Interviewing Skills for Nursing

With a variety of nursing duties, tailor your responses to the job you want.
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Interviewing for a nursing position means you need some of the same skills the rest of the world needs on a job search, such as a personable demeanor and the ability to communicate clearly and concisely. But nursing jobs require a specialized knowledge base that you must convey in a short amount of time. Preparing ahead of time can give you a confidence boost during the interview and help you land your next nursing job.


    In most careers, it's best to keep interview responses conversational, rather than sliding into technical terminology. Your interviewers might not work in your field, so they might not understand your jargon. But in the medical field, most of the people doing the hiring have at least some medical training. Doctors and nurses use medical jargon to communicate with each other on a daily basis, so it's best to use some where appropriate in your interview. This lets the hiring manager know that you're capable of conversing with other medical professionals in the way they best understand. When possible, however, sprinkle in some descriptions that are appropriate for patients as well, so the hiring manager can see how well you communicate with both doctors and lay people.

Example Questions

    How a nurse handles emergency situations and delicate patient consultations is key to her performance, so you can expect some questions that start with "Give me an example of how you ... ." Some common examples are how you dealt with a stressful situation, how you handled an aggressive or angry patient, a time when you showcased your leadership skills or a moment when you were disappointed in your performance. Write down some of the high and low points in your career so far, including times when you've gone beyond your job duties, such as when you brought in a patient's favorite snack -- a patient not on a restricted diet, of course. Practice your responses so you're ready with a concise answer. Rambling and bouncing around the timeline won't showcase you as an adequate communicator.

Research And Ask Questions

    Interviews usually go both ways. You're looking for a good fit with an organization just as it is seeking the right kind of nurse. Ask around about the hospital, doctor's office or other group that you're going to interview with to discover interesting facts or details that you can turn into intelligent questions. Look online to find its mission or goals, and then ask how they relate to daily duties. Also, look at current job openings. If there's a large number of nursing positions open, it's fair to ask why that is -- if there's typically much turnover, it might not be a place you want to work. If the job openings are due to growth and are mostly new positions, it could be an exciting opportunity for you.


    Nursing covers a broad spectrum of skills. Preparing a list of your strengths ahead of time helps you pick out the ones that best fit the job you're applying for. If your most recent job was in an emergency room but you're applying for a job in a pediatric doctor's office, don't dwell on your skills diagnosing adult issues. Instead, focus on your gentle hand when drawing blood from children, how quickly you administer shots and your observation skills, since children can't always tell you what's wrong.

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