As a pediatric nurse, you play a vital role in the healthcare of infants and children. The youngest members of our society and their families look to you for care, compassion, and comfort as they receive treatment. As a pediatric nurse, it’s important for you to connect with the children you care for and act as a calming presence as they experience different, and potentially difficult, situations.
When applying for pediatric nurse positions, your interviewer will want to ensure you have the qualities and skills needed to excel as a pediatric nurse. The questions they ask are designed to see how well you can relate to children and their families while also delivering exceptional care. Your responses should highlight how your skills match these lofty demands and how you deal with the interpersonal aspects of the field.
Even if you have a high degree of confidence in your credentials, it’s still common to feel nervous going into an interview. Fortunately, our expert team at Host Healthcare helps coach our travel nurses for their interviews and are happy to provide tips on how you can nail your pediatric RN interview, too.
#1 “Tell Us About Yourself.”
It’s often these generic questions that can stump us the most. How do you condense all your years of education, field experience, and transformative personal moments into a 1- to 2-minute summary?
The best way to approach a question like this is to come prepared with a mental map of the most pivotal moments of your professional career. You can share a few details about:
- Why you chose to pursue a nursing profession
- What you love about the profession and where you excel
- Your career path up to this point
- Where you currently are in your career
- The types of patients you care for
- The duties you fulfill
- The facilities and equipment you work with
- What you want to achieve in the near future
#2 “What Made You Choose Pediatric Medicine?”
This is the perfect opportunity to be candid about why you want to work with children. Explaining what initially attracted you to pediatric medicine allows your interviewer to see your passion for the field and understand what drives you in your role. To that end, we recommend answering this question by sharing a personal story.
Perhaps you fell in love with working with children in a previous career—or maybe you were inspired by a nurse-patient relationship you experienced as a child. Some nurses are more interested in the science behind early childhood development, while others may be following in a trusted mentor’s footsteps.
Whatever your reasoning, sharing your personal story about what first motivated you toward pediatric nursing is a compelling way to answer the question and connect with your interviewer.
#3 “Why Do You Think You’re Right For This Role?”
This is an excellent place to emphasize those pediatric nursing skills and qualities that make you a strong candidate. But be honest about where your natural talents lie—those are what makes you a unique candidate—as well as the ones you’d like to nurture at this specific facility.
To that end, this is an important place to show you did your research about the details of your future workplace.
Here, you could touch on:
- Your ability to communicate and connect with children
- Providing high-quality care even in a fast-paced or high-volume work environment
- Discussing complex health matters with caregivers (and, if applicable, pediatric patients)
- Career milestones or advanced certifications you’ve achieved
#4 “How Do You Stay Up To Date With Current Practice?”
The hiring manager or nurse manager wants to know how you’re staying current on the best nursing practices. Here, try to mention any courses, certifications, or on-the-job experiences that demonstrate your adaptability or commitment to continuing education.
#5 “How Do You Handle Disagreements With Coworkers?”
Employers not only want to know how you interact with patients but also how you operate in a team environment. For this interview question, shed some light on:
- Your history of working alongside all types of people
- Your communication style and how you typically navigate conflict
- A previous instance where you’ve had to set aside differences to do what’s best for the patient and their care team
The ways in which you deal with team pressures and conflicts may not necessarily be the same as how you handle issues with patients and their families. If you use different techniques to navigate distinct situations, spotlight that aspect of your skill set!
#6 “How Have You Handled A Challenging Situation With A Patient In The Past?”
As a pediatric nurse, it’s important to be able to help children navigate a variety of different emotions, including fear, sadness, and confusion. Often, medical situations are new for children, so they require an added layer of comfort and compassion.
At the same time, pediatric conditions can be scary for parents and families, so you must also be able to calm anxious parents and provide them with all the information they need to fully understand what their child is going through. For these reasons, your employer will want to make sure you’re well-equipped to handle any difficult situations that may arise.
To answer this question, we recommend preparing a list of three or four examples that you can pull from during your interview. You may choose to explain a time when you calmed a distraught parent or helped a child feel comfortable before a scary procedure. Ultimately, you’ll want to pick stories that clearly communicate a problem with a patient and how your actions led to a positive resolution.
#7 “How Do You Manage A Heavy Workload?”
