From director of nursing and chief nursing officer down to nursing aids and LPNs, there are a number of different positions that are all vital to the efficacy of a nursing team and the hospital they serve. 

While it’s important that each member of your nursing team is qualified for their role, it’s especially important to hire the right kind of leaders. They will, at the end of the day, carry the most responsibility and are the individuals that will be turned to in the most crucial moments.

If your organization is hiring a charge nurse, you want to make sure you ask the right interview questions to assess the candidate’s leadership skills, medical experience and expertise, ability to communicate effectively, and a number of other valuable qualities needed to be an effective charge nurse. 

What Does a Charge Nurse Do?

Like nurse managers, charge nurses are healthcare professionals who rely on their experience, training, and expertise in a managerial nursing role. While both positions utilize leadership and communication skills to maintain order and quality care in healthcare facilities, there are some key differences between them.

Charge nurses, unlike nurse managers, are responsible for overseeing a shift of nurses. They’re also expected to organize shift schedules, maintain the quality of care in their units, resolve any issues that arise in their units, and assist with common nurse responsibilities, like distributing medicine or aiding staff nurses with their patients. 

They speak directly to the manager nurse and, unlike the manager nurse, do not have quite as many administrative responsibilities beyond the scope of their shift. 

Charge Nurse Interview Questions for Training and Education

Charge nurses are typical registered nurses with a BS in nursing. They’re likely to have spent a few years, at least three, working as an RN in a clinical hospital or clinical setting. Unlike a nurse manager, most charge nurses aren’t expected to hold a master’s degree.

  • Tell me about your educational background in nursing. What’s the highest degree you hold in nursing, and how do you think that will contribute to your success as a charge nurse?
  • What other nursing experiences do you have in the field? What kind of qualities have you gained in your experience as a nurse that will help translate to this role?
  • Have you ever worked or been trained for a leadership role?
  • Have you received training for administrative tasks such organizing schedules and filling out reports?
  • Have you had any experience training new nurses? What are the most effective ways to train a new nurse in your shift?

Charge Nurse Interview Questions for Patient Care

  • How would you recommend one of your shift nurses deal with a difficult patient? What kind of strategies would you recommend to them?
  • Describe a challenging moment when dealing with a patient in the past. How did you overcome the challenge? What was the outcome?
  • What would you do if you received several complaints about a nurse in your shift from a patient? What are the steps you would follow to resolve the issue?
  • Describe an experience where a patient was extremely pleased with your care. What did you do to provide such great care?
  • How would you calm down a frantic or anxious patient?

Charge Nurse Interview Questions for Leadership and Administrative Duties

  • Why do you want to work as a charge nurse? Why do you want to be in a leadership position?
  • How do you plan on finding a balance between both administrative duties and more common clinical care?
  • What’s your strategy for motivating the nurses in your shift? 
  • How would resolve a dispute between two nurses in your shift?
  • Describe a time when you worked in a fast-paced setting. How were you able to maintain quality care while staying organized and on task?

Charge Nurse Interview Questions for Communication and Soft Skills

  • Describe a time when you were able to successfully persuade a patient to agree with you. What was your approach?
  • How would you approach a shift nurse who wasn’t listening to your directions?
  • Describe a time where you communicated poorly and caused an issue. How did you resolve the issue? What did you learn from the experience?
  • What’s your approach to giving directions to nurses working under you?
  • Why is communication important when leading a team of nurses? Describe a time where good communication skills helped you and your nursing team. 

If you want your nurses to excel at what they do, it’s going to have to start from the top. Putting some time and effort into a comprehensive set of charge nurse interview questions will put you in the best position to assess and evaluate potential candidates for this vital role. 

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