Interview Preparation (Part 3 of 6)

Interviews are universally pretty intimidating. The best thing you can do to get past nerves is to practice. There are a few key steps that will make your practicing effective so be sure to follow each step to feel ready on the interview day. During this phase of preparation, there won’t be any practice interview, only thinking about yourself and your experiences.

  • The first thing to think about is how people tend to describe you. Are you charismatic, compassionate, funny, kind, ambitious, hard-working, or curious? Pick three words that others use to describe you, that you would also use to describe yourself. These words are going to be your guide in how you answer questions in the interview. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, ask a few friends and/or family members for help.
  • The next step is to go through the list of common interview questions (see below), and think of examples from your life that answer each question. Many interview questions will be some variation of one on this list, and having stories prepared will allow you to give concrete examples from your life, instead of telling an interviewer what you think/how you would respond to a scenario. One key point is that you want your stories to match the adjectives you chose to be your theme for the interview. For instance, if your adjectives are angry, mean, and grouchy, don’t choose a story in which you were laughing while playing with 15 puppies. Make sure there is congruence between how you are in real life (your adjectives) and what you choose to portray (your stories).
  • Once you have an idea of a story for each question below (it is okay to use the same story multiple times, but try to push yourself to come up with new ones as much as possible!), consider what you learned from that experience. What were your areas of growth, and how did that point you in the direction of being a nurse practitioner? For each question, your overall goal is going to be three things:
  1. Your story
  2. How did you grow/what did you learn?
  3. How did this make you want to become an NP/solidify your goals of becoming an NP?


  1. Why did you choose your undergraduate major?
  2. How have you tried to achieve breadth in your undergraduate curriculum?
  3. How have the jobs, volunteer opportunities, or extracurricular experiences that you have had better prepared you for the responsibilities of being a nurse/nurse practitioner?
  4. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What exposure to other cultures have you had? How does this influence the population with whom you hope to work?
  6. Thinking of examples from your recent past, how would you assess your empathy and compassion?
  7. What skills have you learned to help manage your time and relieve stress?
  8. What do you do for fun?
  9. Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, and 10 years?
  10. Do you plan to go on to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing? This includes both a DNP and PhD. If so, which degree and why?
  11. Nursing is a collaborative field, you will regularly be working with people from across medical disciplines. Can you describe an example of group work, being sure to speak to your role within that group? Was it successful or unsuccessful?
  12. What kind of experiences have you had working with sick people? Have these experiences taught you anything that you didn’t know before?
  13. What has been influential in your decision to pursue a career in nursing?
  14. Does your academic record reflect any major challenges? If so, what are they and why did they occur?
  15. What excites you about nursing? 
  16. What do you know about the current trends in our nation’s healthcare system? As a future healthcare provider, what do you see as your role in this change?
  17. What do you believe to be some of the most pressing health issues today? Why?
  18. What do you feel are the negative or restrictive aspects of medicine from a professional standpoint? How will you work around these?
  19. What do you feel are the social responsibilities of a nurse?
  20. How do you think national health insurance affects medical professionals, patients, and society?
  21. Can you think of any examples in our society when healthcare is a right? When is it a privilege? When is it not clear?
  22. Describe a situation in which you were dependable or demonstrated initiative. One in which you were not as dependable as you would have liked.
  23. Have you personally encountered any moral dilemmas to date? Of what nature? How did you respond?
  24. What different feelings and issues might you experience with a terminally ill patient, as opposed to other patients?
  25. Describe how you can effectively deal with someone in crisis.
  26. How would you feel about treating a patient who has tested positive for HIV?
  27. Tell me about a time when you failed. How do you handle failure?
  28. Assume there are limited resources available and you must make decisions in a major emergency with a wide assortment of patients from all ages, backgrounds, and degree of injury. Assume also that there is no “right answer” to this question, only considered and unconsidered responses. Who would you direct to receive the treatment first and why.
  29. How do you feel your background uniquely prepares you to be/will influence your role as a nurse?
  30. What do you think is the most pressing issue in medicine today?
  31. How might you best meet the needs of a multiethnic, multicultural patient population?
  32. What special qualities do you feel you possess that set you apart from other nursing school candidates? What makes you unique or different as a nursing school candidate?
  33. What kind of nursing schools are you applying to, and why?
  34. What newspapers, journals, etc., do you read on a regular basis?
  35. Pick any specific nursing school to which you are applying, and tell the interviewer about it. What makes this school particularly desirable to you?
  36. What qualities of this program made you interested in applying? (answer should be about mission, values, particular prof, etc.) 
  37. What general and specific skills would you hope an ideal nursing school experience would give you? How might your ideal school achieve that result?
  38. Discuss your decision to pursue nursing. When did you decide to become a nurse/NP, and why?
  39. If applying to a specialty, what made you choose that specialty?
  40. Why did you decide to choose nursing and not some other field where you can help others, such as medicine, physical therapy, pharmacology, psychology, education, or social work?
  41. Is there anything else we have not covered that you feel the interviewer should know about you or your interest in becoming a nurse/nurse practitioner?