50 TOP Nurse Manager Interview Questions And Answers – 2024

Written By: Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN

Ever wondered what a nurse manager interview is like? Maybe you are a nurse manager and have an interview coming up? Here's how we can help you prepare. There are many common nurse manager interview questions that you can expect to see in your interview. If you’re nervous, preparation is the best way to reduce stress going in.

You may be asking yourself “what are the top nurse manager interview questions and answers?” We will get there! Let’s start by discussing a few other aspects of what to expect. We will then provide 50 top nurse manager interview questions & answers in 2024 to help ease some anxiety.

How Hard Is It To Ace The Nurse Manager Interview?

It can be difficult but that does not mean that it’s impossible. Let’s break it down. There are a lot of aspects that go into finding the best nursing manager for a department. These common interview questions for nurse manager candidates will help, but you will need to take the time to fully prepare. It will not be as difficult if you put the time in prior to the interview.

What Are The Top 5 Things Interviewers Look For In Nurse Manager Candidates?

Common nurse manager interview questions ask you to touch on the following 5 things during your interview. These are aspects of a nurse manager candidate that your future employer will want you to demonstrate. Take these into consideration when formulating potential responses to the questions you find yourself being asked during the interview process.

1. Leadership-

As you will be managing a group of people, you should have leadership experience prior to your interview. Leadership can be demonstrated through the stories you tell and the answers you provide your interviewers.

2. Communication-

As a leader of a team, you will need to be able to effectively communicate your needs for the best outcome. This includes how you regularly communicate with coworkers, as well as how you can explain information in a way for others to understand. You will have to demonstrate good communication in delivering both good news as well as bad news to others.

3. Organization-

Organization is important, there is an endless list of tasks and things that need to be carried out. Organization is critical for staying on top of deadlines and managing the department.

4. Shared perspective of organization-

As a nurse manager and leader within an organization, you have to share the same core values as the organization and be able to demonstrate this within your interview.

5. Adaptability-

The healthcare field is ever-changing and so is an individual department. You will be expected to make these transitions easier for everyone.

What Are The Main Types Of Nurse Manager Interview Questions?

Nurse manager interview questions will contain a variety of differences to ensure your interviewer gets all the information they need to properly choose the best candidate for their company. You will likely see behavioral questions, situational questions, as well as questions that verify your competencies and credentials. All of these will touch on your previous experience and can be a great way for you to truly demonstrate your abilities.


(The following are the 15 top nurse manager interview questions and answers in 2024.)

1. Question: Why should we hire you for this position?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

The interview wants to know your strengths and how you will bring them to the position. They want to know how you will connect your strengths to any question given to you.

Sample Answer:

I am a well-rounded nurse with leadership experience and want to improve the systems from within management. There are things that I know will not change, but I’d strive to make this department a better unit. I have worked with a variety of nursing staff and feel I have a good understanding of different leadership styles for more than just one type of nurse. I’d like to demonstrate my understanding of nursing past the bedside. I am familiar with the flow of the department as most of my experience has been similar and I am not someone to shy away from a challenge. You should hire me for this position because I will be a friend when it is needed, but I am also able to make difficult decisions with the department in mind.

2. Question: What is the most challenging aspect of nursing for you?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

They want to know about your weaknesses and how you handle these challenges. This is an opportunity for you to explain how these challenges won’t affect your leadership abilities.

Sample Answer:

The most challenging aspect at the beginning of my career was just working with so many different people. You work with patients, their families, doctors, and people from different departments. It makes it hard to manage nursing tasks on top of the individualized approach needed for each situation. Each person has a different level of education, a different learning style, and a different preferred communication style. In order to effectively teach patients and families, you must understand each of those learning styles and communication styles. With years of experience, I now appreciate the differences in everyone’s approach.

3. Question: When was a time you were overwhelmed and how did you overcome it?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

The interviewer wants to know how you handle stress and what helps you overcome the stressors of the job. Were you able to assess the situation and come up with a plan that you were able to then execute?

Sample Answer:

When given a big project that incorporates a lot of different components, I need to divide the project into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps me avoid analysis paralysis when I think of too many objectives to complete and lose sight of the overall goal. I think it’s important to have good multitasking skills but to also know when your focus needs to shift to just one thing at a time. The nursing profession is a constant flow of multiple tasks and it can be overwhelming at times. To manage this stress, I try to take one thing at a time and ask for help when I need it.

