The Nursing Job Interview
With our step-by-step guide and sample practice questions, you’ll be fielding offers in no time
If you’ve been in your current role for a while, your interviewing skills may be a little rusty. If you’ve recently graduated from nursing school, you may not have interviewed for a nursing job before.
Don’t panic! Nurses are in high demand right now, and recruiters and nurse managers are eager to add new talent to their teams.
The interview process is your chance to show them what you have to offer. This article walks you through how to prepare, what to expect at the interview and what to do afterwards, from someone who has been on both sides of the interview panel in recent years.
Preparing for the Interview
Before beginning the interview process, do some research on the facility and the unit. You can start with the hospital’s website or by reaching out to any personal connections you may have there. Pay particular attention to the typical demographics of the patients the unit treats. That information will help inform your responses to the interview questions.
Next, create a list of your own nursing experiences that you can refer to for scenario-based questions. If you are a new graduate nurse, use examples from clinical rotations for situational responses.
For behavioral questions — like how you dealt with a workplace conflict — you can also refer to your non-nursing jobs. Hiring managers are more interested in knowing that you can manage challenging situations than in the circumstances of the story itself.
Another important step is reviewing your own resume. If you submitted your resume when you applied for the job and never looked back, now is the time to revisit it. You will want to be able to speak fluently about any work experience listed and be prepared to address any gaps in employment.
Next, it’s time to practice interview questions. Each of the following sections provides some sample questions you can use as a starting point.
Remember you’re a STAR
When answering interview questions, it’s important to stay on track. Using a framework like the “STAR” (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method will help you keep your thoughts organized so you don’t wander off-topic.
It’s also helpful to practice your answers with another person. You can run through your sample questions with a friend, but many schools also offer free practice interviews with a virtual interviewer. Having access to this type of virtual interview was one of the most valuable tools I used when I prepared for a recent multi-round interview.
What to Expect in Your Interview
It is common for the interview process to span multiple conversations, with the first being a relatively informal screening and the last phase being the more traditional interview. Let’s discuss what each phase means for you.
Phase 1: Informal Call
First up is typically a screening call to see if you are a good fit for the facility. The best way to prepare is by reviewing your resume and identifying your intentions and priorities. Do this as soon as you hit “send” on your application, in case you get a call back right away.
Here are a few sample questions that are common during a first interview:
“Tell me about yourself.”
When an interviewer asks this question, they’re looking for insights about whether you would be a good addition to their team. While your answer should focus on your work history and experience, you can also talk about special hobbies or personal details that highlight attributes that are useful in a professional setting.