smiling nurse answering interview questions

Nurse Interview Questions: 5 Unexpected Questions You Might Encounter

Are you preparing for a nursing job interview? Answering nurse interview questions can be nerve-wracking, even for the most seasoned nurses. 

Oftentimes, clinical-related nurse interview questions are not cause for concern. Rather, its unexpected non-clinical questions that are the most difficult to answer.

After all, most nurses can give the steps and rationales behind clinical procedures with ease. 

To help you prepare, below are 5 unexpected nursing interview questions and ways to properly answer them.

Apply Now

5 Unexpected Nurse Interview Questions And Answers

1. What is Your Perfect Job?

The interviewer is attempting to understand what motivates you. He or she wants to know what you enjoy doing as a nurse and if that matches up with the available job opportunities.

For example, if you say you enjoy working hands-on with patients in an environment that changes daily, but you are applying for a sit-down telephonic case management job, this is likely not the fit for you.

How to Answer: First, be honest. Don’t try to answer by telling them what you think the position needs. Describe in detail the functions of your current role and then add in other tasks you have done in past jobs or in school that you enjoyed.

2. How Would You Describe Yourself in One Word?

The interviewer wants to know if you know who you are. This nursing interview question tests your self-awareness.

How to Answer: For some people, the answer may be second nature. But before you blurt it out, think about the word and the context around that word. What may be a positive word to you could come across as crass or rude to the interviewer.

If you are having problems coming up with one word, brainstorm about what your closest friends or family members may say about you. Are you compassionate, funny, or a perfectionist? These words can provide great insight into who you are as a person and how you may fit in as a team member for this new role.

3. Give An Example of a Time You Lost Your Temper. What was the Outcome?

This nursing interview question is attempting to find out more about your emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ). According to Psychology Central, EQ is more important that your intelligence quotient (IQ) when it comes to success in life and career. EQ is your ability to understand other people, what motivates them, and how to work cooperatively.

This question helps the interviewer understand who you are in a team setting and also how well you interact with patients.

How to Answer: Take time when forming your answer. Provide a synopsis of the mistake, how you found out about the mistake, and how the mistake was resolved. Along with the outcome, add what you learned from this event.

We all make mistakes. The important part is that you are aware of your decisions and how they affect you and your relationships with others.

[Related: 10 Essential Nurse Communication Skills for Success]

4. How Long Are You Willing to Fail at this Job Before You Succeed?

This question is designed to throw you off a bit. The interviewer wants to see if they can fluster you with questions that feel uncomfortable.

How to Answer: First, don’t dodge this question by changing the subject or trying to turn it into something it is not. What they want to hear is that you will stick with the new job as long as it takes. Let them know you are dedicated to growing in this job and you are not planning to leave if the going gets tough.

5. If You Were a Superhero, Who Would You Be?

This is one of the most fun nurse interview questions around. The interviewer is looking for your personality, creativity, and to see if you will fit into the team.

How to Answer: Express who you really are. Show your personality. Maybe even show your wit and sense of humor—in a professional way, of course.

If you don’t know any superheroes, make one up! If you are great at encouraging others, be Captain Compliment. This shows your ability to think on your feet and express a clear sense of self.

Don’t let these unexpected nursing interview questions throw you off. Prepare and expect the unexpected when it comes to nurse interview questions.

Search All Nursing Jobs

Additional Nursing Resources:

Latest Blogs

Take the first step to starting your new career.

Authorized to work in the US? *
Job Type Interest *
Have you been on an Interim engagement with AMN before? *
Are you currently employed or on an active Interim engagement? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

Complete Your Application!
AMN Healthcare NurseFinders logo
Continue to NurseFinders to complete your application and profile.