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5 Most Popular Nursing Job Interview Questions

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Almost a year on from Covid-19, 50% of the general public have been reassessing their current careers, and healthcare has seen an uptick in interest from individuals seeking a meaningful vocation that directly helps people in need. Many fully-qualified nurses are also thinking of using the valuable experience they have recently gained to take the next step in their careers.

Whether on your first step of your career or fully established and looking for a new challenge, preparing for job interviews will prove one of the best strategies in landing a new opportunity. Our experienced team of health and social care recruitment specialists reveal popular examples of interview questions for nurses, and crucially, help with how to answer them.

Prospero Health & Social Care are recruiting for a range of nurse vacancies across the UK – pre-register for our nursing jobs here.


Examples of Popular Nursing Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them


  1. Why Did You Choose Nursing as a Career?

One of the most common interview questions, this is designed to designed to give the interviewer an idea of your personality and your motivations and ambitions, as well as your background and knowledge. It’s also an opportunity to stand out from other applicants by creating a personal connection with the interviewer and establishing yourself as a good fit for the hospital or care home.

You don’t need to prepare a long answer, but be personal – whether it be a lifelong ambition, providing or witnessing the care given to a loved one, or becoming more aware of the importance of healthcare staff since the pandemic. Experienced nursing professionals can discuss how their connection with their job has changed and strengthened over time as a result of their experiences at work and through personal milestones. Above all, connect your personality to your passion and enthusiasm for nursing.

  1. Why Do You Think You’re a Good Nurse?

This question aims to reveal not only your skills and experience, but your attitude to work and your thinking processes.

Ann Duncan, Matron at the Royal Marsden Hospital, comments, ‘They have got to show integrity and honesty, and also courage – we want to know they’re going to be a good advocate for their patients. They need to show they work according to the values of the six Cs – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. We incorporate scenario question during the interview that will assess a nurse’s integrity. For example: “If you witnessed a nurse administering an incorrect drug, what would you do?”’

Your interviewer will expect you to be able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge you put forward. Prepare some examples from your most recent role and your previous roles. Try to provide two or three different examples that cover not only your professional capabilities, but your softer skills such as working in a team, communicating with patients and supporting patient families.

  1. What Makes a Good Shift?

Your interviews will want to hear about delivering safe and effective patient care, however, this interview question also creates the chance to showcase your working style and own unique motivations. The person interviewing you will be familiar with the role and will understand how stressful, diverse and traumatic that the profession can be on difficult days when you lose a patient or are responding to an emergency.

Be honest with your answer: tell your interviewer what makes a good shift in terms of what you want to have achieved in that shift and what you most enjoy doing, as well as the things you will have worked on and the ways that you will have helped your patients and colleagues. Rather than simply stating that a fully-staffed shift and the right resources make a good shift, recognise the positive and more challenging elements of a day in your profession, and mention organisation, time management, communication and collaboration as tactics to help transform a difficult shift into a good experience.

  1. What Was Your Biggest Mistake/Challenge?

Nurses will know that their career provides many examples of challenges! Whilst your interviewer won’t expect you to be perfect, they will want you to demonstrate your adaptability and evidence how you’ve learned from errors or problems.

This question is the ideal opportunity to tell the story of a difficult patient or specific case that you worked on, and managed to turn around to deliver a positive outcome. Prepare a summary of:

  • The situation – Why was it challenging?
  • The solution – What specific actions did you take to address the problem?
  • The outcome – How did your actions improve the situation, and what were the effects on you, the patient, the patient’s family and your colleagues?
  • The legacy – What would you do differently in a similar situation, what did you learn and how have you changed your behaviours or attitude in response?
  1. Do You Have Questions For Us?

Preparing insightful questions for your potential employer is important for any job, but particularly vital for those in the running for healthcare opportunities. Your hiring manager and potential line manager will want to recruit someone who is genuinely interested in and excited about both the role and the organisation. Failing to ask any questions, even after a successful interview, will give the impression that you only want the job for the pay or convenience, and would not be as committed to the position as others might be.

Show your genuine interest in the role and the hospital or care home by preparing at least two questions related to the organisation or the role. Research online to find positive news stories or particular events that may be interesting to find out more about – such as the opening of a new wing or medical centre, or excellent recent performance – and ask how the organisation achieved them or how they will feature in the future of the organisation. Employers will also be expecting you to ask about career progression and learning and development, which evidence your interest in truly building a career with them rather than leaving as soon as you receive another offer.

Example questions to ask include:
  • What are your expectations for the person performing in this role?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the person who takes up this role?
  • What training will I receive? How will this be updated, for example, will I receive opportunities to study and support with revalidation?
  • What are your favourite aspects of working here? (Addressed to your interviewer, hiring manager or interviewing panel).

Questioning your interviewer can also reveal any red flags or negative aspects of the job that haven’t been highlighted, or that your interviewer has actively tried to hide or stay away from. Remember: you are assessing your next potential employer just as much as they are assessing you, so it’s important that you have everything you need to make the right choice.

Find Your Next Nursing Position

Throughout Covid-19, the NHS and private hospitals are recruiting for qualified nurses across the UK.

We have a variety of roles on offer – pre-register to find out about our UK nursing opportunities.

Discover 5 of the Best Ways that Nurses Can Revalidate.

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