Hardest Nursing University Interview Questions and Answers

Advice & Insight From Nursing Interview Specialists

Interviews for Nursing can cover challenging topics. Here, we present 10 of the most difficult questions and answers suitable for candidates to Nursing schools.

Knowledge of Nursing and Healthcare

In the midst of ongoing healthcare reforms, how do you envision the future role of nurses in the healthcare system?

With the healthcare landscape undergoing significant changes, the role of nurses is set to be more integral and expanded than ever before. Primarily, I envisage nurses taking on a greater role in primary care. Given the increasing demand for healthcare services and the current strain on general practitioners, nurses can provide essential primary care services, including preventive care, health promotion, and disease management.

Additionally, as the healthcare system moves towards a patient-centered approach, nurses are perfectly placed to coordinate care, considering they often spend the most time with patients. They can act as a bridge between different healthcare professionals, ensuring a more holistic approach to care.

Lastly, with an emphasis on evidence-based practice, nurses are increasingly involved in research, ensuring that nursing interventions are grounded in the best available evidence, thereby enhancing patient outcomes.

What do you understand about the terms ‘confidentiality’ and ‘consent’?

Confidentiality and consent are values that must be upheld by healthcare staff. Confidentiality is the principle that medical practitioners cannot disclose any information given by the patient to a third party, unless they or someone else is at risk of harm. This is imperative when establishing a good relationship with the patient, as it ensures a sense of trust is created between the practitioner and the patient, encouraging them to open up about their condition and enabling the most effective treatment option. Consent is the means by which a patient provides permission to receive medical treatment or examination, whether this be verbal or written. When carrying out any procedure, it is imperative that the patient provides informed consent to accept it, otherwise it cannot take place.

What does compassionate care mean to you?

To me, compassionate care is treating patients with respect and dignity, and having the empathy to understand what the patient is going through. From talking to patients whilst undergoing work experience, I found that many felt that they were being treated less like a person, and instead more like a case to be solved. Whilst the diagnostic process does involve a degree of problem solving, it is important to emphasise that there is more to the patient than their illness. Patients can feel powerless and vulnerable while in hospital, with it being a foreign and often daunting environment, thus it is vital that they are treated with consideration. I would say that to provide compassionate care, I would want to treat patients as I would want my family members, or indeed myself, to be treated, were they at hospital.

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Personal Attributes

What personal qualities do you possess that make you a good fit for the nursing profession?

One of the key personal attributes I possess that aligns with nursing is compassion. The essence of nursing is the caring relationship it fosters with patients. It’s the genuine concern for the health and wellbeing of another individual, which I believe is fundamental to effective nursing care.

Another essential quality I hold is resilience. The nursing profession can be physically and emotionally demanding with long hours, dealing with suffering, and making difficult decisions. But, I have learned from my personal experiences to handle stress, maintain composure, and bounce back from challenging situations.

Lastly, I have excellent communication skills. Effective communication in nursing is paramount. It’s about more than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the emotions and intentions behind the information which is crucial in providing patient-centred care.

What is your greatest weakness?

I believe my greatest weakness is that I often take on too many tasks and place a pressure on myself to complete them, which can result in my having many things to do in a short period of time. For example, when I was the manager of my local charity shop, I would frequently take it upon myself to work behind the till, and reorganise the shop floor, rather than delegate responsibilities. However, I have found methods of improving this. Before taking on a task, I evaluate whether I will have time to complete it to the best of my ability. Furthermore, if I do find I have many tasks, I will make a list and triage them in order of importance. I can then complete the more pressing ones, giving myself time and peace of mind.

Can you describe a time when you had to handle a high-pressure situation, and how do you feel it has prepared you for the demands of a nursing career?

When I was volunteering at my local hospital, there was a situation where we were severely short-staffed, and the emergency department was overwhelmed with patients due to a nearby accident. As a volunteer, my role was typically limited to basic patient care and support tasks, but on that day, I had to step up to assist the healthcare professionals in whatever way I could.

