• 07 April 2020
  • 7 min read

Typical interview questions Theatre Nurses get asked and how to answer them

  • Olivia Lewis
    Theatre Nurse
  • 0
  • 4020
"Your prospective employers want to know about your journey, and what sparked your desire to work in theatre. Make sure you don’t just say “to pay the bills!”.

Theatre Nurse, Olivia Lewis gives a run-through of the classic questions asked during Theatre Nurse interviews, and how to answer them.

Topics covered in this article

Why did you choose to become a Nurse?

Why do you want to be a Theatre Nurse?

What qualities do you think make a great Theatre Nurse?

What are you most proud of (or biggest achievements) in your career?

Can you tell me about a difficult clinical scenario, and how you dealt with it?

Can you tell me your strengths and weaknesses?

Other questions you might face

How I prepared for my Theatre Nurse interview

What I wore to my Theatre Nurse interview

How did the NHS set up my Theatre Nurse interview (how many interviews, was it a panel, what was the setting)?

Was there a test I had to take as part of my Theatre Nurse interview?

My tips on how to succeed at interview as a Theatre Nurse

Why did you choose to become a nurse?

This answer should be easy to answer!

Whatever your reason is for becoming a nurse, it is special and unique to you.

The interviewers want to know what sparked your passion for nursing, so they get an insight into your life and personality.

Maybe it wasn’t one particular thing, but various events that led you to become a nurse.

Maybe you wanted to have a flexible career, maybe you are passionate about people… you may have even just loved watching grey's anatomy!

Why do you want to be a Theatre Nurse?

Again, this is unique to you; we all have a different story.

Your prospective employers want to know about your journey, and what sparked your desire to work in theatre.

Make sure you don’t just say “to pay the bills”!

What qualities do you think make a great Theatre Nurse?

Some qualities of great Theatre Nurses are; team work, communication, attention to detail, and stamina.

Here are some examples of what to say:

“A great Theatre Nurse should have excellent organisation and time management skills. Surgical lists are tightly scheduled, so you will be expected to have all your equipment ready beforehand.”

“A compassionate, caring personality is a big bonus for Theatre Nursing. Clinical skills are important, but knowing how to comfort someone when they are afraid before surgery is essential. Knowing what to say to alleviate fear from your patient is important.”

You are welcome to add any other qualities you think make a great Theatre Nurse.

What are you most proud of (or biggest achievements) in your career?

If you are an experienced nurse, you may have a special moment you will always remember, share it with your interviewers.

If you have recently graduated as a nurse, here is an example:

“My proudest achievement is graduating with my Nursing degree. Three years of hard work, commitment, dedication were all worth it when I graduated. It is one of my biggest achievements to date.”

Can you tell me about a difficult clinical scenario, and how you dealt with it?

The interviewers want to know how you handle adversity in a clinical setting.

Sometimes things don’t go to plan, and you need to demonstrate that you would deal with it appropriately.

Think about a time where something went wrong.

Here are some examples that you may come up with:

- Miscommunication - communication is essential in a theatre environment, explain a scenario where a lack of communication and how you dealt with it.

- Mistake - you or someone else may have made a mistake, how you overcame and rectified this.

- Patient care - a patient may have passed away, you may have had to break some bad news, or the patient may have been very distressed. Explain how you approached the situation and how it improved your future practice.

As nurses, we all have a few memorable moments where things went wrong, what we did to fix them, and what we learned in the process.

Can you tell me your strengths and weaknesses?

For many people, this question is difficult to answer.

Listing strengths without sounding arrogant, and listing our weaknesses without putting them off.

Choose two of your strengths, if you can’t think of anything, ask your family and colleagues what they believe your best qualities are.

Choose two weaknesses.

Use examples that could be turned into a strength.

Maybe sometimes you bring your work home with you, you have trouble dealing with certain personalities (e.g. aggressive/loud people), you might be shy and struggle to speak up for yourself, you may lack confidence in certain areas.

- Examples of Strengths

“I am naturally a compassionate and caring person, so I ensure my patients are comfortable and taken care of at all times."

"I work well in a team environment, ensuring everyone in the team feels valued and heard.”

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- Examples of Weaknesses

“I’m prone to overthinking - after a shift has finished I will pick apart what went wrong, and what I could do better next time. Sometimes that means I take work home with me."

"Sometimes I lack assurance in my ability to lead a team, I would love to do a leadership course to gain more confidence in myself and my leadership skills."

Other questions you might face

A common question is "How would you deal with making a mistake at work?"

For this, you might say that you would notify the charge nurse/manager immediately, and try to rectify the mistake as soon as possible.

Others include:

- How do you deal with stress?

- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

- What sort of salary are you looking for?

- Why did you leave your last job?

- What are your future goals/aspirations? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

- Do you have any questions for us?

How I prepared for my Theatre Nurse interview

I researched the values, history, and structure of the hospital.

I researched the theatres in the hospital, what the specialties were, and any other relevant information.

I practiced answering clinical questions and drug calculations in case of an exam.

I also had some pre prepared answers to potential questions I may have struggled answering, like what my strengths and weaknesses are.

What I wore to my Theatre Nurse interview

I wore plain slim black pants, with a top and knit jumper (it is cold in the UK!).

I wore plain black shoes.

My hair was tied up in a pony-tail and I wore minimal makeup - just enough to make me look less tired!

How did the NHS set up my Theatre Nurse interview (how many interviews, was it a panel, what was the setting)?

I was interviewed by two senior nurses at the hospital in a meeting room.

Luckily the nurses were very friendly and welcoming, so I was immediately at ease and comfortable.

I answered the questions with honesty and openness, which I think they appreciated.

I had one interview, which was about 40 minutes long, plus a 30 minute exam.

I received a job offer that afternoon from the Theatre Manager - I was over the moon!

Was there a test I had to take as part of my Theatre Nurse interview?

Yes, I took a test that assessed some clinical skills.

I needed to get 100% on the questions, which I suppose I did, since I was offered the job!

The questions were on safety and clinical decision making.

There was also a drug calculation section.

My tips on how to succeed at interview as a Theatre Nurse

Relax, and be yourself.

Answer the questions as honestly as you can, and if you don’t know the answer, just say so - don’t make it up!

Be confident in your qualities and abilities and they will love you for it.

As long as you demonstrate that you are a competent and safe nurse, you will be fine.

About the author

  • Olivia Lewis
    Theatre Nurse

I am a 24-year-old Theatre Nurse working at the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS trust. I specialise in general and emergency, but often rotate between theatres. In late 2018 I moved to the UK from New Zealand. In New Zealand I worked as a RN at Skin Institute, a private skin cancer, cosmetic, and dermatology clinic. In the future I would like to start my own clinic in cosmetic medicine. I am also passionate about international nursing and helping other nurses come to the UK.

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  • Olivia Lewis
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About the author

  • Olivia Lewis
    Theatre Nurse

I am a 24-year-old Theatre Nurse working at the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS trust. I specialise in general and emergency, but often rotate between theatres. In late 2018 I moved to the UK from New Zealand. In New Zealand I worked as a RN at Skin Institute, a private skin cancer, cosmetic, and dermatology clinic. In the future I would like to start my own clinic in cosmetic medicine. I am also passionate about international nursing and helping other nurses come to the UK.

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