Interview Questions for New Graduate Nurses

The nationwide nursing shortage continues, leaving many open positions for nurses around the country. Filling a nursing position goes beyond finding someone to put into a role. It’s about finding the right nurse for the right role. The right fit helps the nurse succeed in their role and hopefully remain in the position longer.

It’s important to be intentional when choosing questions to ask during the interview process to know whether a nurse candidate is right for an open position.

What experience do you have?

A candidate for a nursing role should be able to describe their experience, including any specialized areas of expertise. As a new nurse, there might not be much experience other than their clinical rotations in school. Though it’s important that a job candidate has relevant experience for the position they applied for, they should be able to speak to their successes outside of the nursing field.

Direct nursing experience is important, to be sure, but many other jobs have skills that carry over into nursing.

Do you prefer working with a team?

Nursing is a collaborative profession, and teamwork is essential. Nurses often work not only with each other for patient care, but with physicians and other providers, pharmacists, families, and the patients themselves. Look for candidates who understand the importance of collaboration and who can work well as part of a team.

How do you ensure patient safety?

Patient safety must be a priority for nurses, and nursing candidates must understand this. Ask the candidate to describe a time when they had to take steps to ensure a patient’s safety.

How do you prioritize your tasks?

Nurses must know how to manage their time and prioritize care. Look for candidates who have strong time-management skills and can prioritize tasks well.

Although it’s important for a nursing candidate to navigate many priorities at once, they must do this without sacrificing patient safety. Safety should never be compromised when caring for patients, no matter how busy a nurse gets.

How do you handle stress?

Nursing is a stressful profession. Many tasks need to be balanced, and learning how a candidate handles that stress is important. This question doesn’t have to reference only how they handle stress while at work. A candidate who knows how to care for themselves outside of work may be less likely to experience burnout, which puts them at risk for leaving the role.

How do you handle a difficult patient or family member?

Questions about direct patient care are always important to ask. Because candidates are often new graduates, they may not have much experience in handling conflict. If not, they can be asked how they have handled a difficult coworker or fellow student. Getting a sense of how they deal with conflict is important.

Often, questions can focus on someone’s history in handling a difficult coworker or manager. Getting information on care-specific information can be helpful.

What are your long-term goals?

Hiring candidates who are committed to the nursing profession and have a clear vision for their future can be an asset to your organization. Look for candidates who have goals for professional development and are committed to achieving them.

New graduate nurses may not have their whole career planned and may want to be flexible and adjust as they advance through their careers.

What sets you apart?

This question gives candidates an opportunity to highlight their unique qualities and strengths. Look for candidates who can articulate what they bring to the table and how they can contribute to your organization.

Is there anything else I should know?

This gives the candidate the opportunity to bring up topics that haven’t been discussed. They may have some additional experiences or skills that they wish to highlight. This may also spark conversation about things they are looking for in an employer or work environment. Learning these things can help you determine if they would be the right fit for the position.

Asking the right questions during a nursing interview is a critical part of the hiring process. It’s important to not only look for candidates who have the necessary skills and personality traits to succeed in the role, but who are excited about nursing as well.

Using these questions as a guide helps ensure that you hire nurses who are assets to your organization and committed to providing the best possible care to their patients.

To learn more about what’s important to nurses, you can review the findings within the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report.

Download the report here.