Being a mental health nurse can be both a challenging and rewarding career. Now that you’ve graduated and gotten your license, it’s time to start your journey as a mental health nurse, one of the highest-paid nursing positions in the U.S.
You may have landed your first interview and are wondering what questions your interviewers will ask and how you should answer.
While it’s impossible to know exactly what questions your interviewers will ask, this article will outline some of the most common mental health nurse interview questions and examples of answers that will land you the job you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Mental Health Nurse Interview Questions and Answers
Mental health nurse (also called psychiatric nurse) interview questions are designed to gauge a potential candidate’s communication, nursing, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.
Your answers should demonstrate your proficiency in these skills while simultaneously highlighting your experience.
While there isn’t much competition in mental health nursing, you should illustrate that you understand the demands of the job and work with other staff to do what is best for each patient in your care.
1. Why do you want to work as a mental health nurse?
Expect to be asked why you want to work as a psychiatric nurse.
Indicate the reasons why you went into the field in the first place.
Maybe someone close to you suffered from the debilitating effects of mental illness, or how you’ve seen the need for quality mental health care now that cases of mental illness are increasing.
All my life, I’ve seen [insert name of affected friend/relative] struggle with mental illness.
They were in and out of psychiatric facilities, and I remember wishing I could have done more to help them.
Now I finally feel like I can give back and deliver quality care to those who are struggling from the debilitating effects of mental illness.
2. How do you imagine a typical day in our setting (hospital, prison, other facilities, etc.)?
With this question, your interviewers are trying to determine if you understand the complexities of this job and everything that comes with it.
Being a mental health nurse is so much more than taking vitals and administering medications.
I plan on regularly speaking with the patients, visiting their rooms, and making sure I understand their physical, emotional, and social needs so I can provide assistance whenever I can.
Being in a psychiatric facility can be frightening, and I want patients to feel comfortable around me.
See also: Correctional Nurse Interview Questions
3. How do you handle a patient when there are concerns about your safety?
Risky situations when patients are a safety risk to themselves or others are unfortunately a part of working in the mental health care field.
As a psychiatric nurse, you’ll have to know how to handle these situations.
I understand that sometimes dangerous situations can arise and that I need to be aware of the situation at all times and de-escalate when necessary.
However, I know that there will be times I’ll need help from my team.
I don’t sedate a patient unless absolutely necessary.
See also: Home Health Nurse Interview Questions
4. How do you feel about working a 12 – or even a 24 hour – shift?
One of the major drawbacks of nursing, in general, is the long shifts, which can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining.
In your answer, you should emphasize that you understand what is expected of you and that you don’t have unrealistic expectations about the job.
I understand that long shifts are part of the job and that it will be tough.
However, I understand that long shifts are necessary to give the best possible care to the patients.
To prepare me for the long shifts, I make the most of my breaks throughout the day and regularly practice self-care.
5. How important is teamwork to you?
As a mental health nurse, you will be working as part of a team of doctors, other nurses, and various staff, all of who have an important role to play in each patient’s individual care.
Your answer should emphasize the importance of teamwork and how you would readily support your fellow nurses in difficult times.
Teamwork is extremely important as a mental health nurse.
When I was completing my training in [insert name of the hospital here], I and my fellow nurses depended on each other.
Not only to communicate important information about each patient but to support each other during particularly trying moments.
I expect to do the same here.
6. A patient is repeatedly refusing to take his medication. What would you do in this situation?
In your interview as a mental health nurse, expect to answer at least one situational question.
These questions are for the interviewers to gauge how well you handle unexpected and often difficult situations.
Your answer should reflect what you know about the patient and the legal situation regarding his stay, and knowledge of what you have the power to do.
If the patient is in our facility voluntarily, I cannot force him to take his medication.
I would give him a paper to sign saying that he refused the meds, transferring the responsibility onto his shoulders.
If he is in our facility involuntary, I would do all in my power to deescalate the situation by explaining how the medication will help him.
See also: Office Nurse Interview Questions
7. How do you respond to feedback from supervisors?
I welcome feedback, both positive and negative because it helps me improve as a mental health nurse.
I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be, and that means truly listening and reflecting on feedback from those who have been working in the mental health care field longer than I have.
Feedback helps me know how I can improve.
Conclusion: Interview Questions for Mental Health Nurses
While the questions above are general, they are the most common mental health nurse interview questions your interviewers will most likely ask.
Overall, you want to give honest, in-depth answers to all the questions posed to you in the interview.
Help your interviewers see you as the ideal candidate who will excel in your role as a mental health nurse.
Good luck with your upcoming interview!
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