20 Most-Common Nurse Practitioner School Interview Questions and Example Answers

Written By: Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN

So, you have taken the plunge and decided to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Congratulations. Now it is time for the NP school admission interview, and you are wondering what are the most common nurse practitioner school interview questions? This article will help you to be prepared to ace your interview. Read on to find out the 20 most common nurse practitioner school interview questions and example answers to help you look like a pro for the interview.

What are the Most-Common Nurse Practitioner School Interview Questions?

(Following are the 20 most-common nurse practitioner school interview questions and example answers.)

1. Why Do You Want to be a Nurse Practitioner?

There are so many great reasons to become a nurse practitioner that some forethought should go into forming a concise, heartfelt answer to this nurse practitioner school interview question. Even though an NP can make a high income, most schools look for more than just the obvious answer of a healthy salary and job security when asked this question.

If you have a personal story about a desire to nurse at a higher level or a patient or nurse practitioner that motivated you to seek an advanced nursing degree, now is the time to polish it up and use it for the interview.

One significant point to mention is that you will be allowed the freedom to work independently to incorporate holistic patient-centered care as an NP. This fact differentiates the NP from some other medical professions, as NP’s takes pride in empowering the patient to become active in their own care.


2. What do you know about the role of a Nurse Practitioner?

Researching what is a nurse practitioner and the scope and practice of an NP will help give you some background for this nurse practitioner school interview question.

However, personal experience working alongside or shadowing an NP will provide you with insights to relate more personally to this question, making you stand out from the other applicants. Having a shadowing experience with a nurse practitioner will also help you answer many of the other questions during the interview with interesting first-hand facts and stories.

Be ready for a 2nd question along these lines of perhaps “why do you want to be an NP instead of a physician or physician’s assistant.” Be able to easily differentiate between the 3 professions and why you are choosing to become an NP instead of other options.

3. What Made You Decide on Your NP Specialty?

Here is where your previous experience can make a difference in getting into the program. For example, suppose you seek to get into a pediatric nurse practitioner program and do not have any significant experience with nursing children. In that case, this is one of the nurse practitioner school interview questions that may make or break your chances of getting into the program. Your chances of being accepted are higher with extensive nursing experience in the NP specialty that you are seeking.

It is best to use personal nursing experiences to explain why you are passionate about your selected NP specialty area. The interviewer will respond favorably to your passion and dedication that you portray with your answer.

4. Tell Me a Little About Yourself

This question is a typical question from most interviews. But sometimes, a general question like this one is harder to answer than a specific one. Therefore, deciding what points may be significant and of interest to the interviewer takes some preparation.

A brief summary of nursing experience and some exciting career highlights are necessary to give the interviewer a sense of your nursing background. You should include some intriguing details outside of what they can find on your resume. An example may be that you are motivated by working with interns and nursing students and that you have volunteered to mentor numerous new grads due to this passion.

Also, volunteer experience can play a part in helping you to impress the interviewer successfully, so remember to incorporate it into your response.

5. Why Do You Think You Will Be Successful as an NP?

The interviewer is looking for what makes you stand out from the other applicants. Do you have any stories detailing when you went above and beyond what was expected in your role as a nurse? Do you have a desire to be a trailblazer in the field of medicine? Are you an empathetic and dedicated RN with excellent leadership skills?

Nurse practitioner applicants who can prove that they have what it takes to be an NP by listing several outstanding nurse qualities will fare well with the question of how to be a successful nurse practitioner.

6. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

On the surface, this nurse practitioner school interview question looks pretty straightforward and easy to answer. This question is asked very specifically to assess your career goals and if they will benefit the body of nurse practitioners and patients they serve.

For example, someone required to continue their education for a condition of employment and chooses NP school as a convenient option is less likely to impress than a nurse who has a passion for working as an NP in rural, poverty-stricken areas where medical care is scarce.

Your 5-year goal and success as an NP is a reflection of the program, and the school will want graduate NP’s who will make them proud.

7. Why Do You Want to Enroll in This Program?

Why did you choose this school or program is less about the school and more about how you decided to make your particular choice. Your decision-making process will illustrate what factors are important to you for your life and career. An example would be that your program of choice was close to home or offered financial aid for which you may qualify, in addition to the program having excellent reviews. Highlight some features of the college that appeal to you, like small class sizes or diversity.

