10 Best ICU Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

ICU nurse interview questions

An ICU nurse is a registered nurse who works with patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). These nurses care for people of all ages who have serious and life-threatening medical conditions.

When attending an interview as an ICU nurse, you must be prepared to respond to several different ICU nurse interview questions.

These ICU nurse interview questions are meant to assess your knowledge, skills, and abilities as an ICU nurse.

Scope of ICU Nurse Interview Questions

ICU nurses must have a thorough understanding of their hospital’s policies and procedures, as well as a strong foundation in medical terminology.

As an ICU nurse, you will be asked interview questions that assess your knowledge of these areas.

Different types of ICU nurse interview questions include behavioral-based questions, situational judgment questions, and standard interview questions.

Behavioral-Based Interview Questions for ICU Nurses

You should expect to be asked behavioral-based ICU nurse interview questions, which ask how you would respond to certain situations in the workplace.

See also: Behavioral Nursing Interview Questions

Some examples of these types of interview questions include:

  • Could you give me an example of a time when you successfully worked through a conflict with another nurse?
  • How do you deal with stressful situations?

Situational Judgment ICU Nurse Interview Questions

Other types of ICU interview questions include situational judgment questions.

These ask how you would handle certain situations if they occurred in the workplace.

Some examples of these are:

  • You are working on an eight-hour shift when you get a page telling you to report to a patient’s room immediately. How do you handle this situation?
  • You see a medication error is made by one of your coworkers. What do you do?

Standard Interview Questions

In addition to behavioral-based and situational judgment ICU nurse interview questions, it is customary for the interviewer to ask standard interview questions, which are commonly asked of all applicants in an interview.

Examples of these types of questions include:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Describe your ideal nurse manager.

With the above knowledge, there are those common ICU nurse interview questions you must be familiar with when attending an interview.

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Common interview questions for ICU nurses

7 Most Common ICU Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

This guide will give you the possible questions and answers you need to be familiar with when attending an interview as an ICU nurse.

1. How long have you been working as an ICU nurse?

When an interviewer asks this question, it means they are interested in knowing your level of experience as an ICU nurse.

It is important, to be honest with your answer and not exaggerate your experience or knowledge.

You can say that you have been working as an ICU nurse for the last X years and describe any formative experiences you had during those years.

Example answer:

I have been working as an ICU nurse for the last four years.

I completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing and then worked at a hospital-based ICU where I continued to add to my experience through direct patient care.

See also: Nursing Interview Questions

2. Are you comfortable with high-stress situations?

High-stress situations can be defined in many ways, but it usually means having to deal with life and death situations on a regular basis.

See also: Can Nurses Pronounce Death?

The interviewer would like for you to describe how well you work under pressure, so be specific about the experiences that you have had in high-stress work environments and how those experiences helped prepare you for the role of an ICU nurse.

Example answer:

I am very comfortable with high-stress situations.

In my past work experience as a CNA, I worked closely with many patients who were terminally ill and their families during the final stages of life.

Through these experiences, I learned how to communicate effectively and support patients and their loved ones through difficult emotional times.

See also: Interview Questions for Certified Nurse Assistant

3. What would you say is your greatest strength?

The greatest strength question can be one of the most difficult questions to answer.

You should pick a quality that you feel will be an asset to your work as an ICU nurse.

It is important to describe how you have used this strength in past experiences and why it would also benefit you in the role of an ICU nurse.

Example answer:

I would say my greatest strength is my ability to work well with others.

I am very comfortable talking to doctors, patients and their families, nurses, technicians, and other members of the healthcare team.

I am able to adapt my communication style according to the situation and person that I am dealing with on that particular day.

4. What is the biggest challenge ICU nurses face today?

This question is trying to see how you feel about the current state of ICU nursing.

You will want to mention a recent experience that highlights what has been a challenge for you as an ICU nurse and how it was resolved.

The interviewer wants to know your take on this topic, so give them your honest opinion without getting too personal or negative.

Example answer:

The biggest challenge ICU nurses face today is patient safety.

With so many different members of the healthcare team involved in a care plan, it is easy to have miscommunications and mistakes happen that can lead to a patient being harmed.

