ICU Nurse Interview Questions

Are you in the process of or thinking about hiring an ICU nurse (intensive care or critical care nurse)? For the general phone or pre-interview, you can use several of these ICU nurse interview questions.

Be prepared with several interview questions for ICU nurses related to stress and how they handle high-pressure situations, as well as behavioral interview questions related to patient care.

Below you’ll find a sample list of ICU nurse interview questions that you should use during the job interview process.

Best ICU Nurse Questions to Ask:

Here are some of the best interview questions to ask ICU/ critical care nurses:

1. How do you handle extreme pressure when performing your duties as an ICU nurse?

An ICU nurse is often faced with high stress situations. During your interview, listen for these positive signs they will thrive in a high stress environment: Do they talk about how they perform best under pressure? Do they mention that they like taking on additional responsibility, often without being asked? Feel out whether high-pressure situations phase them or the quality of their work.

2. What responsibilities have you handled as part of the ICU?

This question gives you an idea of a nurse’s overall responsibilities. Ask for details and determine whether their experience matches your current opening responsibilities. of your current opening.

3. What’s your greatest strength as an ICU nurse?

The purpose of this question is to hear your ICU nurse candidate talk about themselves and what qualities they’re most proud of as a nurse. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. However, if they stumble trying to describe their biggest strengths and accomplishments, it could mean they’re not confident.

4. Why are you leaving your current position?

This is one of the most important questions to ask an ICU nurse (and all nurses). It’s important to gauge whether they want to leave due to workplace conflict, shorter commute, better hours, higher salary, etc. How do they describe the situation? Can you sense they are having issues with coworkers? Are they seeking enhanced challenges or opportunities? Listen closely to their answer as it may provide clues as to their work style, goals or management abilities. Be sure to ask follow up questions for more details.

5. What did you not like about your last facility/organization?

This question provides more direct information related to your nurse’s likes/dislikes. They may say they’re leaving based on a long commute, but there could be workplace conflict or other factors that came into play. This can also lead into their ability/desire to lead change in your facility.

6. Can you describe your ideal work week?

Again, if your ICU nurse candidate does not reveal any information regarding their ideal schedule, you’ll want to use a more direct question. This is important to gauge their expectations of a new position. For example, what hours or scheduling considerations will they require?

7. What’s your biggest weakness?

Several top candidates actually train for this question, but that’s not a bad thing. The better their response, the better indication they are a planner who has done their homework and likes to be prepared.

8. Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?

This is a behavioral question that is perfect for ICU nurses. It allows your candidate to describe a high-stress situation, the challenges they faced, and exactly how they reacted.


Most Common and General ICU Nurse Interview Questions:

These are general questions that you can ask to uncover some surface level information when hiring for healthcare roles like ICU Nurse. These are typically used as “getting to know you” questions and should not be used as your main criteria for making a hire.

  • Why do you want to work for this hospital / organization?
  • What are your values?
  • What drew you to the nursing profession?
  • Tell me about a time you inadvertently caused conflict? How did you resolve it??
  • What can you bring to our team?
  • What are your weaknesses? / What is your area of greatest opportunity?
  • If I called your previous supervisor, what would they tell me about you?
  • How would you define a strong leader?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What questions would like to ask me / us?
  • Are you currently interviewing with other hospitals?
  • Why did you decide to become a nurse?
  • Why did you choose the particular field of nursing that you are in?
  • What are the biggest challenges or issues that nurses face today?
  • Why do you feel you are qualified for the job?
  • When do you plan to make a decision? / How soon can you start?

Behavioral Interview Questions for ICU Nurses:

As a healthcare employer, you may want to leverage behavioral interview questions when hiring nurse staff. Behavioral based interview questions will give you a sense of how a nurse will perform or behave in specific circumstances. Questions related to stress, time management, and pressure situations are perfect for assessing your ICU nurse candidates. For objective, data-driven decision support, consider a behavioral assessment for ICU Nurses.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions for Nurses:

Questions for Teamwork:

  • Describe a situation when you had to work closely with a difficult or confrontational coworker. How did you handle the situation? Were you able to work together and collaborate with this person?
  • Talk about a conflict within your nursing/ healthcare team. What was the conflict and how did you handle it?
  • Describe a time when you were particularly proud of your nursing/healthcare team? What was your role in this situation?
  • Discuss a time where you stepped into a leadership role. Do you find yourself stepping into these roles frequently?

Interview Questions for Patient Care:

  • Tell me about a time when a patient’s family was dissatisfied with your care. How did you handle that situation? Were you able to remedy the situation or build some understanding with them?
  • What approach do you take in communicating with people who do not know medical jargon? Give an example of a time you explained medical terminology to someone who was unfamiliar with any medical terms.
  • Describe a time you provided effective patient and/or family education.
  • Describe a time a patient or their family was appreciative of your care and treatments.
  • Give an example of a time you had to interact with a hostile patient. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time you were faced with a patient who chose not to communicate or disclose important information.

