Nursing school applicants generally must go through an interview as part of the application and vetting process, so practicing with nursing school interview questions is essential. Whether you have a traditional one-on-one interview, an MMI Interview (Multiple Mini Interview), an interview with a panel of experts, or other interview type, you will likely face some of these tough questions.
These 200+ common nursing school interview questions cover a variety of question types – personal, attitudinal, hypothetical, and policy-based. While you can never know exactly what questions you’ll get in an interview, understanding different question types – and strategies for approaching them – will help you think through your approach to any question. Below, we’ll give you some tips and expert responses to these questions, explaining the considerations behind the answers, but you should note that multiple answers would be considered acceptable. The answers here are strong because of the reasoning they employ, not just because of their content.
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Nursing Interview Question #1: Tell Me About Yourself.
Have you ever been to Disney World? It’s truly a magical place for children. The joy I saw on children’s faces at Disney World was something that still makes me smile. My uncle is a manager there and got me a summer gig after my 2nd year of college playing Cinderella, greeting visitors, and taking pictures with children. Kids from all over the world and from all kinds of backgrounds came to visit. What I loved most about this job is that it allowed me to be kind and help children believe in magic.
Disney World often organized charity events for kids who were ill. We visited hospitals and hosted the children at the resort. To put it simply, these kids really inspired the best in me. I am an only child in my family, so I had no younger siblings and only older cousins on both sides of my family, so I was a little bit nervous to be one on one with so many children, all asking to entertain them. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed speaking with them, playing with them, and helping them out with simple grooming tasks – I loved braiding the girls’ hair and even organized fashion shows for both boys and girls in the hospital wards where they stayed. I found common language with them and spoke with them as equals.
My interest in medicine was born in concurrence with this part of my life. While my major in college was history, I decided to take several science courses in my 3rd and 4th years and achieved As in all of my science classes and labs. This led me to research what kind of professions in medical field would be available to me. Nursing attracted me right away because it is so patient-centric. My strength is my bedside manner. My supervisors at X hospital, where I still volunteer after first meeting them as a Cinderella, all praise my patient-facing skills.
My hope is to specialize in pediatric nursing, where I can really apply my communication and interpersonal skills. There is really nothing more joyful than helping a kid regain their health so they can enjoy their childhood and life ahead!
“Tell me about yourself ” is likely the most common “question” interviewees face. It is quite vague, and intentionally so! This open-ended prompt can be taken in any number of different directions, and the interviewer(s) wants to see what comes to your mind when prompted with such a vague request. Everyone’s answer to this question will be completely unique, based on their own experiences, values, and priorities. However, there is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind:
It’s not a list, it’s a story.
You may be tempted to simply recite your CV or information from your application. Do NOT do this! It is, of course, absolutely fine to discuss things you’ve mentioned in your application, but you must avoid a dry recitation of your activities, scores, presentations, etc. The interviewer(s) will already have access to this information if it’s an open interview. Even if it’s a closed interview, where the interviewer(s) won’t have access to that specific information, you still shouldn’t simply run down a list of factoids or trivia about yourself. You need to take this opportunity to let your best qualities shine through by telling the story of who you are!
That said, you can’t outline your full auto-biography – there’s simply no time for the entire Story of You. While a feature-length film may be out of reach, it is acceptable to take a few minutes for “Tell me about yourself”, 3-4 minutes should be the maximum length. Any longer than that and you’ll risk losing your audience’s attention, so focus on the highlights that show your best self. This is a key reason to put a good deal of time and effort into thinking through how you’ll respond to “Tell me about yourself” – this is your chance to demonstrate for the interviewer(s) who you are at your core, and who you aspire to be as you pursue the path to becoming a nurse. But you must also do this in a concise and compelling way. You need to work with this prompt until you know you can cover the points you want to cover in 3-4 minutes (again, max), but you also don’t want your answer to sound over-rehearsed or wooden, as that may come off as inauthentic to the interviewer(s).
To compose an expert answer that is sincere, reflective, and that highlights your best qualities, you need to craft a compelling narrative, using anecdotes organized around 2-3 events, qualities, values, competencies, or priorities that you think best represent who you are at your core (and, of course, one event/story can embody multiple qualities at once - a time when you acted with compassion may also be a time that you did so in a leadership position where you engaged in conflict resolution, while maintaining the integrity of your position). In general, people love stories, and offering an answer that allows your interviewer to “see” you as a leader, educator, collaborator, compassionate caregiver, etc., will do much more for the impact of your answer than a loose string of events, benchmarks, or scores.
