NHS nurse job interview questions and answers

a man keeping notes while interviewingEven the most experienced nurses suffer from interview nerves. The more you research the role and prepare, the more confident you will feel and the better you are likely to perform. Don’t just focus on what you hope will come up, think about how you will answer questions that you hope won’t be asked.

We’ve teamed up with Cathy Taylor, careers advisor for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), to help you answer five difficult interview questions

1. What’s your greatest weakness?

If asked to name a weakness, think in terms of having a ‘developmental need’ that you are addressing. ‘For example, if delegation is an issue, describe how you have already made improvements and how you feel the period of mentorship offered by the new role will further develop your confidence, ’ says Cathy.

‘If you lack experience with a particular procedure, give details of the short course you plan to take to improve your technique. This way, you show self-awareness and turn a negative into a positive.’

For example: “In the past I had a tendency to take on too much but since attending a short course on time management, I now spend ten minutes at the start of each shift planning and prioritising tasks. I’ve also learnt how to delegate and feel much more confident supervising health care assistants.”

2. Name a national initiative in nursing/health care that you feel passionate about.

Employers don’t expect you to be aware of every healthcare initiative out there, but it’s a good idea to research one or two recent developments in healthcare policy. Information is available online, including at, and you should be aware of major initiatives, such as the NMC’s revalidation project.

Cathy says: ‘NHS employers are now working on Value Based Recruitment (VBR) following the Francis inquiry. Familiarise yourself with how your values and behaviours fit with the NHS organisational values.

‘You should feel comfortable talking about the Chief Nursing Officer’s 6Cs initiative (care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence) and be prepared to give examples of how you put these into practice.’

3. What do you understand by the term ‘diversity at work’?

Sometimes, it’s the simple-sounding questions that trip up candidates. If you’re asked about your understanding of diversity at work, the interviewer is looking for more than just “treating everybody in the same way.”

‘Don’t think just in terms of answering questions. Instead, prepare a number of “stories, ” which you can use to talk about different issues. In this case, most employers will expect you to discuss equality of access to services (it helps to have a general awareness of relevant legislation) and the importance of treating colleagues with support and respect, ’ says Cathy.

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