Nursing Interview

1. Why do you want to work in this industry?
“I’ve always loved nursing, but my interest in health care really started when I volunteered at a homeless shelter in college. Seeing so many people without care inspired me to pursue a career devoted to caring for others. I kept going back and volunteering, which got me hooked. It was great to be able to contribute positively to society that then led me to a field I feel so passionate about.”

2. Tell us about yourself.
“I’m really energetic, and a great communicator. Working in the medical field for two years helped me build confidence, and taught me the importance of patient care. I’ve also got a track record of success. In my last role, I juggled a variety of patient loads, assisted in a charity fundraiser, and became an advocate for senior patients. Because of this, the hospital is launching a new educational program to teach nurses how to better care for elderly patients.”

What do you think of your previous boss?
“My last boss taught me the importance of time management – he didn’t pull any punches, and was extremely deadline-driven. His no-nonsense attitude pushed me to work harder, and manage my case loads way more efficiently.”

Why are you leaving your current role?
“I’ve learned a lot from my current role, but now I’m looking for a new challenge in nursing, to broaden my horizons and to gain a new skill-set – all of which, I see the potential for in this job.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I’d like to have an even better understanding of this industry. Also, I really love working with people. Ultimately, I’d like to be in some type of managerial role at this hospital, where I can use my people skills and nursing knowledge to benefit the nurses working for me, and the patients and hospital as a whole.”

What’s your greatest weakness?
“I’ve never been very comfortable with speaking up – which as you know, can be a hindrance in nursing. Realizing this was a problem, I asked my previous employer if I could enroll in a speech workshop. He said “yes.” I took the class, and was able to overcome my lifelong fear. Since then, I’ve made great strides in sticking up for my patients, communicating with doctors, and just being a better nurse. I still don’t love it, but no one else can tell!”

What salary are you looking for?
“I’m more interested in the role itself than the pay. That said, I’d expect to be paid the appropriate range for this role, based on my five years of experience. I also think a fair salary would bear in mind the high cost of living here in New York City

Why should I hire you?
“I’ve been a Nurse Practitioner for the past ten years – my boss has said time and time again that without me, the hospital would fall apart. I’ve also taken the time to educate myself on some of the latest industry issues I regularly use (but didn’t really understand the ins and outs of). What’s good enough for most people is never really good enough for me.”

When were you most satisfied in your job?
“I’m a people person. I was always happiest – and most satisfied – when I was interacting with patients, making sure I was able to meet their needs and giving them the best possible care. It was my favorite part of the job, and it showed – I was rated as “Good or Excellent” 95% of the time in peer reviews. Part of the reason I’m interested in this job is that I know I’d have even more interaction with patients, on an even more critical level.”

What did you like least about your last job?
There was nothing about my last job that I hated, but I guess there were some things I liked less than others. My previous role involved traveling at least twice a month. While I do love to travel, twice a month was a little exhausting – I didn’t like spending quite so much time out of the hospital. I’m happy to see that this role involves a lot less travel.”

Describe a time when you did not get along with a nurse.
“I used to lock heads with a fellow nurse in the INCU ward. We disagreed over a lot of things – from the care of patients to who got what shifts to how to speak with a child’s family. Our personalities just didn’t mesh. After three months of arguing, I pulled her aside and asked her to lunch. At lunch, we talked about our differences and why we weren’t getting along. It turns out, it was all about communication. We communicated differently and once we knew that, we began to work well together. I really believe that talking a problem through with someone can help solve any issue.”

Pt is 6 hrs post-op and back on med/surg floor. Pain is 4 on a 10 scale after receiving all PRN meds. The spouse at bedside is very agitated concerning the pt’s pain.
Re-assess patient: vitals quick physical assessment. Focus on the surgery. What type of surgery. Could her pain be related to a complication? Could repositioning help? You probably would call MD, but would need to have gathered info prior to call.

Pt is a 59 y/o female w/pneumonia. Pt becomes confused. Husband insists they see a doctor right now.
Raise head of bed. Listen to lungs. What is the rate and character of breathing. Take vitals and 02 sats ASAP. What PRN meds prescribed? nebs?

You are at a “pod” with 12 patients. There are 3 RNs and 1 NA. You have 3 pts assigned to you: one that is vomiting, one is requesting to ambulate, and one whose family is requesting that the bed be changed.
Raise head of bed. Listen to lungs. What is the rate and character of breathing. Take vitals and 02 sats ASAP. What PRN meds prescribed? nebs?