4. Question: What traits do you feel are essential for a nurse? What would you want your staff to be like?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

This question asks two separate things but wants you to hone in on the best-case scenario for a fully staffed department. What characteristics will you be looking for when you might be in charge of hiring new employees and what characteristics do you find most valuable? This is a time for you to also demonstrate how you fit into these characteristics and how you will bring them to this department.

Sample Answer:

Communication is an essential trait of nurses. As a nurse manager, it is also important to have open communication and to be able to clearly express what is needed and what your expectations are for your staff. Clear communication with the nursing staff can help avoid conflict as well as provide support where needed. I would want my nursing staff to be able to come to me comfortably with their concerns. I believe that starts with open communication from both parties involved. With comfort and open communication comes trust. It is essential the nursing staff can trust their manager, which is why I always strive to get to know my staff and understand how they communicate best.

5. Question: How do you manage your stress on your days off?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

Nurse manager interview questions like this want to know who you are as a person both in the clinical setting and in your personal life. This is an opportunity to explain who you are as a person and what you might value outside of work. It will also demonstrate that you take care of yourself outside of work and will not burn out too quickly. The first step to taking care of others is first taking care of yourself so this is a way for your hiring committee to ensure you are doing that.

Sample Answer:

Exercise is a large part of my daily stress relief routine and it is something I continue to do even on my days off. I will often spend time with family and friends to unwind and take the time away from work to not only physically recover, but mentally recover as well. This balance has been a nice way for me to thoroughly enjoy the field and has helped my drive and determination in moving on to other positions.

6. Question: Tell me about a time when you were required to use a form of written communication to express your ideas. How did you do so effectively?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

A significant shift into a managerial role is the amount of communication that is required to properly lead a team of individuals to succeed. The interviewers want to know that you are capable of effectively expressing ideas in written form. Throughout the interview process they will see your verbal communication skills but they will need an example to know how you can use written communication. Within busy departments, emails and other written communication is critical in getting messages out as you will not be able to verbally address every concern with every employee so this is how they will find out if you are capable of doing so.

Sample Answer:

I’ve been using written communication for years within my charting and pride myself on the clarity and details when giving a written report. In a busy department, you don’t always have time to contact others via phone or to speak in person so written communication must be clear, concise, and accurate. I think this will carry over to a management position as a significant amount of information will be communicated via email.

7. Question: What values are most important to you as a leader?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

They want to know first what you look for in a leader and second how you will fit this mold. They want to know that you practice what you preach in the sense that you value important attributes they see as important to a leadership role.

Sample Answer:

The most important values of a leader to me are honesty and trust. They go hand in hand and it is important as a leader that you are honest with your staff. And the same is true the other way around. Staff members must be honest with leadership as well. The staff needs to be able to trust you as a leader and you need to be able to trust the staff as well.

8. Question: Tell me about your nursing career.

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

This open-ended statement allows for the interviewer to get a good understanding of what experience you have and what additional things you have done with your career that might not have been reflected on your application or resume.

Sample Answer:

Like many others, my nursing career is unique. I went back to school for nursing after I had graduated with a degree in business. I had no medical experience but knew I wanted a career in the medical field. I knew I always wanted to work with babies so I worked in a NICU and have always loved working with children as well so I got a per diem position at an outpatient surgery center. I’ve loved the variety and pace working with children brings. I have experience running an infusion clinic where I have more autonomy and flexibility. Right now, I am looking for a leadership position that will allow me to hone in on my strengths and take what I have learned from my experience at the bedside, and help others throughout their nursing career.

9. Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

Interview panels (specifically management) love to know you have future goals for yourself both within your career and in your personal life. To be a good manager it is important to keep the future in your mind and always strive to be better. This question opens the opportunity for you to demonstrate this.

Sample Answer:

In 5 years, I see myself within a position that is fulfilling to me and challenges me. I plan on staying in the managerial position and becoming a better leader. In my personal life, I see myself settling into a new hobby. I have little ones at home now, so in the next 5 years they’ll be in school full time and I will have much more time for myself.

10. Question: Why are you leaving your current position?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

In most nurse manager interviews, they will have a question asking why you are leaving your current job, but a question like this stems deeper than just curiosity. The interviewer will be evaluating your reason for any red flags that they might need to look out for. Did the employer treat you poorly, was there a legal reason, did you not get along with others well, or was it a performance issue? Regardless, they want to understand and take into consideration all factors of you as an employee. Maybe you are finding yourself naturally taking on more leadership roles within your current department and want to take the next step. Or your current nurse manager position is within a smaller unit and you would like to make more of an impact. Regardless, be honest.

