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Charge Nurse Interview Questions

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  1. Why do you want to work as a charge nurse? See answer
  2. Can you please describe a time you had to manage a challenging patient including how you handled the situation? See answer
  3. How would you describe the relationship between a charge nurse and the nurses under his or her charge? See answer
  4. How would you handle a patient’s family coming to you dissatisfied with his or her care? See answer
  5. Charge nurses are responsible for supporting other nursing staff on their team. What would you do if a new nurse on staff was distraught and upset after losing a patient? See answer
  6. How will you balance the administrative duties and clinical care required of you as a charge nurse?
  7. What would you do if a member of your nursing staff didn’t show up for their expected shift?
  8. What is your process for updating existing medical records without making any errors?
  9. How would you make our current patient discharge process more efficient?
  10. Have you ever worked with a doctor that was hard to communicate with? How did you overcome this challenge?
  11. How would you handle a supply shortage if your department suddenly started running out of basic materials like gauze, gloves or thermometer caps?
  12. What would you do if you were overseeing a busy emergency department shift and a frantic family member approached you asking about the status of a patient?
  13. What would you do if two nurses kept clashing and having disagreements that interfered with their ability to care for patients?
  14. What methods do you use to train new staff on the specific procedures involved with your department?
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6 Charge Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Why do you want to work as a charge nurse?

A:

Getting an idea of what drives a person to work in nursing, let alone as a charge nurse, gives you a sense of how that candidate will perform on the job. Is the work personal, or is he or she simply viewing it as job security with decent pay and benefits? For example, a candidate may have faced a loved one’s illness.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Desire to help others
  • Personal connection to the profession
  • Disposition for leadership

Example:

“I’ve become the manager at several jobs, all involving helping or caring for others. Also, I come from a long line of charge nurses.”

Q:

How will you balance the administrative duties and clinical care required of you as charge nurse?

A:

The charge nurse is accountable for the administrative responsibilities of his or her purview. At the same time, however, he or she is also responsible for continuing to perform the same clinical care duties as every other nurse under his or her authority. The abilities to prioritize, manage one’s time, delegate and stay organized are essential to achieving this balance.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Prioritization, time-management and organizational skills
  • The ability to delegate specific tasks
  • Keeping the big picture in mind while concentrating on individual tasks

Example:

“Before I went into nursing, I was a teacher—also a balance of administrative and performance duties. My skills at this got me elected team leader.”

Q:

Can you please describe a time you had to manage a challenging patient including how you handled the situation?

A:

A charge nurse is responsible for more than overseeing day-to-day operations. He or she must also oversee how the spontaneous crises that crop up regularly are handled. Nurses deal with difficult patients all the time, and the charge nurse is ultimately accountable for how the nurses under him or her respond. If necessary, the charge nurse should seek assistance from the doctor or higher-ups.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Compassion and respect for others
  • Confidence and the ability to keep calm in a crisis
  • Willingness to ask for help when needed

Example:

“A patient kept throwing things across the room. Instead of restraining him, we discussed his needs with the doctor, and I suggested a workable compromise.”

Q:

How would you describe the relationship between a charge nurse and the nurses under his or her charge?

A:

A charge nurse is far more than a manager or supervisor. He or she is also a mentor to those nurses, bringing his or her wealth of knowledge and prior experience to bear to help each one of them excel in their nursing roles and careers. A charge nurse should be willing to teach, coach, counsel and guide the other nurses—not be an authoritarian.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Strong listening and communication skills
  • The desire to teach and guide others
  • Patience and empathy

Example:

“I place the most emphasis on mentoring. When I taught, I often worked with teaching assistants, all of whom went on to teaching careers of their own, using me as a reference.”

Q:

How would you handle a patient’s family coming to you dissatisfied with his or her care?

A:

While a charge nurse’s responsibility is to the patient primarily and the other nurses under his or her charge secondarily, a patient’s family must be respected, or they can cause a host of problems that could end up interfering with the patient’s best care. Ultimately, it is the charge nurse who should handle family concerns as he or she represents authority, and by addressing the issue him or herself, the other nurses are free to continue their duties caring for patients.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Accountability and responsibility for any issue
  • Diplomacy and creative problem-solving skills
  • Humility when assessing a situation

Example:

“To me, the family is part of the patient’s health care team. They must be apprised and consulted regularly. Most complaints can be sourced to a lack of communication.”

Q:

Charge nurses are responsible for supporting other nursing staff on their team. What would you do if a new nurse on staff was distraught and upset after losing a patient?

A:

Charge nurses are responsible for keeping operations running and resolving problems with both staff and patients. Charge nurses need to be able to balance a caring, team-oriented mindset with the need to handle urgent medical situations efficiently. This question shows the candidate's awareness of the toll that nursing can take while still targeting essential actions for maintaining workflows. Interviewers can assess how the candidate responds to issues as they develop and learn more about their nursing philosophy.

A successful answer should include:

  • Empathy
  • Focus on the patient
  • Problem-solving

One example of a successful answer is:

Example:

"As a nurse myself, I personally understand how hard it is when one of your patients dies in your care. It is one of the hardest parts of nursing but also a part of life. I would take the time to pull aside the new nurse and comfort them, reminding them that they can channel their emotions into providing care for our other patients. I'd refer them to the resources I use to cope with compassion fatigue, including a nursing support group I attend, before redirecting them to work on some administrative tasks while they calmed down."

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