25 Staff Nurse Interview Questions and Answers
Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a staff nurse, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.
Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a staff nurse, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.
Registered nurses (RNs) are in high demand due to the growing population, advances in medical technology, and the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities are always on the lookout for nurses who have the skills to provide compassionate care to patients.
If you’re a registered nurse who is looking for a new job, you’ll likely need to go through a job interview. During your interview, you’ll likely be asked questions about your experience, your skills, and your knowledge. You’ll also want to be prepared to answer questions about your values and how you would handle difficult situations.
To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of common questions that staff nurses are asked in job interviews, along with sample answers.
Working as a staff nurse requires you to work with other nurses and medical professionals. Employers ask this question to make sure that you are comfortable working in a team setting. Use your answer to explain that you enjoy collaborating with others. Explain that you have experience doing so, and share an example of how you worked well with a team of nurses or doctors.
Example: “Absolutely. I have worked with teams of nurses in my previous positions and understand the importance of collaboration when providing quality care to patients. I am a strong team player who is able to take direction, provide support, and communicate effectively with other members of the nursing staff. I also enjoy working together to develop creative solutions to patient care challenges. I believe that by working together we can ensure that our patients receive the best possible care.”
This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you possess the qualities necessary for success in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to list a few of these qualities and explain why they are important.
Example: “As a staff nurse, I believe that having strong communication skills and being able to work well with others are two of the most important qualities. Being able to effectively communicate with patients, families, doctors, and other healthcare professionals is essential for providing quality care. In addition, it’s important to be organized and efficient in order to provide timely care to all patients.
I also think it’s important to have empathy and compassion when caring for patients. As a nurse, I understand the importance of creating a positive environment for my patients and their families. Finally, I believe that staying up-to-date on current medical practices and procedures is an important part of being a successful staff nurse. By keeping abreast of new developments in the field, I can ensure that I am providing the best possible care to my patients.”
This question can help interviewers assess your interpersonal skills and ability to manage challenging situations. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you have the patience and communication skills necessary to diffuse a tense situation with a patient or their family members.
Example: “If I ever encountered a patient who was hostile toward me and my team, the first thing I would do is remain calm and professional. I understand that patients can be under a lot of stress and may not always act in their best interest. My goal would be to diffuse the situation by using active listening skills and validating the patient’s feelings.
I would also make sure to communicate with the patient in a respectful manner and explain why certain treatments or procedures are necessary. If needed, I would involve other healthcare professionals such as social workers or psychologists to help manage the situation. Finally, I would document all interactions with the patient so that there is an accurate record of what happened.”
The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you organize your work and prioritize tasks. Your answer should show the interviewer that you have a system for organizing your documentation, which can be an important part of being a successful staff nurse.
Example: “As a Staff Nurse, I understand the importance of accurate documentation. My process for documenting my care and the patient’s response to treatment begins with assessing the patient’s condition upon admission. During this assessment, I take note of any changes in the patient’s health status or symptoms that may have occurred since their last visit.
I then document all treatments provided, including medications administered, vital signs taken, and other interventions used. Finally, I record the patient’s response to the treatment, noting any improvements or adverse reactions. This helps me track progress over time and ensure that the patient is receiving appropriate care.”
This question can help the interviewer determine how you learn new things and adapt to challenging situations. Use your answer to highlight your ability to ask for help, seek out resources and develop a plan of action.
Example: “I recently had to administer a treatment that I was not familiar with. It was an IV infusion of a new medication for a patient in the ICU. I knew that it was important to get this right, so I took the time to research and understand the protocol before administering the treatment.
I read up on the drug’s indications, contraindications, side effects, and potential risks. I also reviewed the manufacturer’s instructions and consulted with my colleagues who had more experience with this particular treatment. After gathering all the necessary information, I felt confident enough to proceed with the administration.
I monitored the patient closely throughout the entire process, making sure to document any changes or reactions they experienced. In the end, the treatment was successful and the patient recovered without any complications. This experience taught me the importance of being prepared and taking the time to do my research before administering treatments.”
This question is a great way to assess your critical thinking skills and ability to make quick decisions. When answering this question, it can be helpful to provide an example of how you would respond in such a situation.
Example: “If a patient’s condition suddenly deteriorated, my immediate response would be to assess the situation and take appropriate action. I would first check the patient’s vital signs, such as their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, and temperature. If necessary, I would also perform any additional tests or procedures that may be required. After assessing the situation, I would then contact the physician on call for further instructions. Depending on the severity of the situation, I would either administer medications as prescribed or initiate resuscitation efforts if needed. Finally, I would document all actions taken in the patient’s medical record.
My experience as a Staff Nurse has taught me how to quickly assess situations and respond appropriately. I am confident that my skills and knowledge will enable me to effectively handle any emergency situation that may arise.”
