Nursing Interview Questions

Looking for a career helping others? Nursing could be for you…

Whether you’re already a qualified nurse or you’re about to start a career in nursing, it’s not always easy to predict what kind of questions will come up at an interview. And whilst you’re likely to be asked a number of common interview questions, you’ll also come across ones that are more directly related to nursing, and healthcare in general.

Here are a few of the most popular nursing interview questions, along with our advice on how to answer them:


Why did you decide to become a nurse?

This question is essentially asking you two things; why do you want this job, and are you really committed to it?

Answering it well comes down to your ability to be unique, genuine, and to-the-point. Because whilst the interviewer is looking for more than a one word answer, they also don’t want to hear your life story.

Think about what path led you to your nursing career, and give specific examples that not only make you unique, but also demonstrate your passion, drive, and commitment to helping others.

For example, it could be that you received excellent care from a nurse that inspired you to pursue it, you started out in a similar industry (e.g. care work) and decided nursing was a great next step, or you’ve just always been passionate about providing care and assistance to people in need.


Describe a good shift

This competency question is a great way for the interviewer to ensure you know what elements are vital to a smooth running hospital or surgery.

The best answers will not only focus on the importance of delivering excellent care to patients, but also of taking care of yourself and your colleagues.

Because a great shift is less about having high numbers of staff – and more about effective organisation of tasks, time management, and regular breaks to ensure the team is kept sharp, hydrated, and happy.

The interviewer knows that no shift is perfect, so instead of describing a ‘dream’ day that probably doesn’t exist, think about a real-life experience that went particularly well.

And don’t feel like being faced with problems along the way (e.g. you were short staffed) is a bad thing. Instead, draw attention to how you used your patience and resilience to overcome them.


Tell me about a time you’ve dealt with a dissatisfied patient

This question relies on your ability to be understanding, calm, and accommodating in order to diffuse a difficult situation.

Firstly, acknowledge that you understand why a patient is feeling upset – but never blame them. After all, it’s understandable that illnesses can sometimes result in anger and frustration, especially if they feel as if their condition isn’t improving as quickly as they expect it to.

Secondly, discuss what happened, talking about why a patient was dissatisfied, whether it was that they felt they were being denied the right medication, they hadn’t been attended to quickly enough, or any other reason.

Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), explain how you used basic conflict resolution strategies to turn the situation around. These usually include listening to the patient to understand the root of the concern, taking them away from the area, and knowing if and when to escalate the issue to a senior member of staff.


What makes you a good nurse?

In other words, what makes you better than the other candidates?

In addition to demonstrating your most notable skills, abilities, and achievements, you should also ensure that your answer is compassionate.

After all, skills can be taught – but empathy, honesty, and kindness are all inherit traits that form the basis of a successful nurse. It’s also a good idea to reference the importance of the six Cs (the value base for nursing, midwifery, and care staff), which are: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

But don’t just list what it takes to be a great nurse. You also need to prove it.

To really stand out from the crowd, refer to real life examples that show you can go above and beyond to ensure patients are being cared for to the best of your ability.


What’s your biggest achievement so far?

This question is basically a free pass to brag (humbly, of course).

Think of a notable success in your career that you’re particularly proud of, and use the STAR technique to explain it to your interviewer.

And don’t feel like it has to be from work. If you’re new to nursing and/or have recently finished studying, it’s perfectly acceptable to give an example from your experience as a student nurse – as long as it emphasises your enthusiasm and determination to deliver safe and effective care.

Interviewers are looking for a personal, unique story that shows you’re passionate about your job – so avoid being vague or generic with your answer.


Need more interview questions?

Unfortunately, we can’t help you predict exactly which interview questions will come up on the big day. However, we can help you prepare for every eventuality and avoid any interview nightmares.

Buy James Reed’s new book: Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again to find out how.



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