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How Nurses Can Ace Common Interview Questions

Nursing is considered a smart career choice. Job security and diverse opportunities are just two reasons. Today’s nursing shortages are creating even greater opportunities, making this an excellent time to consider where your nursing career can take you.

For registered nurses (RNs) who want to take advantage of the high demand in the nursing workforce, now is the time to refresh your resume and get ready to ace your interviews. The following interview questions may not be identical to those you will face. However, practicing them can build confidence to handle whatever questions come your way.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This may be one of the most dreaded interview questions. Being ready for it can get the interview off to a smooth start. The key is to avoid repeating what is on your resume. Instead, for example, you might share a story about what inspired you to pursue nursing. From there, connect to your interest in the particular role.

2. What is one of your greatest strengths as a nurse?

To answer this question, think about the value you can bring to the employer. For example, communication is the foundation for building trust in the nurse-patient relationship. Therefore, if you excel at patient communication, you might ask yourself questions such as the following to organize your thoughts.

  • What strategies do I use to create a positive patient experience?
  • What role do patient engagement technologies play in improving communication and care?
  • Why is cultural competence a priority, and what steps have I taken to improve communication with a culturally diverse patient population?

Examples of other strengths include analytical thinking, leadership, teamwork, emotional intelligence and technical knowledge.

3. What is a challenge you encountered at work, and how did you respond?

The “STAR” approach works well to formulate a concise answer that showcases your problem-solving strengths.

Situation: Choose an example of a challenging situation with a positive outcome. Provide a few details to set the stage.

Task: Briefly describe your role in addressing the situation.

Action Steps: Explain the most important steps you took to resolve the situation.

Results: Share the successful outcome you achieved. Close by connecting to how this experience helped you grow professionally.

4. What are you most proud of accomplishing, and why?

A common reason for asking this question is to learn more about what success means to you. For example, you might be most proud of taking on an unexpected leadership opportunity. Or, you may have implemented a quality improvement project to increase patient satisfaction and achieved impressive results. Your answer can help you demonstrate areas of growth that support your candidacy for the job.

5. What areas of professional development or continuing education are you most interested in?

Most states require continuing education (CE) for licensure. However, this question allows you to go beyond the basics to address professional aspirations and the steps you are taking to achieve your goals.

Take geriatrics, for example. The 65-and-older population is increasing, creating a demand for geriatric nurses. RNs interested in this career path may have completed relevant CE courses. Taking the additional step to obtain Gerontological Nursing Certification is further evidence of a commitment to career development, as is membership in a professional organization such as The Gerontological Society of America.

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may be the most compelling way to demonstrate the professional growth that employers want to see. Research summarized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows that BSN-prepared nurses have better patient outcomes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a BSN is now considered the entry-level degree for RNs.

For example, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers an accredited RN to BSN online program that is delivered completely online. One benefit of a program such as UNCW’s is the ability to schedule coursework around shifts, so students do not need to put their careers on hold.

In addition to improving patient outcomes, the benefits of earning a BSN include opportunities for career advancement and higher earnings. According to, the average nurse stands to make over $15,000 more per year with a BSN.

Acing your nursing interview is one of the first steps to applying your newly gained healthcare skills to the test in the workforce. By practicing your answers to the above questions, you can prove yourself to any potential employer.

Learn more about UNCW’s online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

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