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New Grad interview experiences



I have heard from several classmates that hospitals/employers are trending toward asking scenario type questions during the employment interview process, and I was just wondering if any of you had this experience. If so, what type of questions were you asked? I find this interesting and would love to hear your interview stories.



WDWpixieRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg <1; Epic Certified <1.

Mine included:

Best patient experience

Worst patient/family experience

Tell about a time you had to show compassion when dealing with another cultural/religious belief

Tell about a time you saw something that was unethical (or not done right) and how did you deal with it (or "right" the wrong)

What did you like best about nursing school?

What did you like least about nursing school?

Tell about a time you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or boss and how did you handle it?

And on and on....those are the ones that come quickly to mind....

You got lab back on your patient and Potassium was 2.5 what would you do next?

You came into your patient's room and they were complaining of chest pain what would you do?

You came on shift and you got report on 4 patients - 1. scheduled med is late 2. complaining of pain 3. their doctor is on the phone regarding potassium lab value of 2.5 4. complaining of chest pain what order to you go see them and why?

Your patient had abdominal surgery yesterday, what care do you anticipate for the day?


Specializes in ED.

How do you handle a conflict with an employee?

Tell me about a difficult situation with a patient and how you handled it.

Tell me about a time when you were a leader.


Specializes in Case management, hospice. Has 13 years experience.

This was my killer...

"You have 2 patients in need of care, which would you see first?"

I said "the pt that was the least stable"

Her: "They are both exactly the same and critical."

Me: "they are both critical?, Then I would ask another nurse to assist me"

Her: "there is no one to assist you, which would you see first?"

Me: "Well, I would just have to do a quick assessment on each, and based on the pt hx I would see the more critical pt, no two pt are exactly the same at the same time."

Her: "OK"

Jeeeze, ***, how do you answer that question!!!! Seriously! :banghead:

Mine for Mayo health system was "How would you land the patient if you are one of 3 providers competing for that patient"

My reaction "Mayo is about the dollars."

I wasn't offered a job.

I am 2/3 in other interviews for job offers.....

I was hit with a couple med questions along the lines of "so tell me what is the half life of a common aminoglycoside?"


Otherwise, it was common "so tell me about yourself" questions. Have not been hit yet with scenario questions.. thank god.

Thanks for sharing! I am hoping to have an interview for an internship with a local hospital very soon. I am starting to panic and I am super worried about the interview questions I may be asked. I have been a stay-at-home mom for many years and have no experience with interviews. I'm so worried that I will get to the interview and freeze up or say something crazy because of the nerves. Or, even worse, not answer the scenario questions correctly! I graduated in May and at this moment in time, I feel as though I do not remember anything! I'm sure it has to do with my rattled nerves, but is it normal for a new grad to feel this way? I really want this internship. Any tips to help relieve my stress/anxiety is appreciated. It really helps to read about different interview experiences. Thanks for sharing.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

For many of these scenario questions, the point is not whether or not you "know the right answer," but whether or not you approach the problem in a reasonable way. For example ... you assess before you act ... you admit you need help and access your resources ... you will look up the answer in a book if necessary ... etc. They want to see how you will behave when you are put in a challenging situation. Do you try to "fake it" and possibly do something dangerous? Do you put the patient's needs ahead of your own ego? Are you to proud to ask for help? Can you identify your limitations? Do you approach problem-solving in a logical way? etc.

So ... take a deep breath and go about addressing the scenario in a way that is protects the patient and gets the problem solved. Don't panic because you can't spout off a simle answer. That's not the point.

ChristineN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric/Adolescent, Med-Surg.

Here are some questions I was asked on interviews:

How do you react under stress in the workplace?

What coping mechanisms do you have in place to help you deal with stress?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Why do you want a job in this area?

I was asked a bunch of priority questions, lots of cardiac scenarios...dealing with probs with other employees...someone you have advocated for...an hour and a half's worth, and didn't get the job....200 apps for 12 positions...it sucks in the bay area for new grads...the ones that got the jobs had some kind of prior experience.

Perpetual Student

Specializes in PACU. Has 4+ years experience.

Man, I hope I don't get too many of the "tell me about a time when . . ." type questions at future interviews. I am having a hard time thinking of examples for those things sitting on my couch surfing this site. I got some of those at an interview for a non-nursing job when I was 18 and I just stared at the dude for a minute then said I could not recall any such situations, that the were stupid questions, and that I was leaving. The job would've been terrible, anyway.

At my first nursing interview there were several of the "how would you handle . . . " questions, which are fine, because they can be approached in a logical manner and don't require recollection of some obscure event in my dim history. For example, "how would you handle a conflict with a family member?" I said something to the effect of "I would first try to calmly determine where the conflict is coming from and see if there is some way to improve understanding to resolve it. I would listen to the family member's concerns without being judgmental and try to work out a mutually agreeable solution. If that could not be done, I would direct the family member up the chain of command." Maybe it's just the way my mind works, but I have a MUCH easier time answering hypothetical questions like that, even if they are more complicated.

