Interview questions...what do you wished you would have asked?

Nurses General Nursing


I will be interviewing for jobs soon. I need some help devising important interview questions. In retrospect, what questions do you wish you would have asked during the interview? Thanks!


11 Posts

I'm not really clear if you are the interviewer or applicant. I recently interviewed for several positions. The questions I asked that helped me decide which job I took were "What are the greatest joys and frustrations of this position?" and "About what is the average # of years people have worked in this deptartment?" or "Approximately what is your turnover rate", depending on the size of the department or organization. Also- "What type of personal qualities make someone excel in this position?"

On the other side of the coin, I wished I was asked "What are your contributions to your present employer?" or "What personal qualities/values do you have that affects your present work environment?". Also, "What is your goal in making a change?" instead of "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"! I hated that one, and it was asked often. I'm a nurse, there's alot of opportunities, I don't know where my road is going to lead me. At first I stumbled on this one, but then my pat answer became "Being an expert and resource for others in _______(whatever the position was I was appyling for).

Either way, I hope this helps.


1,301 Posts

Originally posted by TRN:

I will be interviewing for jobs soon. I need some help devising important interview questions. In retrospect, what questions do you wish you would have asked during the interview? Thanks!

Hi TRN. In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the employer before I went on the interview. I should have learned about the size of the hospital, the total number of beds, the type of services offered, new investments and divestments. During the interview, I should have asked more probing questions such as:

1. What is the turnover rate of the staff on that particular floor?

2. What is the organizational hierarchy? Perhaps you can ask for a copy of the organizational chart to see who makes up the list and their titles.

3. What is the patient to staff ratio?

4. What type of personnel support should the nurse expect on any given shift? For instance, what is the required minimum and maximum number of nursing assistants or techs per shift on the floor?

5. What is the minimum number of nurses staffed per shift?

6. Is there a requirement that managers or supervisors provide or participate in direct patient care when there are staffing shortages?

7. Is there a required formal orientation program? If so, how long, who conducts it, will this person(s) be willing and available when orientation or preceptorship is over? You may want to ask to see a sample copy of their orientation program.

8. How does management handle patient complaints? How does it handle employee complaints? What are the formal processes for these?

9. Does the hospital have a mandatory overtime or float policy? How is it determined who will work overtime or float where?

10. What is the minimum and maximum number of patients a nurse will be assigned?

11. Does the employer obligate the nurse to a written or unwritten contract?

If the interview is favorable, at the end you can ask about how often paychecks are distributed; how are pay increases determined and the minimum and maximum; what type of financial perks such as bonuses are offered.

TRN, there are so many things to learn about an employer. I'm sure other posters can offer many more questions or concerns to bring up. I now see after many years that it is very important to do as thorough and investigation as possible when applying for a job, just as you would a home. Most of us fulltime employees spend more time with our jobs then with our families. We need to try as best as possible, to avoid placing ourselves in situations we wouldn't put a dog in.

Julie, RN

139 Posts

This is the one question that really impressed my employers. It made all the difference during my initial interview.

So, I have heard of the term "universal precautions". Can you tell me what it is and do you have one? biggrin.gif

I hope you guys know that I am JOKING!

Actually, I would definately ask about nurse-pt ratios and scheduling.

Good luck with your interview.


Julie M.,RN biggrin.gif


6,620 Posts

Scheduling!!! I didn't realize when I took my first job that 3 days off a week didn't mean 3 days off in a row. What good is having Monday night, Wednesday morning and Friday morning off? I hated that job...


25 Posts

Two things.

1. Who is the unit clerk? Is this going to be someone you can get along with, or someone who is going to make your life miserable? In my experience the unit clerk/ unit secretary is a key postion that the nurse manager delegates much responsibility too. If I instantly dilike the person, the job is going ot be hell.

2. Who is really in charge here? It is almost never actually the nurse manager. It may be another nurse middle manager a step or three above the person you are talking too, frequently it will be a staff MD, could be almost anyone, but it is usually not the person doing the interview.

Neither of these are questions you can come right out and ask. I have found both pieces of information are key to doing my job well.

OC_An Khe

1,018 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED.

There is a lot of good advice in the above posts. I would add a reminder that a job interview is a two way street. Not only is the employer seeing if you fit what they are looking for but the prospective employee should find out if this employer/position is one that fulfills their needs. Don't be afraid to ask aggressive questions. I have found that employers that shy away from these questions aren't the best employers. I would add the following questions. Are nurses forced to take a day off withiout pay or use benefit time when there is a low census ( not all hospitals do this ). Secondly I would ask as many questions about their retirement plan(s) as I could. Too few nurses know about these plans and earn very little retirement benefits during their working careers.

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