Nursing jobs can sometimes be hard to get as often there is a large number of competitors for a single role. Knowing what to expect when going for your interview can be the difference between being successful and not. This guide will help you understand what the recruiter is looking for and allow you to adapt your technique to it:

What to take?

  1. Two copies of your resume (one for you, one for the interviewer(s)) and your covering letter for this job
  2. References (letters and contact details - letters of recommendation etc).
  3. A notepad to write down key points of the interview such as question triggers or key figures, people etc
  4. Nursing qualifications such as your nursing license, CPR card, certifications and for new graduates transcripts and NCLEX exam pass confirmation.

Typical Nursing interview questions:

  • Are there any evidenced based practices that has affected your work?
  • Can you tell us of an incident of workplace conflict and how you addressed it?
  • Could you please elaborate on a conflict you encountered and how you handled it
  • Could you please elaborate on a time when you disagreed with a rule or policy, what did you do and how did it work out?
  • Could you please elaborate on a time when you used good communication to solve an issue?
  • Could you please elaborate on a time when you were in a leadership position and someone disagreed with you?
  • Could you please elaborate on a time when you were late to work and patient care was compromised?
  • Do you have a problem helping out with Junior duties if required?
  • Do you work well with others? Can you give us an example of workplace collaboration?
  • How do you handle making mistakes?
  • How do you usually handle stressful situations?
  • Name a time you went above and beyond for a patient?
  • Often in the workplace there are miscommunications. Name a time in which there was a miscommunication between you and another person, how was it handled?
  • Tell us what is your ideal working environment?
  • What does patient care mean to you?
  • What is your greatest asset in being a Nurse?
  • What salary do you expect to make?
  • What type of manager do you prefer?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  • Which professional journals are you currently subscribed to? Are you currently enrolled in any medical courses?

Nurse competencies: (Courtesy of )

  • Accepts responsibility for ensuring that his/her nursing practice and conduct meet the standards of the professional, ethical and relevant legislated requirements.
  • Demonstrates accountability for directing, monitoring and evaluating nursing care that is provided by nurse assistants, enrolled nurses and others.
  • Promotes an environment that enables client safety, independence, quality of life, and health.
  • Practices nursing in a manner that the client determines as being culturally safe.
  • Provides planned nursing care to achieve identified outcomes.
  • Undertakes a comprehensive and accurate nursing assessment of clients in a variety of settings.
  • Ensures documentation is accurate and maintains confidentiality of information.
  • Ensures the client has adequate explanation of the effects, consequences and alternatives of proposed treatment options.
  • Acts appropriately to protect oneself and others when faced with unexpected client responses, confrontation, personal threat or other crisis situations.
  • Provides health education appropriate to the needs of the client within a nursing framework.
  • Reflects upon, and evaluates with peers and experienced nurses, the effectiveness of nursing care.
  • Reflects upon, and evaluates with peers and experienced nurses, the effectiveness of nursing care.
  • Establishes, maintains and concludes therapeutic interpersonal relationships with client.
  • Practices nursing in a negotiated partnership with the client where and when possible.
  • Communicates effectively with clients and members of the health care team.
  • Collaborates and participates with colleagues and members of the health care team to facilitate and coordinate care.
  • Recognizes and values the roles and skills of all members of the health care team in the delivery of care.
  • Participates in quality improvement activities to monitor and improve standards of nursing.

General competencies: (Courtesy of )


This competency shows the workers ability to care about both coworkers and the task at hand.

  • Helps and supports co workers to ensure that they succeed with their work
  • Goes the extra mile to ensure that tasks are completed
  • Brings in own equipment and external apparatus to help with tasks
  • Supports and consoles co workers in difficult times
  • Does not stand for unethical behavior in the work place

Attention to Detail

Thoroughness in accomplishing a task through concern for all the areas involved, no matter how small. Monitors and checks work or information and plans and organizes time and resources efficiently. 

  1. Expresses concern that things be done right, thoroughly, or precisely.
  2. Completes all work according to procedures and standards.
  3. Reviews materials to ensure they are accurate, clear, concise.
  4. Performs follow-up to ensure quality of work product and/or actions are completed.
  5. Carefully monitors the details and quality of own and others' work.
  6. Provides information on a timely basis and in a usable form to others who need to act on it.
  7. Double-checks the accuracy of information and work product to provide accurate and consistent work.
  8. Follows process steps as outlined in standard operating procedures.


Displays high standards of ethical conduct and behaviors consistent with company policy;

  1. Maintains composure at all times.
  2. Refrains from behavior that fosters the appearance of conflict of interest.
  3. Guards the handling of sensitive or high risk information appropriately.
  4. Demonstrates behaviors that are consistent with standards for professional and ethical conduct.
  5. Adheres to the standards of ethical conduct and compliance.
  6. Follows up with a manager after identifying unethical conduct.
  7. Maintains confidentiality of sensitive information.
  8. Practices good hygiene and presents an appropriate professional appearance.
  9. Works to develop and maintain positive working relationships with co-workers by being punctual, keeping personal telephone calls to a minimum, and maintaining a pleasant work attitude.
  10. Understands how one is perceived by others.
  11. Takes actions calculated to have a positive effect on others.
  12. Familiarizes oneself with the pertinent rules and regulations that govern their area of responsibility.
  13. Applies rules and regulations in a consistent, non-biased manner.
  14. Demonstrates sensitivity to surroundings and acts accordingly in conversations.
  15. Works to make a friendly impression on others by using good eye contact and using names whenever possible


The employee is deemed to be responsible for their work in all aspects of the job.

  1. Shows commitment/dedication and accountability in one's work, and follows through on all projects, goals, aspects of one's work.
  2. Fulfills all commitments made to peers, co-workers, and supervisor.
  3. Arrives at work on time every day.
  4. Completes all assigned tasks on time and with minimal supervision.
  5. Works to achieve agreement on time frames or objectives that can be realistically met.


This competency related to the person making decisions authoritatively and wisely, after considering all forms of action.

  1. Recognizes when to escalate appropriate or specific situations to the next higher level of expertise.
  2. Makes decisions authoritatively and wisely, after adequately contemplating various available courses of action.
  3. Considers alternative available actions, resources, and constraints before selecting a method for accomplishing a task or project.
  4. Refrains from "jumping to conclusions" based on no, or minimal, evidence; takes time to collect facts before decision-making.
  5. Appropriately balances needs and desires with available resources and constraints.
  6. Considers the long-term as well as immediate short-term outcomes and actions.

For more information visit Competency Based Interview for interview help.