Sample Answer:

I’m leaving my current position for my personal growth and development. I found myself in a place where I was no longer challenged in a conducive way and feel as though I have gotten the most out of my current position. I’d like to continue to expand my leadership skills and benefit a different department in the process. I loved the staff and position, but now I'm looking for something that challenges me differently.

11. Question: How do you ensure your tasks are being completed at appropriate times?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

Time management is a huge part of being a nurse and specifically a nurse manager. There are deadlines regularly and the interviewer knows you have a system that works for you. You want to convey that you can be trusted to complete what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by.

Sample Answer:

I have a system that works for me and I use my planner for everything. I write everything down and if it has a hard deadline it will get done. I make lists to prioritize and keep my mind on track to completing these tasks. For me, I must have a good overview within my calendar to then analyze what needs to get done first and what I should be working on to meet future deadlines. I have a constant “to-do list” and my organization helps me stay on top of the overall goal. I’ve also learned over the years to delegate tasks, so if there is something that I know that could fairly easily be delegated I will delegate it to the appropriate person.

12. Question: How would you go about educating a family member or patient who did not understand medical jargon?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

Because you won’t be doing this as much as a manager, this is a specific question that interviewers will ask to look into your past and see how well you are able to deliver information. This is a question to better understand your communication strategies and the appropriate skills necessary to make a successful manager.

Sample Answer:

First I would assess their knowledge of their current medical condition to get an understanding of what it is that they are having trouble understanding. Then I would do my best to meet them at their comprehension level and provide them with definitions and examples if needed. I will always follow up by asking if they have any questions so they are given an opportunity if they need clarification on something. Oftentimes, medical jargon has been so ingrained in our minds that even when we attempt to simplify our terms, we still use it. So, I like to open up for questions at the end just in case I wasn’t as clear as I thought I was being.

13. Question: When you feel like you are under a lot of pressure, what steps do you take to overcome it?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

A nurse manager interview question like this can be a way for them to not only see how you perform under pressure, but also illustrates what a high-pressure situation looks like to you. They want to assess how much you are able to handle before you begin to feel overwhelmed.

Sample Answer:

I try to prioritize what needs to get done based on timing and importance. I’d say the times when I feel the most pressure is when I have too many things to do and don’t feel like I have enough time to do them. This can be at work on a busy shift, or home when the house is a mess and my kids need to be in 3 different places. I’ve found it helpful to go into my day with a plan but to also be flexible when things change. As long as I have an idea of what needs to get done when I’m becoming overwhelmed I’ll take the time to manage my thoughts to have a more clear understanding of what I need to do.

14. Question: When was a time you did not know the answer to a question? How did you go about finding the answer?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

They want to know how you solve problems and what you do when you may not be confident in a given situation. This is a way for them to assess how you handle stress and how you can effectively solve problems without running to the first person you see to do it for you.

Sample Answer:

I’m the first to admit that I do not always have the answer to questions, but that has never stopped me from finding the answer or learning it myself. I am very self-motivated and if I have a problem, I am usually proactive in my approach. If I ever find myself in a situation that I don’t know the answer to I will usually try and figure out the problem by myself first. If I am unable to come up with a conclusion then I will reach out to the most appropriate person and discuss my options.

15. Question: How would former coworkers describe you?

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know:

They want to know how well you are aware of how your actions affect those around you. Are you a team player who is willing to help when needed, or would most of your coworkers describe you as someone who sticks to her work only and never asks anyone for anything?

Sample Answer:

My previous coworkers would say that I am hardworking and knowledgeable. They would often come to me when they had questions or needed help with a skill they have never performed before. I was always willing to help out and everyone on the floor knew that if I was able to I would help.


(The following is a list of the other top 35 nurse manager interview questions in 2024.)

1. Question:

How would you respond to a nurse denying a request of yours?

2. Question:

Why have you wanted to shift into a managerial position in nursing?

3. Question:

Describe an emergency situation where you had to act quickly. Would you do anything differently if you had to do it all over again?

4. Question:

How do you keep up to date with best nursing practices?

5. Question:

What are some of your weaknesses and what are you doing to improve them?

