There’s no getting around it: Some people are better at job interviews than others. However, that doesn’t have to mean you’ll never land your dream job. Whether you consider yourself good at interviewing, just so-so, or abysmal, you should know that anyone can improve with a little preparation. 

As you prepare to graduate from nursing school, you may be wondering what comes next. Regardless of whether you’re enrolled in an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, you’ll want to start mentally preparing for your job search.

The nursing job interview doesn’t have to be a miserable ordeal. In fact, if you’re well prepared, you might emerge feeling great and standing out in the memory of the interviewer. Preparation is key though.

You can use various strategies to prepare yourself for the process, such as reviewing lists of potential questions and planning for how best to negotiate potential land mines. You should keep in mind that most job interviews are designed to quickly get a sense of your personality, motivation, and experience. Nurses must operate under considerable stress on a routine basis, so employers are interested in whether you have the right skills to succeed in a nursing career. 

How to Prepare for a Nursing Interview

Preparing for a nursing job interview helps ensure that you’re confident in your ability to articulate your skills, educational background, and passion for nursing. Remember, being prepared for an interview not only showcases professionalism but also helps demonstrate your genuine interest in both the company and the position.

Nursing interview tips include the following:

  • Study likely questions and ponder potential answers. Toward the end of this article, you’ll find some sample questions that typically crop up during interviews. Some represent potential pitfalls, making them especially important to consider before going in for your interview.
  • Dress appropriately. Although you won’t be working in a business suit, men and women should consider wearing a conservative business outfit with minimal jewelry and limited perfume or cologne. The goal is to avoid drawing attention to your appearance. Let your answers gain notice, not your grooming or clothing.
  • Practice nonverbal communication. Your interviewer won’t just be evaluating your verbal answers; they’ll also be paying attention to your body language. Nonverbal cues can leave a lasting impression. Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, sit upright, and express confidence.
  • Understand how to highlight your ability to work as part of a team. Nursing is a team-oriented profession. Make a mental list of experiences that illustrate your ability to collaborate effectively with multidisciplinary teams.

Nursing Interview Tips

Your ability to relay confidence and authenticity during an interview can help make a lasting impression. Other tips for how to prepare for a nursing interview include the following:

  • Greet the interviewer warmly, with a firm handshake, a smile, and an eye-meeting gaze. Nursing needs men and women who are willing and able to interact with the public and represent their organizations in a good light. Good manners are small but crucial aspects of a candidate’s likely suitability for employment. 
  • Keep your emotions under control. Make sure to show your ability to keep cool under stress. Don’t get upset or defensive at the first sign of trouble. Your interviewer may be looking to provoke your emotions with pointed questions. 
  • Highlight your transferable skills. Emphasize how your education, experience, and skills can be applied to the position you’re applying to. Even if nursing isn’t your first career, there are likely transferable skills — such as leadership, problem-solving, or communication skills — that are applicable to nursing roles. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking thoughtful questions can help show your interest and understanding of the role. You might ask about nurse-to-patient ratios, continuing education opportunities, mentorship programs, or specific protocols related to the unit or specialty. This demonstrates your commitment to excelling in the role and your interest in the workplace environment.

Nursing Interview Sample Questions

Nurse recruiters will ask a variety of questions throughout the interview process. Sample questions may include the following:

  • Where do you see yourself in three, five, or 10 years? Do you see yourself as a registered nurse (RN) or in management? Don’t shrug this question off, as it may be used to gauge your ambition and motivation. Give a thoughtful and honest answer.
  • Can you provide an example of a time you went above and beyond the call of duty? Don’t be modest. Try to think of at least one time from your past when you made an extra effort, even if it wasn’t in a healthcare setting.
  • How do you handle stress? Can you give an example? This question may not be phrased so directly, but your answer will definitely be of interest to your interviewer.
  • What do you find most challenging about dealing with patients? Be forthright, but remember that your interviewer is looking for insight into your levels of professionalism and dedication. Try to be diplomatic. Expressing disdain for problematic patients may not be your best strategy here. 
  • What’s your preferred management style? Different people have different styles. Some management styles may work better for certain employees than others. Respect for others, consistency, and fairness are all desirable traits and can be expressed through different management styles.
  • Have you ever been forced out of a job? If the answer is yes, it’s best to be prepared for this question. Try to put the incident in the best light. Candidates who take pleasure in bad-mouthing former employers, no matter how justified, are unlikely to be viewed as good prospects.  
  • Are you good at communicating with patients and their family members? Can you give an example? Communication is a key aspect of good nursing. Nurses are often a patient’s primary source of information, despite the need to defer to the patient’s doctor in most matters. A skilled nurse can do much to allay patients’ fears and concerns and explain simple procedures.

These are just some brief examples of common interview questions. To be especially well prepared, research other examples and consider your answers before your interview. 

Complete Your Nursing Degree to Prepare for a Nursing Interview

The first step in preparing for a nursing interview is to complete an accredited nurse training program. Denver College of Nursing focuses its resources on preparing students to pursue a variety of nursing positions at hospitals, schools, medical offices, and long-term care facilities throughout the U.S. 

Discover how completing an on-campus ADN or BSN program or an online RN to BSN or MSN program with Denver College of Nursing can help equip you with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to be confident for your nursing interview.

Recommended Readings
What Is a BSN Completion Program and How Does It Work?
7 Tips to Polish Your LinkedIn Profile as a Nurse
Top Tips for First-Year Nursing Students

CNBC, “Job Interview Tips to Help You Get Hired: What to Say, Mistakes to Avoid, How to Answer Key Questions and More”
Indeed, “How to Make a Great Impression in a Job Interview: 20 Tips”
LinkedIn, 6 Interview Skills That Will Get You Hired