Don't leave a nursing job interview without asking these questions

Because of the abundance of nursing jobs, you can (and should) be pickier with your requirements.

Don't leave a nursing job interview without asking these questions

These questions will shed light on an employer.

If you’re a nurse, you have the good fortune of being very much in demand. And if you are lucky enough to score an interview, the right questions can make all the difference. Because of the abundance of nursing jobs, you can (and should) be pickier with your requirements. After all, a job interview isn’t just about an employer checking you out—you’re also interviewing them to make sure they are the best fit for you. These nursing interview questions can help you root out the best of the best.

“Remember, interviews are time for you to learn about your potential employers. Prepare for the interview by researching the facility,” advises Sarah K. Wells, MSN, RN, CEN, CNL, member of the Emergency Nurses Association. “You will benefit by learning more about the place where you may be working—plus you will look like an engaged applicant, which interviewers always love.”

Wells also recommends rehearsing before your interview. “Do not let the actual day of the interview be the first time you think about what you are going to say.”

Make the most of your time with your potential employer by asking these questions:

Who would be your ideal candidate for this role?

Roberto Angulo, CEO of AfterCollege and author of Getting Your First Job, explains that this question applies to all fields, not just nursing.

“While a nursing role such as a NICU nurse practitioner is similar in all health care organizations,” he says, “the answer to the question helps you shed light on what will be expected of you in the role at a particular hospital or outpatient setting. It’s a chance for you to learn what's important for a specific facility and what they are looking for, which helps you determine if this is the right place for you.”

How is the quality of patient care and safety reviewed?

If you’re interviewing at a health care facility or practice, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing suggests asking this question as a way to assess if the employer encourages collaborative relationships among staff members.

After all, how well the group works together says a great deal about the organization and will contribute to your job satisfaction.

Are there opportunities for training and professional development?

At a minimum, you want to understand the orientation program for newcomers. Nobody should be thrown into a new position without support and mentorship.

Equally important, you need to know if the employer will support you in achieving future certifications. “Many jobs want you to add additional certifications in your subspecialty and will compensate you accordingly,” explains Lillian Robarge BSN, RN. “Certifications can be costly to obtain. If your employer helps you with these, it shows a commitment to quality care as well as your personal growth.”

If you’re interested in continuing your education, ask what is included in the policy, if new hires are eligible, and what kind of education it applies to.

What are the on-call requirements?

In addition to your regular schedule, you may be required to be on call. Ask how many people are required to be on call, and how much they pay for on-call work.

Can you share patient and employee satisfaction scores?

Learning what patients and staff feel about the organization reveals a great deal about the culture of an organization. Plus, how the interviewer handles this question can reveal the employer’s commitment to transparency. 

What is a typical shift like?

The answer to this question will help you understand the workload, as well as options for flextime. If you’re interviewing at a hospital, for example, you may have the option of eight- or 12-hour shifts.

Listen carefully and you may also learn more about the supervisor’s approach to work-life balance and how to manage stress. For example, are staff members encouraged to stay late? Does the interviewer provide a clear outline of daily responsibilities or imply a more haphazard style?

After your interview, be sure to follow up with a hand-written—and personalized—thank-you note as well as any additional materials you promised during the conversation. Whether or not you still want to land the position post-interview, it’s important to keep building your network.

Go on more interviews

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