12 Most Common Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Interview Questions + Answers


Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C


Interviews can be incredibly intimidating for psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs, for both new graduates and experienced NPs. Recent graduates may have increased stress because it is their first job after completing and obtaining their certification to practice as a psychiatric mental health NP. But, it can also be intimidating for experienced psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) because they know the type of job they want and only apply to jobs that meet that criterion.

Regardless of experience, interviews tend to include similar questions—a huge plus! So, what are the most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions? Below, you will find a list of the 12 most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions and sample answers that will help prepare you to land your dream PMHNP job!



WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF PSYCHIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS?


The purpose of psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions is to help the interviewer determine whether you are a good fit and the right candidate for the position. The interview will give the interviewer a quick snapshot of your personality, experience, and communication skills. Be mindful that during the interview, there is a designated amount of time to get to know a person, so the PMHNP interview questions are direct and intentional to provide as much information as possible in a small amount of time.

Besides having the interview help the interviewer determine if you are a good fit for the PMHNP job, it is also your opportunity to get a feel for the organization and whether it is the right job for you.


ARE PSYCHIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS HARD TO ANSWER?


Psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions are not meant to be tricky, but they require preparation and practice to be successful when answering. These PMHNP interview questions allow you to portray your best self and land the PMHNP job.



WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON PSYCHIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS?


Below you will find the 12 most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions and sample answers for each question.


QUESTION #1: Tell me about yourself


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

This is one of the most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions—and can be tricky to answer. The interviewer wants to know a little about your nursing career and education, and sometimes they want to hear a little about your personal life. It is essential to keep your answer concise and between 1-2 minutes.

I recommend starting off talking about your professional life but be prepared to answer some personal questions, such as what you enjoy in your free time.

Sample Answer:

Hi, my name is (insert name here). I graduated from (insert college/university here) with my BSN 8 years ago. Since then, I have been working as a nurse at the local hospital—for my first year, I worked in med-surg and then transitioned to the behavioral health floor, where I worked for three years and discovered my true passion in nursing. I then returned to school and became a psychiatric mental health NP. I have worked for the inpatient behavioral unit for the last two years. Still, I am looking to transition to the outpatient setting as I want to develop more of a relationship with my patients and follow them long-term.

If the Interviewer asks about your personal life, you could include: In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family—I am married and have two kids aged 4 and 2, and they keep me busy! I also enjoy going for walks and hikes, puzzles, baking, and gardening in the summer.


QUESTION #2: Why did you want to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Another common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview question is why do you want to become a psychiatric mental health NP. By asking this PMHNP interview question, the interviewer wants to know why you chose to become a psychiatric mental health NP—be honest about why you chose this specialty.

Sample Answer:

I did not always know I wanted to become a psychiatric mental health NP. It wasn’t until I was working on the med surg floor as a nurse and caring for patients with underlying mental health concerns that I realized this might be an area I want to pursue more as a nurse. I then transferred and started working on the inpatient behavioral health floor, and my passion for learning about and caring for patients with mental health disorders grew. I enjoyed learning about the various mental health disorders in-depth and how to treat them pharmacologically and non-pharmacologically appropriately. After working on the behavioral health floor for two years, I returned to school and became a PMHNP, and I have never looked back!


QUESTION #3: In your opinion, what are the three most important qualities of a PMHNP?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

By asking this PMHNP interview question, the interviewer wants to know what qualities you value most as a psychiatric mental health NP—or what values you think the practitioner needs to deliver behavioral health successfully.

Sample Answer:

There are many important qualities of the PMHNP—but the three qualities I believe are most important for the PMHNP include honesty, respect, and patience. You must be honest to develop a trusting relationship with your patient. Respect is essential—your patient must feel that you respect them as an individual. This will help form a patient-practitioner relationship, which can positively improve the patient’s mental health. The third quality I believe a successful PMHNP needs is patience. It can take patience for your patient to start to trust you and form that therapeutic relationship. It also takes patience to see improvement with initiation and medication changes as the responses to these medications are often not immediate and can take weeks to notice changes.


QUESTION #4: What are your short-term goals as a PMHNP?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

The interviewer wants to know your short-term goals as a PMHNP. This is an essential question as the interviewer wants to know where you see yourself in 1-2 years and how you plan to grow as a provider.

Sample Answer:

My short-term goals as a psychiatric mental health NP include building and expanding my current knowledge base. I plan to achieve this by attending one in-person conference in the next 1 year and completing two additional conferences virtually—ensuring at least pharmacology is emphasized in at least one conference. This is important to me as I want to ensure I stay current on the information and treatments for various mental health disorders.


QUESTION #5: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

The interviewer wants to know more about your long-term goals as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. By answering this question, the interviewer will learn how you plan to grow as a PMHNP and if you plan on staying in this work environment or using it as a stepping stone before moving on to a different job.

Sample Answer:

I have set significant goals for the next five years. Within the next year, I plan on applying to a DNP program and have this completed in the next two years. I want to achieve this terminal degree as I want to teach for a psychiatric mental health NP program AND work as a PMHNP in the outpatient setting. This is important to me as I want to play a role in educating PMHNP students utilizing my education and knowledge from the field to help develop strong psychiatric mental health providers.


QUESTION #6: Can you tell me about a time you disagreed or experienced conflict with a co-worker? How did you handle the situation and what was the overall outcome?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Almost everyone will experience a disagreement with a co-worker at some point in their career. The interviewer wants to know how you handled this conflict and if the outcome ended positively. They are also assessing your communication and leadership skills.

