10 Great Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview

Typically, when you think of a job interview for a nursing job, you imagine the employer asking the applicant questions. In reality, though, it’s just as important that the applicant know what questions to ask during a nursing interview. Not only will this demonstrate the applicant’s professional interest in the position, but it will also help him or her determine whether the nursing role is the right fit. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best nursing interview questions to ask when it comes time to apply for a new nursing job.

Questions to Ask Nurse Manager During Interview

As you consider the nursing interview questions to ask your hiring manager, keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other perfectly acceptable questions, and you can adapt the ones highlighted here to your particular situation. When developing this article, our editors attempted to provide a good starting point as well as some examples for new nursing graduates who may be drawing a blank when it comes to questions to ask during their upcoming interviews.

#1. What kinds of training and support do you provide for new nurses?

Usually, the job interview for new nurse hires focuses on what the applicant can contribute to the healthcare facility. This is especially critical for entry-level nurses with little or no experience in a clinical setting. It’s also important for the prospective nurse to get a good idea of what they can expect from their new place of employment.

Depending on the culture of the hospital or clinic you’re applying to, you can expect to get a lot of help during your first few weeks or months on the job, or the level of assistance could be minimal. Of course, many healthcare facilities fall somewhere in between, but it’s good to have a realistic idea of what to expect before deciding if the job is right for you.

Specifically, if your clinicals as students in a nurse preparation program left something to be desired, you may need a good deal of training and support when you start your first real job as a rookie nurse. On the other hand, if you completed an internship or were adequately mentored during your nurse education program, then you may be able to survive without too much assistance.

It’s important to keep in mind that some hospitals and clinics host mentorship programs for new nurses. These programs match seasoned nurses with inexperienced new hires to transition to the nursing profession a bit smoother. If this is something you’re interested in, be sure to ask specifically whether mentorship is available.

#2. What common problems do you experience with new nurses?

When preparing nursing interview questions to ask, you’ll want to be sure to choose wisely. That’s because you may only have a short amount of time at the end of the interview to pose your questions. By asking about common problems the employer has with new hires, you effectively kill two birds with one stone. Depending on how well the hiring manager answers your question, you’ll find out what they value in professional nurses, and you’ll also discover some of the pitfalls to avoid should you be hired.

#3. How will I be evaluated?

One of the best nursing interview questions to ask employers has to do with performance evaluations. The answer to this question could potentially give you great insight as to how to be successful in your new role as a nurse. At a minimum, you’ll find out how frequently evaluations are conducted and by whom. If your hiring manager provides enough detail, you may also get an idea of what the performance indicators include. This information can set you up for success on your evaluations by letting you know precisely what skills you need to hone as you begin your new job.

This is one of the most crucial new nurse interview questions because performance evaluations can make or break your career as a healthcare professional. While excellent scores on these evaluations can provide you with job security, promotions, and even raises, poor scores can put your professional status as a nurse in serious jeopardy.

Aside from gaining important information about how your performance as a new nurse will be assessed, asking questions about future evaluations shows your hiring manager that you’re goal-oriented and eager to meet and exceed expectations. This is sure to be a mark in your favor when considering applicants for the position.

#4. Is my input as a new nurse welcome?

There’s one of two ways a potential employer might view you as a prospective nurse—inexperienced and in need of instruction or ambitious and full of potential. If you want your future boss to see you as the latter, you’ll want to ask the right new nurse interview questions. An inquiry regarding how your feedback and input will be accepted in the work environment is a great place to start. This question shows that you’re a critical thinker and that you have insights to offer. It also shows that you are interested in the overall success of the healthcare facility you work for. This is precisely the kind of new hire most hospitals and clinics are looking for.

On the other hand, some healthcare environments aren’t as welcoming of opinions from nurses, especially rookie ones. If this is the case, you’ll want to know about it before you accept a position. This information could impact your final decision about your future place of employment, and at the very least, it can help you set expectations should you decide to accept a job offer.

#5. Is there potential for growth in this role?

This is another of the dual purpose nursing interview questions to ask employers. First, asking about advancement opportunities demonstrates your interest in growing professionally, which is almost always a good thing. It communicates to your hiring manager that you’ll be the kind of nurse they can count on to take on bigger responsibilities when necessary and go the extra mile to succeed in your nursing role. Essentially, this is one of the new nurse interview questions that makes a good impression.

Impressing your potential employer isn’t the only good reason to ask about growth opportunities, though. It’s also in your best professional interest to know whether or not your new role has the capacity to expand as you gain skills and experience in the field of healthcare. If your career goals include promotions and raises down the line, then you’ll want to know whether the job you’re currently applying for aligns with these objectives.

#6. What will my schedule be like?

This is one of those questions to ask in a nursing interview that shows your seriousness about the position. It lets the hiring manager know that you’re thinking hard about how the position will align with your schedule and beginning to envision yourself as a part of the team. Questions about scheduling are also just practical. Each nursing unit will have different policies regarding paid time off, length of shifts, and on-call responsibilities. Before accepting any nursing position, you’ll need to know whether or not you can realistically make it work with your other priorities and obligations. While the vast majority of new nursing jobs will require a full-time commitment, some could require much more.

#7. What’s a typical day like?