Here's a video summary of these challenging nursing school interview questions:
To understand the kinds of qualities you should consider, you should first think about the kinds of qualities typically sought in candidates for nursing programs. They generally want people who are empathetic to others, compassionate in the face of suffering, able to defend their ethical principles, attentive to detail, able to communicate complex information to non-specialists, leaders and collaborators with others, oriented to serve one’s community, advocates for their patients, etc. Think of times you've been able to act in line with such qualities, and use these as the "plot points" for your narrative.
As well, another great place to look for and reflect on such qualities is in the mission statement for the school where you’re interviewing. All institutions have a statement of mission, vision, and/or values, and demonstrating how you align with the institution’s mission, vision, and values means demonstrating that you’re a “good fit” – a key evaluative principle in interviews like this. As representatives of the institution, interviewers want to know that, when you graduate, you will act as a positive ambassador for their program, as you go out into the professional world and hang that university’s diploma on your wall. So, draw on these resources and come up with three values, qualities, etc., that you think best represents you, and which you can support with anecdotes and narratives from your own experiences.
Nursing Interview Question #2: Why Do You Want to Be a Nurse?
This question is meant to evaluate your priorities, your reasons for pursuing this profession, and the amount of mature reflection you’ve done in considering this path. It is critically important that you display intrinsic motivation to pursue this profession; that is to say, that you are genuinely motivated by the work and ideals you’ll be advancing.
Nursing Interview Question #2 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #3: Long Working Hours
Nurses often complain about long shift work hours. In your view, what are some of the negative side-effects of having nurses work prolonged periods without rest?
Questions about “negatives” like this need to be handled strategically. You must demonstrate that you have thought through some of the challenges you will face in this profession. As passionate as you may be, that doesn’t mean that each day will be easy – you will face real and difficult trials, and you need to show that you’re ready to take these on. The key is to show that you know that this is an issue, and that you’ve already implemented stress-relieving tactics that work for you.
Nursing Interview Question #3 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #4: If You Could Do Anything
If you were granted the opportunity to wake up anywhere in the world and pursue anything that your heart desires, where would you like to wake up and why? What would you like to accomplish?
Obviously, this question isn’t asking specifically about your future in nursing, and it would be easy to rattle off an answer without thinking carefully about it. Many people would instinctively say something about waking up in a beautiful location – maybe a beach or a rainforest or some other lush place – and thinking about the kinds of recreation they’d like to partake in while in such a location. However, you must remember that you’re being asked this in an interview, which means they’re asking this for specific reasons. They don't want to hear that you'd love to wake up on a beach doing nothing but sunning and sipping daiquiris all day. They’re looking for your intrinsic motivations, what you would be doing if you had full control over your options in life. You want to demonstrate that the work you’re pursuing now is something you’d be pursuing regardless of the opportunities you have – you’re pursuing it not because it is just what you want to do, but because it is part of who you are.
Nursing Interview Question #4 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #5: Diversity and Teamwork
The field of nursing consists of inter-professional collaboration and teamwork. Describe a time when you worked as part of a highly diverse team.
This is a very standard question about your own experiences, where you get to share more about your own history, with emphasis on a particular quality prioritized by this field. You should be honest about your experience, and able to reflect on the values and challenges of diversity. Speak to the ways in which diverse opinions and approaches strengthen a team, and the ways in which differences of opinion are respectfully navigated in such collaborative efforts.
Nursing Interview Question #5 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #6: Mandatory Vaccination Policy
What are your views on mandatory influenza vaccinations for nurses in hospital settings?
On the surface, this appears to be a pretty basic question about policy. However, at its core, it is a question of competing values: patient safety and personal autonomy. Being able to spot such tensions in seemingly straightforward questions is very important, as it shows your familiarity with key concepts in the field. You should already be reading up on ethics and tensions in your chosen profession, as this will help you spot such things. In your answer to policy-type questions like this, you must demonstrate your understanding of both “sides” of the issue, prior to offering your own response. As well, you need to represent each “side” fairly, even though you may likely disagree with one of them. Being able to acknowledge as valid the concerns of those with whom you disagree is the height of critical thinking. This is a key example of a question where there isn't necessarily a "wrong" answer - there are valid positions on both "sides" of the question. What's important is how you respectfully engage each "side", how you defend your own rationale, and whether you can think of any creative compromises or other ways of looking at the issue.