The doctor gave an order to DC the oxygen on a pt, which you did. Three hours later the pulse-ox is 87-89%.
Raise head of bed, listen to lungs What is rate and character of breathing, take vitals. Put patient on 2-4L 02 and call physician.

How Do You Handle Stress?
Negative situations that cause stress are bound to occur in most every kind of nursing job. A patient’s health might decline rapidly while you are in charge of her care. You may find yourself short-staffed and under pressure to serve too many patients. Your peers might be inexperienced and make mistakes. You’ll likely be asked during your interview how you will deal with these situations. Prepare a list of techniques you’ve created to keep yourself calm. For example, explain to the recruiter that you have been trained to calmly assess situations and focus on solutions rather than obstacles. Provide an example of how you have dealt with stressful situations in the past, and what the outcome was.

Describe Your Abilities To Work With Others.
Nursing managers need a team that works well together. Before your interview, prepare examples of how you stepped in when a fellow nurse was in a crisis, or when you stayed late to cover for a shortage in the next shift. Talk about how you led a team project in your class if you’re new to the profession. The best way to portray yourself as a team player is to be prepared with a couple examples that show how you are ready to jump in to help whenever necessary, and how your organizational skills can make a workplace more efficient.

Tell Me About Yourself.
A common question used in interviewing is the one that leaves you with an open-ended opportunity to talk about the qualifications and qualities you will bring to the job. Don’t use this time to reiterate your technical skills. Instead, let the interviewer know that you are the right person for the job, that your core values fit ideally with those of the facility, and that you are excited about your career and the nursing profession. Point out specific qualities you bring to the job that are ideally suited to nursing, such as compassion, effective communication skills and an ability to work around many different kinds of people. Next, back up these statements with a few more examples.

What Are Your Weaknesses?
While you should be prepared to discuss your strongest qualities during the interview, you should also be armed with an answer about your weaknesses. Everyone has flaws, and it’s best that you confront yours directly. Offer an example that you can offset with a positive statement, such as the fact that you sometimes get annoyed when you are micromanaged because you really have a lot of initiative. Use an example followed by a solution. Talk about how you often have difficulty getting everything done within a set amount of time, but that you are taking a time management course and are getting much better at setting priorities.

Research the organization.
Be prepared to answer the questions: “Why are you interested in our organization? What brings you here? Why do you want to work at this hospital?” And don’t say, “Because it’s the closest to where I live.” Take time to review the hospital’s mission statement, read articles written about the hospital, or review the job posting—find any information you can about the hospital and study it. It will be invaluable information during your interview.

For instance, if you researched Edward Hospital, where Steffel is a recruiter, you’d find it’s a magnet hospital and about their brand promise to deliver care “for people who don’t like hospitals.” During the interview, use information like this to demonstrate your interest in the organization. But don’t simply say, “I want to be hired because I want to be at a magnet hospital.” Take it a step further, Steffel recommends, and explain why you want to be at a magnet hospital: because of the nurse support, the preceptor program, the internship, the transition training program, etc. This attention to detail shows the interviewer how serious you are about the position you are vying for.

sk the right questions.
• What is your orientation program like? Do you have a preceptor program? What is its duration?
• Do you allow time off for and/or pay for continuing ed?
• Do you have nurse educators, and how often are they available?
• How are performance evaluations done, and how frequently?
• Will I have to work weekends and holidays? Will I be on call?
• What is your retirement plan like? Will you contribute?

What made you choose nursing as a career?
I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.
My mother is a nurse, and seeing the satisfaction she feels every day by helping people in her job inspired my own interest in the field.
I believe that nursing is one of the most interesting and growing careers available today, and I enjoy the difference I can make in my patient’s hospital experience.

How has your training prepared you for a nursing career?
I had an internship position at an Oncology Center after graduating last May, which gave me hands on experience with patients, and I am anxious to pursue my career specializing in cancer treatment.
My clinical training in the ER of City Hospital prepared me for the fast paced care required of an ER Nurse.
I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Dr. Zane, who was writing about new findings in the treatment of heart disease when I was working at City Hospital. The knowledge I gained during that time prepared me for assisting with cardiac patients in a more effective way.

What interests you about working here?
Your facility has one of the top rated Cardiac units in the country, and I am interested in utilizing my experience with Cardiac patients in a hospital engaging in the latest research and techniques.
I really enjoy working in Geriatrics, and your facility has a vibrant and innovative reputation for its programs and population.
I have worked in very large hospitals, where I gained valuable experience, but I enjoy working in a small hospital, where you can get to know your patients, the doctors, and your colleagues on a more personal level.

