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How to Land a Nursing Job: Interview Questions Every Nurse Should Practice

The latest data reveals nearly all employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.

It’s a great time to be a registered nurse, especially considering the employment rate for registered nurses is projected to grow 16% through 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.* One major influence is the fact that nearly 700,000 registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are projected to retire or otherwise leave the workforce by 2024. Combine this with a forecasted need of approximately 493,000 new RN/APRN jobs, and that equates to more than 1 million vacancies—a tremendous opportunity for America’s nurses, including the 150,000 RNs graduating from nursing schools each year.

As new nurses seek their first job or seasoned nurses look for new opportunities, here are some interview questions every nurse should be prepared to answer:

How to Land a Nursing Job: Interview Questions Every Nurse Should Practice

  • Why do you want to be a nurse? They key to answering this commonly asked question is to avoid giving a chronological history of your work. The interviewer is also not really looking for an autobiography; rather, you should tailor your response so it’s a succinct summary of relevant information that specifically talks about the job you want with their company.
  • Why are you leaving your current role? For new nurses, this is the chance to talk about what drew you to the healthcare field and what you learned in nursing school. Try to include a success story. For seasoned nurses, it’s important to focus on the positives of past and present employers, even if your experience wasn’t ideal. While there are a number of potential responses, a great answer could include that you are ready for new challenges after determining you had grown as much as you could in your current role.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? While there’s no right or wrong answer, this is an opportunity to illustrate your professional drive and commitment. Your answer may include your goal of furthering your nursing career by earning a nursing degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). To successfully compete with other candidates, aim to balance your answer with honesty, ambition, and your desire to be working at this company long-term.

Though the odds are in your favor, searching for a nursing job can still be challenging. Historically, the RN designation was the gold standard. However, nurses with a BSN degree are more prepared to meet the demands placed on today’s nurse. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nurses with a BSN degree are prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, as well as for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.§

Consider differentiating yourself from other candidates by enhancing your education by earning an RN-to-BSN or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from Walden University, which offers CCNE-accredited BSN and MSN programs online. With the Institute of Medicine calling for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020, moving to prepare nurses at this level has become a national priority.**

The latest data from AACN shows 54% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (up 6.6% since 2015), while 97.9% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.** Those without a BSN degree who are seeking a nursing job should be prepared to answer why they don’t hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. One great option is to enroll before you interview.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Occupations, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition, U.S. Department of Labor, on the internet at

†P. McMenamin, ANA’s Nurses by the Numbers™, p.26, American Nurses Association, on the internet at

§American Association of Colleges of Nursing, The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice, on the internet at

**American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses, on the internet at

Walden University’s DNP, MSN, and BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1-202-887-6791. CCNE is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs. For students, accreditation signifies program innovation and continuous self-assessment.