To infuse some passion into this question, you should also express why this program is a good fit for you based on your experiences in life and as a nurse. You will need to research the school and program to find out how the program courses, professors, and/or mission align with what is important to you. If you can tailor your response to make it more personal, then “why do you want to enroll in their particular NP program” will be one of the nurse practitioner school interview questions you can master.

8. Can You Relate a Situation Where You Had a Conflict with a Colleague and How Did You Resolve It?

It is unrealistic to think that you never had any problems with anyone at work. What the interviewer wants to find out is how are your conflict resolution skills. Since this may be an unpleasant topic for you, figuring out an answer to this question ahead of time takes the emotion out of the memory and gives you time to prepare a thoughtful response.

If possible, choose a situation that was a low-level conflict that is not a heated topic and had a positive outcome. Briefly describe the dispute in a neutral manner and concentrate on how you resolved the problem. Mention how you incorporated open communication between you and the colleague and avoided going directly to administration, if possible. This is one of the nurse practitioner school interview questions where the interviewer wants to see how you resolved the conflict, not your supervisor.

9. How Do You Handle Stress at Work?

There is no doubt about it; working as an NP can be stressful. How you conduct yourself in a stressful situation is telling as to how you will handle the stress of attending NP school. The school looks for nurses who will survive the program and make them look good once you are a successful nurse practitioner.

Once again, examples of real-life stressful situations are an effective way to answer this query. Explain how you handled it efficiently and without panicking or freaking out. If you incorporate stress relief techniques for yourself or staff, this would be a good place to outline what has worked in your experience.

10. How Would You Describe Your Bedside Manner as a Nurse?

All programs want their NP graduates to show empathy and integrity towards their patients in their nursing practice. These qualities transfer into what is described as a good bedside manner.

By looking your patients in the eye when speaking with them, listening to their needs, and avoiding other distractions during their visit with you, you emphasize that you value patient-centered care. A personal story of how you interacted with a patient would provide a good example.

11. Describe Your Undergraduate Experience

Even if you have many complaints about your previous higher education institution, now is not the time to air them. Highlight what you liked about college and what you learned from the experience. This would include any sports, school-related travel, volunteer, or extracurricular activities that may have formed you into the awesome nurse that you are today. In addition, discuss significant clinical rotations, professors, and courses that were particularly meaningful for you.

This is one of the nurse practitioner school interview questions that can come across as boring, but your unique twist can help to provide a captivating answer.

12. Do You Have Any Regrets About Your Undergraduate Experience?

This is an excellent time to discuss some of the possible holes in your college resume. Did you study all of the time and not participate in many extracurricular activities or take advantage of what the college had to offer? If so, you may want to emphasize that you are excited about what this new institution offers. Name a few events/programs that may interest you, such as utilizing the workout areas, attending concerts and sporting venues.

Or were you the opposite and did not study hard due to having too much fun? Although I would skip the mention of being a partier at college, you could use this opportunity to capitalize on how you have matured and plan to make the graduate school experience more about getting better grades since this is now a priority for you.

13. What Are Your Strengths?

Even though this is another common interview question, some people have a hard time talking about themselves in a way that may seem like bragging. Do NOT make the mistake of downplaying your strengths and best attributes. You will shoot down your chances because there are plenty of other NP applicants out there who love to toot their own horn.

The interviewer is looking for:

• Your experience in the field of study you have selected
• Resilience to make it through the program
• Positive attitude
• Effective communication skills
• Strong work ethic, study habits, and tenacity
• Leadership skills and potential
• Well-rounded individual
• Stories of how you have overcome obstacles

Personalize the list to fit your strengths. Giving an example with each positive quality will have a greater impact than just stating words that the interviewer may want to hear.

14. What Are Your Weaknesses?

Now is not the time to give a laundry list of all of your less-than-desirable qualities. Pick one weakness only. Make it a fixable one that is not overly grievous and is directly or somewhat related to nursing. If this weakness is one that you are working to rectify, that is even better. Do not spend a lot of time describing your fault. Simply relate what it is and then further explain how you are overcoming the weakness.

