Accountable Healthcare - 15 Nurse Interview Questions and Answers
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May 30, 2023

15 Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

Whether you are preparing to interview a candidate or applying for a job, review our list of top Nurse interview questions and answers.

Q: Why did you become a nurse?

A: Candidates have unique reasons for choosing their career path. This question helps you to find out what factors motivate a nurse. What to look for in an answer:

  • Passion for nursing
  • Desire to learn new skills and contribute to your organization
  • Enthusiasm for patient care


"I became a nurse because I love caring for others. When I was seven years old, I had an injury that kept me in the hospital for weeks. While the physicians were great, they only spent a short time with me. The nurses kept me company and helped throughout my recovery. When it was time to choose a career, I remembered how caring the nurses were, and I wanted to care for others in the same way."

Q: What aand personality traits do you think are important for nurses to possess?

A: Nurses need various soft and hard skills to care for patients, such as interpersonal skills and knowledge of how to monitor vital signs. By asking this question, you can learn whether a candidate knows which skills are important for their role. What to look for in an answer:

  • Effective communication and active listening skills
  • Ability to use medical equipment and technology
  • Time management skills


"As a nurse, I believe compassion, patience and empathy are important personality traits. A good nurse also knows how to use technology to monitor patient health and keep organized records. Effective communication and teamwork are also important skills for an excellent nurse to have."

Q: Describe your experience as a nurse and what you've learned from it.

A: This question helps you understand whether a candidate's experience makes them suitable for the job. What to look for in an answer:

  • Sufficient previous experience
  • Eagerness to work
  • Ability to adapt to new environments


"I have eight years of work experience as a nurse. In my previous position, I worked as a personal nurse to a retired author, who lived in a rural community far away from a general hospital. I learned to listen actively and develop effective communication skills while caring for him. I also worked as a prenatal nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto for five years where I learned to work with many patients at once."

Q: Imagine a patient's family criticized your care services. What would you do?

A: The aim of this question is to understand how a candidate handles challenging interpersonal situations with a patient's family. A good nurse knows how to respond to family concerns and communicate the reason for their care strategies. What to look for in an answer:

  • Confidence in their decisions and the correct care techniques
  • Desire to provide the best care to patients
  • Interpersonal and communication skills


"If a patient's family member disagreed with my services, I would actively listen to their complaint. Then, I'd take their concerns into consideration and suggest solutions to satisfy them while keeping the patient's care as my priority. If the family member didn't want to work through the issue, I'd inform my nurse manager of their decision."

Q: How would you manage an uncooperative patient?

A: This question helps you get an idea of a candidate's temperament and ability to work under pressure. An ideal candidate focuses on providing exceptional care to the patient in challenging situations. What to look for in an answer:

  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Example of experience handling difficult patients
  • Conflict-resolution skills


"First, I would listen to the patient and consider their complaint or issue with the care I provide. Then, I'd ask the patient if there was anything I could do to help the situation. I always make sure I'm calm and compassionate when handling difficult or uncooperative patients. However, I'm confident in my care strategies and know I sometimes have to do what's best for them even if they don't agree."

Q: Would you rather work independently or with other nurses?

A: Nurses typically work with other healthcare professionals in caring for, treating and counselling patients. The goal of this question is to determine a candidate's working style. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to work with others
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Effective written and communication skills


"I prefer working in a team rather than independently. I'm very extroverted and feel more motivated when working with others. In my experience, working with other nurses is a great way to learn about new methods of patient care. It also allows me to discuss my ideas and share my thoughts with like-minded professionals. However, I can also work independently and have worked as a personal care nurse on my own in the past."

Q: How well do you thrive in a fast-paced environment?

A: Nurses frequently need to care for several patients during their shift. By asking this question, you can discover whether a candidate is confident managing multiple patients effectively. You can also assess how they handle fast-paced work environments. What to look for in an answer:

  • Time management, multi-tasking and organizational skills
  • Ability to prioritize tasks as needed
  • Ability to remain calm in a fast-paced environment


"I work well in fast-paced environments and can multi-task well. From my experience as a prenatal nurse, working in settings where tasks come quickly and continuously is a great way to grow. I set personal boundaries at work. I also take breaks whenever I have the time and come back feeling refreshed."

