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Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions for Nursing

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that more than 2.7 million nursing jobs exist in the U.S. today and estimates that demand will grow to more than 3 million nurses by the year 2020. Although nursing jobs are plentiful, properly preparing for an interview can mean the difference between finding the job of your dreams and searching the want ads for another week. The most commonly asked interview questions for nursing jobs give you an opportunity to elaborate on your experience, discuss your training and provide insight into why you became a nurse.

Tell Me About Yourself

While it may seem self-indulgent to go into the details of your personal life during an interview for an altruistic career such as nursing, talking about yourself enables employers to determine if you're a good fit for the program. Although you may not want to go into intimate details about all of the good times that you had in college, you can spend some time talking about your hobbies, interests and philanthropic pursuits. Employers also want to know what your career goals are, where you see yourself in five years and if you're someone who wants to be part of their organization long-term. Although this information may seem trivial, it gives the interviewer a snapshot of your personality while also identifying if or how you manage stress in your off time.

Why Are You Interested in Nursing?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing jobs are growing at a rate much faster than average. With good salaries and flexible hours, nursing can provide a stable financial background for the rest of your professional life. But don't forget to discuss the humanitarian aspects of being a nurse as well as the financial ones. Nurses dedicate themselves to the holistic care of those suffering from illness and injury. Reflect that mindset in your answer to this type of question.

How Have Your Experiences Prepared You for Nursing?

Working as a nurse requires that you keep a strong bedside manner while caring for your patients who may be in pain, suffering or at the very least not feeling like themselves. Nursing is hard work and requires that you show empathy for your patients. While you may be able to express your love for nursing in an interview, those who can draw from true-to-life clinical experiences may have an upper hand against their competition.

Politics, Ethical Dilemmas and Uncomfortable Questions

While you shouldn't discuss politics and religion at work, you may have to answer ethical and political questions in your nursing interview. An example of a political question might be to give your opinion of the recent changes to U.S. health care laws, while a question that tests your ethics might ask if you'd deny care to a patient requesting an abortion despite your personal beliefs against it. As a nurse, you may face similar dilemmas, so your answers to these questions may indicate how you'd respond in the real world.

Team Player

As a nurse, you must work directly with your patients and also with a team of other nurses, physicians and allied health professionals. Expect to answer questions such as, "Tell me about your role on a team" or "How will you deal with doctors that share a different philosophical viewpoint than you do?" Draw from your personal experiences to describe your role on a team and how you can navigate difficult social situations for the betterment of your patient.

Illegal Interview Questions

Certain federal, state and local laws regulate what employers ask in an interview. Mary Somers of Johns Hopkins University points out that when faced with an illegal interview question, you can choose to answer the question at the risk of giving an undesirable answer, you can refuse to answer the question at the risk of appearing uncooperative or you can examine the intent of the question before answering. Asking if you have or plan to have children, if you're a U.S. citizen or if English is your native language are all forms of illegal questions. If an interviewer asks you a question about your plans to have children, you can follow up with a statement such as, "I've thought about having children, but I want to focus on my career until the timing is right." This statement answers the question while addressing the employer's concern that being pregnant might hinder your availability and performance on the job.


Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.

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