Woman sitting down at board room table for interview with two other people
Interview Preparation

Ultimate Guide to Nursing Interview Questions

15 Minute Read


Congratulations, there’s a nursing interview on your calendar! You went through all the steps to optimize your nursing resume, and the hiring manager was impressed. Now, they want to learn more about how you could be a potential fit for their open role. 

The thought of talking to the hiring manager might give you jitters, but Nucleus Healthcare is here to walk you through the process – prepping you with how to dress, what to expect, and guiding you through possible nursing interview questions. Read through this guide for all the tips that will help your nerves settle so you can tackle your nursing interview with confidence! You can use the below links to easily hop from section to section.

What to Wear to a Nursing Interview

How to Prepare for a Nursing Interview

Common Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview

What to Do After a Nursing Interview

What to Wear to a Nursing Interview

Before we jump into the interview prep, know that making the best impression starts with selecting an appropriate outfit. You might wonder, “What do I wear to a nursing interview? Should I wear scrubs or something else?” Here are some tips to consider that will help you make the right outfit choice no matter if your interview is in-person or virtual.

  • Out With the Scrubs:
    • While scrubs might be your everyday outfit on the unit, you’ll want to wear business-casual attire for any of your interviews. A well-fitted suit, a dress, or a pantsuit are all great options for your interview outfit.
  • Classic is Always In:
    • Stick to classic colors and styles in your outfit. Neutral colors like black, navy, gray, and white are your best friends.
  • Personal Hygiene Matters:
    • Make sure your hair is well-groomed, and your nails are clean and neat. Ensure your outfit doesn’t have any stains. For makeup, stick to a minimal, subtle look.
  • Comfort is Key:
    • Your nursing interview might involve a lot of walking or standing if you tour the unit or facility in person. Choose an outfit and shoes that are professional but that also allow you to move comfortably. You want to feel at ease in your outfit throughout the interview.

For more in-depth insight on outfit options, read our blog all about what to wear to a nursing interview. Now that you’ve picked out a couple of outfit options, it’s time to think about the next step.

How to Prepare for a Nursing Interview

Thorough preparation is key to ensure you shine during your interview. You’ll want to make sure you’ve done your research about the role, that you have any necessary documents ready, and that you have a great answer for any question the hiring manager asks. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the big day.

Research the Facility

Set aside time to research the healthcare facility or organization where you’ll be interviewed. Understand their mission, values, and the services they offer. Knowing details about their patient population and any recent developments can set you apart from other job candidates. During the interview, you will likely be asked why you want to work at the facility, and researching these specifics can help you develop a well-informed answer that shows you’ve done your homework.

Review Common Nursing Interview Questions

While every interview is going to be different, you can count on the hiring manager to ask a few standard interview questions. Anticipate what you might be asked and practice your responses, ensuring you have a well-thought-out answer for each and can provide specific examples for any behavioral interview questions. If you’re unsure of what might be asked, hop to our section of nursing interview questions and answers for ideas of what you can expect and ways that you can respond.

Be Prepared to Showcase Your Clinical Knowledge

Be prepared to discuss your expertise in various nursing procedures and your ability to adapt to stressful healthcare situations. Brush up on your understanding of medical terminology and be ready to explain how you stay current with the latest healthcare practices.

Bring Essential Documentation

Ensure you have all necessary documents with you, including a printed resume, copies of your certifications and licenses, and any other relevant paperwork. If you forget to have these hard copies, make sure there’s a way for you access your resume and other essential documents from your phone. Here are a few ways you can save your resume on your phone to make it easily accessible at any time.

Stay Calm and Confident

Confidence and a positive attitude go a long way in making a good impression. Your nerves might bubble, but remember that you’re a good nurse and know how to do your job. All you have to do in the interview is talk about what you know.

Woman in business outfit sitting down for interview with hiring manager

Common Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

Now that you have your prep steps, we’re going to focus on the interview itself. No matter if this is your first nursing interview or you’re a seasoned professional, you’ll want to ready yourself for the hiring manager’s potential questions and how you will respond.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

How to Respond:

  • Start with a concise summary of your nursing career, emphasizing your qualifications, certifications, and relevant experience.
  • Highlight your passion for patient care and your commitment to the profession.
  • Personalize your answer by discussing your motivations and values as a nurse.

2. “Why do you want to work in this facility?”

How to Respond:

  • This is where your research comes in handy. Mention specific aspects of the facility, such as their patient population, values, or healthcare services that align with how you want to grow your career.
  • Explain how your skills and experience make you a good fit for their needs.

3. “How do you handle a stressful situation?”

How to Respond:

  • Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your response to behavioral interview questions like this one.
  • Describe a real-life situation where you effectively managed stress and maintained patient safety.
  • Emphasize your ability to remain calm, prioritize tasks, and collaborate with the entire healthcare team.

4. “Could you share an example from your nursing experience where you identified a more effective approach to a task? How did you go about presenting it to your manager?”

