Any tips for an interview for a psych nurse?


I'm a new nurse and just got an interview for a position on a behavioral health unit. I have not had many interviews (this will only be my 4th job!) and could use any tips anyone has to offer. I was also wondering if there were any specific questions I might be asked for a psych position. Thanks!

TriciaJ, RN

4,297 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 42 years experience.

You will probably be asked the standard interview questions:

Why do you want to work in psychiatric nursing?

What qualifications or attributes do you think you could bring to the position?

What challenges do you think you will face, and how are you planning to address them?

Find out what sort of safety/behavioural control measures they use. These differ from place to place and change over time. For instance: do they use seclusion and restraint? Under what circumstances? What are the rules pertaining to this? What medications are used on an emergent basis? What are some psych med side effects? How do you counteract them?

They will probably ask you how you would handle certain psychiatric scenarios, as well. Good luck.


6 Posts

Thanks so much! Its nice to have some experienced nurses helping us new grads!


199 Posts

My psych interview was instance, I was ask everything from if I ever been in a situation where someone was mad or screaming where I had to be the peacemaker, they want to know that you have been in confrontations before and how you responded. I was also ask to explaim the DSM-IV. I was asked what I would do in this and that situation. How Ive been with my past coworkers and the phyicians I worked with during my clinical rotations. Before I went to my interview I reviewed all the psych disorders which I was asked questions on. I answered every single answer perfectly and got my job. Im also a new grad from May with no experience. Go over your psych book, you dont know what they are going to ask you. They know you dont have experience so they want to see if you know what you are getting yourself into and if they can work with the knowledge you have.


50 Posts

I interviewed for a psychiatric hospital and got the job.

I was asked many of the same things as linsmirn, such as how I would respond to angry and possibly violent patients, questions about borderline personality disorders, sociopaths, etc etc. I would echo the suggestion to study up real quick on those major psych issues so you know what you're talking about if they ask you any specifics.

They mostly want to know how you will be responding to a lot of these interpersonal challenges, since that's what psych is about. You don't want to come across as someone who will take patients behaviors personally, and can handle confrontations, being yelled at etc. You want to come across as one who can deal with all of those challenges calmly, with a level head, and sticking to protocol...and also very importantly, providing *safety* of patients above all else, and being able to treat all of your patients to the best of your ability no matter how much they seem to dislike you.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

In addition to the above, know the basics of therapeutic communication since that's one of your primary nursing interventions. Psychotropics meds are, after all, another major nursing intervention, so know the serious adverse effects of psych meds (EPS, neuroleptic malignant syndrome are two biggies) and how to address them (Cogentin for the former; stop the med, manage the fever and other symptoms and notify the doc ASAP for the latter).

Good luck on the interview!


1 Post

Just got out of my interview and got hired :D woo hoo! This was my first RN interview Ever and just a couple of things:

1. What is your experience in Psych nursing? What did you think about clinicals?

2. What is your passion in nursing?- He stated that many new grads want ER, ICU positions and was wondering why I applied and want to be there. He wanted to know if I really liked Psych or if I just applied to just apply for whatever job I got.

3. Have you worked with Peds before, would you consider working with Pediatrics here?

4. How did you know your patient in clinicals was getting better, how would you define that, what signs and sx were you looking for?

5. Where did you work before and why did you leave?

6. When did you graduate and why did you get into Nursing?

He asked more questions that I can't remember & in a different order then listed above. I studied a lot before going in even though I had less then 24 hours. Good luck ;) It's the best feeling getting your first RN job :D plus psych pays BANK!! XOXO