The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your ability to work as part of a team. In your answer, demonstrate that you value teamwork and collaboration. Show the interviewer that you would approach the nurse in private and discuss the situation with them. Explain how you would help the nurse understand why their actions were not in the best interest of patients.
Example: “If I noticed that a fellow staff nurse was not following best practices for patient care, my first priority would be to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient. I would approach the situation in a professional manner by speaking with the nurse privately about their actions and offering suggestions on how to improve their practice. I believe it is important to provide constructive feedback in order to help the nurse understand why certain practices are necessary and how they can better serve the patient.
In addition, I would document the incident and report it to the appropriate supervisor or manager. This allows them to take any further action needed to ensure the safety of the patient and maintain high standards of care. Finally, I would offer support to the nurse so that they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking guidance when needed.”
As a staff nurse, you may encounter patients who are experiencing severe illnesses or injuries. Employers ask this question to make sure that you have the emotional intelligence and stress management skills needed to work in their hospital. In your answer, share how you stay calm when working with these types of patients. Explain what techniques you use to manage your own stress so it doesn’t affect your job performance.
Example: “I have extensive experience working with patients who have severe illnesses or injuries, and I am well-equipped to handle the stress that comes along with it. In my current role as a Staff Nurse, I have had to manage multiple high-stress situations while providing compassionate care for my patients. I understand that these types of situations can be difficult, both emotionally and physically, but I remain calm and collected in order to provide the best possible care.
I also make sure to take regular breaks throughout my shift so that I can stay focused and energized. This helps me to stay on top of any changes in my patient’s condition and respond quickly if needed. Furthermore, I always prioritize communication with other members of the healthcare team, which allows us to work together to ensure the best outcome for our patients.”
The interviewer may ask this question to assess your experience working with patients of all ages. If you have worked with children in the past, describe a situation where they were afraid and how you helped them feel comfortable.
Example: “Yes, I do have experience working with children. During my time as a Staff Nurse at my previous job, I was responsible for providing care to pediatric patients. In such cases, I believe it is important to be patient and understanding of the child’s feelings. I would start by talking to the child in a calm and reassuring manner, explaining why they need the medical treatment and how it will help them. If necessary, I would also provide distraction techniques such as playing music or reading stories to help ease their anxiety. Finally, if needed, I can work with other members of the healthcare team to provide additional support and comfort to the child.”
The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your diagnostic skills. Use examples from previous experience in which you used critical thinking and problem-solving skills to determine if a symptom was normal or abnormal.
Example: “When performing a physical assessment, I use my knowledge of anatomy and physiology to determine if a symptom is normal or abnormal. First, I take into account the patient’s medical history, age, gender, lifestyle, and any other pertinent information that may be relevant. Then, I assess the patient for signs and symptoms such as pain, swelling, tenderness, temperature, color changes, etc. Finally, I compare these findings to what is considered normal for this particular patient based on their individual characteristics. If something does not match up with what is expected, then it can be classified as an abnormal symptom. By using this method, I am able to accurately identify which symptoms are normal and which ones require further investigation.”
Staff nurses are responsible for ensuring the safety of their patients. An interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to implement new procedures and ensure that they’re followed by other staff members. In your answer, explain how you would introduce a new procedure and why it’s important to follow it.
Example: “I understand the importance of infection control procedures in ensuring patient safety. As a Staff Nurse, I am committed to providing high-quality care and would be eager to help implement new protocols.
My approach to implementing new protocols would involve assessing current practices and identifying areas for improvement. After gathering feedback from other staff members and patients, I would work with leadership to create an action plan that outlines clear objectives and timelines for implementation. This plan should also include strategies for monitoring progress and evaluating success.
To ensure successful implementation, I believe it is important to provide ongoing education and training to all staff members. This will ensure everyone understands the importance of following the new protocols and how they can contribute to improved patient safety. Finally, I would make sure to communicate regularly with staff and patients about any changes or updates to the protocols.”
Mental health assessments are an important part of the nursing process. The interviewer may ask this question to see how you apply your critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities to complete a task that requires attention to detail. In your answer, describe the steps you take when completing a mental health assessment and explain why each step is important.
Example: “When completing a mental health assessment, I follow a structured process to ensure that all necessary information is collected and documented. First, I review the patient’s medical history and any relevant background information. Then, I conduct an interview with the patient to assess their current symptoms and mental state. During this time, I also ask questions about their lifestyle, family dynamics, and social support system. Finally, I use my clinical judgment to determine if further testing or referrals are needed. Throughout the assessment, I strive to create a safe and comfortable environment for the patient by being open and honest in our conversations. My goal is to provide them with the best care possible while respecting their autonomy and privacy.”
