Registered Nurse Interview Questions
A registered nurse (commonly referred to as an RN) is a team player who performs many jobs within a medical team. First and foremost, they provide patient care. This includes providing any resources a patient might need during their recovery period.
Registered nurses can work in a number of different places including hospitals (operating rooms, emergency rooms), doctors’ offices, clinics, etc. They provide support to other medical staff by monitoring patients, keeping track of client paperwork, and coordinating with doctors in the creation and execution of treatment plans. As such, registered nurses must have strong social, organizational, and leadership skills.
Registered nurse responsibilities may include:
- Communicating with patients and record symptoms
- Providing treatment plans
- Performing lab work
- Providing support during patient exams and surgeries
- Supervising nurse aids and licensed practical nurses
If a hospital was a body, registered nurses would be the blood running through its veins. In order to provide support to other medical staff and keep things running smoothly, a skilled registered nurse will:
- Possess excellent listening skills in order to better assess patients
- Work quickly and efficiently in high-stress environments
- Communicate clearly with other medical staff
- Provide leadership to nurse aids and patients
- Be organized in order to maintain patient records
In order to qualify for an entry-level job, candidates will need at least an associate’s degree in nursing. Once they have graduated, they also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination in order to practice. This is enough to get a nursing graduate into a job right away.
For registered nurses seeking more qualified positions, there are bachelor’s degrees in nursing. A bachelor’s in nursing will allow candidates to gain more experience in a variety of patient-care settings as well as allowing participants to apply for more specialized positions.
Salaries for registered nurses range between $51K and $82K with the median being $64K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a registered nurse include:
- Degrees and Training (master's degree, specialized certifications)
- Years of Experience
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the supervisor or doctor you report to and number of direct reports such as aides and other nurses)
- Level of Performance - Exceeding Expectations
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Registered Nurse Interview Questions
Question: What factors led to your decision to choose nursing as a career?
Explanation: This is a general or opening question which the interviewer will ask to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and gather information they can use for subsequent questions.
Example: “I have always cared about people, and this profession is all about helping others. I enjoy interacting with my patients and the challenges of attending to their health care needs. Sometimes, it can be very frustrating, especially when the doctor and I are not able to resolve a patient’s medical condition. However, seeing the gratitude on the patient’s face makes it all worthwhile. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”
Question: What is the most rewarding thing you enjoy about being a nurse?
Explanation: The interviewer is continuing to ask about your motivation for doing this job. The nursing profession requires both intellect and passion. It can be very frustrating but also very rewarding. You should be able to identify several things that keep you motivated that you can talk about passionately.
Example: “The most rewarding part of this job is seeing a patient progress from a severe illness to total health. A lot of the work I do is routine and often goes unnoticed. Even when we alleviate a patient’s medical issues, they often fail to express their gratitude. However, on occasion, I look into a patient’s eyes after we have healed them, and I can see the gratitude they feel along with the relief of being healthy again. If this happens once a week, it is more than enough to keep me going.”
Question: What would you describe as your strongest nursing skill?
Explanation: An interviewer will ask this question to gain an understanding of your qualifications and skills. They are asking you to do a self-assessment and identify what you feel is your strongest nursing skill. Your answer can also demonstrate the range of your skills and the scope of your knowledge. Finally, your skills should align with the type of care provided by the institution with which you are interviewing.
Example: “The strongest skill I have as a nurse is being able to assess a patient’s symptoms and diagnosing what illness they may have. I’ve gained this ability over time by carefully observing the symptoms and listening carefully to the physician’s diagnosis. On some occasions, I am even able to point out something the doctor may have missed which is crucial to an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.”
Question: Nursing can be stressful. What measures do you take to deal with the stress related to this job?
Explanation: While this question is not directly related to the work you will be doing as a nurse, it is essential. Nurses are under a constant amount of stress, and this can impact their performance on the job if they are not able to deal with it. When describing how you tackle stress, your answer should reflect what you do both on and off the job.
Example: “Stress is part of my job. However, I never let it get to me. If I find myself getting stressed out while working, I look for opportunities to take a break, laugh, or commiserate with my co-workers. Off the job, I make sure to keep myself in good health by eating right, getting a lot of sleep, and exercising. I also practice meditation which is very helpful."
Question: Tell me how you collaborate with other healthcare providers to provide the best care possible.
