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Seven questions to expect in a nursing interview

You’ve just graduated and you’re looking for your first role as an RN in the US. All of your paperwork is in place and you’ve spotted the ideal job; now all you’ve got to do is nail the interview! Luckily, with the right amount of preparation, you can be ready to face the toughest questions that might be asked.

To help you practice, the Conexus Medstaff team has put together a list of typical interview questions for nurses, the reasons why the interviewer might be asking you, and the best way to go about answering them.

1. “Why did you want to become a nurse?”

What they want to know: This is a personal question that employers ask to find out more about your personality, career aspirations and motivations.

How you can answer it: Don’t be afraid of talking about the real reasons you chose to enter the nursing profession. A typical answer that nurses give is that they want to help people, but this doesn’t provide the employer with much information about who you are. If nursing suits your lifestyle or skills, address this.

2. “Why do you want to work for this hospital/organization?”

What they want to know: This is a standard question to help your potential employer gauge how much time you’ve taken to learn about their organization. It gives them an idea of how seriously you’re taking the role, how passionate you are about their organization, and where your passions lie.

How you can answer: The quality of your answer comes down to how thoroughly you’ve researched the hospital/organization before the interview. Be sure to check out their website to find out more about their values and how they fit in with your own.

3. “How do you perform under pressure?”

What they want to know: As you know, every healthcare environment brings its own set of challenges, and at times things will get stressful. The interviewer wants to see that you’ll be able to cope in these situations and exactly how you deal with stress.

How you can answer: Don’t worry - this isn’t a trick question, and the interviewer won’t be expecting you to say you’ve never felt stressed! Instead, talk about how you stay calm and focused on work, whether that’s taking deep breaths or reminding yourself why you entered the profession in the first place.

4. “What’s the most rewarding part about being a nurse?”

What they want to know: This is a personal question aimed to help the interviewer understand more about your personality and whether you will be an excellent cultural fit for their team.

How you can answer: Again, try not to be general. Talk about some rewarding moments you’ve been a part of, whether that’s a patient you helped or an element of the role that you love the most.

5. “What are your biggest weaknesses?”

What they want to know: The interviewer wants to see if you’re aware of any areas where you need further training or development.

How you can answer: First of all, don’t worry about this question! It’s not as negative as it sounds. It allows you to talk about areas of nursing where you have not gained a lot of experience or where you don’t feel as confident. However, try not to choose any of the primary responsibilities of the role you’re applying for.

6. “How would you handle a patient who complains?”

What they want to know: This is a common question used to find out about your listening skills and how you deal with tricky situations.

How you can answer: If you have any specific examples of how you helped to keep a patient calm then do share them with the interviewer. They want to know that you can empathize with patients and are committed to doing everything you can to help them, whether that’s alleviating discomfort or conferring with the attending doctor.

7. “What are your career goals?”

What they want to know: The interviewer is looking to establish the direction you want your career to move in. It gives them an idea of your ambitions and aspirations for the future and how this fits with their organization.

How you can answer: There’s no wrong answer here. It’s okay if you want to remain an RN! However, if there’s a specialty you want to move into or a certification you want to achieve, let the interviewer know.


Conexus Medstaff works closely with top international nurses and US graduates, especially in the areas of advice on handling tough nursing job interviews. Make sure you download our free ebook, The Complete Guide to Nursing Job Interviews, where you can learn about everything from the interview questions you’ll confront to the best things you can do to prepare for an interview. It’s the best job interview guide for international nurses and overseas-based F1 and OPT graduates seeking their first nursing job in the US.

Download the new, free ebook, The Complete Guide to Nursing Job Interviews, from Conexus Medstaff

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