How to Respond: 

  • Share a specific example of a task or process where you identified a better way to achieve the desired outcome. Explain your role in implementing this change, emphasizing how your actions positively impacted patient care or workflow.
  • Highlight the steps you took to approach your manager, emphasizing open communication and collaboration.

5. “How do you stay updated on best practices and advancements in nursing?”

How to Respond:

  • Explain your commitment to professional development through continuing education, seminars, or workshops.
  • Mention professional organizations or journals you follow to stay informed about the latest nursing trends.

6. “Tell me about a challenging patient or family encounter. How did you handle it?”

How to Respond:

  • Use the STAR method again to share a specific, challenging scenario.
  • Describe how you maintained open communication, showed empathy, and resolved the issue while ensuring the patient’s well-being.

7. “Share a time you were asked by your supervisor to pivot from your assignment, your schedule, or a process. How did you handle the change?”

How to Respond: 

  • There’s always change in the healthcare industry – from staffing to policy. Nurse managers want to ensure they’re selecting candidates who can seamlessly adapt to challenges. Your response should highlight your flexibility, quick thinking, and dedication to delivering top-quality patient care, even in the face of unexpected shifts.

8. “What’s your approach to teamwork?”

How to Respond:

  • Provide an example where you successfully worked with diverse team members to achieve patient-centered care.

9. “Why are you leaving your current nursing job?”

How to Respond:

  • Keep your response professional as you speak to your desire for career growth, a shorter commute, being closer to family, etc., and never talk negatively about your former employer.

10. “Why should we hire you?”

How to Respond:

  • Show you’re the right candidate for the role as you summarize your qualifications, experience, and personal qualities – highlighting your commitment to patient care, adaptability, and dedication.

11. “Describe how you manage a busy workload.”

How to Respond:

  • Discuss your strategies for prioritizing, tracking, and delegating tasks.

12. “How do you help patients and families understand medical conditions and medications?”

How to Respond:

  • Describe how you actively listen to patients and their concerns, encourage questions, and offer clarification.
  • Explain the tools and methods you use to educate patients and their families about their medical conditions and medications.

13. “Describe a time you went above and beyond for a patient.”

How to Respond:

  • Using the STAR method, explain the challenge that the patient faced and the extra effort you made to address the patient’s needs.
  • Mention any feedback or recognition you received from this experience.

14. “Why do you think having a DEI work environment is important?” 

How to Respond:

  • Explain how a DEI work environment contributes to more personalized patient care. Diverse perspectives and cultural competency among healthcare providers can lead to better patient understanding, trust, and engagement.

New Grad Nurse Interview Questions

As a new nurse graduate, you might not have a ton of on-the-job experience to reference yet. The hiring manager will likely tailor interview questions to your specific career stage. Here are a few questions you might encounter as a new grad nurse looking for your first job.

1. “Why did you decide to become a nurse?”

  • Share your motivations and passion for nursing, which can include personal experiences, career goals, or a desire to help others.

2. “What do you consider to be your strengths as a new nurse?”

  • Discuss your key attributes, such as communication skills, empathy, adaptability, or your ability to work in a team.

3. “What clinical rotations or experiences have prepared you for this role?”

  • Mention specific clinical experiences that have given you valuable skills and insights relevant to the position.

4. “What are your long-term career goals as a nurse?”

  • Discuss your aspirations in the nursing profession, such as pursuing further education, specializing in a particular area, or advancing to leadership roles.

5. “What do you feel are the most important qualities a nurse should possess?”

  • Highlight qualities like compassion, empathy, integrity, teamwork, and a dedication to patient-centered care.

Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview

Now that you’ve answered the hiring manager’s questions, it is time to ask a few of your own. The nursing interview isn’t just a chance for the hiring manager to get to know you, but it’s also an opportunity to see if the facility and unit align with your career goals. Come prepared with a few questions to ask the nurse manager. Some questions you might ask include:

  • What do you like best about working here?
  • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio when fully staffed?
  • What are the biggest struggles and challenges in the unit?
  • What are you looking for in a new hire?
  • What charting system is used?
  • What resources are available in this unit to support nurses?
  • Can you explain the onboarding process? 

What to Do After a Nursing Interview

You’ve made it through your nurse interview, but be sure to grab the hiring manager’s contact information before you say goodbye. After the interview, you can send a personalized email to the manager, expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and reiterating your enthusiasm for the position. This small gesture can leave a positive lasting impression.

Time to Ace Your Nursing Interview!

Having an interview on your calendar might make you feel nervous, but when you’re well-prepared, it can be exciting! By following these nursing interview tips, you’re sure to ace the interview and be one step closer to securing the job you want! 

And if you’re still searching for that ideal job, you’re in the right place! Browse our latest job postings or upload your resume on our website to connect with a Nucleus recruiter, who can guide you to meaningful careers in the healthcare field.


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