Focus and attentiveness, compassion and empathy, patience and understanding, responsibility and adaptability–there’s quite a lot that comes with being a lead nurse. Nurses spend their entire careers building these qualities in order to enter a position like lead nurse.

But even with an outstanding resume, great letters of recommendation, and a lot of experience, you still need to ace the interview if you want to land the opening as lead nurse.

The best way to do that is to prepare for the interview. How? By reviewing likely interview questions and practicing your answers prior to the actual interview.

Below are some of the most common and likely lead interview questions and some things to think about when preparing your answers to those questions.

Lead Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to become a lead nurse?

It’s likely that one of your first questions will be a broad one, and so preparing for a question about why you want the job your applying for is a safe bet and can be used to answer several other questions.

The efficacy of your answer will depend on a lot of factors, the biggest being your experience in the industry. If you have 20+ years experience as a nurse, then leveraging that experience will be an effective way to show how a lead nurse is the next natural step in your life-long commitment to the field.

If you’re a younger nurse, it might be better to focus on what got you into nursing in the first place. From there, you can talk about your passions, dedication to the field, and what skills you have that could help mitigate any lack of experience that comes with less time in the profession.

How will you be able to balance both clinical and administrative tasks?

Part of being a lead nurse has to do with juggling both the micro and macro challenges of your clinic or hospital. Because you’ll be in a leadership position, clinics and hospitals want to know that you can draw from your experience and skill set to effectively manage the day-to-day tasks of a clinic as well as administrative long-term goals.

A good response to this would be to draw any and all experiences in both administrative roles and in clinical work. Ideally, you want to have an ample amount of points to draw from for both tasks.

If you have an extensive background as a nurse but not as much professional leadership experience, try drawing from extracurriculars outside of the medical world. Maybe you were lead editor for your college paper or organized volunteering at a hospital. Whatever the case may be, you need to have a couple of leadership examples to reference, should this question come up.

Can you describe a time where your healthcare team was presented with a conflict? What did you do to resolve the issue.

You will probably get a question that has to do with how you dealt with adversity or challenges. Because a lot can go wrong in a clinic or hospital, it shouldn’t be that hard for a nurse to come up with a few stories that fit the description.

The key to answering this question is to frame the story in a way that shows your ability to solve problems and adapt to difficult situations. Think about the role you played in resolving the issue, and highlight those moments to reflect your ability as a team leader. Describe what you learned from that experience and how it’s going to help you in the future as a lead nurse.

How would you deal with an uncooperative or problematic nurse in your team?

This question is meant for you to show how you would flex your leadership muscles and solve problems.

One thing to acknowledge, before you come bouldering through this question with how stern of a talk you’ll have with the nurse in question or how strict your behavioral policies are, is that nursing isn’t easy. Nurses work long shifts in short amounts of time and are under immense amounts of pressure to make sure their patients are met with the care and attention that they need. By acknowledging this sentiment, you reveal your experience, compassion, and empathy with the position. You’ve been there before and you know how it goes.

That doesn’t mean, however, that someone on your team will get a free pass. Acknowledge the demanding job that is nursing, but also acknowledge that as a leader, you’re committed to running an organized and unified team. Start with a place of empathy and understanding, and then take more assertive steps if the situation escalates.

Final Thoughts: Lead Nurse Interview Questions

What you have to remember is that all interview questions present you with opportunities to showcase your experiences, skill-set, problem-solving abilities, and qualities as a leader. Position yourself to take advantage of the questions being asked and highlight your abilities.

Medely is committed to empowering nurses whether they’re looking to take control of their schedules or climb the administrative ladder as a lead nurse. With Medely, you can control your schedule, hours, pay, and clinic every day of the week. Sign up for free with Medely and find nurse staff in minutes.