Interview Questions When Entering Nursing School

For those of you about to go thru the nursing interview process. Here is the list of questions and suggestions I have accumulated. I hope this helps everyone. Students Pre-Nursing Knowledge


Interview Questions When Entering Nursing School

The first part is from a nursing instructor at a college so, YOU KNOW IT's good stuff!

Dress as if you were going to a business interview.

This would include:

  • Solid color, conservative suit (black, blue)
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Moderate shoes
  • Limited jewelry (pearls are a nice touch)
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Tan or light hosiery
  • Sparse make-up & perfume

Try to relax and be yourself. Project a positive, self-confident, sincere, congruent attitude (not cocky or arrogant--this will turn off the interviewer fast). Lean forward slightly in the chair, smile, make eye contact, don't cross arms or legs. Appear at ease and enthusiastic. Speak in complete sentences with correct grammar and intelligent vocabulary.

Interview Questions to Anticipate:

Why do you want to be a nurse? or Why have you chosen nursing as a career?

Be creative on this one ... they have heard "to help people" a million and one times.

How are your finances?

Things to think about ... Will your employer support your scheduling needs during nursing school? At this point, consider your limitations--no working past 11 PM on clinical nights, no working more than 20 hours /week with a full time school.

Is your family supportive of your schooling?

Do you have adequate transportation for clinicals?

Things to think about ... Some clinical sites may be 2 hrs away.

Consider your requirements for CPR certification, immunizations, a complete medical examination, by a certain date. Have as many of these done prior to the interview as possible! It really helps!

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Never give much information about weaknesses--this is just supplying reasons for you NOT be chosen.

Case Scenario Questions

It is even possible they may throw a case scenario at you to test your critical thinking skills: You are the nursing student on a clinical unit and the patient (on the 4th floor of the hospital) asks you "Would I die if I jump from this window?" What would you do? Or, you are the nurse and you are reporting an important change in patient condition to a doctor and the doctor yells at you and calls you stupid, what would you do?

Other Questions...

Why have you chosen this particular nursing school?

What do you think a nurse's responsibility is in today's society?

What kind of experiences have you had with nurses in your past?

What qualities do you possess that will make you a good nurse?

What area would you like to work in once you finish school, and why?

In regards to nursing, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

How well do you get along with others?

Are you a leader or a follower?

Are you comfortable taking a leadership role?

Are you willing to be a representative for a small group of people or the whole nursing program?

Do YOU have any questions? (Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions.)

I was also asked about how did I deal with a situation when a person who did not know me decided that he/she didn't like me?

I was asked what would I do if I noticed a classmate cheating.

I was asked for my definition of plagiarism.

I was asked if I was familiar with the APA style of writing and citing papers.

The most rewarding thing in your life thus far?

The most challenging thing in your life so far?

The type of educator/supervisor you like the most?

Scenario: Your supervisor comes to you and your small team of co-workers and tells you that a new change in policy is effective immediate. You do not think the change can be implemented due to logistics. What do you do?

Your short-term (3-5 years) goal in nursing?

Your long term (5+ years) goal in nursing?

Interview Tips

  • Be honest.
  • Do not give vague or general answers - they want specific examples.
  • Review your application and essay - assume that the interviewer is not familiar with it.
  • Be familiar with current trends in nursing - helps to demonstrate why you want to become a nurse and how you feel you can make a contribution in the profession.
  • Don't be afraid to show emotion. I cried twice during my interview in relating some life examples.
  • Practice with a partner. Anticipate these questions and think up the most positive attributes about yourself.
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979 Posts

Male Dress:

I didn't feel an authoritative getup would be appropriate, so I wore a blue blazer, light slate blue shirt (non-button-down), khaki pleated dockers, brown wing-tip suede shoes, and a rep tie (cinnamon with white and blue stripes). I'm over 50 and have a crew cut, so I wanted to soften the edges. If you're right out of high school, you might want to wear a more authoritative look. The above (I imagine every male on the planet owns a blue blazer and gray or khaki pants, or a dark blue suit) with the only changes being a white shirt and black shoes will add years to your image. I wouldn't wear a pinstripe suit or anything that makes me look like a businessman, lawyer, or accountant. Not that I own anything trendy, but dress like you would for your mom. Be neat. Be early.

manna, BSN, RN

2,038 Posts

Great post... While I didn't have to interview for my school, I know many people do and I think this is full of great pointers!

I think another good sticky to put together would be "Things to look for in a nursing school" (seems there are posts pretty often about "what kind of questions to ask the school" such as pass rates, clinical ratios, etc)


451 Posts

Great post!


80 Posts

I recently went for an interview for a nurse extern position in the NICU, here are the few that I remember, I was completely unprepared as I had studied and practiced answers to the questions posted above.....What do you think of these??

What is your definition of success and how do you know if you have achieved it?

What can _______ hospital do to motivate you?

What do you expect from _________ hospital to let you know you have done a good job?

What will your coworkers say about you in 3 months?