Among the most important nursing interview questions to ask is what your duties and responsibilities will be in your new role as a professional nurse. Posing this question will again show the interviewer that you’re serious about the job and mentally prepare yourself for what will be expected of you. Moreover, this sort of questioning demonstrates that you’re a responsible professional who wants to meet expectations.

More practically, this question will help you gain insight into your precise duties and responsibilities if you’re hired for the job. Moreover, it can help you build confidence as you approach your new career as a professional nurse. That’s because it’s very likely that the tasks the hiring manager mentions will be those that your nursing preparation program has well-prepared you for. On the off chance that you hear something completely unfamiliar, you’ll have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. At the very least, you won’t be caught entirely off guard on your first day if you know exactly what awaits you.

#8. What are your concerns with my application?

Certain new nurse interview questions can give you insight into your chances of scoring the job, and this is one of them. If your interviewer is transparent in their response to this question, it could give you a decent idea about the likelihood that you’ll be hired. This can be useful information to have in your back pocket as you plan future nursing interviews.

Like most good nursing interview questions to ask, though, this question has more than just one purpose. Aside from helping you gain insight into the hiring manager’s selection process, it can help you demonstrate an important characteristic for rookie nurses—the ability to accept criticism. Prepare your reaction to the hiring manager’s answer in advance, and be sure it expresses your willingness to listen and positively respond to criticism and feedback.

#9. What do you like about your job?

One of the more surprising nursing interview questions to ask employers, an inquiry about the interviewer’s own job satisfaction, can help you gain valuable insight into the healthcare organization you’re applying to, including its unique culture, challenges, and strengths.

This question also gives the impression that you’re looking at the pros and cons of accepting the job rather than desperately trying to please any nursing manager who will hire you on. The effect this impression will have may vary depending on the interviewer, but you’ll likely come off as confident and sought-after.

Moreover, asking a somewhat personal question may help you build rapport with the hiring manager. It could also help you stand out in cases where the manager has interviewed numerous applicants for the position. Just be careful to remain professional. Coming off as too friendly or overstepping professional boundaries may have the opposite effect than you intend.

#10. What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Perhaps the final inquiry on your list of nursing interview questions to ask should be a question about the next steps in the hiring process. This reiterates your genuine interest in working for the healthcare facility and shows that you’re a forward thinker. It also implies that you’re a planner and someone who is well-organized and task-oriented. These all happen to be qualities that nursing managers are looking for in new recruits.

Asking the “next” steps question also serves the practical purpose of letting you know what to expect once the interview is done. If you listen carefully and observe tone and body language here, you may even garner some clues about your chances of being hired on to the nursing unit in question. Remember that the hiring manager has probably already decided whether or not you’re a good candidate for the job well before the interview has concluded.

General Tips Regarding Questions to Ask in a Nursing Interview

While the above questions to ask in a nursing interview are certainly advisable, they’re not the only acceptable ones. In fact, one could argue that the questions themselves aren’t as important as how they’re asked. Here are some tips for coming off as poised and professional as you ask your new nurse interview questions:

  • Wait your turn.

While it’s generally expected that nurse applicants will have some questions for the interviewer, it’s important to remember the primary purpose of the interview. From the hiring manager’s perspective, the main goal is to find a suitable candidate for an open nursing position. With this in the forefront of their mind, the interviewer will likely want to dive in by asking a list of prepared questions. In this case, you’ll want to focus on answering these questions to the best of your ability. Don’t interrupt or turn a question around on the interviewer. This could be seen as unprofessional, or at a minimum, distract the hiring manager from asking the necessary questions to qualify you for the job.

  • Speak up.

At the same time that it’s necessary to wait your turn, it’s also important that you ask the new nurse interview questions you planned before the interview has ended. Many times, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions before dismissing you. If this doesn’t happen, though, you’ll need to bring it up yourself. Do so politely, and as a courtesy, ask the interviewer if their schedule allows for a few questions.

  • Avoid off-putting questions.

While there are many appropriate questions to ask in a nursing interview, some are just off-limits. No matter how curious you are, don’t ask any questions that could paint you in a negative light or make the interviewer question whether you’re a good fit. This includes asking about time off during the interview, inquiring about whether or not you got the job, or asking if there will be a drug test. Think carefully about the new nurse interview questions you plan to ask and consider whether they could make a poor impression before they fly out of your mouth on interview day!

  • Send a follow-up “thank-you” letter.

No matter how you feel the interview went, you’ll want to follow up afterward with a brief note thanking the hiring manager for their time. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but it also makes one final impression and demonstrates your professionalism. You can even use this opportunity to thank the interviewer specifically for answering your new nurse interview questions. Who knows? This final touch may be the one that snags you the job!

Nurses are very much in demand right now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 220,000 new nurse jobs will be available by 2029. This faster-than-average job growth means you may have a good deal of choice regarding where you work and who you work for. Take advantage of this current trend in the job market to practice some selectivity during your job hunt. The takeaway here is to craft questions to ask in a nursing interview that make you attractive to employers and give you the information you need to make the best decisions possible about your future nursing career.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Related Resources:

Bambi Majumdar
Author

Melissa Anderson
Expert

Julie McCaulley
Editor-in-Chief