See also: PICU RN Interview Questions

5. What do you understand by the term “ward round”?

This question is testing your knowledge of what goes on during a ward round and how ICU nurses contribute to this experience.

While there are many different definitions of a ward round, your interviewer would like for you to focus on the specific aspects that pertain to what happens in the ICU setting.

It is also important, to mention why you would be a valuable contributor as an ICU nurse during this process.

Example answer:

A ward round is the daily gathering of members from different disciplines involved in a patient’s care to review their current state and plan for future care.

As an ICU nurse, I am part of those discussions and contribute my knowledge about the patient’s medical condition and how it is being affected by treatments that we are providing.

See also: Plastic Surgery Nurse Interview Questions

6. What made you apply for this role?

This is a great question because they not only want to make sure you are a good fit for the role, but they also want to know why their institution was the right fit for you.

Spend time describing what about their hospital and this specific role made you want to apply and how your experiences and skills make you a good candidate.

Example answer:

I decided to apply for this role because I was drawn to the idea of working with such a dedicated team in an organization that puts patient safety first.

I am passionate about my work and I know this would be a great fit for me.

See also: Med-Surg Nurse Interview Questions

7. Let’s assume you are hired for this role. What would be your first goal as an ICU nurse?

This question is trying to see what you envision yourself achieving once you have taken on the new role.

You will want to describe a realistic goal that shows that you are motivated, but it doesn’t need to be something that has never been done by anyone else.

See also: SMART Goals for Nursing With Examples

The interviewer wants to see that you can be a valuable addition to the team and this goal will help show them how you plan on contributing from day one.

Example answer:

My first goal as an ICU nurse would be to learn everything I can about the role and the hospital policies and procedures so that I can hit the ground running when I start the job.

I would also like to sit down with my manager and come up with a plan for how we can make the most impact in our area and contribute to improvements in safety and quality.

3 Most Common New Grad ICU Nurse Interview Questions

When attending an entry-level ICU nurse interview, what questions can you expect?

An entry-level ICU nurse has no experience to draw from in the field, but most likely has a degree in nursing and is fresh out of school.

This means that potential employers will be interested in your education and clinical training as well as your interpersonal skills.

These are the 3 most common interview questions for new grad ICU nurses.

1. What motivated you to become an ICU nurse?

As a new grad ICU nurse, this is the first question you should expect to answer.

You can talk about what motivated you to choose this nursing specialty and why you think it will be a good fit for your goals and personality.

Example answer:

I chose to be an ICU nurse because I really enjoy the intensity of the work and helping critically ill patients get better.

It’s rewarding knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s life.

See also: PCU Nurse Interview Questions

2. Describe the role of the ICU nurse within the hospital.

The second most common interview question you can anticipate is related to your role in an ICU setting.

You need to be prepared to give a description of your specific responsibilities but don’t forget about highlighting what contributions you will make throughout the process.

Example answer:

The role of the ICU nurse consists of many different responsibilities that all work together to provide excellent patient care.

In the ICU, I would be caring for critical patients and monitoring their progress while they are on mechanical ventilation or in cardiac arrest.

See also: How Can Nurses Improve Patient Outcomes?

3. Tell us about yourself.

The third most common interview question for new grad ICUs frequently comes as a “catch-all” question.

This is where you are getting the opportunity to tell the interviewer why you are the best candidate for the position.

This is not where you want to allow your nerves to get the best of you, so keep it professional and highlight those traits that make you a good fit for this role.

Example answer:

I am Michelle Carter. I am a recent graduate from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and a 4.0 GPA.

During my time there, I volunteered at Carraway Methodist Medical Center where I gained valuable experience working with patients on the cardiac unit.

See also: Tell Me About Yourself Nursing Interview Question

Conclusion: Common Interview Questions for ICU Nurses

Landing a role as an ICU nurse can be challenging due to the high demand for these roles.

To give yourself an edge over the competition, make sure you are prepared for common questions like those listed above.

Good luck with your interview!

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About Ida Koivisto, BSN, RN, PHN

Ida is both a registered nurse and public health nurse. Her passion is to provide as much valuable information about nursing to the world as possible. In her spare time from work and blogging, Ida loves to work out at the gym and spend time with relatives.