This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have done your research on the position and are qualified for it. When answering this question, make sure to highlight any skills or qualifications that match what the employer is looking for in a staff nurse.
Example: “I believe I am an ideal candidate for this staff nurse position because of my extensive experience in the healthcare field. I have been a staff nurse for over five years and during that time, I have gained a deep understanding of patient care and medical procedures. My knowledge and skills are further enhanced by my commitment to continuing education, which has enabled me to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in nursing practice.
In addition to my professional qualifications, I also bring strong interpersonal and communication skills to the role. I understand how important it is to build trust with patients and their families, and I strive to provide compassionate care while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. I am also highly organized and detail-oriented, allowing me to effectively manage multiple tasks and prioritize urgent matters.”
This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your interests and how they align with their hospital’s needs. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention one or two specialties that you are passionate about and why.
Example: “I am most interested in the specialty of critical care nursing. I believe that this is an incredibly important and rewarding field, as it involves providing direct patient care to those who are critically ill or injured. As a staff nurse, I have had the opportunity to work with patients in various settings, including medical-surgical, telemetry, and intensive care units. This has allowed me to gain experience in many different areas of nursing, but I find that working with critically ill patients is especially fulfilling.
The challenge of caring for these patients requires knowledge and skill, and I enjoy being able to use my expertise to help them recover. In addition, I appreciate the team approach that is often necessary when treating critically ill patients, and I thrive on collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care. Finally, I feel that staying up to date on the latest advances in critical care medicine is essential in order to provide the highest quality of care, and I am committed to continuing my education in this area.”
The interviewer may ask you a question like this one to assess your critical thinking skills and ability to prioritize tasks. In your answer, demonstrate that you understand the importance of completing discharge summaries for patients and how doing so can benefit them.
Example: “The most important aspect of completing a discharge summary for a patient is ensuring accuracy and completeness. This includes documenting all relevant information about the patient’s condition, treatment plan, medications, follow-up instructions, and any other pertinent details. It is also important to ensure that the summary is written in a clear and concise manner so that it can be easily understood by healthcare providers who may need to refer back to it. Finally, it is essential to make sure that the summary is signed off on by both the patient and their healthcare provider as this will serve as legal documentation of the care provided.”
This question can help interviewers understand how you care for your tools and equipment. It can also show them that you are willing to take on additional responsibilities, such as maintaining the hospital’s medical supplies. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific time when you maintained your tools or equipment.
Example: “As a Staff Nurse, I understand the importance of properly maintaining my equipment and tools. I make sure to regularly inspect all of my equipment and tools for any signs of wear or damage. I also keep up with manufacturer recommendations for maintenance schedules and adhere to them as closely as possible. On top of that, I always check my equipment before each shift to ensure it is in proper working order. This helps me provide the best care for my patients and ensures their safety.”
This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to work as part of a team. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe how you would approach the situation with respect for other nurses and their abilities.
Example: “I understand that there is a shortage of staff nurses on your team and I am confident that I can help manage the situation. As an experienced Staff Nurse, I have extensive experience in managing workloads during times of high demand.
My approach to this would be to ensure that all tasks are prioritized according to their urgency and importance. This will enable me to focus my efforts on those tasks which need immediate attention while ensuring that other tasks do not get neglected. Furthermore, I would also look into ways to streamline processes and procedures to reduce the amount of time spent on non-essential tasks. Finally, I would work closely with the rest of the team to ensure that everyone is working together efficiently and effectively to achieve our goals.”
The interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to handle challenging situations. In your answer, explain how you would use your communication skills and empathy to help the patient understand why they need to take their medication.
Example: “If a patient refused to take their medication, I would first assess the situation and try to understand why they are refusing. It could be due to fear of side effects or simply not understanding what the medication is for. Once I have an understanding of the issue, I would then explain the importance of taking the medication in a clear and concise manner. If necessary, I would also provide additional resources such as pamphlets or videos that further explain the benefits of taking the medication. Finally, if the patient still refuses to take the medication, I would involve other healthcare professionals such as the doctor or pharmacist to help resolve the issue.”
The interviewer may ask you to describe the steps for handling a medical emergency. This question can help them understand your experience and skills in managing these situations. Use examples from previous work experiences or include information about how you would handle an emergency situation if you haven’t experienced one before.
Example: “When assessing and responding to a medical emergency, the first step is to assess the situation. This involves quickly evaluating the patient’s condition and determining if they are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention. I would then take appropriate action by calling for help from other healthcare professionals such as doctors, paramedics, or nurses.
Once help has been called, I would begin providing basic life support measures such as administering CPR or using an automated external defibrillator (AED) if necessary. I am trained in both of these procedures and have experience performing them in emergency situations. In addition, I am also familiar with the use of oxygen masks and suction devices.
