubs, you should look polished during your interview. 

Key Takeaways

Let’s wrap it up with a few key points: 

  • Nursing interviews focus on your ability to handle situations by applying critical resume skills and specialized health care knowledge.

  • Nursing is challenging, so ensure your answers reflect your passion and driving force. 

  • Always answer behavioral nursing interview questions with specific examples using the STAR method. 

  • Bring insightful questions to ask the interviewer. 

  • Prepare for your nursing interview how you would for any other. 


Learn About Our Writing Standards

Editorial Standards 

JobHero has published in-depth career guides, resume and cover letter articles since 2014. We aim to share job-seeking tools and empower job seekers throughout their careers!