Interview questions for nursing supervisor positions

A skillfully handled interview helps to form a good picture of an applicant.A skillfully handled interview helps to form a good picture of an applicant.


An interview provides an opportunity to determine if a supervisory candidate is a good fit for your organization. Thoughtful, well-structured questions can elicit a considerable amount of information about the candidate’s knowledge, training, experience and interpersonal skills. Open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no response are the best choice for an interview. Your objective must be to induce the candidate to speak freely and at length so you can obtain as much information as possible.

Basic Supervisory Skills

A supervisor or manager must have a basic understanding of management principles and administrative procedures. Depending on the level of the position, the candidate also may need to have knowledge of strategic planning, accounting, financial reporting, information processing and software applications. Specialized skills also may need to be evaluated. A candidate for a nursing supervisory position must have good clinical skills, while a supervisor in a factory must have experience with the type of product being manufactured. Your interview questions must determine whether the candidates have these critical skills.

Develop a List of Questions

Review the job description prior to the interview, and develop a list of questions that are appropriate to the position. If you have multiple candidates for the position, ask the same basic questions of each person to ensure you're comparing them fairly. Include topics such as delegation, decision-making, staff development and communication. For example, you could ask, “What factors do you consider when deciding to delegate a job to a subordinate?” Another question could be, “How do you go about making a tough decision?” Conclude by asking questions specific to each candidate's qualifications.

Ask for Descriptions and Examples

To determine whether the candidate is able to motivate employees, ask her to describe a situation in which she convinced a reluctant worker to accept an assignment. Ask the candidate to give you an example of a plan or method she uses to prioritize her work assignments. Conflict management is a key skill for supervisors. Ask the candidate to describe a conflict she experienced in the workplace and how she solved it. When asking interview questions, use language that is likely to encourage candidates to expand upon their answers, such as “tell me about…” or “give me an example of …”

Other Interview Topics

It’s tempting to focus on success in an interview, but you also can learn from mistakes. Ask the candidate to describe a situation in which he made a mistake, how he handled the error, and what he learned from the situation. Other interview questions must be designed to obtain information about such qualities as critical thinking skills, the ability to motivate employees, work habits and interpersonal relationships. Ask questions in all of these areas to assure you have a well-rounded picture of your applicant.

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