Nursing Interview Question #6 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #7: Quote Interpretation
“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul, and body of our patients, their families, and ourselves.” (Maya Angelou) What does this quote mean to you?
Quote-based questions like this are quite common. It is important to note that the point of such a question isn’t to see if you know what the author “really” meant when saying it. It’s not a test of how well-read you are, so don’t panic if you’re faced with something or someone you’ve never read. Rather, questions like this are intended to see what kinds of free associations you make, what comes to mind when prompted with the words of others. Sometimes, the quotes will be related to your future profession, but they also may not be. This is just a way of seeing what values and qualities you can articulate when presented with moving or impactful words.
Nursing Interview Question #7 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #8: Rural vs. Urban Health
A recent report by health authorities has revealed that there are more deaths due to preventable injuries and common diseases in rural areas as compared to urban settings. In your opinion, what could be causing the observed difference?
- Follow-up Question: What if another report showed the complete opposite findings? Meaning, that those living in rural areas have less frequent deaths due to preventable injuries and common diseases compared to those living in urban areas.
This question and its follow-up have a few goals. The initial question is meant to see if you are aware of current challenges facing certain populations – in this case, those living in rural areas. Rural areas have been historically underserved, and there are current efforts underway to try to remedy this, but progress is slow. The follow-up question is meant to gauge your judgment when faced with two opposing claims. How do you handle a situation in which you’re presented with opposing sets of facts?
Nursing Interview Questions #8 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #9: A Time Your Confidence Was Shaken
In life, we are bound to be faced with situations where we do not feel a strong sense of assurance and confidence and question our own abilities. As a nurse, you will be faced with such situations. Describe a time when you were faced with a situation that challenged your confidence and sense of assurance.
Questions about weaknesses, limitations, failures, or lack of self-assurance are very common in interviews of all kinds. Talking about these kinds of things can make us very uncomfortable, especially in a high-pressure situation, where we’re being evaluated and want to only put our best face forward. We want them to see our strengths, accomplishments, and positive qualities, not our weaknesses or failures! However, there is still a way to do this, while answering the question honestly. The first thing to do is exactly that: Be honest. We have all confronted our own limitations from time to time, and succeeding at almost anything means failing at some point – nothing every goes off completely as expected! That’s okay; you’re human, and you’re allowed to be human in an interview. What’s important is that you show how you overcame that challenge, how you re-built your sense of self-confidence, and why you’re better now for having gone through such a moment of doubt. Have a look at our blog to find out how to answer "what is your greatest weakness?"
Nursing Interview Question #9 Expert Response.
Nursing Interview Question #10: Scenario - Parents Refusing to Vaccinate
You have recently begun working in the pediatrics department. You find out that the pediatrician has refused to continue to act as a child's physician unless the child’s parents agree to fully vaccinate their child, as per her recommendations. Do you think the doctor is acting reasonably? Why or why not?
This question has two fundamental issues: withholding care based on a physician’s personal convictions, and your ability to approach superiors or others in a position of authority in a delicate situation. It is important to think through a question like this diplomatically and tactfully, as any “side” you take will likely put you at odds with someone else. This is a question about autonomy, about the responsibilities of physicians when they hold different beliefs than their patients, and about careful conflict resolution when all parties are deeply invested in the outcome.
Nursing Interview Question #10 Expert Response.
Here are some more tips for answering these nursing school interview questions!
Nursing Interview Question #11
What does being a nurse mean to you?
This is a tricky question, as it is asking whether you’re aware of the competencies that are required of nurses and whether you possess them. It is fairly easy to prepare for this question. Firstly, make sure you review the mission statement and goals of the nursing program where you are interviewing. Note down the qualities they value in applicants and in the profession as a whole. Reflect on experiences and events from your life that showcase these qualities. Once you pick a couple of stories, practice discussing them in your answer. While you’re not a practicing nurse yet, you want to show that you are ready for what’s coming.