Sample Answer:

Yes—I have experienced conflict with a co-worker. This happened while working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the inpatient unit at the local hospital. I had been there for a couple of years and was caring for a patient with multiple mental health problems—and I had cared for this patient before, so I knew some background on them and how they respond during their hospitalizations.

On the patient’s first night in the unit, I developed a treatment plan which included a change in medications and scheduled a few therapy sessions that would occur over the next several days. The patient agreed, and the family was updated. I was then gone from the unit for two days, and when I returned, the treatment plan had been completely changed. I was not happy—and neither was the patient. I calmly called the provider who made the changes to learn more. The provider felt that the medication changes would benefit the patient in the long run—I kindly responded that the patient had been prescribed those medications in the past, which worsened their anxiety. The other provider stated they were unaware of that as it was not indicated in the chart. After further discussion, a decision was made by the two of us that included a combination of the two treatment plans. I then presented the plan to the patient, who agreed, and the patient has been doing incredibly well.


QUESTION #7: Due to the complexity of many of the patients you will be caring for, family is often involved in the treatment plan. How do you plan on keeping the family informed of the treatment plan and progress made?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Through this interview question, the interviewer is assessing how you communicate with the patient and their family members. This is important for many patients with psychiatric disorders, as their family members often play an integral role in their overall wellness.

Sample Answer:

I believe family is an important part of a patient’s mental health—but before providing information to a family member, I would ensure the patient is okay with it, and they are on their HIPPA form. Once confirmed the family member is okay to update, I will take the time to inform them of the patient’s progress and any recent changes to their treatment plans and answer their questions. I would also encourage them to attend the appointments with the patient (if the patient is okay with that), allowing them to receive the information in “real time.”


QUESTION #8: Tell me about your strengths.


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

This is one of the most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions—and they are wanting to know about your strengths related to the PMHNP role. It is essential to list your strengths that pertain to the role you are applying for—and to try to keep the list condensed to 2 or 3 strengths.

Sample Answer:

I possess many strengths that make me an excellent PMHNP, including solid communication skills, patience, and compassion. These skills are vital in helping me be a successful PMHNP. They can help me build therapeutic relationships with my patient and their family—the foundation for ensuring my care is of the highest quality.


QUESTION #9: Tell me about your weaknesses.


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Tell me about your weaknesses is another frequently asked psychiatric nurse practitioner interview question. The interviewer wants to know about a weakness you have as a psychiatric mental health NP. Be sure not to describe a negative character trait or a flaw that will make you appear like a bad employee. You want to provide a weakness and then step on how you will improve over a designated period of time.

Sample Answer:

A weakness of mine is that I am a new graduate with no experience as a psychiatric mental health NP. While this is a weakness, I will gain knowledge, skills, and confidence over time to help me become an excellent PMHNP. This will be achieved through attendance of conferences, using tools in my daily practice such as UpToDate, and not being scared to ask questions to ensure my patients receive the best care possible.


QUESTION #10: Tell me about your experience as a psychiatric mental health NP.


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

The interviewer wants to know if you have worked as a psychiatric mental health NP—and if you have, where and what your role was. Be honest about your experience, and if you are a new grad, share that and maybe include how your nursing experience will prepare you for this new role.

Sample Answer:

I have worked for the last five years as a psychiatric mental health NP on my local hospital's in-patient behavioral health unit. This unit has 20 beds and is typically always full. This opportunity has allowed me to care for patients with various mental health disorders, including major depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, and those with suicidal ideation—and caring for them has included frequent assessments, initiating treatment plans, and adjusting treatment plans based on patients' responses. I have thoroughly enjoyed this job, but I am looking forward to being able to follow patients in the outpatient setting and forming professional relationships with my patients.


QUESTION #11: Many appointments are now conducted via telehealth—do you have experience with telemedicine?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Telemedicine has been around for a while—but since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been used even more. When the interviewer asks this question, they want to know your experience using telemedicine as a provider. If you do not have any experience, they want to know your knowledge of telemedicine and if you are interested in using this method.

Sample Answer:

Yes—I have experience providing care to my patients using telehealth. For the last year, I have been utilizing telemedicine to provide care to my behavioral health patients, averaging approximately 7-10 appointments a week. I have used it to assess, diagnose and treat patients—but I most commonly use it to complete my follow-ups with my patients. I have enjoyed using this method as it allows greater flexibility with my patients and possibly even more compliance since they do not have to interrupt their day as much as before coming into the clinic.

If you have not used telemedicine—be honest and say so. But, do state whether you would be interested in using it to care for your patients. A sample answer can be: No, at my current job, telemedicine is not utilized since I provide care in the hospital and see my patients daily. However, I would be very interested in learning how I can incorporate this tool into my practice to better meet my patients' needs.


QUESTION #12: Why do you want to join and what will you bring to this clinic as a psychiatric mental health NP?


What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

This question is one of the most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions and the interviewer wants to learn about you, including why you want to join this clinic and the skills and knowledge you will bring. They also evaluate how you will fit within the clinic regarding the other staff and patient population.

Sample Answer:

I have been working in this community for the last five years on the inpatient behavioral health floor at the hospital. I have enjoyed my experience there and have learned a lot during my time in this unit. I want to join your clinic as I like the opportunity to follow my patients in the outpatient setting—which will allow me to develop therapeutic relationships with them and follow them closer than I can in the inpatient setting. If given the opportunity, I will bring five years of knowledge and experience as a PMHNP, including competence with various screening tools, medications, and therapeutic communication.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


Interviews can be intimidating for psychiatric mental health NPs. Knowing what are the most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions can be helpful when preparing and practicing for the interview. After reading the above article, I hope you feel more confident in answering the 12 most common psychiatric nurse practitioner interview questions and sample answers—helping you land the PMHNP job of your dreams.


Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!