35 Nurse Manager Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published April 3, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published April 3, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Interviewing helps employers get a sense of your personality and qualifications to determine if you are a good fit for the position they are hiring for. Before you meet face-to-face with your interviewer, you may want to review interview questions they are likely to ask you and practice your answers to help you to feel prepared and confident during your interview. In this article, we list common questions employers may ask during nurse manager interviews and provide some sample answers to help you prepare your own.

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General questions

These questions help an interviewer understand your personality and interest in the nursing manager position:

  • How do you feel your strengths and weaknesses impact your career?

  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?

  • Would you be willing to take on nursing responsibilities as needed?

  • What qualities make a great nurse?

  • Why did you choose a career in nursing?

  • Are you comfortable working with doctors and other nurses?

  • Why do you want to work for this healthcare institution?

  • What makes you the best candidate for this nursing position?

  • How would you define a leader?

  • What questions do you have for us?

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Questions about nurse manager experience and background

Here are some questions about experience and background that help your interviewer evaluate your experience and qualifications for the job:

  • What is the greatest challenge you have faced on the job? How did you overcome it?

  • How many people have you supervised? How did you keep them organized?

  • Have you ever had to let a nurse go? What approach did you use?

  • Describe your management style.

  • How do you keep patient records organized?

  • What is the most important characteristic of a nurse manager?

  • How have you motivated your team in the past?

  • Talk about a time you worked in a fast-paced setting. How do you prioritize tasks while maintaining excellent patient care?

  • Do you have any professional affiliations?

  • In what ways do you contribute positively to a patient's experience?

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In-depth questions

These questions help your interviewer to understand your management style and how you deal with patients as a nurse manager:

  • If you had a nurse who refused to listen to you, what would you do?

  • What would you do if one of your nurses was underperforming?

  • What would you do if a patient complained about one of the nurses giving them care?

  • How much supervision would you give your staff?

  • How would you respond if a doctor disagreed with you?

  • What do you hope to gain from a nurse manager position?

  • Tell me about a conflict within your healthcare team. What was the conflict and how did you handle it?

  • If you had two staff members who never got along, what would you do?

  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems with a patient and you conducted preventative measures.

  • Have you ever had to increase employee retention at a past job? What were the steps you took?

Sample nurse interview questions with answers

Here are some sample nursing manager interview questions with answers, as well as advice on how to answer each question. Keep in mind that the interviewer is interested in the clarity of your answers and your overall approachability.

  • How do you handle emergency situations? Give an example.

  • What is the greatest success you've had with nursing?

  • Are nursing skills or management skills more important? Explain.

  • How do you deal with a patient who is upset?

  • What would you do if you saw someone administering improper medication or not washing their hands?

How do you handle emergency situations? Give an example.

In healthcare, it is common to be confronted with emergency situations and crises. The interviewer wants to make sure you can manage stress and that you have handled it before without panic. Try using a structured response to clearly explain what happened, what you did and what the result was.

Example: "I take a calm and proactive approach to emergency situations while following the proper protocol. For example, two patients once went into code blue at the same time on the floor I worked on. I immediately directed one group of nurses to take care of one patient while I took care of the other patient with the help of two other nurses. We urgently went through the necessary steps, and both patients were saved."

What is the greatest success you've had with nursing?

This is a personal question an interviewer may ask you to gain an understanding of your passion for nursing. Try to select a scenario where you used your skills to improve patient care or select a moment when you helped another nurse to reach their peak performance.

Example: "The greatest success I have had as a nurse is when I was able to motivate my nursing team when I was short-staffed on one of my first nights as a head nurse. We had a few patients who were declining, and the morale of my staff started to drop. I gave them precise directions and guided them through the bedside manner to keep the patients calm. We were able to provide excellent patient care that night, and we were able to get all patients to a stable status with our teamwork and positive attitudes."

Are nursing or management skills more important? Explain.

Both skills are important to your role as a nurse manager. The interviewer wants to get an idea of where your main focus is in your role. The best way to answer this question is to be honest about your opinion and provide reasons for why you selected nursing or management skills.

Example: "I believe that as a nursing manager, management skills with nursing knowledge is most important. If I can't manage my team properly, then it is likely that they won't be using their nursing skills effectively. I do my best to support my team, teach them and organize their work schedules to optimize patient care."

How do you deal with a patient who is upset?

Patient care is the central focus of most healthcare employers. They need to know that you deal with patients appropriately before they decide to hire you. The best way to answer this question is to use a real-life experience that you have had with a patient who was upset in the past.

Example: "If a patient is upset, I listen to them before I respond with compassion and patience. I know that patients often get upset or frustrated when they are in pain or irritable because of their medications. It is my job to make sure they are being taken care of as best as we can, and I want them to voice their concerns to me about their care so I can make it better as long as it is within my power to do so. For example, I once had a patient who was upset with his assigned nurse because she didn't adjust his bed every hour to help aid his pain. I was called into the hospital room and he voiced his opinions angrily and I remained calm and came up with a solution to help him out with his problem."

What would you do if you saw someone administering improper medication or not washing their hands?

If an interviewer asks you this question, what they really want to know is if you are willing to do something or say something. Nursing is mostly about patient safety, and you must be willing to confront your employees or colleagues about improper patient care. This displays your ability to give feedback and shows you know how to work in a team. Answer this question calmly and explain what steps you would take to make sure this person administered proper care.

Example: "If I saw someone administering improper medication, I would confront them and educate them on the reasons why it is important to pay close attention to the metrics on a patient's chart. I'd also discipline them according to the healthcare institution's rules. If I saw someone skip washing their hands, I'd pull them aside and have a discussion with them about the seriousness of protecting patients from germs and bacteria. I would monitor the nurses who committed these errors closely for the next month to make sure they complied with all rules and regulations."

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