Do you have any professional affiliations?
Absolutely, I feel it’s important to stay informed about the nursing profession. I’m a member of the American Nurses Association, and the New York State Nurses Association.

What do you do to keep current with medical findings and practices?
I offer my patients the very best care and advocacy I can.
I believe that I offer my patients comfort and confidence that they are being well cared for.
I feel that my patients know that I am there to provide comfort and understanding, that I will listen to their concerns, and that I will act as their advocate if necessary.

How do you handle stress on the job?
By focusing on the most important thing, the care of the patient. I feel I owe it to my patients to stay calm and focused on them.
In the ER setting, there are often stressful situations that arise. I just make sure that the stresses of the job don’t interfere with the care of the patient.
I am generally an easy going person, and I don’t allow on the job stress to interfere with my work.

How would you deal with a doctor who was rude?
I would bring the question to my supervisor. If the doctor was displeased with me in some way, I would want to find out so I could take action to rectify the situation.
I would ask the doctor if there was something in my care of the patient that she felt needed discussion.
If it were a one time occurrence, I would figure that she was just having a bad day. If it happened repeatedly, I would notify my supervisor.

How would you handle a patient who constantly complains about pain?
I would confer with the attending doctor to make sure that the patient’s pain was being managed in the most effective way.
I would reassure the patient that everything possible was being done to alleviate their discomfort.
I would listen sympathetically to their complaint, reassure them that their concerns were being heard, and that we were doing everything possible to help them.

How would you handle a family who is displeased with your patient’s care? –
I would listen to their concerns, and reassure them that I was doing my very best for their loved one.
Sometimes family members are looking for someone or something to blame for what their loved one is going through. I would try to reassure them that the patient was getting the best quality of care available.
I would listen to their concerns, and make sure that if any were well founded they were addressed immediately.

What do you feel you contribute to your patients?
I offer my patients the very best care and advocacy I can.
I believe that I offer my patients comfort and confidence that they are being well cared for.
I feel that my patients know that I am there to provide comfort and understanding, that I will listen to their concerns, and that I will act as their advocate if necessary.

What do you find difficult about being a nurse?
Sometimes I find it difficult to leave work at work, as I tend to become very involved with my patients.
I think the most difficult part of being a nurse is when I have a patient that is very unhappy, or in a lot of pain, and I can’t comfort them to the degree I’d like.
I prefer to look at difficulties as challenges, and I enjoy conquering challenges.

What do you find most rewarding about being a nurse?
The most rewarding thing for me as a nurse is seeing the joy when a family first holds their baby.
Interacting with the patients and their families is what I find most rewarding.
I find helping patients through recovery after surgery, which is often one of their greatest challenges, to be most rewarding.

Do you prefer to work alone, or as part of a team?”
That depends on the circumstances. I enjoy being part of a treatment and support team, but I also like the autonomy of working alone.
I believe that nursing in a hospital is a team effort, and I really enjoy making my contribution to the team.
You need a certain amount of independence to work without the daily support of a team. As an in home nurse, I enjoy the one-on-one with my patients.

For New Grads:
When looking for a new grad, I was looking for someone teachable. Someone with previous customer service experience. Sadly, waiting tables and personality is a big chunk of what I needed. I don’t expect you to know what to do in a code, so I’m not going to quiz you on drugs, or interventions. I want to know that you are trainable and will blend well on my unit. I want the other nurses to work well with you, and the patients to feel cared for. I have plenty of real world experience already. I want someone who can grow. You can teach a rubber monkey to do chest compressions, but I need someone who can hold the hand of a dying patient and say the right thing to that surgery patient who is in 8/10 pain and we are slow on the call lights tonight

For Experienced Nurses
For RNs with experience, I know that you know how to take care of patients. I also know that you can play the game, and are well prepared to answer my questions. It’s a small world, and if you are local, you can be sure that I’m calling around to check you out. Your old manager or stroke coordinator or diabetic educator? Chances are I have worked with one of them and a quick text message and they will give me the skinny. Basically, don’t burn bridges, don’t expect your ICU godliness/knowledge to trump a crap personality, and be positive and upbeat and focus on mad customer service skills
Remember, new grads aren’t expected to know too many clinical questions and answer them perfectly as well but they are expected to think critically and anticipate what is happening with the patient and what the doctor might order.

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