Preparing for interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’re looking for your first nursing job or transitioning to a new role. Whether you’re a veteran nurse or a newly-minted RN, taking time to prepare for your interviews can help you land your next position.
As a registered nurse, you already spend time planning and preparing to give your patients the best care that you can. You can apply those same organizational skills to your interview approach.
One of the key methods to nailing your interview is to anticipate possible interview questions. In this article, we’ll explore five different OR RN interview questions that you can practice answering for your upcoming operating room nurse interview.
Question #1: Why Did You Decide to Become an OR Nurse?
This is one of the most broad OR nurse interview questions that you might encounter.1 When interviewers ask about your motivations for pursuing your nursing career, they’re able to:
- Establish your level of commitment and investment in nursing
- Learn about the values that inform your nursing practice
- Gain insight into your introduction to nursing
- Learn personal anecdotes that show your character
- Evaluate the ways your motivations have developed
Some of the most prominent reasons (that might align with your own) for becoming a perioperative nurse include:
- Making a positive impact on people’s lives by providing comfort and care to patients2
- The appeal of working in a variety of environments, especially if you work in travel healthcare
- The expected growth and demand in the healthcare industry for OR nurses
How to Prepare
You might need to think back in time to before you started nursing school. If you’re feeling stumped about how your interest in a nursing profession started, think about what first drew you to your nursing-focused classes. 3
You might also ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you prefer the OR work setting over others?
- How did you go from a registered nurse to a certified OR nurse?
If you have a personal anecdote or a story that was foundational to the start of your nursing career, this is a good time to tell that story. If asked this common interview question, remember to keep your personal story focused on what you can offer the hospital, family practice, or other work setting.
Question #2: What is the Greatest Nursing Challenge You’ve Faced with a Patient?
Interviewers of all kinds love to ask about the greatest challenges that you’ve faced. Since nursing focuses heavily on patient care, many of the most complicated situations in nursing will involve a patient rather than a doctor, administrator, or fellow nurse.
Furthermore, since a nurse’s job is to provide patient care, interviewers asking this question will glean information about your general approach with patients.
How to Prepare
When answering this particular interview question, be sure to:1
- Adhere to HIPPA laws in your response
- Maintain a professional attitude toward patients
- Focus on how you overcame the challenge or stressful situation
- Emphasize your learnings
- Highlight your patient skills
Overall, when describing your greatest challenge with a patient, frame the challenge in the context of one of your strengths. For example, this could be an opportunity to show that you are a compassionate caregiver.
Question #3: What is Your Greatest Strength as a Nurse?
The question about your greatest strengths is your opportunity to wow the interviewer. Don’t be afraid to use specific examples about when you exercised your strength so far in your nursing profession.
As you reflect on your strengths, consider the following:
- Thoroughness – Whether you’re organizing paperwork or measuring vitals, thoroughness is often what distinguishes good nurses from exceptional nurses.4
- Communicativeness – Clear communication with patients about continuing their care at home might be part of what makes you stand out. Don’t forget to mention how effectively you may communicate with doctors and your fellow nurses, too.
- Calmness – The operating room can be a stressful environment, so the ability to remain calm is essential for OR nurses to perform their duties. If this is something you excel at, make mention of it in your nursing interviews.
How to Prepare
OR nurses may be likely to mention similar strengths during the interview. Consider what strengths set you apart from your peers. Emphasize the way that your greatest strengths set you apart from others in your field.
Question #4: How Do You Manage Frequent Changes?
OR nurses work in an environment where situations can change on a dime. During operations, the trajectory of a surgery can take a sudden turn, affecting both the patient’s needs and those of the surgeon. Because frequent changes are part of the nature of OR work, interviewers will want to know that you can handle the stress and variability of the work setting.
How to Prepare
Be honest. If there are aspects of the constant change that are challenging for you, mention the ways that you manage those challenges to be an effective OR nurse. Showcasing your self-awareness shows maturity and experience.
Question #5: Describe Your Skills and Experience as an OR Nurse
This open-ended question can take multiple forms during an interview.3 You might be asked about the ways that you would apply your skills to a made-up operating room scenario or how you have been able to apply your specialized operating room nurse certification, for example. If you already have an understanding of the ways that you apply your skills before, during, or after surgeries, you’ll be ready to address hypothetical scenarios in the interview.
Skills and experience go hand in hand, but questions about your experience are an opportunity to talk about how and where you learned what you know. Mention specific hospitals and doctors that you’ve worked with in the past as well as any OR challenges that required your skills to be put at center stage.
How to Prepare
Knock this question out of the park by:
- Having your resume handy – During an interview, it can be easy to forget some of your skills and experience. By keeping your resume at hand, you can reference it and use it as a template to organize your thoughts before going into greater depth.
- Making thoughtful lists – Think carefully about what you bring to the table and write a list of your skills. Rank them by importance so you can prioritize your finest skills during your interview if asked this common question.
Hone Your Interview Approach with Host Healthcare
Preparing your strategies for your future operating room nurse interview gives you time to polish your answers and set yourself up for success, which can ultimately lead to you landing your ideal assignment along with a competitive OR RN salary.
If you’re excited to find more OR travel nurse positions, you might want to consider applying to Host Healthcare. Host Healthcare will match you with a recruiter, help you prep for your job interview, and support you on your way to becoming a traveling OR nurse.
With a sharp approach to your upcoming nursing interviews, you’ll be ready to impress. Tell us more about what makes you a star candidate today.
- “Common Nursing Interview Questions & Answers.” Aspen University, 23 Aug. 2021, https://www.aspen.edu/altitude/common-nursing-interview-questions/
- “Top 10 Reasons to Become a Nurse.” Marian University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://www.marian.edu/academics/marian’s-adult-programs/online-and-accelerated-programs-blog/blog/2017/12/04/top-10-reasons-to-become-a-nurse#:~:text=A%20job%20that%20makes%20a,their%20lives%20and%20disease%20outcomes
- “37 Surgical Nurse Interview Questions (with Example Answers and Tips).” Indeed Career Guide, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/surgical-nurse-interview-questions-answers
- Brooks, Ashley. “Dissecting the Critical Role of an Operating Room Nurse.” Rasmussen University, 4 May 2020, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/role-of-operating-room-nurse/
- “How to Become a Surgical Nurse.” AORN Career Center, https://www.aorn.org/career-center/career-resources/career-advice/surgical-nurse-career