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Most Common Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions

You’ve been applying to jobs, showing off that resume, and you just received a call back to schedule an interview. After all you’ve been through, it seems too good to be true. You are so close to finally living your dream of caring for patients as a nurse practitioner, you can taste it! 

But what questions will the interviewer ask? And how can you make sure you put your best self forward?

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by your NP interview prep, don’t worry. In this post, we’ll discuss the top 10 questions you’re likely to be asked in your job interview. These apply to any NP, regardless of specialty, and whether it’s your first advanced practice job or you’ve been an NP for a while. Be ready for these common nurse practitioner interview questions, and you’ll be sure to ace it!

Let’s get started! 

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Top 10 Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions

1. “Tell me about your experience.”

This is likely one of the very first questions you’ll be asked, but don’t just rattle off the highlights of what is already on your resume. The key is to tell your story. Briefly talk about your career in nursing. What did your time as an RN teach you? Was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue becoming an NP? How have your clinical rotations prepared you for this role? What are you most excited for with this particular opportunity?

2. “How do you handle stressful situations?”

Nursing is an endlessly rewarding profession. But it can also be stressful. Even in your dream job, there are bound to be moments where stress creeps in. The interviewer wants to know that you’ll be able to handle it, and they should also be interested in how they can support you when you’re under stress.

If you can think of a particular time when you handled a stressful situation, that would be great to talk about! Some examples might be how you managed your school work and studying while working and caring for family, which shows great time management. Or, you can talk about a time where you reached out to a supervisor because you realized you needed help (shows great communication skills). You can use a negative (stress) to highlight the positive!

3. “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient.”

As much as we enjoy caring for our patients, it isn’t always easy. However, the interviewer isn’t interested in hearing about how difficult the patient was, but rather how you maintained your professionalism. The interviewer wants to hear your thought process in dealing with the difficult patient as you highlight your communication skills and sensitivity to the situation.

4. “Can you tell me what an NP can do?”

Perhaps you’re applying for a position in a company that has never utilized an NP before, or they want to make sure they understand your scope of practice. Be ready to explain the preparation and education for NPs and how they contribute to comprehensive patient care. You can also emphasize how nursing focuses on the care of the whole person and provide an example of how an NP practice does that. It would also be helpful to look up the NP scope of practice for your particular state, so you can be fully aware of the regulations. 

5. “How will an NP fit into this practice?”

This question is related to the last one. While you may have explained what an NP can do, you should also be prepared to explain why an NP is a good fit for their practice. Will you help expand access to care? Will you provide a new expertise to the practice? Will you be able to share the responsibilities of the other clinicians? And once again, remember to highlight the positives! NPs are wonderful patient educators, they increase access to care, focus on preventative medicine (therefore helping to decrease acute visits), and reduce overall healthcare costs.

6. “Why do you want to work in this specialty?”

With this question, the interviewer wants to hear your passion. They don’t want to hear that you applied for this position “just because.” Think about what makes you excited to come to work. 

An NP with a passion for their specialty says things like: 

“I want to work in family medicine because I enjoy caring for families and individuals of all ages.”

“I want to work in acute care as a hospitalist because I really enjoy the complexity of care.” 

“I want to work in women’s health because I find it incredibly rewarding and empowering.”

And if you have a specific story about why you chose your specialty, go ahead and share it!

7. “Why did you leave your last position?”

When answering this question, honesty is the best policy. It’s okay to explain that you left due to relocation, better pay, better opportunities for promotion, or for a career transition (like from RN to NP).

What you don’t want to do is talk negatively about your previous employer because that can come across as gossipy or indelicate. For example, a job that you left because it became emotionally draining translates into “I left my previous position to find a more supportive and inclusive working environment.” 

8. “How do you work with other healthcare professionals to provide patient care?”

Healthcare is interprofessional—it takes clinicians across multiple specialties to care for patients. Working as an RN, how did you coordinate care with other providers (PT, OT, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, social services, etc) to ensure that your patient was receiving the care they needed? As an NP, can you give an example of a referral you made for a patient that had a positive outcome?

This is also a great time to show off those great communication skills, and how you can work on a team as well!

9. “What are your greatest strengths?”

These last two questions may seem like the easiest to answer, but they actually require a bit of preparation. When talking about your greatest strengths, you don’t want to come across as arrogant, but you still want to seem impressive.

A helpful strategy here is to look at the job description. What is the employer looking for? While you hopefully meet all the criteria, pick a few that you know you would really excel at and talk about those. That way, you show how your strengths are relevant to the job, which is exactly what the interviewer is looking for!

10. “What are your greatest weaknesses?”

It can be awkward or embarrassing to talk about your weaknesses. No one wants to discuss what they don’t do well, especially to a potential employer. You want to avoid the cliche of “perfectionism” as your greatest weakness, and instead be honest about a weakness that you intend to overcome.

In your answer, replace “weakness” with “something that I know I need to improve on is…” That rephrasing changes the whole connotation! Then, when you discuss your weaknesses, be sure to include ways that you intend to improve.

For example, “Something that I know I need to improve on is my ability to interpret 12-lead ECGs. I’d like to use some professional development time to take an advanced ECG course and would love to have opportunities to learn from the more experienced clinicians in this practice.”

Final Thoughts

Preparing for a job interview can be both exciting and stressful. We hope this post gave you some helpful tips that allow you to walk into that interview full of confidence! No matter what the question is, remember to answer honestly and always try to end on a positive note. You’ve got this! Good luck with your interviews and be sure to reach out if you need help.

Looking for more (free!) resources to help you transition into life as a new real-deal NP? Check out these other posts on the SMNP blog!