Nursing Interview Question #12
Describe a time when you had to help someone who was difficult and unwilling to accept help.
This is a personal question, which means that you should use a very clear structure to address this inquiry. Firstly, give a short recount of the situation and the dilemma. Then, outline the steps you took to deal with the dilemma at hand. Finally, discuss outcomes and what you learned from the situation, and what you can apply it to similar situations in the future.
Nursing Interview Question #13
Tell us about a time that you needed to choose one priority at the expense of others.
While there may be no right or wrong answer, the interview is really trying to see your decision-making process. So show it to them! Use a real-life example that shows that you can prioritize and make difficult decisions on your own by weighing all sides of a dilemma.
Here's a great video on finding inspiration when preparing for an interview
Nursing Interview Question #14
Your close female friend reveals to you that she is unintentionally pregnant. What do you do?
This is a typical situational judgment test question. You are presented with a dilemma and asked how you would respond. For these types of questions, we have a solid answer strategy. First, identify the pressing issue and the vulnerable partly. Then, consider the situation from the perspective of everyone involved. Come up with the best possible solution that would not negatively affect the vulnerable party and everyone else involved in the scenario.
Nursing Interview Question #15
Describe a time when you had to be creative.
Nurses are usually very well-rounded individuals. They must also be able to think on the spot. This question tests your ability to reflect on when you problem-solved or showed creativity in your chosen profession, or outside of it! In your answer, give context or describe the problem. Then explain what you how you addressed it creatively. You can always end with the lesson that you learned.
190 More Nursing School Interview Questions
- What do you view a nurse’s responsibilities as?
- What qualities do you believe set you apart from other applicants?
- Tell me about your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
- Describe a time when you had to help a colleague who was difficult and unwilling to accept your input.
- How do you define a team?
- What are your thoughts on drug patents?
- What do you do when you’re placed in a new work environment and asked to accomplish tasks?
- What would you do if your patient chooses not to disclose important information?
- What would you do if your patient discloses important information to you, but requests you not to reveal it to the physicians?
- What do you see as the future of the nursing profession.
- Nurses often have to advocate on behalf of their patients. Describe a time when you had to do so for someone else.
- What do you think are the 5 most difficult aspects of being a nurse?
- For you personally, what would be the most difficult aspect of being a nurse?
- Describe the most stressful event of your life. Why was it stressful, and how did you handle the situation?
- Some institutions prefer selecting candidates who have connections to that region/area. What are your thoughts on this?
- How would you handle a disagreement with a coworker?
- Your most recent patient suffers from severe arthritis, but cannot be prescribed or have any more pain medication. What do you do?
- If we asked a family member to describe you, what would they say? What about a friend? What about a supervisor?
- Nurses often have a very high workload. Why do you think this is the case, what do you think are the implications of this on patient care and work culture/environment, and what policies do you believe can alleviate these issues?
- How do you respond to people asking for medical advice outside of clinical settings?
- Tell us about your most significant interaction with a patient.
- What are your thoughts on physician-assisted suicide?
- Have you ever questioned your decision to be a nurse? Why or why not?
- Which class did you most enjoy at university/college? Why?
- Which class did you least enjoy at university/college? Why?
- You are a nurse in the neonatal department, and your nephew has just been admitted to the pediatric unit of your hospital. The patient files on your system are linked, and your sibling asks you to look up your nephew’s records to tell them what you think about his most recent test results, since they feel that their doctor is understating the gravity of the situation. What do you do?
- You are a newly hired radiology nurse, and on your first day, as you are viewing an X-ray, the machine suddenly powers down. You restart it, but then hear what sounds like an electrical shortage, and cannot turn it on. What do you do?
- If you had to choose between giving a liver transplant to an elderly individual versus a 30-year-old alcoholic, how do you choose?
- What is the most pressing healthcare issue in your state/province and country?
- What pressing healthcare issues do you anticipate for your state/province and country in the next decade?
- What is your greatest personal achievement and why?
- What is your greatest regret? Why, and what would you have changed?
- Who is your role-model?
- If you could change any aspect about yourself, what would it be, what would you change it to, and why?
- You are a nurse, on vacation in a foreign country. One day in the market, an elderly woman next to you suddenly collapses and is seizing. What do you do?
