1. Blog
  2. Job Interview
  3. Nursing interview questions: 7 common questions and how to answer them
Written by Emily StokerEmily Stoker

Nursing interview questions: 7 common questions and how to answer them

7 min read
Nursing interview questions: 7 common questions and how to answer them
Artwork by:Nelly Borisova
Nursing interview questions share similarities and differences with other types of interview. If you’re nervous about yours, this post has examples of common questions and how to prepare the best answer for each.

The hiring manager will see you now. If you’re reading this blog post, then congratulations. You’re probably preparing to interview for a nursing position. Now it’s time to scrub up and prepare those all-important nursing interview questions to be in with the best chance of nailing the role.

While your demeanour and the way you carry yourself will also be important in the interview, it won’t surprise you that what you say is just as important. Luckily for you, it is possible to predict the types of nursing interview questions you may face. That gives you a chance to practise them in advance.

Here are some tips on how you can approach some of the more commonly-asked nursing interview questions. In this blog post, we will cover:

  • Popular nursing interview questions
  • How to approach more complex interview questions
  • Useful resources to brush up on your nursing interview question know-how.

1. Tell us about your nursing background and experience.

This question typically kicks off the interview. Use this opportunity to provide a concise overview of your nursing journey. Highlight your education, any specialised certifications, and your practical experience in different healthcare settings. 

Emphasise relevant accomplishments and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the position. Think of this as the in-person version of your resume summary. You need to be ready to jog the memory of the interviewer as to why you are the best nurse for the job at hand.

2. How do you prioritise your tasks when caring for multiple patients with different needs?

Nurses often juggle multiple patients with varying requirements. When responding to this question, highlight your organisational skills and time management abilities. Explain your method for triage whether it’s literally assessing patient needs or setting priorities. How do you realistically ensure that no patient is overlooked? 

Mention any tools or strategies you employ to stay on top of things, such as checklists or how you use electronic health records to help you.

Expert tip

Nursing interview questions might not ask about it specifically. However, lean on your knowledge of official frameworks that assure quality care such as the NHS’ clinical governance framework. This is your chance to show that you really know your stuff!

3. Describe a challenging patient care situation you've encountered and how you handled it.

This question assesses your ability to handle difficult clinical scenarios. Share a real-life example where you faced a challenging patient care situation. Explain the context, your actions, and the positive outcomes. Emphasise your critical thinking skills, adaptability, and your commitment to providing the best possible care even in challenging circumstances.

Expert tip

Unfamiliar with the STAR method? Our guide breaking down the STAR interview technique with examples should be on your interview preparation checklist, too!

4. How do you handle stressful or high-pressure situations on the job?

In the healthcare field, stress is a part of the job. When answering this nursing interview question, demonstrate your ability to stay composed under pressure. Talk about your strategies for managing stress, such as deep breathing techniques, seeking support from colleagues, or taking short breaks to recharge. Show that you can maintain a clear head and provide quality care even during demanding moments.

Expert tip

Lead by example

A job interview can be a stressful environment, much like some of the healthcare facilities you’ll be working in. 

Research shows that interview anxiety is not indicative of job performance. However, you can see this as an opportunity to show the hiring manager that you know how to stay cool as a cucumber when under pressure.

5. What is your approach to educating patients about their conditions and treatment plans?

Patient education is a fundamental aspect of nursing. Highlight your communication skills and your commitment to empowering patients to actively participate in their healthcare decisions. 

You can show off these communication skills in the way that you address the hiring manager’s questions. Remember to slow down and use that handy STAR method. Some ideas to consider when thinking about this question include:

  • Describing a patient-centred approach to educating individuals and their families.
  • Explaining how you ensure that information is clear and understandable.
  • Examples of how you have tailored information to the patient's communication needs.

6. How do you ensure patient safety and prevent medical errors?

It goes without saying that patient safety is critical in any type of nursing. So, share your dedication to ensuring the safety of your patients. Skills and knowledge such as your attention to detail, your adherence to protocols, and your willingness to speak up if you observe a potential issue are important here. 

What examples and experiences can you pull out that exemplify this? Powerful examples could include experiences where your vigilance and commitment to patient safety made a difference in patient outcomes.

7. Why do you want to work at our healthcare facility?

This nursing interview question gauges your interest in the specific healthcare facility and your alignment with its culture and values. Research the organisation beforehand and mention specific aspects that attracted you to the position. 

Remember that the way the organisation describes itself on the job description and on their website hold some important clues of their priorities and how they want to act and be perceived. 

Discuss how your values and career goals align with those of the facility, demonstrating your enthusiasm for becoming a part of their team.

Statistical insight

According to recent data reported by Nursing.co.uk, in 2023 around 12% of NHS nursing roles are unfilled. That means that you could be one successful interview away from landing your next nursing role.

Key takeaways

  1. Practise answers to common interview questions just like you would for any other job interview. Spoiler: Nursing interview questions aren’t always technical.
  2. Use the STAR approach to respond to more complex nursing interview questions.
  3. Remember to make sure your understanding of your duty of care shines through as well as knowing how to talk about your technical skills!
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested CV templates that follow the exact ‘CV rules’ employers look for.
Create My CV
Share this article
Keep reading
CV Help14 min read
15+ Time management skills & techniques to mention at interview
15+ Time management skills & techniques to mention at interview
Job Interview18 min read
100 Behavioural Interview Questions – Tips and Examples
 100 Behavioural Interview Questions – Tips and Examples
CV Help9 min read
ChatGPT CV writing – prompts and process
ChatGPT CV writing – prompts and process
Job Interview10 min read
How to successfully ask questions in an interview
How to successfully ask questions in an interview
Browse All
This website uses cookies to improve user experience and perform analytics and marketing. By using our website, you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.
Accept Cookies