6. Question:

Describe a time when you have had to motivate a team.

7. Question:

What size team do you have experience managing and what size do you feel is ideal for this managing style?

8. Question:

Tell me about a time when you were surrounded by heightened emotions within your department.

9. Question:

What leadership style do you gravitate towards? Can you provide an example of when you used this style?

10. Question:

How do you plan to encourage nurse retention within the department to keep skilled nurses on the floor?

11. Question:

Why did you choose this nursing specialty?

12. Question:

How do you stay organized to maintain an efficient unit?

13. Question:

Do you think nursing skills or leadership skills are more important for a nurse manager role? Explain your reasoning.

14. Question:

How would you handle a situation where a nurse was underperforming?

15. Question:

What has drawn you to this organization/department in particular?

16. Question:

Describe a time when you had to address a conflict within your department. What was the conflict and how did you handle it?

17. Question:

What will you do to provide a positive working environment for staff?

18. Question:

Tell me about a time when you were given an order that you did not agree with.

19. Question:

Tell me about a time you were the sole educator in a given situation. How did you ensure everyone understood?

20. Question:

Tell me about a time when you were involved in a situation that resulted in a negative patient outcome.

21. Question:

What are some of your strengths as a nurse?

22. Question:

When was the last time you had to have a difficult conversation with a frustrated patient or coworker? How did this conversation go?

23. Question:

When was a time when you were proud of a team you were a part of or managed? Why were you so proud?

24. Question:

If offered this position, what are some of the first things you would do?

25. Question:

Describe your favorite manager and why were they your favorite?

26. Question:

Tell me about a time you implemented change. Did you agree with it? Why or why not?

27. Question:

Describe a time when you found it difficult to communicate with a doctor. How did you overcome this challenge?

28. Question:

When tackling a long-term project, what keeps you motivated, and how do you achieve the best outcome?

29. Question:

When was a time you were challenged as a leader?

30. Question:

How often do you delegate tasks?

31. Question:

Describe a time when your initial plan was altered. What were the results?

32. Question:

When was a time when you successfully anticipated a potential problem before it happened?

33. Question:

Tell me about a time you have given constructive criticism. How did the other person respond?

34. Question:

What are some of your strengths as a leader?

35. Question:

Describe a time when you felt underwhelmed in a role. What did you do to resolve that feeling?

5 Tips To Prepare For A Nurse Manager Interview

1. Practice these nurse manager interview questions!
2. Learn about the different styles of questions and how to answer them.
3. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of your new position.
4. Take the time to learn about the organization you are interviewing for.
5. Read 50 Great Nursing Interview Tips to Get Hired in 2023

5 Good Questions To Ask At The End Of Your Nurse Manager Interview

We all know after the interview panel asks you nurse manager interview questions they will open up the floor for you to ask a few yourself. Here are a few ideas of what you can ask them. Remember this is just as much an interview of them as it is an interview of you. Use this time to make sure this is a place you want to invest your time and energy.

1. How many nurses can I expect to manage?
2. Why did the previous manager leave?
3. If you could give the incoming nurse manager some advice, what is one thing you would tell them?
4. Where would I fall within the chain of command at this facility?
5. When can I expect to hear from you? What are my next steps?

BONUS! 5 Things You Should Never Do In Your Nurse Manager Interview

We’ve covered the common interview questions for nurse manager candidates and what you should focus on. Now let’s make sure you stay clear of the following mistakes that might ruin your chances of getting offered the position of your dreams.

1. You should never come with scripted/generic answers. Have personal accounts/stories. Don’t just stick to buzz words or what you think they want to hear.

2. Don’t ask about time off. There will be a time and place for this later on if hired.

3. Talk down about previous job sites or other nursing roles. You’re first time meeting someone probably isn’t the best time to go on a rant.

4. Don’t assume you already have the position, you could be seen as cocky during the interview. They are interviewing you and have the final say.

5. Don’t lie! I cannot stress this enough. No answer is worth lying about because it speaks more about your character than anything else.

My Final Thoughts

The interview process is a huge part of being hired into a position like this. Not everyone is a good fit for a nursing manager and it will show in the interview. Be as prepared as you can and you will be surprised at how much it can help you later on. This is the first step in expanding your leadership abilities.