Q: Why do you want to work at this healthcare facility as a nurse?

A: The goal of this question is to find out what a candidate knows about your facility. An excellent candidate is prepared to answer this question and is excited about working with you. What to look for in an answer:

  • Desire to work as a nurse
  • Passion for providing excellent patient care
  • Eagerness to contribute to the goals of your facility


"I want to work at this healthcare facility because I share and value your mission to provide quality emergency care. I'm also eager to work here because of the opportunities you provide for career development. I look forward to applying my skills at this healthcare facility while learning from other experienced nurses."

Q: What would you say are the biggest challenges nurses face?

A: This question gives you the opportunity to assess whether a potential nurse understands their role and the common challenges faced in their profession. What to look for in an answer:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Ability to evaluate various aspects of nursing issues
  • Critical-thinking skills


"I feel the biggest challenge faced by a nurse is working long overtime hours. In my opinion, healthcare facilities could employ more nurses to relieve workplace stress. Schools could also encourage high school graduates to consider a career in nursing to deal with the current nursing shortage. This would help nurses get more rest between shifts and be able to provide better patient care."

Q: What would you do if your shift replacement wasn't available?

A: This question helps you determine whether a candidate is dedicated to patient care. You can assess whether the candidate would care for a patient until their shift replacement arrived, or they found another solution. What to look for in an answer:

  • Desire to care for and prioritize
  • Empathy, compassion and communication
  • Problem-solving abilities


"If my replacement couldn't come to work, I would reach out to my nursing supervisor and inform them of the situation. I would also contact my shift replacement to find out what happened and whether they were late or unable to come in at all. I would notify my nursing supervisor of my replacement's response and look for a solution that didn't involve leaving the patient unattended."

Q: How do you handle your mistakes as a nurse?

A: The goal of this question is to find out whether a candidate can acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them. What to look for in an answer:

  • Honesty
  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Enthusiasm for continued personal growth


"If I made a mistake at work, I would first acknowledge it and inform my supervisor. Then, I would apologize to the people involved, like the patient or their family members, and look for a way to correct it. I would also create a strategy to prevent the issue from happening again and share the action plan with my supervisor."

Q: Describe your ability to stay organized when performing your nursing duties and responsibilities.

A: Nurses need to be organized. By asking this question, you can learn whether a candidate can care for patients and manage their time effectively. What to look for in an answer:

  • Honesty
  • Work ethic
  • Attention to details


"I have strong organizational skills and always work to complete my nursing duties before the required deadlines. I also keep a detailed to-do list and am prepared to reassess priorities as new situations arise."

Q: Describe a time when you above and beyond as a nurse.

A: This question helps you determine a candidate's dedication to making sure their patients have the best care. What to look for in an answer:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Passion for caring for others
  • Sound critical-thinking and decision-making skills


"In my previous role, I cared for a child with a broken arm at the children's hospital. They were scared about going in for surgery. I asked another nurse to check on some of my other patients so I could sit by the child's side until their scheduled surgery. The patient's family appreciated my time and dedication to putting their child at ease."

Q: How would you handle nursing emergencies?

A: The ability to respond quickly to emergencies and provide urgent care are important duties. By asking this question, you can determine whether a candidate has urgent care skills. These are important even for candidates not working in the emergency room. What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of emergency nursing procedures
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Passion for helping others


"Nursing emergencies are a top priority. First, I would assess the situation and decide on the appropriate response. This would help me stay focused on what the patient needs and remain calm. I would communicate with the patient and work to keep them calm. I would also ask for help and take vital signs while waiting for a nursing supervisor or nurse manager to arrive. Finally, I would follow up on the patient's health."

Q: What would you do if you saw a healthcare worker administering oral medication without washing their hands?

A: Nurses must follow and enforce proper hygiene standards. By asking this question, you can determine how a candidate works with other healthcare professionals to correct their mistakes. What to look for in an answer:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Effective communication skills
  • Example of how a candidate handled a similar situation


"I'm aware that administering medications without washing your hands is an unhygienic action to take, and a health and safety risk. I would reach out to the other professional and politely remind them to wash their hands first. I would also make sure my approach is thoughtful and respectful to avoid conflict. If I notice the person didn't change their behavior after our conversation, I would notify the nurse manager of the situation."