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How Should Nurses Handle Job Interview Questions About Stress

So how should nurses handle job interview questions about stress? If you are a nurse, you will already be well aware that you have one of the toughest jobs in the world. You have to provide much-needed care while communicating with a variety of other people, including doctors, healthcare professionals, patients and their families. In addition, you may have to deal with life and death situations on every shift.

It is quite common for hiring managers to ask questions about stress during the job interview. How does stress affect you? How do you deal with it? The aim of this article is to explain how you can handle such questions with ease.

What are the reasons behind these questions?

Regardless of the nursing position you are applying for, interviewers will want to know how you cope with stress:

  1. Do you recognize that stress is present in your workplace?
  2. How do you handle stress on a personal level?
  3. Can you overcome any stressful situation?

How should you answer stress-related questions?

Before giving your answers about nursing and stress, you need to recognize that you will often encounter pressurized situations in your role as a nurse. However, there’s no need to worry, this admission will not disqualify you from being a viable candidate. Managers are fully aware that nursing is an extremely challenging profession.

Things to remember when answering stress-related questions

If an interviewer asks how you handle stress, you may wish to answer in one of the following ways.

  • I handle stress by directing my attention to my patients’ well-being as this helps to keep me calm and focused.
    This answer addresses three concerns:

You have acknowledged that stress is a natural part of your work
You have admitted that stress can affect you
You have described how you overcome stress

  • Pressure helps me excel in my work. I only need to balance positive and negative stress. Positive stress gives me motivation and keeps me productive.
    This answer addresses how you cope with stress as well as how it affects you personally.
  • I feel energized when working in a stress-filled environment.
    By responding in this manner, you are assuring the interviewer that you can successfully deal with whatever stress comes your way.
  • During emergencies, stressful moments are bound to occur. However, I don’t let the stress affect my main objective, which is to take care of my patients.
    This type of answer will please interviewers as it addresses how you handle the stressful conditions faced by nurses every day.
  • I exercise to help relieve my stress.
    This response addresses the interviewer’s question with regard to finding solutions to stress. There are various ways in which it can be handled. For example, according to this article, a nurse can use her sense of humor during hectic and stressful shifts.

Tips on how to respond to questions about handling and coping with stress

  1. Provide examples of how you handle stressful situations – If necessary, describe an incident where you faced tremendous pressure but were able to manage it successfully.
  2. What keeps you motivated? – Tell the interviewer how you excel in high-pressure work environments.
  3. Do you multitask? – Describe how you handle your various nursing duties within a set period of time.
  4. How do you prioritize your assigned work? – Talk about the strategies that prevent you from being overwhelmed with all the various tasks you need to perform at the same time.
  5. How do you respond to pressure? – Discuss how you continue with your work even when confronted by pressurized situations. Describe the personal traits and abilities you rely on to keep the stress at bay.
  6. How do you solve problems? – Provide examples and outline how you identify and address a problem. Tell the interviewer how you prevent a minor problem from becoming unmanageable and stressful.
  7. You can also talk about the specific stressors in your place of work, and why and how you handle them.

Things to avoid during the interview

Job interviews, especially for new nurses, can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, it is essential that you present a calm demeanor. Don’t show your nerves as the interviewer may see this as a sign that you don’t handle stress very well.

Avoid using words such as “can’t” (e.g., “I can’t perform under pressure) and keep the conversation positive. In addition, remember to stay on topic and talk about your accomplishments and abilities.


For nurses, interviews are nearly always part of the hiring process. With this in mind, you should be diligent in your preparation. You will need to convince the hiring manager that you are the best person for the job. As nursing can be a stressful profession, you may be asked several questions about how you cope under pressure. The interviewer will probably want to know your views on stress, how it affects you and how you handle it. Remember to follow the tips outlined above and make sure you answer these questions in a calm and assured manner.

This is a guest post from Matt Farrah.

Thanks Matt!