Healthcare Job Search Tips

How to Ace Your Nursing Interview

Written by Peter Jones

Many nursing interviewers ask similar questions. Fortunately, that means you can be even better prepared to ace the interview. Here are some of the toughest, and the best ways for you to respond:

“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Translation: Am I going to want to be your colleague? Are you qualified enough? Personable enough?

Answer: Make sure to keep this one relevant to nursing, but add in a few personal details. Show how your personality traits and life goals, apart from making you a real nice person, lend themselves nicely to your chosen career. Focus on your strengths without sounding boastful, and you’ll nail it.

“Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing?”

Translation: Are you really dedicated enough?

Answer: Prove yourself. Show your dedication and your commitment, not just how much you love helping people (though that can be a good part of your origin story, your “I first knew I wanted to become a nurse” moment). Give the bigger, more passionate picture, and then focus on the details of your hard work and tenacity.

“Tell me what you know about us.”

Translation: Have you done your homework? Do you really want to work here, or will you accept a job at any hospital?

Answer: Actually do your homework. Research the position and the institution. Read patient reviews or ask acquaintances who’ve worked there. Be knowledgeable and able to make your case about why you belong in this particular hospital.

“Why should I hire you?”

Translation: What’s your secret weapon? Will you really be an asset if I hire you?

Answer: Show them that you’ve done your homework, and prove that you can be part of the solution to whatever problems they might be struggling with, and also your visions for helping them reach their future goals. Don’t be afraid to be innovative!

“How do you handle pressure?”

Translation: Are you good enough to be a nurse in the field, and not just in the classroom? Can you handle everything the job is going to throw at you and keep your cool?

Answer: You already have. Or if you haven’t—you have some experience you can tweak to demonstrate that you can take the heat. Show what skills and experience have led you to be a supernurse in any environment, no matter how stressful.

“What are your career goals?”

Translation: Are you in this to win this? Will we be able to groom you for promotions? Are you going to stick around?

Answer: You want to excel in this position, learn everything you can, and then move to new challenges. But be sure to stress you won’t jump ship as soon as you’ve milked this job for all it’s worth! Show how your personal career goals overlap nicely with the institution’s goals.

“What are your weaknesses?”

Translation: Everyone has them. How do you deal with yours?

Answer: Resist the temptation to say, “None! I am absolutely perfect; hire me!” Mention a couple of weaknesses that show your self-awareness, but also show how you’re already working to strengthen them. Be realistic.

“Are you a team player?”

Translation: Are you a diva, or do you realize the importance of teamwork in medicine?

Answer: Again, prove it. You have plenty of team experience, and you’re smart enough to recognize how crucial it is for good patient care. Have an answer prepared to show it.

“What are your salary requirements?”

Translation: Will you accept the range we’re prepared to offer?

Answer: Do a bit of research into the department so you get a sense of what other nurses are making. Avoid an exact figure; give a broad range. And if you truly would be happy with the low end of their range, stress that the position is more important to you than the pay.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

Translation: Are you just making the rounds, or are you really interested in working here?

Answer: Ask the questions you probably have! The ones you’d have if you were to get the offer: What’s the nurse-patient ratio? How long is the orientation stage? Are there any additional educational opportunities? Whatever interests you most and shows your initiative.

About the author

Peter Jones