Some examples:

• Not a lot of nursing experience as I recently graduated (this is obvious to the interviewer, so no real strike against you). What courses or other actions are you taking to gain experience? You can also capitalize on your quick ability and eagerness to learn.
• I am not as adept as I would like at a particular computer skill (and relate how you are working on this to make you more skilled in this area)
• I am learning to delegate more over time (and explain how).

As one of the trickier nurse practitioner school interview questions, it is not wise to say that you are a perfectionist or workaholic as these are more cliché answers, and the interviewer may not be impressed.

15. Describe a Highlight of Your Career

The sky is the limit on this question! You do not need to have a published article or be the director of nursing to ace this question (although they are great highlights). Show passion for your job or nursing profession. Give an example of where you have made a difference as a nurse. Be prepared to describe the highlight with feeling.

Some examples are:

• Saving a life
• Positively affecting my community in some way with nursing
• Delivering a baby
• Attending a medical mission trip
• Positively influencing other nurses
• Meeting a career goal
• Making a difference for a family member of a dying patient

Describing a highlight in your career is one of the nurse practitioner school interview questions that should make you feel terrific about being a nurse.

16. Relate a Situation that Challenged You as a Nurse

This answer can be pretty much anything in your nursing experience. The field of nursing is wrought with challenges. Ethical issues, staffing shortages, dealing with your own emotions during stressful situations, crazy hours, administration problems, time management, work-life balance, and specific patient situations are just a few examples that nurses deal with regularly.

The interviewer will be looking for how you managed the challenge, so don’t spend too much time racking your brain for the worst trial that you can think of. Matter of factly relate the problem and then explain in greater detail how you solved it. Highlight your strengths in the situation. It is OK to say that you asked for help, as nurses often need to reach out for assistance to resolve a complex issue.

17. Do You Anticipate Any Hardships While Attending NP School?

Both you and the interviewer know that NP school can be stressful, so answering “No” to this question would be the wrong answer. You do need to express that although you are sure that there will be challenges, you have what it takes to survive the NP program.

Researching ways to be successful while attending NP school will provide you with some information to show the interviewer that you are realistically preparing for the future when times may get tough during your program.

Also, if you can illustrate ways you have been resilient in the past, it will go a long way in getting you points for this nurse practitioner school interview question.

18. What Challenges Might You Face as a Nurse Practitioner?

Being familiar with some of the biggest challenges for NP’s and how to overcome them shows that you have given some forethought before entering this career. The school wants you to be successful and to help promote their name through your achievement as an NP. Therefore, knowing what you are getting into before you begin is one step towards success.

Researching nurse practitioner challenges will help you to prepare for this question. Also, be primed to answer the follow-up question of “how would you deal with the challenge you mentioned”, if asked.

Some challenges that NP’s may face are:

• Working with certain physicians who do not respect or know how to work with NP’s
• Some states not having full prescription authority
• Having to work within defined office expectations such as having to see a patient every 15 minutes
• Inexperience as a new NP

19. What is Your Ultimate Goal as a Nurse Practitioner

For many of us, becoming a nurse practitioner is our primary ambition. Giving much thought to this nurse practitioner school interview question may not have been a priority. However, the interviewer is not looking for someone who just wants to coast in their career as an NP after graduation. A successful candidate is someone who wants to always develop professionally and thrive in their career.

What are some quality answers?

• How you plan to challenge yourself clinically
• How you plan to challenge yourself professionally
• If you have loftier goals, such as establishing your own medical business, describe your dreams.

20. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Plan to attend the interview with a written list of quality questions. The interview is also about you choosing this particular program, so a curious mind is a good thing in this instance.

Examples of excellent nurse practitioner school interview questions for the interviewer:

• What are some attributes that you have seen in a potential candidate for success as an NP?
• Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to enter this program?
• How do students in your program perform on their board exams?
• Do I need to find my own clinical sites, or does the program provide them?


With the 20 most common nurse practitioner school interview questions and example answers outlined for you, along with a little bit of legwork, you should be feeling terrific about your upcoming meeting with your #1 NP school choice. So now that you no longer have the question of what are the most common nurse practitioner school interview questions?, you can relax You are sure to stand out from the other applicants. Good luck!

Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Donna Reese is a freelance nurse health content writer with 37 years nursing experience. She has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in her local community clinic and as an RN in home health, rehabilitation, hospital, and school nursing.