When a shift gets especially busy, patient and time management skills are critical. Here, use examples of how you typically prepare for a shift and prioritize under pressure.
You could showcase:
- Concrete organizational techniques or administrative experience you’ve acquired in your career
- Heavy caseloads and high-pressure situations from your previous job that demonstrate your ability to triage
- Your ability to delegate tasks and lead a team that’s dealing with an overwhelming workload
#8 “How Do You Deal With Stress?”
As a pediatric nurse, you may deal with high-stress situations that require a cool head and sharp decision-making skills. Potential employers will want to make sure you can calmly handle such scenarios while providing exceptional care to your patients.
For this question, explain the methods you use to manage stress. Then, provide an example of how those skills helped you to successfully navigate a stressful situation at work.
#9 “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
Here’s a secret you should know for any interview: Your interviewer will ask this question to ensure that your aspirations align with what the role entails, as well as the role’s potential trajectories. This means you should consider this an opportunity to discuss your career goals and future advancement with your potential employer while referencing specific aspects of the role you’re applying for.
When answering this question, you want to make sure that you clearly communicate how this role, in particular, aligns with your personal and professional objectives.
#10 “What Questions Do You Have for Me?”
Don’t forget—the interview process goes both ways! By asking this question, you not only express your enthusiasm, but you also give yourself the opportunity to make sure the facility is the right place for you.
Prior to the interview, reflect on what you think is important within your work environment. Prepare a list of questions that can help you gauge whether or not the role aligns with your own priorities.
You might consider asking about:
- Nurse-to-patient ratios
- Float policy
- Overtime policy
- Orientation process
- Growth opportunities
- Average salary of a pediatric nurse at the facility
You may also want to ask about their culture, turnover rates, and what the interviewer likes most about the workplace. The more informed you are, the fewer surprises, and the better positioned you’ll be to excel.
Tips for Preparing for Your Pediatric Nurse Interview
Thorough preparation is essential in the days before your interview—it can help ensure you feel confident the day of! So, as your interview approaches, you should routinely practice thinking through thoughtful answers to potential questions.
Based on our experience empowering our travel nurses through this process, we recommend you put the following tips into practice:
- Research the facility where you’re applying – Spend some time on the website of the organization you’re interviewing with. Try to get a grasp of the types of families they serve and the care they provide. And if you can’t find a piece of information on the site? That’s a question you can ask during your interview.
- Give yourself a resume refresher – Either make mental notes or jot down any details about past experience, skills, and goals that you couldn’t include on your resume. Try to drum up key experiences from past roles that showcase your strengths.
- Highlight your certifications – A job interview is no time to be modest about your accomplishments! Highlighting your degrees and certifications can elevate you above other candidates and give employers a reason to hire you over applicants with lower qualifications. Likewise, a robust education can motivate employers to offer you a higher salary to avoid losing you to another well-paying facility.1 Recent studies also suggest 80% of employers prefer candidates with Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) credentials, so be sure to mention it if you’ve earned your CPN.2
- Make a memorable first impression – Whether you’re having an in-person or digital interview, be sure to arrive at your appointment looking presentable. For phone interviews, be sure to find a quiet place where you can concentrate and have a conversation without distractions.
Ace Your Pediatric Nurse Interview With Help From Host Healthcare
Whether it’s running through pediatric nursing interview questions with your travel nurse recruiter or finding ideal housing once you’ve landed the role, Host Healthcare is dedicated to empowering our travelers at every step of their nursing career.
From the moment you apply with us, our recruiters work closely with you to identify your career and life goals and the ideal position and location to help you actualize them. From exclusive access to travel nursing jobs to day-1 insurance coverage (including up to a month between assignments), Host Healthcare believes in empowering our nurses as they pursue their dream careers. We even offer free Continuing Education Units (CEUs) so you can stay up-to-date on developments in the field and maintain your qualifications.
Apply today to be connected to a responsive recruiter who will have your back throughout your travel pediatric nursing journey.
Feeney, Anne. “7 High-Demand Nursing Certifications.” Nurse Journal, 29 Aug. 2022. https://nursejournal.org/articles/best-types-of-nursing-specialties/
“PNCB Credentials Stand Out.” PCNB, https://www.pncb.org/. Accessed 29 December 2022.