17 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.

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.

Common Staff Nurse Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with a team of other nurses to provide care to patients?

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: “I am very comfortable working with a team of nurses to provide care to patients. In my previous role, I was the lead nurse on a team of three other nurses. We all had different strengths, which allowed us to cover each other when we needed help. For instance, one of my colleagues was great at communicating with patients while another was good at delegating tasks to nursing assistants. By working together, we were able to provide excellent patient care.”

What are some of the most important qualities that a staff nurse should have?

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: “I believe some of the most important qualities for a staff nurse include compassion, patience and organization. As a nurse, I am often caring for patients who are experiencing challenging situations or going through difficult times. Having empathy allows me to provide better care and support to my patients. Patience is also important because there are many different factors that can affect a patient’s health. Being able to remain calm when working with others is vital to ensuring everyone remains safe. Finally, being organized helps me ensure that I am completing all of my tasks efficiently.”

How would you handle a situation where you have a patient who is hostile toward you and your team?

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: “I would first try to understand why they are acting this way. If it’s because of something we did, I would apologize and explain what steps we’re taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If it’s due to an unrelated issue, such as pain or discomfort, I would try to empathize with them and offer solutions for how we could make their experience more comfortable.”

What is your process for documenting your care and the patient’s response to treatment?

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: “I use a patient care software program to document my assessments, treatments and observations throughout the day. I find it helpful to enter information into the computer as soon as I complete a task or make a note so that I don’t forget anything later in the day. This helps me stay organized and ensures that I am able to provide accurate information when needed.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to administer a treatment that you were not familiar with. How did you handle it?

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: “When I first started working as a staff nurse, I was unfamiliar with a certain type of medication that my patient needed. Rather than administering it incorrectly, I asked one of my colleagues about the drug and learned more about its side effects and proper dosage. After learning more about the medication, I administered it to my patient without any issues.”

If a patient’s condition suddenly deteriorated, what would be your immediate response?

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, I would first check the monitors for any alarms or alerts that may have been triggered. If there were no alarms, I would immediately call my charge nurse to inform them of the change in the patient’s condition. Next, I would ask other nurses if they had noticed anything unusual about the patient. Then, I would perform a physical assessment on the patient to determine what was causing their sudden deterioration. After determining the cause, I would implement treatment as needed.”

What would you do if you noticed that a fellow staff nurse was not following best practices for patient care?

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, I would first speak with them privately about my concerns. If they did not change their behavior after our conversation, I would continue to monitor their performance closely. If it became clear that they were putting patients at risk, I would report my findings to my supervisor so that we could take appropriate action.”

How well do you handle stress while working with patients who have severe illnesses or injuries?

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 am passionate about my career as a registered nurse because I enjoy helping others. However, there are definitely times when I see patients who are suffering from serious illnesses or injuries. While this can be emotionally challenging at times, I try to keep my emotions in check while treating them. I find that if I focus on providing quality care to each patient, I can help them feel more comfortable during their hospital stay.

In addition to focusing on the task at hand, I also use several stress-management techniques to help me get through tough situations. For example, I take deep breaths whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. I also practice mindfulness exercises like meditation and yoga to help me relax and refocus.”

Do you have any experience working with children? If so, how would you handle a situation where the child was afraid?

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: “I once had a patient who was a child. She was very nervous about her upcoming surgery and asked me many questions. I explained everything as clearly as possible so she could understand it. I also brought in some toys for her to play with while we waited for her procedure to begin.”

When performing a physical assessment, how do you determine if a symptom is normal or abnormal?

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 physical assessments, I always try to consider the patient’s age, gender and overall health status when determining whether a symptom is normal or abnormal. For example, a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in an elderly patient with heart disease would be considered more serious than a fever of 100 degrees in a young adult without any underlying conditions. In my last role as a staff nurse, I had a patient who complained of chest pain. After considering his age, gender and medical history, I determined that his symptoms were not related to his existing condition.”

We want to improve our infection control procedures. How would you implement new protocols to ensure patient safety?

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 recently worked at a hospital where we had an outbreak of a highly contagious virus. We implemented strict infection control protocols to prevent further spread of the disease. I would start by holding a meeting with all staff members to discuss the importance of following these procedures. Then, I would create a checklist of each step in the process so everyone can refer back to it when performing patient care.”

Describe your process for completing a mental health assessment.

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: “I start by asking the patient what they’re experiencing. I find it’s best to let them speak first so I can get as much information from them as possible. After they tell me their symptoms, I ask them if there’s anything else they want to add or any questions they have for me. This helps me make sure I’ve covered all of my bases during the assessment.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for this staff nurse position?

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 am passionate about helping others, especially when they’re at their lowest point. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a medical team where I can use my communication skills to help patients feel more comfortable and confident in their treatment plan. I also love working with technology, so I would love to work as a member of a hospital’s IT department.”

Which nursing specialty interests you the most and why?

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 working as a staff nurse because I love helping patients recover from surgery. It’s so rewarding to see someone who was once in pain get back on their feet again. In my last role, I worked with a patient who had just undergone knee replacement surgery. She was nervous about her recovery but excited to start walking again. After three weeks of physical therapy, she was able to walk without any assistance. Seeing her progress made me realize how much I enjoy working with patients during their recovery.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of completing a discharge summary for a patient?

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: “I think it’s important to include all relevant information about a patient in their discharge summary because it helps ensure they have access to all of their medical records after leaving the hospital. I also believe it’s essential to provide clear instructions on what a patient should do when they get home or return to work so they know exactly what steps to take next. This is especially important if there are any special precautions they need to take.”

How often do you perform maintenance on your equipment and tools?

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: “I perform maintenance on my tools and equipment at least once per month. I do this because I want to make sure they’re in good condition before using them with patients. In my last position, I noticed one of our IV pumps was leaking fluid. I immediately notified my supervisor so we could get it fixed before any harm came to patients.”

There is a shortage of staff nurses on your team. How would you handle it?

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 have worked in hospitals where there was a shortage of staff nurses on my floor. In these situations, I try to help out wherever I can by covering shifts or assisting other nurses when they are short staffed. This helps ensure that all patients receive quality care from qualified nurses. If I am not able to cover another nurse’s shift, I make sure to communicate any concerns about staffing levels to my manager so we can address them.”


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