How to Ace the Five Difficult Nursing Interview Questions?

Apr 11, 2021

The key to acing your nursing interview is preparation. The more one you know and understand, the more confident your answers will be and the more receptive your interviewer will be.

Anyone considering a nursing career must have excellent people skills, keen observation, and bundles of compassion. So, how do you communicate that you have these traits during the interview? First impressions are vital; Make an effort to impress with positive body language, appropriate clothing and a well-crafted CV. Doing plenty of research on the company beforehand lets your prospective employer know you are a professional, you are capable and you are serious about the opportunity. Once you are in the room, the fun really starts and to help you get started with your interview prep we’ve picked five commonly asked and rarely mastered nursing interview questions.

1. What’s your greatest weakness?

Rule number one, don’t answer this question with “I don’t have any weaknesses”. The employer is trying to figure out if your areas for improvement will make it hard for you to do a good job as a nurse, they’re also interested in how you handle a tough question and if you can show humility.

Describe how you have already made improvements and how you feel the period of mentorship offered by the new nursing role will further develop your confidence. This way, you show self-awareness and turn a negative into a positive.’

For example: “In the past I had a tendency to take too much on at a time, but now I have learned to prioritize my time more effectively. I now spend ten minutes at the start of each shift planning and prioritising tasks. I’ve also learnt how to delegate and feel much more confident supervising health care assistants.”

2. Why do you want to become a nurse?

The easiest nursing interview question any candidate can be asked, the key to answering this one is being honest. It is important for you to be true to yourself as to why you want to pursue a nursing career. Ahead of the interview, ask yourself why you want to become a nurse? If you are a junior nurse, talk to a few professionals to learn more about their environment, work culture and shifts. This will help you have an idea of the job and match them with your own strengths.

There is nothing wrong with answering with “I have wanted to be a nurse since childhood, I love helping and caring for others.” The important thing here is that you expand on this idea and you match your motivations with the challenges that the job brings.

3. Can You Name a national initiative in nursing/health care that you feel passionate about?

No hiring manager is expecting you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every initiative. But, it is always good to research and know one or two such as the NMC’s revalidation project, after all, the information is easily available online.
Also, you should feel comfortable talking about the Chief Nursing Officer’s 6Cs initiative (care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence) and be prepared to give examples of how you put these into practice.

4. What do you understand by the term ‘diversity at work’?

The employer is looking to identify your people skills here, and how you are able to adapt and handle stress under different environments.

In answering this question you might want to talk about experiences on the wards where you have witnessed or demonstrated a commitment to diversity on the wards. Or, if relevant, you could talk about how your own background, upbringing and culture has shaped your interactions with those who are different to you.

5. Can You Recall a work situation where things didn’t go to plan.

When an interviewer asks about a work situation that didn’t go well, they are looking for a candidate to demonstrate three things: 1) self-awareness, 2) an ability to learn and improve, and 3) an indication of their communication style/teamwork and attitude.

The key to these questions is to focus on the positive. Take an example from your current or a previous role, focus on what you learnt from the experience and how you would do things differently now.

If you need any further guidance on interviews get in touch –