Uncomfortable Answering Interview Questions

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    Dear Nurse Beth, I would like to ask you several questions as I had numerous interviews that were unsuccessful and after further analysis I come to conclusion that I do not comfortable regarding my answers to several questions.

    Uncomfortable Answering Interview Questions

    What do you believe are your strength and your weaknesses.
    What interests you most in our organization statement?
    What can you tell us about an organization?
    Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
    What aspects work are difficult.

    Your direct feedback would be valuable to me. I really need some fresh ideas as I feel I am beginning to dwell on my interview experience.



    Dear Not Comfortable,

    Interviews are stressful, and being prepared helps you to be confident. It’s good to anticipate commonly asked questions and be ready with a response.

    Remember employers are looking for a good fit for their organization. Interviews are not about you- they are about what you can do for the organization. What problem do they have that you can help solve? For example, if your interpersonal skills are good, speak to that as all hospitals are challenged to improve their patient satisfaction scores.

    What do you believe are your strengths and weaknesses?

    What the employer is looking for:Insight, honesty. That your strengths match the strengths they are looking for (read the job posting description) and that you are taking actionable steps to work on your weaknesses.

    How to answer:
    The key is to frame your answer positively in a manner that reflects well on you. The interviewer wants to hear about strengths that would be assets in the workplace.
    Be prepared with at least 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses because they may respond with“Good. And what’s another strength/weakness?"

    Avoid cliches. Do not say“I’m a perfectionist” because it’s been overused as an example and you will come off as having googled your answer. Which, of course, you may have but they don’t need to know that.

    When choosing your weakness, pick something work-related and fixable. Make sure that it’s not something critical to the job, but that it is something germane to the job.

    For example, don’t say“I struggle with math calculations” because you are going to be passing medications and your aptitude and safety will be brought into question. Don’t say “I’m no good with Power Point” because this is not a skill for a bedside nurse. It will be seen as avoiding or skirting the question.

    Your goal is to present a genuine weakness that does not damage your potential for the position but also does not come across as unrealistic or staged.

    ” I don’t always delegate as much as I should, because I always want to do everything myself! I’ve come to see that delegating is important in order to work as a team and get everything done. Every shift on my last rotation, I made it a point to delegate more each day. It’s still out of my comfort zone, but I’m improving daily.”

    What interests you most in our organization statement? and what can you tell us about our organization?

    They are looking to see if you'll be a good fit. Do this by knowing their mission statement, and the culture, if possible. For example, if it is a faith-based organization, you would speak to that insofar as your values align with theirs.

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    "I'm looking forward to growing with the organization and taking on more responsibilities as my skills increase"

    What aspects of work are difficult?

    "Currently I am working on my time management skills, and I am making progress.’m learning to batch my duties whenever possible, and to carry enough needed supplies with me. When I anticipate what my patients might need, I’m better prepared and save time.”


    Tell us when you had a conflict at work and how you resolved it

    Variations of interview question:
    Describe a time when you disagreed with your boss.

    Tell me about a difficult patient and how you handled the situation Describe a conflict with a coworker, and how you resolved it.

    What the employer is looking for: Conflict resolution skills. Interpersonal skills. Team work. That you can interact well with others.

    How to answer: Have 3 examples ready, one of conflict with your boss, one with a co-worker, one with a customer/patient. Segue if needed(“While I haven’t had that particular experience, I have had….”). Then give them a similar example that shows your ability to communicate with others and come to a working agreement. They will go with it.

    Healthcare facilities prefer to hire people who work well with others, have good social skills, get along well with patients and visitors, and can pull together as a team for the sake of patient care.

    To tell your example, follow this helpful formula:

    • Conflict resolution skills. Describe the situation
    • Identify the challenges you encountered
    • Explain the action steps you took
    • Share the outcome
    • Summarize what you learned and will apply moving forward

    Patient Scenario Question

    Variations of interview question: You will be given a clinical scenario describing a patient is some form of distress. They are not trying to trip you up, or throw you a curve ball.

