A Few More Common Nursing Interview Questions (Part II)

by TheCommuter 110,990 Views | 27 Comments Senior Moderator

This article is a second response to the numerous inquiries that people make about their upcoming nursing job interviews. The intended purpose of this article is to shed some much-needed light onto a few of the most commonly-asked nursing interview questions. Be sure to read part one because it is more inclusive!

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    A Few More Common Nursing Interview Questions (Part II)

    I had previously written How To Answer The Most Common Nursing Interview Questions which describes suggestions on how to respond to some of the most common nursing interview questions that a candidate might receive. Also, please read More Common Nursing Interview Questions (Part III) for additional resources.

    This article is the second part of a two-part essay on how to answer common nursing interview questions. The interview process can stir up deep feelings of nervousness and anxiety because most candidates truly want to be considered for the job opening, and in many instances, this is the one opportunity to bestow a positive first impression upon the interviewer.

    The interview process is also stressful due to other issues such as economic forces combined with the knowledge that you might be competing with masses of other applicants for that single open position. In other words, it is important to get it right the first time without fumbling. Here are some more common nursing interview questions:

    Tell us about an idea or suggestion that you made. Was it implemented?

    Your answer will give the interviewer an abbreviated idea about your ability to think outside the box. Personally, I have been asked this question at various interviews. The last time I was asked this question, I told the interviewer about my suggestion that day shift nurses update the care plans for patients in odd-numbered rooms while night shift nurses update plans of care for the patients in even-numbered rooms. This suggestion was to help ensure that all care plans be updated consistently at my current place of employment.

    What do you enjoy the most about nursing?

    If you are interviewing for a bedside nursing position, the interviewer most likely wants to hear about your passion for helping patients or your eagerness for lifelong learning. I would not mention anything about entering the nursing profession for the money, flexibility, or benefit package.

    Describe your greatest weakness.

    Your answer will give the interviewer an idea about your propensity for honest introspection and self-reflection. Some candidates, in an attempt to conjure up brownie points, will say "I work too hard!" However, astute interviewers are able to catch on and might be turned off by people who use this catch-all response.

    You will want to describe a weakness or personal fault that could be a potential advantage in the workplace. For example, some candidates would say that they are so detail-oriented that they sometimes miss the big picture. Although occasionally missing the big picture is a personal fault, attention to detail is often seen as a keen advantage in situations when patients' lives are at stake. In other words, place a positive spin on your greatest weakness.

    So, where do you see yourself in five years?

    If possible, attempt to connect your long-term career goals with the company. If you are interviewing for a job opening as a medication nurse at a psychiatric facility, you may want to mention that you hope to attain professional certification as a psychiatric nurse in five years. The candidate who is educated at the LPN, diploma, or associates degree level might mention that they will be a BSN degree holder in five years.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Nov 27, '12
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 27,168 Likes: 38,519; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website

    27 Comments so far...

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    I also ask the question, "Do you fear the unknown?" I have had some new grads answer a resounding "Yes! The unknown is very scary!" And some others have answered, "I welcome the unknown, I love a challenge!" I will tell you that every time, I will hire the person who welcomes the challenge. There is no room in nursing for scaredy cats-especially with healthcare nowadays!
    somebody01, aprilpam77, joanna73, and 1 other like this.
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    Thank you! I have a phone screening (interview) tomorrow. I'm writing down a interview "brain" for Strengths, Weaknesses and Why Nursing.

    Under why nursing: I love to problem solve!
    EC18 and CarrieGL like this.
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    Quote from cienurse
    I also ask the question, "Do you fear the unknown?" I have had some new grads answer a resounding "Yes! The unknown is very scary!" And some others have answered, "I welcome the unknown, I love a challenge!" I will tell you that every time, I will hire the person who welcomes the challenge. There is no room in nursing for scaredy cats-especially with healthcare nowadays!
    Do you fear the unknown? This is a really good question, even though it is somewhat closed-ended due to the fact that it can be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no.' The answer potentially gives the interviewer a direct window into the personality type of the candidate.
    elprup and SNB1014 like this.
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    For the weakness question, I take a true weakness but talk about what I'm doing to improve in that area. I think any strength you try to present as a weakness just seems so transparent.
    priorities2 likes this.
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    Have interviewed several lately that boldly informed me that they didn't have any weaknesses (they were dead serious too). Um - yea!
    joanna73, llg, and mmm333 like this.
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    I was told by a hospital administrator that they had two make or break questions.

    1. What is critical thinking and give an example of a time you used critical thinking in relation to patient care.
    2. What is the vision for this hospital? (Obviously, one would have had to take the time to research this specific hospital and know what their vision statement is)
    Sunny San Diego likes this.
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    Reply to cienurse:

    "Do you fear the unknown?"

    Interesting question. I fear that you would not give me a job, for my answer would be yes. However, I would follow it up with my definition of bravery:

    Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is being afraid but acting anyway.

    Only fools do not feel fear when the situation calls for it, because they fail to understand the gravity of the situation. Seeing a carotid bleedout for the first time? Terrifying. Being brave enough to act anyway? Priceless
    Honeybee737, WanderlustLife, IndayRN, and 20 others like this.
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    Quote from hiddencatRN
    For the weakness question, I take a true weakness but talk about what I'm doing to improve in that area. I think any strength you try to present as a weakness just seems so transparent.
    My true weaknesses are ones that would make me seem sociopathic, and therefore, totally kill my chances at getting hired at any workplace that involves interpersonal relationships with people.

    "I have difficulty empathizing, sometimes have a blunted affect, and regularly view people as objects." Any hiring manager who heard those words coming out of my mouth would probably make sure that my employment application gets shredded or placed into file number thirteen (a.k.a. the wastebasket). Therefore, I would never divulge these aspects unless I want to live under a freeway overpass due to being unemployed.
    CrazyGoonRN, mommaRN29, EhKim86, and 1 other like this.
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    You surely have employer-safe weaknesses to share unless you are otherwise perfect. I don't mention my trouble with punctuality or my dislike of authority. But I've used my tendency to avoid conflict even in situations that require assertiveness, and what I do to improve on that (understand that those interactions will make me uncomfortable but that it's OK, practice difficult conversations in my head in advance). Toss in a quick story about handling a conflict successfully and, well, I've managed to get hired and continue living my cushy, non-hobo lifestyle complete with mortgage payment and indoor plumbing.
    gonzalezcer, aywl, priorities2, and 3 others like this.


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