Employers will ask you all about your past experiences, akward positions you were put in, how did u handle a conflict btwn pt & other staff, how did you handle a violent situation if your pt acted out. Why do u want to work at that facility? Why did you pick that floor, why did you pick that speciality, what will you bring to the team, why should we hire you?

Hope this helps!

some Qs i got was....

-What is critical thinking and how did you use it during your preceptorship?

-What does the teamplay mean to you?

and most of the Qs people wrote in this post!

WildcatFanRN, BSN, RN

Has 25 years experience.

I got lucky, my last interview stated he didn't like asking scenario questions. Just wanted to know more about me and my goals. Pretty much had the job a few sentences in. Now the questions I asked him, stumped him. I used some fromt he career section on this site since you as an interviewee are also interviewing the facility. I asked him specific, facility/unit goal questions. I think he actually liked I came with questions. Now if he can het HR to hurry up and give him my salary quote so I can "officially" be offered the job.


I went for an interview with the Nurse recruiter for my future job, and she asked the basic questions:


-how I handled a difficult situation with a doctor or patient

- why I chose nursing, etc.

Then I guess it went well that right after our interview she sent me to the Nurse Manager of the ICU. I was caught off guard because it was so unexpected. Everyone that I've talked to had their interviewed for the Hospital said that their second interview was scheduled for another day.

The nurse mgr was great though, she saw that I was a little nervous at first so she started with the generic questions:

-why nursing, why did i choose the ICU, etc.

Then she went into the hard stuff (which i wasnt expecting or was not prepared for at all)

-pt. has CHF, what medication are you expecting to be prescribed and what are you suppose to look out for

- talked about dig and lasix (lab values, sign and symptoms, what to report to doctor)

-received a pt post op from knee surgery and presents with decreased BP, increased HR, whats wrong with him and why

- 2 days later same knee surgery patient complains of chest pain upon inspiration, whats wrong and why

- doctor gives you difficult time, what do you do.

- where do i see myself in 5 years

Her last one was funny: You're preparing a turkey dinner for 20 people. Your oven breaks, what do you do. :offtopic: It was a funny way to end the interview.

Anyways, that interview was the most nerve-wracking 1 hour of my life. I felt like a deer cought in the head lights. But . . I guess I did well enough that I got the job offer 5 days later. :D

HikingNinja, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Psych. Has 8 years experience.

Ok, this was for a job a few years ago but I swear I actually had an HR person ask me this.

If you could be any animal,what would you be?

I just stared at her for a minute and finally blurted out "cat". Well, because I had a pet cat. No other reason. Then she asked me "Why a cat?" in a very distasteful manner. I didn't really know what to say but I think I said something like "because they are graceful and aloof and get to lay around all day on the windowsill and have no responsibilities". She got all smug and said she would have picked a dog because they are loyal and energetic. Needless to say I didn't get the job. Happy I didn't cause karma stepped in and I got a much better job a couple of weeks later.

But seriously, who asks a question like that?


I had a phone interview 6 days ago, and I was asked a couple of past experience questions, and "what if" scenarios. I thought I did pretty well on those kinds of questions, but she then continued, and said "I have some clinical questions for you", :eek: and I thought uh-oh! She asked me what I should do when a middle aged patient came to ER with an abdominal pain, then an hour later he complained of chest pain. I was silent for a second with heart beating so fast I could hear it :redbeathe Thump!Thump!Thump! Then I just blurted out what I could think of... Assess patient pain (scale, precipitating factor...etc), Ask him if he had this pain before, assess VS, administer O2, tell the doctor all the findings from assessment I made, check blood work, chest ekg, let patient rest... anything that came to my mind! I really don't know what I'm going to do. Then she also ask me about a patient with normal BP 120/70, and after four hours the BP went down to 80/60... I'm telling you guys, I just blacked out, and just heard myself saying "I don't know" :banghead: AAaaaAarghhh! Then I continued telling her that I would assess the patient, and let him rest while I get the doctor. I would also check the patient's chart for medicine that would make his BP go this low (after the interview, when my mind was cleared, I wish I took some time, and thought about the question for a minute, and answered the questions like a pro) She just said "ok"... and I thought to myself, "I don't think she's even gonna be interested in me after this", but guess what? She wants to schedule me for an interview with the unit manager. I was stumped! I guess I did "ok". :rolleyes:

:confused: One thing bothers me though, the recruiter said that she have to confirm with the unit manager schedule first before she can set it up. It has been 6 days, but she still didn't call me back yet. I left her a message yesterday... is this normal, or is she hiding from me? :bluecry1: I really want to work at that hospital waaaah!

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