    What the employer is looking for: That you ask for help (no lone rangers), you provide basic nursing interventions (assessment, vital signs), that you are a safe practitioner, and that you anticipate interventions (labs, ekg). How you handle stress. That you don’t panic or freeze. They are not looking for clinical expertise if you are a new grad, and not looking for a diagnosis or in depth understanding of labs or diagnostic test.

    How to answer:


    • Call for help (call RRT or charge nurse) - shows your understand your role
    • Stay at the bedside - demonstrates safety
    • Assess the patient (take vital signs, finger stick, etc.) - knows to apply the nursing process and doesn’t panic
    • Perform an appropriate intervention (Raise the head of bed, apply oxygen) - shows critical thinking
    • Call the MD - good
    • Call the MD and anticipate what he/she will order (cardiac enzymes, EKG, CXR, etc.) - better


    Hope these help, friend!

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Nurse Beth has '20+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho'. From 'Bakersfield, CA'; Joined Mar '07; Posts: 1,023; Likes: 3,118.

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    4 Comments

  3. by   Beldar_the_Cenobite
    I know if you're a veteran, they can't ask you if you were honorably discharged from the military unless it's a federal or state facility. I think it'd be considered illegal and rude. I was honorably discharged but I still don't feel comfortable answering that to someone if won't mean anything to them or the company. To get to know me as a person, there are other ways for that. My physique, personality, the questions I ask, and how I dressed for the interview shows enough how much I want the job. There's no need for "let's shoot the ****" if I'm there to try and sell myself for a job so I can put a roof over my head and food on the table and I don't even know if I'm going to get the job unless I'm told I am hired.
  4. by   englishgarden
    I finally landed a job this week and the interview process can be grueling. One example of a conflict with a coworker that received a favorable response involved "workplace bullying." I described helping another nurse who was trying to enter an order into the computer for heparin to flush a portacath. Another nurse who was known to be a bully walked up and said "don't help her," "she should know how to do that by now." I explained how I continued to help the nurse with the order. I then spoke to "the bully" in private and told her that I disagreed with her approach explaining that if nurses are shamed or intimidated they may not ask for help when they need it and that leads to medication errors and patient safety issues. I also reported it to the manager who needed clear examples of the bully's behavior to take action.
    Another challenge is explaining why you are qualified to do something that you don't have experience doing. You can address this issue by stating something like "while I don't have experience as a telemetry nurse I believe that my 5 years of experience working in med/surg has prepared me for this new role in the following ways" 1, 2, 3...(some examples may be skills and other examples may be characteristics such as being a teamplayer, having the ability the learn new things quickly, having taken an EKG course, being passionate about wanting to work in the new area).
    After finishing my MSN degree one position I applied for was a medical researcher at Cedar Sinai. At the end of the phone interview the person said "I just want you to know that if someone with actual research experience applies they will pass you up." I confidently replied "I understand that kind of experience is important but I just want to assure you that the position also entails working with patients and physicians and I have always been a caring and compassionate nurse who patient's love and the doctors I have worked with appreciate my 26 years of experience as a nurse and that I can recognize a problem and communicate it effectively."
    Good luck to you, I know the process is hard, I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster!
  5. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from TheAtomicStig_702
    I know if you're a veteran, they can't ask you if you were honorably discharged from the military unless it's a federal or state facility.
    Not exactly true. Potential employers can ask about the characterization of your discharge if the position requires a clearance, or if the company has made a commitment to hiring vets; this allows them to set boundaries as to which veterans they will hire. Asking is not prohibited by EEO laws (but you should have a reason for asking). I was also honorably discharged and it has been asked in pre-employment.
  6. by   Beldar_the_Cenobite
    Quote from Pixie.RN
    Not exactly true. Potential employers can ask about the characterization of your discharge if the position requires a clearance, or if the company has made a commitment to hiring vets; this allows them to set boundaries as to which veterans they will hire. Asking is not prohibited by EEO laws (but you should have a reason for asking). I was also honorably discharged and it has been asked in pre-employment.
    The VA would be an example for committing to hiring vets. I forgot about the clearance thing. If it's top secret and you have a dishonorable discharge, they'd overlook you. Yeah, stuff like that obviously.

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Uncomfortable Answering Interview Questions