Tricky Nursing Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them)


Interviewing, in general, isn’t easy, but some questions prove tougher than others. Here are three questions that notoriously trip up even the most seasoned nurse and how best to answer them.

“Tell me about yourself.”

While not technically a question, this can be one of the hardest parts of any interview. While some people love talking about themselves (research suggests this is simply because it feels good), others do not, and even if you do like talking about yourself, landing in the sweet spot between giving the interviewer too little and sharing too much can be tricky, especially if you’re an anxious or nervous interviewee.

Instead of sharing your life story, and giving away too many personal details which may reflect poorly upon you, keep in mind that the interviewer is asking this because they want to know your background, more than anything, and a bit about your personality. Cover the basics about your education, professional experience, career goals, and strengths, while tying in some clues about your personality, such as, “I’ve always loved children and I’m upbeat by nature, so pediatric nursing was a seamless fit for me.”

“Why do you want to work here?”

The truthful answer to that may be, “Look, lady, it’s because I need a job,” or, “The pay is GREAT,” but those answers are not what the interviewer is looking for—and should definitely not come out of your mouth at any point during the interview process. They don’t want to hire any ol’ nurse, just as you don’t want to work at any ol’ hospital, so do your research, not only so you can impress them by knowing they were ranked #1 for neurosurgery by so-and-so publication, but so you can see if they are the right fit for you, as well.

Before you interview, Google them and read up on the organization, including their corporate values and culture, and be prepared to tell them why you’d be a good fit to work there. For example, perhaps the facility caters to a population you prefer to work with, they use progressive methods you are eager to learn, or have a reputation for professional advancement that aligns with your career goals. Or maybe it’s something as simple as they are a small practice with a family feel, and you are tired of working in hospitals where you hardly see the same person twice. Whatever it is that truly interests you in working there, from a professional standpoint, find a way to convey that in a way that shows you’re excited to be a part of what they’re doing.

“What are your weaknesses?”

No one likes to own up to their faults, particularly not in a setting where you’re trying to impress. However, we are all human. We all mess up. We all have less than desirable traits. And pretending like you don’t just comes across and being inauthentic and dishonest, and those are not desirable traits in an employee, let alone a nurse.

Whatever your weaknesses may be, find a way to tell the interviewer what you have learned from them, showing you are committed to self-improvement and professional growth. It is a best practice to sandwich your weakness between two positive attributes. For example, if you sometimes feel overwhelmed, try saying something along the lines of, “I’m committed to providing a high level of patient care, but sometimes I find myself getting a little overwhelmed when a patient or their family asks a lot of questions. I know that’s just the patient and their family wanting to be well-informed about their care, though, so I’ve learned to be more understanding, as a result.”

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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