Any suggestions for making the best nurse hiring decisions?

All candidates can keep their best foot forward for the 45 minutes of an initial interview. But for smart hiring, deepening your understanding of candidates’ skill and character is critical. Behavioral interviewing, developed in the 1970s, is tremendously useful.

Your goal is to better understand candidates’ skills in teamwork, problem solving, customer service skills, stress and conflict management, and ethics. Ask probing questions that begin, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Give me an example of …”

Consider these sample questions:

•    Teamwork — Tell me when you had to work with someone difficult.
•    Problem solving — Give me an example when you had a problem to solve.
•    Customer service — Tell me when you dealt with a difficult resident or co-worker.
•    Handling stress — Give me an example of a time when you worked under extreme pressure.
•    Managing conflict — Tell me when you disagreed with a rule or approach.
•    Ethical practice — Tell me about a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you implemented it.

Pay close attention, and evaluate whether the skill in question is adequately indicated in the response.

Also, observe nonverbal communication. Do candidates look you in the eye, speak confidently and compassionately, without exaggeration? During their interview, do they say something positive about what they saw in the facility?

By asking all candidates a set of standard questions created in advance of interviews for a specific position, you will be comparing apples to apples when assessing candidates’ responses.

Please send your nursing-related questions to Judi Kulus at