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The Toughest Nursing Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

You’ve completed your online Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Arizona, while you’re ready to get out into the field and help others and you’ve got the passion to take you there, the only thing standing between you and your new career is your upcoming interview. No matter how prepared you may feel, sitting through an interview can be daunting.

Use the interview as an opportunity to express your enthusiasm and passion for the field of nursing.

Here are five of the toughest questions you may be asked, as well as, how to answer them:

1. Why do you want to be in nursing?

This question may seem like a no brainer, however, it’s an important one. It is a difficult question because you know a laid back response about working in the industry just will not do. There are potentially hundreds of candidates vying for the same position as you and as such, you need to ensure that your answer stands out. Nursing Link suggested delving deeper than just a surface-level response about helping others by walking the interviewer through your history in the field.

Perhaps your passion for nursing began at a young age and up until now, you’ve found various ways to fuel that enthusiasm through learning, volunteering and interning. Explain how you hope to succeed in this role and what you wish to accomplish along the way.

2. Can you explain a high-stress situation in the workplace and how you handled it?

Nurses have a unique role that requires them to multi-task and make fast and critical decisions, all while under the pressure of a fast-paced environment. In asking this question, your potential employer is looking to find out if you have what it takes to face the everyday pressures of the health care field, explained All Nurses. He or she will want to feel confident in the fact that you can handle your responsibilities in a potentially high-stress situation, a situation that, at times, may mean life or death.

This also relates to your interaction with other nurses and doctors and the patients themselves. Will you be able to handle an angry doctor giving you orders? Can you refrain from letting your emotions get in the way of making important patient decisions? Answer this question in a way that proves you can handle anything.

3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This is a good opportunity to share your knowledge of the industry and of the organization you are interviewing for as well. Forbes has noted researching and understanding the company prior to your interview is one of the most helpful ways to nail it. By being able to vocally identify three specifics about the health care facility that you are applying to – such as its groundbreaking research, its initiatives that give back to the community or a noteworthy doctor who has made an impact – you are displaying interest in pursuing those ideals.

Though there is no incorrect answer to this question, relating your response to the mission of the hospital itself gives your candidacy a strong foundation. Nursing Link advises talking about your goals and ambitions as they relate to you, the health care facility and the industry as a whole.

4. Why should we hire you?

Use this as an opportunity to talk about your other strengths, talents and passions. The hiring manager has already seen your resume and degrees and they know your clinical skills, so now is the time to expand on your “soft skills,” explained the American Nurses Association. These would include things such as compassion, dedication, warmth and empathy. By sharing anecdotes about past experiences that highlight these skills, you can deliver a telling representation of everything that you have to offer.

“A nurse under these circumstances is selling her lifetime experience of saving lives solely through what she says and how she says it,” recruiter Frank Whalen explained to the ANA.

In this way you won’t feel as though you are bragging. Simply by telling these stories that paint a picture of your soft skills, your potential employer will have a clear idea of who you are as both a person and employee.

5. Do you have any questions for us?

This is one of the most common questions that interviewers will close with, regardless of the industry, and the worst thing you can do is to respond with “no,” as it displays a lack of interest. The best thing to do is to take advantage of the opportunity, according to Business Insider. Be prepared with several questions that you genuinely want answers to. For example, ask what will be expected of you within your first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job, this demonstrates real interest in the desire to hit the ground running if you are to get the role and lays the groundwork for your duties and responsibilities.

Asking about company culture can be of real benefit as well and even finding out what it is your employer likes best about working at the hospital or facility can provide you with a clear indication of what that is like. No matter what questions you choose to ask your potential future employer, you should leave the interview feeling as though you have covered all of your bases.

Preparing for the interview in advance may give you a leg up on other candidates vying for the same position.

Whether you are still working to finish your online MSN or have just completed the program, it’s never too early to start thinking about preparing for your career in the real world. Equipped with the state-of-the-art MSN program, an online degree from the University of Arizona prepares you well for the challenge, as many graduates have already experienced.


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