- Clara Barton, the renowned nurse and founder of the Red Cross, once said “The surest test of discipline is its absence”. What does this quote mean to you, and do you agree with it?
- Your best friend has just been rejected from nursing school for the 2nd time. They invite you to speak with them about their future plans. What would you say?
- How do you define success?
- Your neighbor, who you do not know very well, has recently taken up a hobby of baking. One evening, they knock on your door, and offer you their latest batch of cookies. They urge you to try one. Upon your first bite, you realize that is not very good at all. How do you proceed?
- What are your thoughts on recreational marijuana?
- What nursing specialty areas intrigue you the most?
- Describe a time when you had to organize something that was disorganized.
- You are a nurse and your patient requires several important tests to diagnose their symptoms; however, they refuse them due to lack of insurance coverage. What do you do?
- “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” – Voltaire. What are your thoughts on this quote?
- What is your opinion on a physician strongly recommending against parents’ decision to pursue medically futile care for their comatose child?
- Tell me about a time when you failed as a group member or leader.
- Tell me about a time when you succeeded as a group member or leader.
- What are your hobbies?
- Are you drawn to any particular area of medicine? If so, what field and why? If not, why?
- Tell me about a time when you experienced barriers to communication. How did you deal with that, and what was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your own performance.
- Tell me about a time when someone else was disappointed in your performance.
- What is your opinion on universal healthcare?
- What is the hardest lesson that you have had to learn?
- What 5 qualities do you think a good nurse should have?
- How would you describe a biological topic (eg: DNA replication) to a 5-year-old?
- Describe a time when you helped someone make an important decision.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of working on a team?
- You are a nurse who has just learned that a recently discharged patient of yours is now back in the hospital. You learn that this occurred due to the patient not adhering to their care instructions. What would you do?
- If you had to describe yourself with 5 adjectives, what would they be, and why?
- Suppose you live in a future where sequencing technology is widely available. What are your thoughts on the implementation of policies that require all adults to receive whole-genome sequencing?
- What do you foresee as the most challenging aspect of nursing school?
- What will you do if you are not accepted?
- Medicine is ever-evolving. How do you stay informed?
- As an aspiring nurse, are you prepared for inevitably losing patients? If yes, why, and if not, how will you prepare yourself?
- If you had to choose between job security and career advancement opportunities, which would you choose and why?
- What are 2 good and 2 bad habits that you have?
- As a nurse, would you ever strike?
- Tell us about a time when you had to motivate someone else. Were you successful? Why or why not?
- Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond to complete a task. Why did you do it, and was it worthwhile?
- What is your approach to speaking with a shy person?
- Why do you believe diversity is important? Include personal examples if you have them.
- What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?
- Tell us about a time when you were overwhelmed by responsibilities.
- How do you perform under pressure?
- Describe a time when you were unprepared for a situation/event. What happened, and what did you learn from that experience?
- Describe a time when you became aware of a potential problem and resolved it before it became an issue.
- Your significant other has fallen ill, and you take a leave of absence from work to care for them. Your employer appeared understanding when you spoke in person, but you have now just received an email from them urgently reminding you of a project’s upcoming deadline. What do you do?
- How do you define “integrity”?
- You are walking down the street on a warm, summer afternoon when a car quickly pulls up next to you, parks curbside, and a woman quickly leaves the car with a package and enters a building. You glance into the car and notice that she has left a child of about 3-5 years old in the passenger seat. The windows are all closed. What do you do? Follow up question: What if this was instead a cool, autumn evening?
- If you could transport yourself to any moment in time, past or future, and observe a scene without any interaction, would you do it, and if so, what would you choose to observe?
- What does health literacy mean to you, and what responsibility do you see nurses having in promoting it?
- You are a nurse whose patient has been complaining about their pain. They state “Don’t give me any more of the oral meds – I need IVP because it works faster and helps more”. How do you respond?
- When put into new work environments, what steps do you take to become comfortable and feel like you know what you are doing?
- With the advent of the pandemic, remote services such as telehealth and phone hotlines have experienced increase use. What is your opinion of individuals calling in for medical advice, and providers giving such advice without being able to see the individual?
