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Five Difficult Interview Questions for Nurses

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By Three Q PERMS on 07 October 2016

Even the most experienced nurses can suffer from interview nerves. One of the ways you can reduce your nerves is to practice how you are going to answer some of the more difficult interview questions. We have teamed up with Patrick Shortt, Career Guidance Counsellor and Managing Director of ETC Consult to help you answer five challenging interview questions.

1.       Tell us about yourself.

When an interviewer says tell me about yourself, the two things they really want to find out are why you applied for this role and why are you qualified for this role. A good answer would be something like the following sample answer:

 “Well I was born in X and I went to primary and secondary school in X. I enjoyed school – most of the teachers were very good; the principal was very strict and demanded high standards and my fellow students were great – I had a lot of friends; the subjects I liked most were Biology; Home Economics and English. From an early age I knew that I wanted to be a Nurse; Nursing was my first choice on my CAO form; I loved my nursing studies and work experience as a nurse and I am looking forward to a long and satisfying career as a Nurse.”

 2.       How would you describe yourself?

When you are asked this question, the interviewer wants to find out if you have the right qualities for this role. When asked this question, you could provide the following sample answer:

“I am very caring, sociable, conscientious, responsible and organised. I enjoy helping other people and re-assuring them when they are concerned about things. I am a good listener and find it easy to communicate with others and get them to talk. Outside my work I like to socialise, play sport and volunteer. However, my primary focus is my career as I love nursing and want to continuously learn more and be a better Nurse.”  

3.       What is your perception of the role of a Nurse?

The interviewer wants to find out how deeply you have thought about the role and how you need to interact with various stakeholders. You could give the following answer:

“My perception is that a nurse’s role is to provide medical care to patients and to do that well involves working in a team with other medical professionals – Doctors, Consultants, Medical Technicians, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Pharmacists, Social Workers – and of course other  Nurses. It involves working under pressure; dealing with patients who may be worried, depressed, angry; working in the wards, in theatre; intensive care; accident and emergency; carrying out a range of tasks from the highly skilled to the mundane; relating efficiently and effectively and caringly to patients of all backgrounds and ages  - and getting satisfaction from it all.”

4.       In your opinion, what does it take to be an excellent Nurse?

The interviewer wants to know if you have considered all the relevant factors that it takes to achieve excellence in this field. You could provide the following sample answer:

“First, you need to enjoy nursing; it sounds obvious, but the more interested you are in it, the more passionate you are about it, the better you will do it. Second, you need to have the ability or the competencies to be a good nurse – have excellent nursing knowledge and the skills to apply that knowledge in different situations – communicating with patients; taking bloods, temperatures, blood pressure; applying medication; interpreting charts; dressing wounds; feeding, washing, changing, lifting, assisting patients; keeping medical records: dealing with very stressful situations. Third, you need to have the personality for nursing – being a caring, empathetic, warm, approachable, sociable person who gets a lot of satisfaction from helping people in general – and patients in particular; being conscientious, responsible, attentive to detail and a very good team player. Fourth, you need to have direct or indirect experience of dealing with people who need the medical expertise of other people; experience of observation communication; identification of problems and problem solving; for example, experience of dealing effectively with people who have broken a leg; are bleeding; have had an epileptic seizure; are being prepared for theatre; are recovering from operations. The more experience you have, the better the Nurse you will be. Fifth, you need to have excellent Nursing Training and Qualifications.”


5.       Why should we offer you a nursing position with us?

The best way to answer this question is to focus on how the role is aligned with your interests, skills, passions and qualifications. You could provide the following sample answer:

 “I honestly believe that to be an excellent Nurse, you need to have a passionate interest in Nursing; you need to have the ability or the competencies required; you need to have the personality for it; you need to have relevant experience and you need to have excellent training and qualifications. I am confident that I meet all of those requirements and that is why I believe that I should be offered this position.”

Author Bio

Pat Shortt is a Career Guidance Counsellor and Managing Director at ETC Consult and he has 35 years of experience in providing professional career guidance programmes, interview skills training and cv writing for people of all ages. To find out more please visit us here at ETC Consult.


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