Despite the high pressure and the emotional intensity, I helped calm the patients, gathered necessary medical histories, and even assisted in dressing wounds under supervision. It was a challenging situation, but I was able to keep my composure and prioritize tasks effectively. This experience gave me a firsthand understanding of the pressures that nursing professionals face and the importance of maintaining a calm and compassionate demeanor even in challenging circumstances.

The experience has undoubtedly prepared me for the demands of a nursing career. It’s made me understand that nursing is not just about medical knowledge; it’s about being able to handle pressure, prioritizing tasks effectively, and, most importantly, remaining empathetic and supportive to patients even in the most challenging situations. I believe that these are all attributes that are integral to being a successful nurse, and I am committed to continuously improving and developing these skills throughout my nursing career.

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Discuss a time when you had to make an ethical decision. How did you handle it?

During my work experience at a care home, I was asked by a resident not to inform her family about her deteriorating health condition. She feared causing them distress. However, her family members were her designated caregivers and had a right to know about her condition.

Faced with this ethical dilemma, I had to balance between respecting the patient’s autonomy and the need for her family to be informed. I decided to have an open conversation with the resident, explaining my responsibility and the potential consequences of her family not knowing her true condition. I assured her that her family’s primary concern would be her wellbeing.

Eventually, she agreed to let me inform her family. This experience taught me the importance of communication in resolving ethical issues, and it highlighted the delicate balance between respect for patient autonomy and ensuring the patient’s best interest.

Discuss the ethics of treatment resources being used on patients who knowingly ignore public health advice on smoking and exercise.

Healthcare professionals striking is rare in the UK, although common in certain third world countries. Balanced against the right to strike on a first glance are non-maleficence (striking can clearly damage patient’s health) and beneficence (striking does not treat patients or make them better). This position is easy to adopt, and frequently the one taken by media outlets and indeed many members of the medical profession.

However, the issue is far more nuanced. Medicine cannot function with financial support and infrastructure from society – the responsibility for patients’ health does not rest solely with healthcare professionals. Depriving healthcare professionals of proper wages, working conditions and equipment puts patients at risk. Therefore, society must take proactive measures to prevent this situation. Arguably, depriving the right to strike is morally and ethically indefensible, as it entails employees having no true power or say over the conditions of their employment.

Overall, the key is considering whether or not patients are being harmed. Are healthcare professionals walking out simply to further their own interests, or are they walking out from a genuine belief that their actions will help patients in the future, by improving their ability to work?

​‘The United Kingdom should allow a legal market for the sale of non-essential organs.’ Outline your views on the above statement.​

There are two important sides to consider.

On one hand, legalising the sale of non-essential organs will likely increase the supply or organs, thus reducing the waiting list for organs and improve the quality of life for many people currently on the waiting list. An example of where this has worked well is in Iran where the waiting list for non-essential organs is comparatively short.

Additionally, with organs available for transplant, ‘organ matching’ can be more specific with reduced likelihood of rejection as well as improved skill set and efficiency of transplant doctors (given that they will be performing more organ transplants). From a financial perspective, there are likely to also be economies of scale benefits. A legal market would also help to reduce the ‘black market’ for organs where transplants are often performed without suitable consent, and in infection-prone conditions.

On the other hand, the term ‘non-essential’ is relatively subjective and time specific. Whilst a donor may be able to spare one kidney or a cornea at present, this may become problematic at a later stage should there remaining kidney or cornea become damaged. Additionally, it could be argued that placing a financial incentive to ‘donate’ organs will act as a regressive policy and put pressure on less affluent individuals to sell their organs in order to feed their family, and the only people who will benefit from such a policy are the rich who will be able to bypass the organ waiting list and purchase their required organ.

Are there any situations where a healthcare professional is justified in lying to a patient?

No, you should never lie to a patient. Your role is to provide them with honest, clear information such that they understand their health, and the decisions to take around it. There may be positions where you choose to withhold information – perhaps to deliver it in a better setting, defer to a senior clinician to break bad news, etc. Additionally, a patient may prefer not to be told about their diagnosis or only to receive limited information, however this is at their discretion rather than the discretion of the clinician.

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