- According to a 2019 “American Nurse Today” survey, 59% of nurses report being verbally assaulted by a patient and 23% report being physically assaulted by a patient. These numbers are increased from 2018 statistics of 55% and 20%, respectively. One opinion is that the emphasis on patient satisfaction often leaves nurses feeling unempowered to take action. What are your thoughts on this, and what do you think can be done to reduce these statistics?
- What are 3 benefits and 3 disadvantages to electronic health records?
- How do you balance hopefulness with realism? How would help someone else balance the two?
- Your sibling has decided to convert to solely relying on alternative medicine for their newborn, agreeing to vaccinations, but refusing any other forms of medication. Their baby has recently gotten an ear infection, and their condition is not improving. In fact, you suspect it may even be getting worse. What do you do?
- How do you maintain good, mental health?
- Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
- How do you plan to manage your time throughout nursing school?
- Do you plan to work while in the program?
- What are you most keen to learn about as a nursing student?
- What support resources do you have in place?
- What positive habits as a student do you have?
- Why did you choose nursing?
- What are your short-term goals (6 months)? What are some of your long-term goals (5 years)?
- How did you hear about this institution?
- What aspect of our mission statement appeals to you the most?
- If you make an error charting, what would you do to fix it?
- Tell me about your most difficult patient interaction.
- Tell me about a project for a class or hospital unit, and what were the results?
- Tell me about a time you had to delegate or take on a leadership role.
- If you were the nurse for a patient going into surgery what are the pre-op and post-op teachings you would discuss?
- If you were working on a floor and a doctor came up to you and yelled at you referring to patient that wasn't yours and you had not been taking care of, how would you respond?
- If you were a nurse on a floor and you walked into a room and the patient was short of breath and said they were having trouble breathing, what would you access and why? You hear wheezing and you note that the patient has a history of asthma then what would you do? How would you chart this scenario?
- If you are a nurse on a unit and you have a patient who is asking for pain meds, a patient who is leaving for the OR and the OR doc calls and says they are coming up in 5 minutes and you need to have the patient ready, a patient who needs to use the restroom, a patient who feels sick and a patient who wants someone to sit with them, who do you see first and why?
- If you have a diabetic patient who is not communicative, what do you do?
- If you are a nurse on a floor and one patient is experiencing transfusion reaction, another patient that is in shock and a third patient with low blood pressure, who do you see first and why?
- If you have an older patient that has been in bed 2 weeks, is short of breath, and has a respiratory rate of 40, what do you do?
- If you are a nurse on a floor and the ventilator alarm is sounding and the high-pressure alarm is sounding, what do you do?
- How do you like to be recognized for your hard work?
- Describe your best experience as a student so far.
- How would you handle a disrespectful doctor?
- What types of technology are you most experienced with?
- What communication techniques have you used to ensure that patients and families feel informed and/or cared for?
- How would you try to create a great patient experience?
- Explain a situation in which you made a mistake. What did you do about it?
- Describe a time in which you had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you? On your work or project?
- Tell me about a time when you had to be flexible, adjusting to the needs of a patient, family member or your team.
- Tell me of a time when you were confronted with a difficult change and discuss how you were impacted. How did you respond to the change?
- Tell me about your worst shift ever and how you handled it
- Recall a time when your leader assigned you a task that you considered outside your job description. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
- Give an example of when you were flexible and organized with a very sick and indigent patient
- Sometimes a small problem can be identified and fixed before it becomes a major problem. Give an example of when you have done this and what the result was.
- Tell me about a time when you had trouble completing an assignment due to a system or equipment failure that impeded your productivity. Describe the situation and how you resolved it.
- Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback on your performance and how you handled the situation.
- Give me an example of a positive experience you had with a patient. Describe an example that was not efficient/effective and what you did about it.
- Tell me about a time when you had to access the chain of command in regards to a patient care issue.
- You have a small disagreement with a co-worker. How would you resolve it independently of your immediate coordinator?
- Listening is a valuable tool. Describe a time when good listening skills helped you overcome a communication problem or gave you an opportunity to exceed a patient or family’s expectations.
- Give an example of a time when you communicated successfully with another person, even when that individual may not have agreed with your point of view.
- Give an example of a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle him/her?
- Tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict involving members of your team or a patient or family
- Describe a time when you realized you needed additional skills or knowledge to be successful. What was your approach to gaining those skills?