I hope we have answered what are the top nurse manager interview questions and answers for you. There are so many great resources out there but it is up to you to use them. These 50 top nurse manager interview questions & answers in 2024 will be your best start to understanding what will be expected of you for this interview. You are doing everything you need to, and congratulations on the interview! That alone is a huge accomplishment. Now it’s up to you to continue to impress them with your refined interview skills.


1. What Are Some Of The Most Difficult Interview Questions Asked To Nurse Manager Candidates?

The most difficult interview questions asked to nurse manager candidates might make you look bad. These ones ask about weaknesses or a time where you had to play “bad cop”. Here are a few examples that might be hard to answer if put on the spot.

● How would you handle a nurse denying a request of yours?
● How do you plan to encourage nurse retention within the department to keep skilled nurses on the floor?
● Tell me about a time when you were involved in a situation that resulted in a negative patient outcome.

2. How Do I Deal With A Difficult Question In My Nurse Manager Interview?

Nurse manager interview questions will no doubt be difficult to answer. They will ask you to touch on multiple aspects of your experience and potential to lead a group. Take your time and ask for clarification if you need and take a moment to formulate your response before answering. As always, be honest!

3. What Are Top 3 Behavioral Interview Questions Asked To Nurse Manager Candidates?

Most of these questions will be the ones focusing on leadership, teamwork, and communication with staff rather than dealing directly with patients. They want to know how you effectively use indirect patient care techniques to demonstrate your role in nursing.

1. Was there a time when you had to assume a leadership role and how did you demonstrate it?
2. Describe a time when you found it difficult to communicate with a doctor. How did you overcome this challenge?
3. Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss. What actions did you take?

Also, check out! 40 TOP Nursing Behavioral Interview Questions & Answers – 2023 for more ideas on these types of questions.

4. What Are The Top 3 Operating Room Nurse Manager Interview Questions?

The shift of this will be on the specific aspects of the OR that would be more important here than within other departments. Here are some of the top interview questions that will be of great value to you.

● Why did you choose this nursing specialty?
● When was a time when you were proud of a team you were a part of or managed? Why were you so proud?
● When was a time when you successfully anticipated a potential problem before it happened?

5. How Do I Handle The Stress Before A Nurse Manager Interview?

To reduce your stress before the interview, proper preparation will be key. Other ways to reduce stress when thinking about nurse manager interview questions before the interview is to do breathing exercises, talk to a friend to express your concerns, or take a brief walk to clear your head. It might also be helpful to practice the drive to the interview site to scope out the parking and ease your anxiety of not knowing what to expect.

6. What To Wear To A Nurse Manager Interview?

Dress professionally. A good rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution and dress more professionally if you are questioning it. Women should not wear anything too revealing. Men should be in slacks and a button-up top with a tie.

7. What To Bring To A Nurse Manager Interview?

It is important to bring resumes, paper and pen for taking notes, and a positive attitude. It is also a good idea to have references ready to give them as well as a copy of relevant certifications. Unless they specifically ask, nothing else will be necessary. They can get a lot out of the interview questions for nurse manager candidates but your personality and character will be more apparent in subtle ways.

8. How Long Do Nurse Manager Interviews Last?

Because these are typically more of a leadership role, you can expect these to be longer than your nursing interview. There will likely be multiple candidates that they really want to know to make sure it is a good fit for the department as a whole. They can ask any number of the nurse manager interview questions so it is a good idea to plan for at least an hour.

9. How To Answer Nurse Manager Interview Questions Online?

Due to many restrictions on visitation, as well as growth within the healthcare industry, more places of employment are utilizing technology to assist in the hiring and interview process. An online nurse manager interview will have questions like any other nurse manager interview and should be treated like any other in-person interview. Expect to have the camera on during the interview so that the interviewer can interact with you as much as possible. Having a quiet place for the interview may be helpful but come prepared with headphones if you know that noise is unavoidable.

10. How To Prepare For A Nurse Manager Phone Interview?

It is important to prepare as you would for an in-person interview. By reviewing these interview questions for nurse manager candidates you will be prepared for most of what you will see. Remember that they are not able to see your body language or facial expressions, so your voice and intonation will play a bigger role because of the nature of the interview.

Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN
Brittney Bertagna is currently a nurse and writer in Las Vegas, NV. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration she completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. While working a night shift in the neonatal ICU she went back to school to get her second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Now she enjoys working with children in the surgical setting as well as with her adult patients as an infusion nurse.