I understand the importance of staying calm and composed during a medical emergency and I am confident that I can respond effectively while maintaining a professional attitude. I am also aware of the importance of documenting all actions taken during the incident so that it can be reviewed later. Finally, I am prepared to provide emotional support to the patient and their family members if needed.”
The interviewer may ask you this question to learn more about your patient care philosophy. Your answer should include a few examples of how you prioritize the needs of patients and their families.
Example: “I believe that providing timely and effective care to my patients is of the utmost importance. To ensure this, I take a proactive approach to patient care. I stay up-to-date on the latest evidence-based practices and use them in my daily practice. I also make sure to communicate with other healthcare professionals regularly so that we can coordinate our efforts for the best possible outcomes.
In addition, I always strive to be organized and efficient when caring for my patients. I prioritize tasks based on their urgency and delegate appropriately when necessary. This helps me to provide timely and effective care while still maintaining a high level of quality. Finally, I am committed to listening to my patients’ concerns and addressing them promptly. By taking these steps, I am confident that I can provide my patients with the highest standard of care.”
Emotional support is an important part of nursing. The interviewer wants to know if you have the ability to provide emotional support to patients and their families in distress. Use examples from your experience where you provided emotional support to a patient or family member, and explain how it helped them feel better.
Example: “Absolutely. I understand the importance of providing emotional support to patients in distress and have had plenty of experience doing so throughout my career as a Staff Nurse. I am passionate about helping those who are struggling with their mental health, and I take great pride in being able to provide comfort and reassurance during difficult times.
I believe that it is essential for nurses to be able to recognize signs of distress and respond appropriately. As such, I make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices when it comes to providing emotional support. I also strive to create an open and supportive environment where patients feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgement or criticism.”
As a staff nurse, you may be responsible for managing multiple patients at once. Employers ask this question to make sure you have strategies in place to stay organized and focused on your work. In your answer, share two or three ways that you stay organized while working with many patients at once.
Example: “As a Staff Nurse, it is important to stay organized while working with multiple patients. To do this, I use several strategies. First, I create a plan of care for each patient that outlines their individual needs and goals. This allows me to prioritize my tasks and ensure that all of the necessary treatments are completed in an efficient manner. Secondly, I make sure to document everything thoroughly so that I can easily refer back to it if needed. Finally, I communicate regularly with other members of the healthcare team to keep everyone informed about the progress of each patient’s care. By using these strategies, I am able to provide quality care to multiple patients simultaneously.”
Electronic health records are a common practice in the healthcare industry. The interviewer may ask this question to determine your experience with EHRs and how you feel about them. If you have no prior experience, consider describing what an EHR is and why it’s important for hospitals.
Example: “I have extensive experience working with electronic health records. I am proficient in using EHRs to document patient care, manage medications and treatments, and track lab results. I also understand the importance of maintaining accurate and up-to-date information in an EHR system. In my current role as a Staff Nurse, I ensure that all documentation is entered into the EHR accurately and on time. I have also implemented several processes for streamlining data entry and ensuring accuracy. Furthermore, I am comfortable training other staff members on how to use the EHR system and troubleshooting any issues they may encounter.”
As a staff nurse, you may encounter family members who are upset about their loved one’s condition. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the interpersonal skills necessary to diffuse tense situations and comfort patients’ families. In your answer, share an example of how you helped a patient’s family member feel more comfortable during a difficult time.
Example: “Yes, I have experience dealing with difficult family members of patients. During my time as a Staff Nurse, I have had to manage challenging conversations and situations with families who are struggling to cope with their loved one’s illness or injury. I understand that this can be an emotional time for them, so I always take the time to listen to their concerns and provide support where possible.
I also make sure to stay up-to-date on any changes in policy or procedures that could affect the care of the patient, and I am able to explain these changes to family members in a way that is easy to understand. I believe communication is key when it comes to managing difficult family members, and I strive to ensure they feel heard and respected throughout the process.”
The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your knowledge of the hospital’s safety protocols and ensure that you follow them. Use examples from your experience in which you followed all safety procedures when administering medications, including double-checking orders before giving out medication and ensuring patients have no allergies or sensitivities to the drugs they’re receiving.
Example: “Safety is always my top priority when administering medications. I follow all safety protocols and guidelines set forth by the organization, as well as any additional protocols that may be specific to the unit or facility.
When preparing medications, I double-check the patient’s name, dosage, and route of administration before giving it. I also make sure that the medication is within its expiration date and that the drug has not been recalled. I am very aware of potential drug interactions and allergies, so I always check for those prior to administering a medication.
I also practice safe disposal of unused medications. I ensure that they are disposed of in accordance with local regulations and policies. Finally, I document all medications given in the patient’s chart accurately and completely.”