13 Posts

Thank you so much for the tips!! I am scheduled for an interview at a hospital that I want to work at when I graduate in May and I have been so nervous because I really didn't know what to expect. I think that they will probably have the same type questions as these. I didn't have a formal interview before I started nursing school so this will help me very much. Thanks again, cp.

the hardest question for me, which was not listed, when i was interviewed for nursing school was

what is the worst situation as a nurse that you think you would have to dael with?

Could you handle that kind of situation?


12 Posts

I've been lurking while I muddle through my prereq's but have an interview for a Community College program on Thursday. I wanted to say thank you so much for posting this!!! While it may not be one of the "big" BSN programs in Portland, it's still nerve rattling to me-seeing this has helped calm my nerves a bit.



48 Posts

My key question was " You get a direct admit with chest pains and a surgical Pt what do you do?"

Ask for help - Assess the chest pains first then take the surgcial Pt report. Remeber UNSTABLE Pt go to ICU for most part.


193 Posts

Great post! I'll be mulling answers to a couple of those for a while yet.

Only one's in regards to the following:

"What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Never give much information about weaknesses--this is just supplying reasons for you NOT be chosen)."

Since I'm awaiting the start of my BSN program in the fall I can't speak specifically to how the nursing folks work, but I have spent many years sitting on the interviewer's side of the table.

When conducting an interview, there are some basic assumptions going in. One of which is the fact that nobody is going to willingly blut out information about themselves that they feel to be unfavorable. However, this sort of information is just as critical in assessing a potential employee's "fit" as their skill set. In short, I make it a key objective to delve into this very subject.

So, may I suggest that you consider these areas and to be equally prepared with an answer as you would with the other suggested areas? If you have thought about it beforehand, you won't be caught off guard in the interview. It will also enable you to frame the answer in a positive way (otherwise known as "spin"). The interviewer (if they're worth their salt) already know that you are not perfect and will generally be suspicious of someone who won't own up to any soft spots.

And to add to the list of suggestions... Don't be afraid of silence!

Most folks in an interview are nervous and what feels like an enternity to you is only a few short moments to the interviewer. So consider your answer before you give it and resist the urge to fill every second of "air time" with words. I can pretty much guarantee you'll walk out saying, "I wish I hadn't said that..." if you don't. You can even ask permission for a few moments to consider the question being asked it if you feel the need. And if you don't understand the question or it's context, ASK for a clarification.

Finally, remember that an interview is also a good time to learn about your prospective employer, so go in with your own set of questions. You owe it to yourself to have a clue about what sort of people/place you'll be joining. You need to know if they have some policy/procedure/outlook that you just can't sign on to. You've worked hard to get to where you're at and you deserve a good place to practice your art!

- hope this helps


178 Posts

The questions I struggle with are the ones like:

What did you like least about your last job?

Do interviewers really want to hear you sit and complain about the job?

how do you answer these without sounding like a problem-employee?


193 Posts

The questions I struggle with are the ones like:

What did you like least about your last job?

Do interviewers really want to hear you sit and complain about the job?

Complain? No.

However, they know that whatever position they are looking to fill is going to include some non-trivial amount of work that is something less than fun. They are hoping that by gaining insight into what sorts of activities you don't like, they'll know whether or not such dislikes will affect your ability to adapt to the open position.

How do you answer these without sounding like a problem-employee?

By being truthful about the answer and showing how you dealt with the issue in a positive way.

As an example, say your last job required you to order supplies. The process they used was especially byzantine and prone to error.

"Problem employee" would say something like: In my last job, I was asked to order supplies and I really hated it. Their purchasing system was so old and inefficient that an order was never filled correctly. I got so frustrated that I usually just bypassed the system. Even though it sometimes got me in hot water with the bean counters, it was worth it to have the task out of the way.

"Quality employee" might respond: part of my duties in my last job included ordering and restocking supplies. The purchasing system there was very complicated and other people in the group were often caught off guard when their order came in short. While this type of work takes me away from the "fun" part of my job, I realized it's importance to the success of our group. So to help ensure that we got what we needed without having to spend excessive amounts of time to get the supplies delivered correctly, i made up a check list. It included important phone numbers and points of contact for each step. This made it so I didn't forget a step and provided a way to quickly assess progress or chase down a problem. Having the list enabled me to spend less time doing the types of things i enjoyed less and freed up time available to spend on the things i really liked. It also made it easier to train new people on how to do the job.

Both examples are really saying the same thing. That is, "I don't like having to get supplies."

The first example tells the interviewer that you'll likely break rules for personal convenience. It might also suggest that if the open position requires a lot of ordering, you'd be particularly bad at it.

The second example tells the interviewer that while you weren't fond of the task, you found a workable solution that got the job done, met organizational requirements, and benefited the team as a whole.

Which would you prefer to hire?

It's disingenuous to suggest that you just loved everything in your previous job. The fact that you are making a change indicates that some aspect of it was not to your liking. Better to have an understanding of those factors and prepare a good response than to avoid the subject by throwing out some platitude that everyone within earshot will know is bull.

When talking about areas of a job outside of the core competencies, it's not so much that you didn't enjoy those parts that is important. It's how you dealt with those areas.

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