Explanation: Being able to collaborate with the entire healthcare team is critical. This is an operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to understand your collaboration skills and how you work with other healthcare providers. You should be able to describe this easily based on your experience and the training you have had.
Example: “Collaborating with the entire healthcare team is critical for the nursing profession. I learned to do this in nursing school and gained a greater appreciation of the benefits of working as a team as I began working in healthcare facilities. I value the opinion of other healthcare professionals, including the doctors, specialists, and everyone else involved in the patient’s care. I also recognize the contributions made by non-healthcare staff."
Question: How involved were you with patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Explanation: This is a typical question that has become more relevant in today’s job market. As you recall during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers were on the frontlines providing the critical care needed by infected patients and also keeping everyone else healthy. Your role during this time will describe the contributions you are capable of making in the most extreme of circumstances.
Example: "Working during the pandemic was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. As you are probably aware, nurses were on the frontlines and had to put in long hours in tough circumstances. Additionally, we were putting our own lives at risk by exposing ourselves to possible infection. What got me through it was the camaraderie of the entire hospital staff as well as the knowledge of how vital our work was. I am now confident that no matter what happens, I am strong enough to face it and able to get through it."
Question: What would you do if you witnessed a fellow nurse administering a medication that wasn’t ordered by a physician?
Explanation: This is an example of a behavioral question. Behavioral questions create a scenario and then ask how you would respond to it. This can be something that happened in the past or projecting something that may happen if you are hired. The best way to respond to a behavioral question is by using the STAR framework. You state the Situation, describe the Task you were trying to complete, discuss the Actions you took, and finish with the Results you attained.
Example: “This is an interesting question because it happened to me once. While on duty, I noticed a nurse administering medication, and I was sure the doctor had not prescribed this for the patient. I knew I had to stop the nurse from administering the medication until we were able to confirm that it had been ordered. I immediately approached the nurse and asked them to confirm that the medication was ordered on the patient’s chart. Once they did this, they realized they had made a mistake. They were grateful for my intervention, and we both learned to double-check the patient’s chart before administering any medication.”
Question: Are you certified in phlebotomy, and do you know how to correctly draw blood from a patient?
Explanation: This is an operational question in which the interviewer is asking a direct question about your certifications. While this is probably on your resume, they may have overlooked it or just forgotten. They may also be asking this question to confirm that your resume is accurate. Before the interview, it is recommended that you review both the job description and your resume. These are the documents the interviewer will be using to conduct the interview.
Example: “As noted on my resume, phlebotomy is among my many certifications. Since I’ve been working as both a student nurse and a certified nurse for some time, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve drawn blood. I take pride in my skills in this area, and I am usually able to do it without any pain, even when I’m working with small children.”
Question: What do you do to take care of your health so you can show up to your assigned nursing shifts?
Explanation: This is similar to a question the interviewer asked you earlier. Sometimes interviewers will circle back and ask a similar question. This helps them calibrate your answers and make sure you are providing consistent and reliable information. It illustrates the need to always be truthful and accurate when providing answers during an interview. The interviewer can do this several times and will note any inconsistencies which may disqualify you for the position.
Example: “As I mentioned earlier, maintaining my health is critical in this profession. I need to be at my best when administering care to other people. I do this by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. I also pay attention to my mental health by performing yoga and practicing meditation.”
Question: How would you react if one of your patients expressed their dissatisfaction with the care you provided them?
Explanation: Just about everyone takes pride in the work they do. It is complicated when somebody complains about us and the quality of the work we perform. You need to keep in mind that quality of care is a perception and subjective. You can provide the same care to two different patients, and one will think it was great while the other was dissatisfied. You shouldn’t take this personally. Make sure you convey this in your answer and explain how you would go about learning from the situation.
Example: “While it is rare, I have had some complaints from patients about the care I provide. I understand this may be because patients are anxious in healthcare situations and may not understand exactly what we are doing to help them. I always listen carefully to the feedback the patient and my supervising physician provide. If the quality of my care was substandard, I learn from the feedback and work to improve my performance during the next patient encounter.”
Additional Registered Nurse Interview Questions
What made you choose a career in nursing?
What do you think is the most rewarding part of being a nurse? The most challenging?
Are you comfortable working in a team setting?
How has your training prepared you for this job?
How would you deal with a patient’s uncooperative family member?
How do you handle working in high-stress environments?
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