Nurse Interview Advice

Preparing for a nursing interview can be challenging. Candidates often wonder how to make eye contact, shake hands, answer a slew of questions, and make a positive impression on the employer.

Preparing for a nursing interview just got easier. With follow these tips to have a positive RN or LPN interview experience, and walk in and out of the interview feeling confident.

What is a Nursing Job Interview Like?

A nursing job interview is designed to ensure that your qualifications suit the RN or LPN role. According to the Johns Hopkins Guide for Successful Interviewing, there are four interview types for which you should prepare: screening, selection, series, and panel. In a screening interview, you will likely meet with a member of Human Resources to discuss the basics of your background. The goal of this interview type is to narrow down the number of candidates that will return for a selection interview.

The purpose of a selection interview is to further narrow the number of viable candidates and determine who should move forward or be removed from the candidate pool. Series interviews are more elaborate and require that the candidate meet with multiple interviewers at different times. You might meet with the hiring manager, followed by a unit supervisor then a Senior RN or LPN. In contrast, the panel interview requires that the candidate meet with up to 5 interviewers at once.

The purpose of each of these interview types is to get to know you better as a candidate and potential team member.

At every stage, be sure shake hands with you interviewer and thank them for their time and consideration at start close the interview close of the interview. Prepare to discuss who you are and how your qualifications suit the needs of the organization.

What to Wear to a Nursing Job Interview

Although nurses wear scrubs on the job, it is best to wear a tailored, solid-colored suit for the interview. A suit helps you to look and feel professional and well-groomed. Be sure to wear shoes that are polished and comfortable (thank us later) and keep jewelry to a minimum.

Shake hands with your employer, maintain eye contact, and thank them for their time and consideration. Doing so can bring you one step closer to securing a new role as a RN or LPN.

Nursing Job Interview Questions and How to Answer them

  1.  Tell me about yourself.

Briefly tell the employer about your background and how you can use what you have learned in previous roles to meet the objectives of the new role. You can also mention the type of degree or certificate you have earned and how that has helped prepare you for the new role.


  1. Provide an example of a time when you helped a patient in distress feel at ease – what did you do?

This behavior-based question tests your ability to recall related work experiences and gauges how well you interact with patients. Describe the situation, maintain eye contact, and be specific.


  1. Describe a mistake you made on the job and how you fixed it. What did you learn?

By asking this question, employers want to be sure that you can take ownership of mistakes and demonstrate integrity. Explain how you turned the mistake into a positive lesson learned.


  1. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult coworker. How did you handle it?

In Nursing, teamwork is necessary to achieve quality patient care, so employers pose this question to determine whether you let workplace squabbles get in the way of doing your job well.


  1. Describe a time when you had to meet a deadline while under a great deal of pressure. How did you handle it?

Nursing is rewarding yet challenging work, so employers aim to find out whether you can maintain a positive attitude and do your job well in an environment that can be stressful.

Question to Ask Your Potential Employer

No interview is complete without questions from the candidate. Once the interviewer has asked about your background and qualifications, they will ask if you have questions. Be sure to have questions prepared as this shows your potential employer that you have a genuine interest in the role, the organization and its needs. Here are some examples of what you should ask:

  1. Do you provide training?

You are equipped with enough knowledge to be a great RN or LPN. However, Nursing is a field in which continuous skill-building is key. Asking this question will let you know whether your potential employer will provide opportunities for professional growth and indicate to the employer that you are invested in refining your skill set.

  1. Can you please describe the culture of the unit/department/facility?

Work culture is important at every job, but the work culture at a medical facility is especially important because it reflects how the team works together to increase positive patient outcomes.

  1. Is it possible to see the unit I would be working in?

Although you may not be able to get a complete tour of the facility, you may be able to see your potential work space. Observe the pace of the work environment and note anything that looks unique.

  1. What are the typical working hours for this role?

RN and LPN schedules vary and may include on-call hours. Asking about this will help you plan commitments outside of work accordingly.

  1. Who would I report to in this role and what is his or her leadership style?

Accomplish two tasks with one question: find out who supervises your potential role and how they prefer to manage the nursing staff. Do they run a tight ship or employ a laissez-faire approach?


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Kaila Kea

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Kaila Kea is a career coach and former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog. She is based in Hampton, Virginia.

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