Questions for Adaptability:

  • Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
  • Discuss a time when you didn’t know the answer to something at work? How did you go about finding the information?
  • Give me an example of an awkward situation at work. How did you remove yourself from the situation?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems with a patient and initiated preventative measures.

Questions for Time Management:

  • Talk about a time you worked in a fast-paced setting. How did you prioritize tasks while maintaining excellent patient care?
  • Describe your experience with a very ill patient who required a lot of your time. How did you manage this patient’s care while ensuring your other patients were adequately cared for?
  • Talk about a time when you felt overwhelmed with your work or patient load. What did you do?
  • Give an example of an important goal you set for yourself. Did you accomplish that goal? How did you ensure that you accomplished it?

Questions to Assess Communication Style:

  • Give an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade a patient to agree to something. How did your persuade this person?
  • Describe a time when you were the resident medical expert. What did you do to make sure everyone was able to understand you?
  • Share a time when you had to rely on written communication to explain yourself to your team or to a patient.
  • Talk about a time when you had not communicated well. How did you correct the situation?
  • Describe a time when you received negative feedback and turned it into something positive.

Motivation and Values:

  • What is one professional accomplishment that you are most proud of and why?
  • Talk about a challenging situation or problem where you took the lead to correct it instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
  • Have you ever felt dissatisfied with your work as a nurse? What could have been done to make it better?
  • Describe a time when you went over and above your job requirements. What motivated you to put forth the extra effort?
  • Give an example of a mistake you’ve made? How did you handle it?
  • What do you find most difficult about being a nurse? How do you overcome this difficulty?

Checking ICU Nurse References

After narrowing down your candidate pool to the short list of nurses you’d like interview further, we recommend checking references to confirm you’re making the best hiring choice.

Valuable reference feedback can weed out bad candidates who are not a good fit for your organization. One step to gathering detailed, candid, and actionable feedback from references is through using relevant, consistent reference questions.

The best reference questions to ask are the questions that lead to the highest quality hire. Our Harver Reference solution provides templates of reference questions that are validated by I/O psychologists and found to be accurate predictors of performance and turnover.

Keep in mind that inconsistencies in reference questions can lead to inconsistent feedback. Harver can be used to customize and then standardize questions across all reference checks, even across the company. It’s an easy way to ensure you remain compliant and legal with all questions asked by administering a set of digital questionnaires.

Gather Candid Reference Feedback and get the Real Story

Do you get answers to all your questions when you ask them via phone? How candid is the reference feedback?

Too often, references are careful in their responses over the phone, and do not open up, supplying short, trivial answers. Consider using an automated reference checking tool like Harver Reference to gather much more detailed, honest feedback about candidates. Compared to the 2 responses on average you’ll get from the phone (after over an hour or more of chasing them down), Harver Reference sees an average of 6 responses (with only 2 minutes of time from the recruiter) in less than 48 hours without having to spend any time on the phone hunting down references.

Competing to Hire the Best Nurses, Quickly

And you better hurry! Did you know that over 54% of caregivers have stated they will not wait more than 3 days after an interview before moving on to interview with other organizations? In addition, nurses receive, on average, 3 calls each week from other jobs. There’s a labor shortage in the healthcare industry and organizations and hospitals are scrambling to compete for the best talent. Your hiring process timeline is critical to your organization’s success.

With the traditional reference checking process of calling a candidate’s references, it can take an average of 3-7 days to complete. By using an automated, digital reference checking process like Harver Reference, it can take fewer than 2 days.

In addition, our automated reference checking solution provides the added benefit of a quality sourcing channel. Our clients receive an average of 5 passive candidates for each candidate interviewed. Because those new contacts are professionally connected to your top candidates, they become an excellent source for new hires. And at 80% opting in, 1,000 hires would easily yield a database of 5,000 – 15,000 passive candidates. That will help you fill open jobs quickly, with the top nursing talent available.

By gathering reference data digitally with Harver Reference, you will be able to administer dependable, quality questions, save yourself precious time and stress, and receive candid and consistent feedback that will lead to smarter hiring decisions.

To learn more about how you can modernize your organization’s reference checking process to save recruiters an hour per check, schedule a demo to learn more about Harver Reference.

Harver Team

Harver Team

Posted on:
July 25, 2023

Recommended Articles

Gartner Orlando Video Recap: 2024 Macrotrends, UPS Success & More

Recruitment Software
Posted on:
November 1, 2023

Slowed Restaurant Growth? Order Up Restaurant Hiring Software

Recruitment Automation
Posted on:
October 10, 2023

Screening Candidates: Are Resumes A Dead Method?

Recruitment Strategy
Updated on:
October 9, 2023

Gartner ReimagineHR 2023: “Everyday Bold” and Other Key Takeaways

Recruitment Inspiration
Updated on:
September 29, 2023

Learning more about making better talent decisions faster?

Get the answers you need to optimize
your TA and TM processes and results.

Outmatch is now part of Harver

Ready to serve you with our full suite of talent solutions and a fresh look!