International Nurses Guide to Preparing for your NHS Nursing interview… 5 Questions with Example Answers
Are you an International Nurse preparing for an NHS Nursing interview? The prospect of a new Nursing role is very exciting, yet the thought of an interview can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re in a new country. Banish those nerves by preparing as much as you can, and you’ll walk into your NHS interview feeling confident and ready to answer any questions that come your way!
To help take interview stress away take a look at our latest blog, which focuses on helping you prepare for your NHS Nursing interview by giving you five example NHS nursing interview questions with answers.
Before we start, when it comes to interviews a really effective way of doing well is to apply the STAR technique to your answers. Using this clear, concise method gives you the opportunity to use a past experience to answer a question. STAR stands for:
Try applying the STAR technique when thinking about how you would answer the following questions. Take the time to write down your answers by using our examples as a guide; but make sure you personalise what you have written so what you are saying is relevant to you and your experience.
Q1: Name a clinical situation scenario where things didn’t go to plan.
Working within healthcare means things don’t always go smoothly. So, this question is an opportunity to reveal your approach to stressful situations and how you remedy them.
When you answer, try to demonstrate the following three points:
1. Your own self-awareness
2. An ability learn, grow and strive for improvement
3. Your ability to successfully communicate within a team environment
Your answer could sound something like this:
“Healthcare is complex and for a successful patient outcome, the approach needs to have a strong multi-disciplinary tactic. When I first started out as a General Nurse, it took me a while to get used to working full-time and I was extremely tired.
“Towards the end of a night-shift, I completely forgot to follow-up a patient blood result. Unfortunately, I’d left by the time I remembered, but I immediately called the hospital and asked my colleague to follow-up on the results. Fortunately, the delay didn’t have any consequences. However, it was a good lesson to always create a process around actions to ensure that nothing gets missed.”
Q2: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Questions about strengths and weaknesses can seem hard to answer but, they present a fantastic opportunity to showcase your abilities, what makes you an excellent Nurse, and your approach to handling particular challenges. Don’t be afraid of the weaknesses part, as it really is all about putting a positive spin on what you say. For example, there may be an aspect of the job you find difficult due to a ‘weakness’, such as, feeling under confident if you don’t know have all the information you need to do your job. But if you can demonstrate an awareness of what you find challenging, and what you would do to turn that weakness around, that is a positive sign.
With regards to vocalising your strengths, it is a good idea to think about what strengths are ‘ideal’ for a Nurse to have and which apply to you. Attributes such as:
– The ability to work well within a team
– Working well under pressure
– Excellent problem-solving and communication skills
You could also ask yourself: what would your colleagues say is your greatest strength?
For example, you could say something like:
“My greatest strength is staying calm under pressure and it’s a skill I’ve learned over my five years of being the Nurse. I handle stress by focusing on the most important thing: the care of the patient. I feel I owe it to my patients to stay calm and focus on them at all times. To successfully do this, it’s important to listen, remain self-aware and communicate with my colleagues.”
You could then think about a workplace scenario that you could apply it to that could also address a weakness such as lack of confidence if you don’t have the information you need:
“With regards to a ‘weakness’, I can sometimes lack confidence in my abilities if I don’t have all the information I need, but, if this happens, I look to apply a solution by finding the answers I need. For example, I was once placed in a unit I’d never worked in before and I didn’t know where the supplies were located. There was a clinical emergency and I felt I couldn’t support because I didn’t know where any of the essential equipment was located. I recognised I was starting to feel less confident in my abilities as I didn’t have the information I needed, but instead of panicking, I took a moment to think about what I could do, a practical solution to my problem. I beeped for a senior to come in and support me, they located the equipment and I was able to support clinically and remedy the patient.”
Q3: Describe a time where you had to deal with a hostile patient
Healthcare is all about problem-solving and this question finds out exactly how you handle difficult and testing patients. Your answer highlights your interpersonal abilities whilst maintaining professionalism in high-stress, life-saving scenarios.
When you formulate your answer, acknowledge that hostile patients are sometimes expected due to the nature of the scenario; their health is at risk, they may be in pain and they’re away from their loved ones and it’s simply about taking the most effective course of action.
The following scenario shows this well:
“I remember a time where a patient refused to take their medication. I tried all avenues but the patient was still spitting them out every single time I tried to administer them. Because of this behaviour, I escalated it to my senior Nurse who then called in the ward registrar and a social worker.
“After many conversions and phone calls, we discovered that the patient could only take medicine when mixed with food to help them swallow it. It was only after speaking with their social worker that we understood this as she wasn’t able to communicate with us, which led to a stressful situation. However, after we placed the medication in a sandwich in front of her, she happily had the sandwich and medication.”
Q4: How do you maintain good time management skills?
To thrive, Nurses have to be great at multi-tasking. You’re responsible for managing multiple patients, administering medication, following up on bloods and organising junior Nurses. But what specific practices do you put in place to guarantee you follow effective time management?
For example, you could say something like:
“We all know that working within healthcare is extremely fast-paced, it’s always changing and emergencies can happen at any time – which is why it’s important for me to prioritise my tasks every day. At the start of my shift, I made a to-do list with everything that needs to be accomplished that day. I break the list up into time periods with the most important tasks at the top and the things I would like to do at the bottom.
“Administering medication is always at the top of the list and then other tasks such as patient washes are further down. Whilst I would love to accomplish everything, in healthcare it’s not always possible. So, having a structured, methodical approach to tasks is always the most effective way to approach time management.”
Q5: What’s your greatest achievement?
Finally, working within nursing is a tremendous achievement in itself – a career dedicated to caring for others and saving lives. But interviewers also want to know what has made you who you are today. So, when it comes to your achievements ask yourself:
– What is your latest accomplishment?
– What steps did you take to achieve it?
– Who else was involved in this accomplishment?
– What was the result of the accomplishment?
“As a senior Nurse, I applied for a post to mentor junior Nurses, to support them with their career development. One of my greatest strengths is being a leader due to excellent organisational, communication and interpersonal skills. So, I decided to hold leadership sessions with any Nurses that wanted to join. As a result of my sessions, 3/5 Nurses were successful with their job applications.”
NHS interviews are a very exciting time, joining a new healthcare organisation will allow your skills to grow and transform the way you provide care. If you’re looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get straight back to you! We can go through everything you need to know, from relocation support to finding the right role in the right location for you, plus, how to obtain your NMC, accommodation, revalidation and so much more!
Want to know more about our International Nursing opportunities?
Take a look at International Nursing Career Opportunities page here.