Nurse Job Interview Questions About Stress

Nurse on computer with doctor looking over shoulder
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Nursing is not an easy job and can involve a lot of juggling communications with doctors, patients, and families, all while potentially dealing with life and death on a daily basis. Since nursing jobs can be difficult, it’s more than likely the hiring manager will ask job interview questions about stress, how it affects you, and how you handle it. Read on to learn how to answer questions about stress.

It may help for you to understand why a job interviewer asks questions about stress. Essentially, the interviewer is looking for three things when he or she asks you about stress on the job as a nurse:

1.    Whether you acknowledge that stress is an actuality at work.

2.    If you have a good handle on how stress affects you personally.

3.    If you can rise to the challenge in dealing with stress.

Techniques for Answering Questions About Stress

Since you can bet questions about stress will be asked during your job interview, it may help to prepare ahead of time by thinking about how you’d answer these questions. Here are some ways you may frame your answers:

  • Describe a particular incident when you were under significant pressure and how you dealt with it successfully.
  • Discuss your strategies for prioritizing work, so you don't become overwhelmed by too many things all at once.
  • Give a few examples of your problem-solving abilities.
  • Describe how a stressful work environment motivates you and enables you to thrive.
  • Talk about how you perform under pressure and what abilities you draw on when the stress gets strong.
  • Talk about specific things at work that stress you and the reasons why.
  • Describe how you are able to identify a problem and address it when it's minor in order to prevent the problem from becoming large, unmanageable, and stressful.
  • Describe how you're able to deal with many tasks and responsibilities in a limited period of time.

How Do You Handle Stress? Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers to questions about how you handle stress as a nurse. Think about how they relate to you and tailor the answers to fit your personal situation:

  • I handle stress by focusing on the most important thing: the care of the patient. I feel I owe it to my patients to stay calm and focused on them.
  • In the ER setting, there are often stressful situations that arise. I just make sure that the stresses of the job don't interfere with the care of the patient.
  • I find that I don't react to stress in the moment; when I'm under pressure, I focus and rise to the occasion.
  • I like a fast-paced, pressure-filled environment--it makes my job invigorating.
  • I make sure to exercise every night, which helps me reduce stress.
  • I am generally an easy-going person, and I don't allow on-the-job stress to interfere with my work.
  • I thrive on stress, and it enables me to do the best possible job. I just need to make sure that I balance positive and negative stress as the former keeps me motivated and productive.
  • I respond to situations as opposed to stress.
  • I meditate at home and do yoga. I also eat well and take care of my health.
  • I talk with my team to see how together we can reduce stress as a whole.
  • As long as I can prioritize, I feel like I have a stressful situation under control.
  • Stress makes me feel alive, and I thrive on that energy.
  • I tend to stay calm under pressure, which makes it easier to get the job done.
  • I up my game under pressure and succeed in a challenging environment that comes with stress.

Practice Before Your Interview

Obviously, if you want to show how you handle stress you don’t want any nervousness to get in the way of a successful job interview session. So, now that you’ve had a look at some ways to answer questions about stress plus a few actual examples, use them to prepare for your upcoming interview.

Practice saying your answers out loud, so you feel comfortable when the time comes to answer these and any other difficult questions.

If you can find a friend or family member to pose as the interviewer, even better. He or she can ask questions about how you deal with stress as well as any number of typical nursing job interview questions.