3 Tips for Nailing Your Nursing Interview

tips for nursing interview

Nurses may be in high demand — but that doesn’t mean anyone with a certificate will get a job. LPNs, RNs, and other nurses in search of employment will still need to ace their interviews in order to secure their positions. Here to help you do just that, our team of experts at SureFire CPR has put together this comprehensive guide of nursing interview tips. Required reading before any nursing interview, this quick crash course will give you everything you need to know to start off on the right foot. Study up, and enroll in one of our award-winning certification courses today!

1) Know the Different Types of Interviews

From application to offer, getting a nursing job is a long and involved process. There are up to five interview rounds you’ll have to complete, each one different than the last. Here they are, from first round to final round (some hospitals interview differently and may have less rounds than below):

  • Round One: The Prescreen Phone Interview. The first round of the hiring process, this interview is conducted entirely by phone. It’s usually conducted by a human resources assistant or recruiter—and while it’s not an interview that will get you the job, it’s one where you may be taken out of the running for giving the wrong answers. Be sure to confidently confirm your education, employment status, clinical experience, and goals when asked. Don’t ramble or stay quiet, don’t speak negatively, don’t take the call somewhere loud—and definitely don’t miss it altogether.
  • Round Two: The Selection Interview. Once you’ve been deemed a good fit, you’ll likely be asked to participate in a selection interview. Conducted in-person or on the phone, the selection interview is typically a one-on-one between you and the hiring manager. The purpose of this interview is for the hiring manager to determine whether he or she likes you and whether you’ll be a good fit on his or her team. Let your personality shine, but be sure to give excellent examples of your professional passion and work ethic.
  • Round Three: The Series Interview. If the hiring manager thinks you could be a good fit, he or she will want you to meet the rest of the team. In the series interview stage, you’ll conduct one-on-one interviews with several additional coworkers back-to-back. You can think of this phase as a redo of the first two phases, but with a new person each time. Bring your A-game, a be ready to answer different questions from each person.
  • Round Four: The Panel Interview. After you’ve met the team members, you may be asked to meet the team as a whole—all at once. This is called a panel interview, and it may be conducted by anywhere from three to five people. You may get different iterations of questions you’ve already encountered, and you may get more specific information about team procedure. Be sure to maintain eye contact, ask your own questions, and be yourself with the team.
  • Bonus Round: The Peer Interview. This is interview stage is the exact same as the series interview, without the series—and the panel, without the panel. You may be asked to interview with one or two co-workers at different times. Treat this interview with the same enthusiasm and inquisitiveness as those above. Try to be personable, as these will be the people that you’ll spend each working day with during your new career. 

2) Know the Most Common Nursing Interview Questions

Now that you have a better idea of the different types of nursing job interviews, you probably want to know about the nursing job interview questions you’ll be asked. Never fear — we have you covered. In no particular order, these are some of the biggest and most frequently asked questions in nursing interviews.

nursing interview questions

  • Why do you want to be a nurse?
  • Why (insert hospital)?
  • Why (insert hospital unit)?
  • Tell me a bit about yourself.
  • What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
  • Why do you think you are the best fit for this job?
  • Tell me about a time you had to work with a particularly difficult patient.
  • How do you deal with high-stress situations as a nurse?
  • Tell me about a time in nursing school where a nurse made an inappropriate comment and how you handled it.

In addition to the questions you’ll be asked, there are also several questions you should your interview (if you get an opportunity). These will show you interest in the position and your passion for performing to the best of your abilities. Here are some questions to ask in a nursing interview:

  • What kind of training does your office offer?
  • How would you describe your team’s culture?
  • Which system do you use for EMR?
  • Can you give me more information on your staffing ratios?
  • What do your nurses like most about working at your office?
  • What resources are offered to the nursing staff when they lose a patient?
  • What committees does the unit have?
  • How long are your shifts?
  • How do you measure nursing success?

3) Make Sure You and Your Resume Look the Part

nurse interview

Acing a nursing interview is all about making a good impression. That starts with your resume, which is the first thing your potential employers will meet before they actually meet you. To ensure that your resume stands out, consider bolstering your list of experience with a certification. Beyond BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), some certifications nursing employers love to see include ECG and Pharmacology, Hospital Fire Safety, and MAB (Managing Assaultive Behavior).

Resume and certifications aside, you’re also going to want to make a good impression with your demeanor, body language, and aptitude. Here are a few more pro tips from our RNs at SureFire CPR:

  • Try and get your senior practicum/preceptorship in the type of unit where you want to work. Many employers will not interview you unless you’ve had your practicum on that type of unit.
  • Don’t forget to include volunteer experience or study abroad experience on your resume!
  • Conduct a mock interview in front of the mirror or with a friend so you feel
    more comfortable with your answers. 
  • Dress to impress. It’s best to be too formal, rather than too informal. 

Learn More and Enroll in Our Certification Courses Here at SureFire CPR 

Want to learn more about the nursing interview process? Have a nursing interview question you didn’t see answered here? We can help. Contact our team here at SureFire CPR or give us a call at (888) 277-3143 to get expert answers and to learn how you can boost your nursing resume with one of our award-winning certification courses. Take the next step in your career with our help today!


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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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