Nursing is a job with a meaningful purpose. Providing care to children and seeing them turning into young adults, with their ideals and dreams, can hardly be beaten.

But what about your own dream, your wish (or desire) to become a pediatric nurse? It won’t be easy to attain it. You will typically compete with many other applicants in your nursing interview, and you will have to demonstrate both your readiness for the job, and right attitude to work and life.

In this article I will analyze some questions they may ask you in an interview, and I will try to give you some advice on how to answer them. Let’s start.

 

Can you tell us something about yourself?

Try to talk not only about your education and clinical experience, but also about your character, attitudes, and dreams. Nursing is more than just administering vaccinations and measuring temperature. But you surely know that…

Say them how much you like to work with children, that you enjoy being around them, and that you dream of making some difference in life of your patients, or in your local community.

Nurses spend a lot of time with doctors and other healthcare professionals, and it helps if the two of you have something in common, some topics to discuss. That’s why you can mention a few things from your personal life as well–your hobbies, activities you enjoy doing. Show them that you have some life outside of work as well.

 

Why pediatric nursing?

A common answer (and certainly a decent one) is saying that you love children, that you enjoy being around them, that you’ve always dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse, and up to this point did all you could to make your dream come true.

But you can surprise your interviewers with even a better reply. For example, you can say that the early years of life are the most important for each man and woman. We develop our formulas of thinking during our early years, we build our immunity, we overcome certain diseases and illnesses.

When we forget genetics for a moment, we can say that our childhood determines (at least to a great extend) how healthy we’ll be for the rest of our lives, both physically and emotionally. And that’s exactly why you want to work with children. You see the positive impact you can have in your job.

And, considering how badly we fare when we consider the health of an average adult in 21st century (allergies, food intolerance, high blood pressure, cancer almost as common as flu, 22% of US adults experiences mental illnesses, 70% of adults are either overweight or obese), there’s certainly a LOT of work we can do at this front. And everything starts in childhood…

Another good alternative is referring to an extremely positive experience with nursing care from your childhood. You found a role model in a nurse, or you experienced first-hand how a good and emphatic nurse can help a child overcome a difficult period of their life. It inspired you to pursue career in pediatric nursing.

healthy child is playing with a whistle

Why do you want to work in our clinic/hospital?

Try to convince them that it was a sensible choice, that you didn’t apply with ten other healthcare institutions (even if you did). You can refer to their reputation, references you got from someone, or anything else that makes their place special in your eyes.

The key is to praise them for something. It can be modern equipment, attitude to children, excellent customer service, anything.

However, if you apply for a pediatric nurse job in a place that can hardly be praised for anything, you can refer to more prosaic reasons of your choice. You chose them because the place is nearby your house, or in a city where you always wanted to live.

There’s nothing wrong with applying for a nursing job in places that do not have the best reputation in the eyes of the patients or local community. You can come in, improve the atmosphere, and make the place better.

 

Describe the most difficult or stressful situation you encountered during your clinical experience.

Pediatric nursing is no walk in a park. Children are not adults, and many times they may not cooperate with you. They may break things in your practice, cry, be aggressive, tell you bad words, and so on. Each age group has their favorite way of making your life difficult.

Do not take me wrong though. This is an amazing job, you just can’t wear pink glasses when talking about it in your interview. You have to convince them that you see both sides of the coin—both good and bad things that belong to pediatric nursing.

Try to narrate a situation with a positive outcome. Or at least one that didn’t end up in a disaster. The most important thing is to ensure the interviewers that you did not panic, that you at least tried to stay calm, and focused on the solution of the problem.

This question is also your opportunity to show certain level of empathy. Surely, some child misbehaved during your clinical practice. But they are children, you have understanding for their feelings, emotions, and fears. And that’s exactly why the difficult situation didn’t derail you for a long time. You were able to bounce back quickly, and continued providing excellent care for the rest of your patients. Getting over any setbacks is an important skill for every medical professional.

Special Tip: To know how to answer a question, and to come up with an excellent answer on a big day, when facing a panel of interviewers, are two different things. If you experience anxiety, or somehow cannot find the right words when it counts the most, have a look at a new eBook I wrote for you, the Pediatric Nurse Interview Guide. Multiple brilliant answers to 25 most common pediatric nursing interview questions will help you streamline your preparation for this important meeting, and find the right words in every moment of your interview. Check some excellent answers directly on the eBook page. Thank you!

 

In your opinion, what role does education plays in pediatric nursing?

Educating parents (and children, once they are old enough to understand) plays an essential role in this job. Especially when we talk about healthy diet, hygiene, and other matters, including the mental and emotional development of their child.

Ensure the interviewers that you plan to educate the parents about everything important, and more than that–you plan to question them in each meeting (in good means), checking whether they follow your instructions, and do not neglect anything.

Healthcare professionals typically spend only a few hours with a child per month, or even less, unless we talk about serious diagnoses and prolonged hospitalization.
Parents (or guardians) spend the rest of the time with the children. They make the majority of decisions having crucial impact on their health.

Ensure the interviewers that you are well-aware of this, and that’s why you place a lot of value on educating parents. After all, prevention is the best cure

 

Imagine that a parent complained about the care their child received, and blamed you for a bad service. How would you react?

It is important to show your understanding for the emotions parents experience when their child is sick. They may act irrationally, and say things that they will later regret. You should be able to get over it.

What’s more, you should ensure the interviewers that you take each feedback seriously, and won’t simply dismiss it, attributing their words to their emotions. Though you try your best with every patient (and their parent), you can make a mistake. Feedback helps you realize your mistakes, and learn how to do things better next time over….

modern operating room in a children hospital

Other questions you may get in your pediatric nursing job interview

  • In your opinion, how does pediatric nursing differ to adult nursing?
  • What do you consider your greatest weakness as a nurse?
  • How do you imagine your cooperation with other nurses, medical assistants and other employees working here?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  • Many children will cry of fight to prevent getting a shot or other treatment. How do you plan to deal with it?
  • How would you define an excellent patient care?
  • Do you think we should adjust our communication when talking to children? If we should, in which way?
  • How do you make sure that parents stay calm and help you in your work, instead of hindering your progress?
  • ……

 

Conclusion, great answers to all questions

Pediatric nursing is a wonderful job. Whether you succeed in an interview for this position depends on several factors. First and foremost, you should show enthusiasm and motivation. They should get an impression that you really want to work as a nurse, and do not apply for this job only because you spent years (and a small fortune) to finish your studies.

Secondly, you have to convince them about right attitude to your work and various situations that will happen in your daily practice (uncooperative patient, angry parent, long day in the office, etc). You can do that with good answers to the questions I explained in this article. If you struggle with the answers, you can have a look at an eBook I wrote for you, the Pediatric Nurse Interview Guide, in which you will find multiple great answers to all difficult questions you may face in this interview (check the list on eBook page).

Last but not least, you should try to build a good connection with your interviewer, especially if it’s someone you’ll meet with on a daily basis in your work. Interviewers are only people. We prefer to hire nurses that are friendly and easy to talk to, people we will enjoy spending our time with during the day… That’s it, I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!

Matthew

* You can also download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

interview questions for pediatric nurses, PDF

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Matthew Chulaw
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