Must-Ask Interview Questions for Nursing Managers - Glassdoor for Employers
Doctor interviewing a female nurse.

Must-Ask Interview Questions for Nursing Managers

Everybody knows nurses not only treat patients, but they also save lives by noticing and resolving potential medical issues before they escalate. As well, nurses “provide rapid response, assist in triage, double-check the physician’s work and interact with patients to observe important changes,” says Sacred Heart University.

Presently on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are now making headlines for their exhaustive efforts to treat and care for patients while “putting themselves in harm’s way both physically and mentally.

These times of crisis put the skills and abilities of even the most experienced nurse managers to the test. Whether amid a pandemic or during the normal course of nursing, it is important for all nursing managers to possess certain critical skills to ensure calm, swift decision-making, smooth processes and quality patient care.

We asked Rosa Elizabeth Vargas, Executive Career Coach at Career Steering to share some of the questions she uses when coaching her nursing management clients for job interviews. Here’s what she said.

Question #1: Have you served in a nursing management capacity before, under pressure or in a crisis?

Why It Works: “Amid the current coronavirus crisis, healthcare units are under a lot of pressure. You must hire nursing managers that have experience—while not in a pandemic—making decisions under pressure and exuding a calm and reassuring presence,” says Vargas.

Question #2: Do you have experience putting in place new systems or workflow processes to help with the patient flow?

Why It Works: “Hospitals who have prioritized patient throughput have realized improvements in quality patient care, patient satisfaction, as well as a positive financial impact,” according to an article at PubMed.

As such, emphasizes Vargas, “Being a leader in the healthcare field is not just about creating schedules, but also about aligning those schedules with the needs of the unit to keep patient throughput at an optimal level.”

Question #3: Have you contributed to the improvement of metrics impacting net operating budget, total expense, decrease in turnover rate?

Why It Works: Operating a sustainable business of any kind requires a keen eye to the bottom line. Without an ability to keep the lights on and the equipment functioning, there will be no opportunity to focus on the healthcare organization’s first priority, its patients.

“This (question) showcases the candidate's grasp on basic financial fundamentals,” expands Vargas. “Their ability to understand how to prioritize and cut costs will help you understand if they will be able to deliver on the expectations of financial stability for the healthcare unit.”

Question #4: Do you have experience helping a facility earn Joint Commission Accreditation?

Why It Works: “This question will help you identify if this candidate has experience from a strategic and procedural perspective, improving quality,” says Vargas.

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Question #5: Why did you become a nursing manager?

Why It Works: Storytelling is one of the more popular methods in today’s interview process to enrich the conversation, enabling candidates to shed the light on their ‘why.’

“Sometimes these types of jobs fall into the laps of Registered Nurses (RNs). While that fact doesn’t negate strong leadership skills, it is a good idea to investigate if the RN even enjoys leading,” suggests Vargas. “The story they tell you will either reveal that they were born to lead or that they are just following a career track because they think they should. If the latter, investigate further; they may still be a great candidate.”

Question #6: Can you share an example of when you helped drive transformation?

Why It Works: “Many great nursing managers are stepping to the forefront of driving change through innovation--by implementing new ideas or simply by helping introduce new technology. Times are changing, and you need a nursing manager that is not only comfortable with that change but who also shepherds the cause,” urges Vargas.

Question #7: What do you see coming down the pike in healthcare?

Why It Works: Any strategic leadership candidate, regardless of industry, will have an innate ability to predict and react well to future undulations in the market, as well as customer and operational evolvements. This is no different with nursing managers.

“Nursing managers have great insights,” stresses Vargas. “They are there on the unit floor observing and often bridging the gap between direct patient care providers, executives and patients. This is a question that will reveal what you can expect from this nursing manager.”

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