Nurse hiring manager interviewing nurse candidate - nursing interview questions and answers
Interview Preparation

20+ Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

12 Minute Read


Is your calendar filling up with nursing interviews? It’s exciting that employers are interested in speaking with you, but you might be nervous about the actual interview itself. We’ve already given you an in-depth guide to prepare for the interview – from what to wear to how you should follow up with the hiring manager. But in this blog, we’re doing a deep dive into what is likely causing you the most anxiety – nursing interview questions and answers.

We consulted with our nursing leader, Jen Eden, for insight on what questions a hiring manager might ask and what they want to know out of an interview with you. When you’re done studying our list, you’ll be able to confidently walk into your interview, knowing you have an answer to any question that comes your way.

Prepare for These Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

1. Tell me about yourself.

Answer: Give a brief summary of your nursing background, emphasizing your relevant experience, skills, and passion for the profession. You can also tell the hiring manager what inspired you to pursue a career in the nursing profession.

2. Why do you want to work here?

Answer: Read about the facility beforehand so that you can speak to specifics, sharing your genuine interest in the facility, its reputation, values, and programs that align with your professional goals.

3. What is your approach to managing challenging situations?

Answer: Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and provide a specific example of a time you were in a stressful situation at work but were able to stay composed, prioritize tasks, and communicate effectively to complete the day’s assignments.

4. Tell me about a time when you found a better way to perform a task. What role did you play in the change? How did you approach this change with your manager?

Answer: To a hiring manager, finding a better way to perform a task shows that you can recognize the need for process improvement.  Explain your proactive approach to process improvement, your role in implementing the change, and your effective communication with superiors to drive positive change.

5. In the last year, what have you done for professional development? Do you belong to any professional organizations? 

Answer: Many managers expect nurses to be members of at least one professional organization as it shows dedication to ongoing learning and professional growth. Share which professional organizations you belong to, which might include the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National League for Nursing (NLN), or something more specific to your specialty.

6. Can you provide an example of how you’ve handled a challenging patient or family encounter?

Answer: This is where you should flex your soft skills, which are vital for any bedside nurse. Again using the STAR method, share your experience with navigating a difficult situation with empathy, communication, and a focus on patient-centered care.

7. How do you handle change if your supervisor asks you to pivot from your assignment, schedule, or process?

Answer: Healthcare is always evolving. Explain your adaptability and willingness to embrace change, including taking on additional responsibilities or pulling to another unit.

8. What’s your approach to teamwork?

Answer: As a nurse, you’ll be working with many other healthcare professionals as part of a patient’s care team. Highlight your ability to collaborate, communicate, and contribute to a collaborative team environment with a focus on providing high-quality patient care.

9. Describe how you manage a busy workload.

Answer: Nursing is a hands-on profession that gets busy quickly. Describe your time management skills, organizational skills, and ability to efficiently handle a demanding workload.

10. What’s your approach to helping patients and families understand medical conditions and how to use medications?

Answer: Patients and families want to understand as much as they can about their condition and medications to take the best care of themselves at home. Emphasize your communication skills and ability to provide patients and families with a clear understanding of their healthcare plan.

11. Can you share an example of a situation where you exceeded expectations in providing care to a patient?

Answer: The STAR method comes in handy here as well! Give the nursing manager an example that illustrates your dedication to providing exceptional care and going the extra mile for patients. If you were recognized with a facility or unit award for your exceptional care, be sure to mention it!

12. Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a colleague who wasn’t doing their part. How did you handle it?

Answer: Showcase your teamwork and problem-solving skills, including your role in addressing team issues calmly and with the desire to find a resolution.

13. If I were to ask your current manager to describe your work history in three words, what would they say? What if I asked them for three areas of improvement?

Answer: We all have areas where we do an exceptional job in our work or areas where we can make progress. Demonstrate your self-awareness by identifying your strengths and areas where you have room to grow.

14. Describe a time when you used one or more safety tools that changed the way you cared for a patient or changed their outcome.

Answer: Showcase your commitment to patient safety and your proactive use of tools to enhance patient care.

15. Tell me a time you made a mistake. How did you discover the mistake and what were the consequences when you shared it?

Answer: Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s important, especially in nursing, to take responsibility for your mistakes and dedicate yourself to fixing them. Show your integrity and ability to admit mistakes, learn from them, and take appropriate actions to rectify the situation.

16. Why do you believe that fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment is important? Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to learn about a coworker or a patient’s culture that differs from your own.

Answer:  As a nurse, you’ll come into contact with coworkers and patients from all backgrounds, and it’s important to show respect for them. Explain why representation within the workplace matters and your ability to embrace and respect cultural differences.

17. What do you do when you don’t know an answer to a patient’s question or how to address a situation?

Answer: For this question, highlight your problem-solving and communication skills, including your ability to ask questions and seek guidance or resources when facing an unfamiliar situation.

18. Share an experience when you had to take on leadership responsibilities.

Answer: Using the STAR method, talk about a time you had to step in and take charge of a situation while ensuring patient care continued to run smoothly. Mention how you effectively delegated tasks, prioritized patient needs, and maintained open communication among the team and what the experience taught you.

19. Why are you leaving your current nursing job?

Answer: While you’ll want to give a valid reason for the change, never talk poorly about a former employer. Instead, opt for answers about how you’re seeking new challenges, professional growth, or better alignment with a workplace’s values.

20. Why should we hire you?

Answer: This is your opportunity to highlight your unique strengths, skills, and how you will positively contribute to the nursing team and facility.

Common New Grad Nurse Interview Questions

As a new grad nurse, it’s natural to feel anxious in anticipation of your upcoming interview. However, as a recent graduate, you possess a fresh perspective and a strong foundation in current nursing practices that will help you through the interview. While your experience may be somewhat limited in comparison to more seasoned nurses, your educational background, commitment to learning, and dedication to providing high-quality patient care can be significant assets in your interview. This stage in your nursing career is an opportunity to show your passion for the profession, your eagerness to grow, and your willingness to contribute to the healthcare team. In preparation for your interview, here are a few questions that the hiring manager might ask to learn more about you as a new nurse.

1. Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Answer: Dive into your passion for nursing, your motivation, and the personal experiences that led you to pursue the profession.

2. What do you see as your strengths as a new nurse?

Answer: Highlight your potential, eagerness to learn, and any relevant skills or qualities that make you a strong candidate for an entry-level nursing role.

3. How have your clinical rotations or prior experiences equipped you for the responsibilities of this role?

Answer: Show your ability to connect your educational experiences to the requirements of the job, demonstrating your readiness to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting.

4. In your opinion, which qualities do you believe are crucial for a nurse to have?

Answer: Show your understanding of the essential qualities, such as compassion, communication, and critical thinking, that make a great nurse.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Answer: Our nurse leader says hiring managers expect new grads to focus on mastering their basic skills before moving on to an advanced degree, so an expected answer to this question might be as simple as: “I see myself working here and continuing to learn.”

All Set for Your Nursing Interview

Now that you’ve read through our list, you’re prepared to answer any type of question – from questions about teamwork to patient care to communication and everything in between. 

Still want more interview prep? Join our talent community to connect with a Nucleus recruiter who can walk you through mock interviews and connect you with other meaningful job opportunities.


Career GrowthCNACultureNew GradnurseResume

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to follow some of the latest trends in the recruiting and healthcare spaces? Join our community of medical professionals and gain access to premium job opportunities, expert advice, and valuable resources.