More Common Nursing Interview Questions (Part III)

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    This article is prepared in direct response to the numerous inquiries that job seekers make about their upcoming nursing job interviews. The intended purpose of this article is to shed some light onto several of the most commonly-asked nursing interview questions.

    Be sure to check out my two previous articles on interview questions: How To Answer The Most Common Interview Questions and A Few More Common Interview Questions (Part II) contain plenty of nursing interview questions and answers. This is my third essay on how to answer common nursing interview questions.

    What are your feelings on working nights, weekends, or occasional overtime?

    In this situation, honesty is the best policy. If you accept a 12-hour night shift position when you are truly a diurnal (daytime) person, your existence might be miserable for months, years, or however long it takes to transfer to day shift. You might also feel bad if you accept a weekend schedule that causes you to miss your children’s Saturday morning sporting events.

    Tell us about your leadership/management style.

    Honesty is also the best policy when answering this question. It is perfectly acceptable to admit that you feel more comfortable following the lead as you gain more experience. If you are already a seasoned nurse, you can keep it general by saying that your leadership style depends on the situation at hand.

    If we hire you, how long would you plan to work here?

    Facilities generally shy away from hiring candidates whom they perceive to be job hoppers, so it would be best to indicate that you plan on establishing a long-lasting relationship with the company.

    Tell us about a previous mistake and the lessons you learned from it.

    We’ve all made mistakes, so be honest. The mistake that you divulge may or may not be related to nursing. For example: “I used to delay charting until the very end of each shift, but realized I wasn’t making the most of my time. I’ve learned to chart during the shift to improve my time management.”

    Describe how you maintain competence (stay current) in the nursing profession.

    Nursing is not simply a job. It is also a journey filled with lifelong learning. You can discuss the ACLS course you took earlier this year, or the critical care conference you attended recently, or the mental health symposium you visited, or whatever it is you do to maintain or augment your nursing knowledge base.

    How did you like working at _________?

    Fill in the blank with the name of your last workplace. Keep it positive without sounding as if your response is programmed or canned. If you have no paid work experience, offer to discuss how much you liked school, a volunteer job, a retreat or camp, or any organized experience that involved working with others.

    Why did you leave your last position?

    If you are still employed the interviewer may ask, “Why are you considering leaving your current job?” Again, remain positive and discuss how you want to pursue other opportunities that lead to professional growth. If your employment was involuntarily terminated or you were forced to resign, be truthful without heavily dwelling on it. However, you must showcase your ability for honest introspection. “I was let go at the end of my 90 day orientation and now realize I was not a good fit for the ER” is a reply indicative of honest self-reflection.

    Describe your former nurse manager or supervisor.

    I urge you to maintain an upbeat tone, even if you disliked your former manager. You do not want to give the impression that you are a nitpicky complainer. Keep the response positive without engaging in excess flattery. “Carole was a professional who maintained a calm composure, even in stressful situations” will work. If you criticize your former manager, the interviewer might wonder if (or when) you’ll personally attack him or her.

    How would a job with our company help you meet your personal goals?

    A number of honest responses would be acceptable. “I enjoy demented elderly residents and a position with this company would allow me to come into frequent contact with this patient population” or “I’ve always wanted to work at a level one trauma hospital and this facility fits the bill” are acceptable answers. The interviewer wants to see you are truly interested in the company and not simply planning to hop to the next job.

    To date, what has been your greatest achievement?

    You can discuss an achievement that is either linked to nursing or totally unrelated to nursing. Many nurses say that attaining their nursing degree has been their greatest achievement. Others state that forming a family has been their greatest achievement because it has given them a greater understanding of the human experience.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Apr 19, '13
    morayo2008, Goat_Boy, BluffcityRN, and 8 others like this.

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  2. About TheCommuter, ASN, RN

    TheCommuter is a moderator of 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 has '9' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 33 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 28,520; Likes: 41,999. You can follow TheCommuter on My Website

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    20 Comments so far...

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    Great set of articles, THANK YOU!!

    I sometimes struggle to find 1 or 2 valuable questions to ask the potential employer. I usually try to write up a short list of a few possible questions to ask, most of which do get answered during the interview, like typical nurse/patient ratio, for example.

    I know it is considered bad form to ask about pay during interviews, but, how about benefits? Is benefits an okay topic to ask about?

    Do you have any suggestions of things WE could or should be asking the interviewers?

    THANKS if you have suggestions, succeeding at interviews seems to be yet another topic that you are really well versed on, Commuter!!
    Last edit by somenurse on Nov 27, '12
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    Quote from Jean Marie46514
    I know it is considered bad form to ask about pay during interviews, but, how about benefits? Is benefits an okay topic to ask about?
    It's okay to ask about benefits during an interview, especially when your interviewer asks if you have any questions for her/him.
    Quote from Jean Marie46514
    Do you have any suggestions of things WE could or should be asking the interviewers?
    1. What would be your idea of an ideal candidate for this job opening?
    2. How do you like working here?
    3. Why is this position available? (Tread carefully and watch your tone when/if you ask this question so as to not seem critical or make it appear that you are putting the interviewer in the proverbial hot seat.)
    txrn13 and somenurse like this.
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    Love this!!
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    Quote from SchnoorRN
    Love this!!
    Thank you! I'm pleased you got something out of it.
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    Printed Parts I-III and going to practice a few mock interviews using these questions. Hopefully I get the job. Thank you Commuter!
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    Thanks for the tips! Here's one I was caught off guard with...

    Have you ever had to deal with an unreasonable request? What was it and how did you handle it?
    elprup likes this.
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    Thank you for your article.

    I maintain a Word file with standard interview questions and my potential answers, which I update and review prior to sending resumes and attending interviews.

    I also have files of actual work scenarios which I pull when it's time for performance reviews.

    Interviews are all fairly standard, and if you learn to prepare in advance your success of landing offer (s) should increase.
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    Here is another interview tecnique: The VA uses PBI Interview Questions like

    Describe a situation in which you had to use your communication skills in presenting complex information.
    How did you determine whether your message was received? (With the original question you are assuming the person did understand.)
    Share with me an example of an important personal goal that you set, and explain how you accomplished it.
    Lead me through a decision-making process on a major project you’ve completed.
    Have you ever had many different tasks given to you at the same time? How did you manage these?
    Give an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.
    From Performance Based Interview (PBI) introduction - Performance Based Interviewing (PBI)

    Answering these questions really helps in any interview, because you can use them to, "Tell a story" about yourself, which makes you more memorable too!
    Last edit by elprup on May 28, '13 : Reason: OMG spacing is working now!!
    sponce and CrazyGoonRN like this.

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