5 Common Nursing ICU Interview Questions

ICU-nurse

by Sarah Stasik

Nurses in hospital environments make an average of $72,070 a year — that's more than the average RN salary. And skilled ICU nurses may be able to land even higher paying jobs in critical care environments. 

No matter what level of ICU nursing job you're looking for, getting through an interview is an important step. 

Check out the nursing ICU interview questions and tips for answering them below to prepare yourself for your next job opportunity.

5 Popular Nursing ICU Interview Questions (And Answers!)

1. How have you been a patient advocate in previous positions?

Nurses should act as patient advocates in any environment, but in critical care situations, when patient communication may be limited, it becomes even more important. Answer this question by relating a specific example from your past work where you advocated on behalf of a patient or helped someone navigate the complexities of their own healthcare. 

Keep it short, concise and to the point, and definitely don't include any identifying information.

2. Can you handle high stress environments?

Critical care environments are stressful, and employers want to know that new ICU nursing hires aren't going to break and run the first time they experience an awful day.

Again, answer this type of question with a specific anecdote about how you deal with stress if possible; demonstrating how you performed in a stressful situation is better than simply stating you can handle it. 

Try to include information about how you appropriately leveraged your own nursing skills, experience and education and the resources around you during a crisis.

3. What makes you a good candidate for ICU nursing?

This ICU nursing interview question is likely to come up because what makes a good ICU nurse isn't the same as what makes a good RN for pediatrics or the OR. 

Make sure you understand what skills are important to ICU nursing so you can highlight them in the answer to this question.

4. How have you dealt with challenges with coworkers in the past?

Teamwork in the ICU is critical to success. No matter what coworkers are dealing with outside of the patient treatment moment, they must be ready to band together via seamless workflows and excellent communication when patients need them. 

Answer this question by discussing your teamwork and communication skills and how you overcome challenges with others.

5. Why did you leave your last position?

CNBC reports that this is a common and challenging interview question for any position. For ICU nurses, honesty is important, but you want to avoid disparaging yourself or your former employer. 

Be open about any changes you wanted to make in your career and why, and avoid lying about any regulatory actions that might be in records the employer can access.

Ultimately, acing ICU interview questions comes down to being honest but positive, keeping answers descriptive but concise and leveraging specific examples to set yourself apart from the crowd.

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