- Give me an example of a time when you had to cope with strict deadlines or time demands. How did you handle it?
- What was your most difficult decision in the last year? What made it difficult?
- Tell me about a time you had to solve a problem with very little guidance or direction.
- Tell me about a situation that did not work out as expected. How did you handle it and what were your next steps?
- Describe a time when you exceeded a patient/customer/or family member’s expectations. What was the situation and what did you do?
- When working with patients or family members, tell me how you create an environment that helps them feel informed and cared for.
- Tell me about a time when your patience and diligence with a patient, family, or customer helped achieve an outcome.
- Describe a time when you had to do a job that was particularly uninteresting. How did you keep yourself focused and motivated to complete the task?
- Tell me about a time when you worked with a patient, family member, or co-worker with a different background/culture than yours. What did you do to ensure that there was good communication between you? OR What steps did you take to make the family member, patient, or co-worker feel comfortable?
- Give me an example of a time when your work was above standards
- Give me an example of a time when your work was below the standard.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
- Describe a situation where you handled decisions under pressure or when time limits were a factor. What was the outcome?
- At times our workload may feel unmanageable. Describe a time when you recognized that you were unable to meet multiple deadlines. What did you do about it?
- When you are at work and have idle time available (are caught up with your work load), tell me how you utilize that time. What other tasks did you perform to fill this time?
- In our department, you are often asked to do many things all at the same time (answer the phone; enter information into the computer, etc.) Tell me how you would decide what is most important and why
- Describe a situation when a patient could not understand how to take his/her prescribed medications. What arrangements did you take to resolve the difficulty?
- Can you tell me about a time when you went beyond your supervisor’s expectations in order to get the job done?
- What personal or work-related goals have you established? How successful were you in accomplishing these goals? How did you know (measure) that you had achieved the goal?
- Tell me about a specific goal and how you measured your progress for the goal. How did you establish a goal baseline and targets?
- Tell me about a time you displayed honesty and integrity.
- Tell me about a time you displayed honesty and integrity in a work situation
- Have you ever faced an ethical or value conflict in your job? Explain the situation and how you handled it.
- How have you recognized and rewarded others for their performance?
- What is the most important skill of a good leader? Describe a time when you effectively used this leadership skill in a job.
- Tell me about a time you made your job interesting when the work became repetitious.
- Tell me about a time you reached an impasse with a third party (insurance company, vendor). What was the issue and what steps did you take to resolve the issue?
- If you were asked to perform a task outside your comfort zone, how would you handle the task?
- Describe a situation in which you gave very good customer service, and what were the key components of that encounter.
- Tell me of a time you received poor customer service. How could it have been done differently?
- You have multiple tasks, each with the same due date. How do you handle multiple tasks at one time? How do you prioritize the tasks to ensure that you meet the set due dates?
- How do you schedule your time and set priorities? How do you handle 20 things at once?
- Tell me about an experience in clinical when you had multiple patient situations. How did you prioritize?
- How do you organize your work to ensure that you are the most effective and productive?
- Share with me a time when you had to make a presentation.
- Tell me about a time you made someone upset when you were doing what you were expected to do, and what was the outcome?
- Tell me about a situation where you “blew it”. How did you resolve or correct it?
- Provide an example of what you have done to protect the privacy of someone.
- Tell me about a time when you followed a co-worker who repeatedly left work incomplete. How did you deal with the issue?
- Describe a time when you worked a shift where there was an unexpected staffing shortage. How did you work with team members to prioritize and complete work?
- Describe how you were successfully able to contribute to a multidisciplinary team.
- Please share an example of a situation where your team disagreed with you. How did you respond? What was the final outcome?
- Tell about a time when you demonstrated excellent team member behaviors. What was the situation and what did you do?
- Tell me about a time you put the needs of a group before your own when completing a task.
- Give me some specific examples of how you exhibit excellence (adaptability, respect or accountability) in your work
- How do you determine if the work you do is a quality job? What are some ways that you have improved the quality if your own work?
- What are some of the problems you have e
- Tell me about a time when your evaluation of your performance differed from your manager’s evaluation of your performance. What happened?
- Describe the best work environment you’ve experience. Why was the particular environment so positive?
- Tell me about a work environment that was not ideal. What was the situation? What did you do? What did you learn?
- What previous job was the most satisfying and why? Provide specific examples of what made the job satisfying.
- What previous job was the most frustrating and why? Provide specific examples and what you did about the situation.
- What motivates you? How do you motivate others?
- How did you prepare for this interview?
In an interview, the admissions committee gets a chance to understand who you are as a person – what your strengths and other assets are, what values you maintain, whether you’re a mature professional, how effective a leader or communicator you are, and so on. As such, the questions asked at such interviews are often very challenging; they are meant to probe your sense of ethics, your priorities, and your ability to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity. Nursing school interview questions can be related to the field of nursing, in particular, often via hypothetical scenarios, though they will also explore more general aspects of your personality – your successes, weaknesses, and goals. If you’ve made it to the interview stage, then you are likely one of the stand-out candidates, and this is your chance to demonstrate why you have what it takes to succeed in this program and this profession.
1. What type of interview can I expect?
This will totally depend on the schools to which you're applying. You could encounter a traditional one-on-one interview, a panel interview, a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), or even a video interview. It's also important to note that some programs that may not conduct an interview. Instead, they may ask for written answers to a variety of questions that you would normally expect during an interview. If you do have an MMI, check out our MMI questions blog to practice with sample questions.
2. Do I really need to prepare for my nursing interview in advance?
Absolutely! You have likely prepared for tests and presentations during your studies so preparing for your interview is no different. Some schools place 100% of your applicant score on your interview performance, so it is not a good strategy to simply “wing it”. You need to ensure you practice with sample questions, participate in real-life mock interviews, and receive personalized feedback on your responses to ensure you are showcasing the very best version of yourself.
3. Other than practicing, what else should I do in the weeks before my nursing interview?
If you haven't already done so, one of the most important things to do before your interview is to research the schools to which you're applying. You want to familiarize yourself with the school's mission statement and core values so you can discuss how your skills, interests and experiences match the goals of their institution.
Remember, it's your responsibility to prove to admissions committees that you are not only suited for a career in nursing but that you're also well suited to attend their school. In addition to researching the school, you want to ensure that you are staying up to date on healthcare- related news and that you have a good understanding of both the challenges and hot topics in your field. You will most likely encounter a policy type question in your interview, so you need to have enough knowledge on the subject to present both sides fairly and maturely before introducing your own opinion on a specific topic.
4. What should I do at the very start of my nursing interview?
First impressions are everything, so your very first move should be to introduce yourself to the interviewers. Keep in mind that from the moment you walk into the interview room, you're being assessed. So it's important that you are as professional and courteous as possible, even during an MMI where the interviewers may not interact with you a lot.
If you're participating in an MMI, take the time to extend a proper introduction at the beginning of each station by stating your name and getting the interviewer’s name. At the end of the interview or station, ensure you take the time to thank your interviews for the opportunity and if you can remember, include their name here as well.
5. How can I manage stress levels right before my nursing school interview?
Feeling nervous before a high-stakes interview is perfectly normal so it's a good idea to accept this and have a few strategies to combat the stress. Preparing for your interview beforehand is obviously one of the best strategies, as you will have an approach for answering every question you are asked, no matter the type.
Aside from preparations, ensure you are well-rested and get enough sleep the night before your interview. Right before your interview begins, ensure you take a couple of sips of water so your throat doesn’t feel dry. When you’re right outside the interview room, try taking a few deep breaths in and out to calm your nerves. Lastly, you can close your eyes and envision a calming scene, like a beach or your favorite comfy spot in your house, to further set your mind at ease.
6. What if I'm asked a question about a poor grade?
In an open-book interview, where your interviewers have access to your application materials, it's very possible that you will be asked a question regarding any shortcomings in your academic record. This is perfectly normal, and the best strategy is to be honest. Explain the situation surrounding your poor grade and explain what you learned from the situation and what strategies you have adopted to address this issue. For example, perhaps you were juggling too many extracurriculars at once leading you to devote too much time into these activities instead of your coursework.
Moving forward, you could have learned how to manage your time better and prioritize your studies by saying no to participating in activities that were not overly meaningful to you. What's important is that you own the situation and don't play the victim. Admission committees are interested in mature applicants that take ownership of their actions and will use these experiences as a way to be better and do better in the future.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
Image credit: YJ-Lee, via the Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
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