40+ Important ICU Interview Questions and Answers

Here are ICU interview questions and answers. Employers are searching for individuals who possess the necessary skills and experience for the role, while also taking note of who best communicates why they are a good match for the position during the recruiting process for intensive care unit (ICU) nurse roles.

Employers will ask you questions during the interview that will allow you to elaborate on your experience and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the nursing sector. Employers can also use the interview stage of the recruiting process to ask the critical questions necessary to determine your level of ability.

icu interview questions

What is a critical care nurse?

Critical care nursing is a subspecialty of nursing that focuses on critically ill, complicated patients who are suffering life-threatening complications. According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), critical care nurses account for around 37% of all nurses working in a hospital environment. Nearly half of the over 500,000 practicing critical care nurses in the United States spend the bulk of their time caring for patients in the intensive care unit, which is why critical care nurses are sometimes referred to as "ICU Nurses."

Nurses working in critical care settings must have advanced nursing skills and an in-depth understanding of the sophisticated electronic equipment needed to monitor and treat critically sick patients. A nurse must also demonstrate clinical skill dealing with particular demographic groups in the majority of states before practicing as a CCN. In sectors such as adult, pediatric, and neonatal critical care, population-level certifications are necessary.

What is a narrative nurse?

Narrative Nursing is a type of storytelling that is used to enable nurses to share their life-changing experiences in the nurse-patient interaction. Each participant in the Narrative Nursing seminars shares a noteworthy experience from their own nursing career.

A narrative nurse is one of the healthcare professionals that will oversee the patient's condition and make annotative documentation on their status a needs.

What is a senior nurse?

Demonstrating commitment, experience, and a personal touch with patients will position you as a standout candidate during an intensive care unit nurse interview.

General critical care nursing interview questions

These broad questions assist the hiring manager, who is most likely an ICU nurse manager, in gaining a deeper understanding of who you are and what sets you apart from other candidates for the position. Your responses help the hiring manager understand how your personality will mesh with the rest of the staff, since nursing frequently demands a high level of teamwork, cooperation, and communication to ensure patients receive the finest quality care.

Several examples include the following:

  • What are your biggest nursing strengths?
  • What motivated you to pursue a career in nursing?
  • What would your patients say about you?
  • Why are you interested in working at this specific facility?
  • What are your long-term professional objectives?
  • What, in your opinion, are the primary issues that nurses face today?
  • What is your motivation for quitting your current position?
  • What parts of your work do you believe may be improved?
  • How would you describe your communication style at work?
  • What is the most fulfilling aspect about nursing?
  • How do you keep a positive attitude under stress and pressure?
  • How do you handle explaining medical terminology to patients?

icu interview questions

Experience and educational background questions

Apart from assessing your character, the interviewer wants to ascertain what you know, what you have accomplished, and what you will be capable of accomplishing with confidence and efficiency.

These questions assist your interviewer in gaining a better grasp of your abilities, professional experience, and background in critical care:

  • Tell me about a moment when you were under a great deal of job pressure. How did you manage it?
  • Have you ever had a patient express dissatisfaction with your treatment? What action did you take?
  • How do you prioritize your responsibilities in order to maintain an extraordinary level of patient care?
  • Describe an instance when you went above and beyond the call of duty in your employment.
  • What do you do when your obligations or patient load overwhelm you?
  • What work schedules have you had during your nursing career?
  • How much experience do you have in various ICU disciplines, such as cardiac care, pediatrics, neonatal intensive care, surgery, and post-anesthesia care?
  • Occasionally, patients have difficulty comprehending the information relayed to them by nurses and other medical workers regarding their condition. How can you communicate with these patients in such a way that they comprehend you completely?
  • Which conferences, trainings, or seminars have you already attended, and what were some of the key takeaways?
  • What professional achievement are you most proud of?

ICU nurse interview questions

When applying for jobs in healthcare, particularly as an ICU nurse, your ability to deal with high-stress or emergency circumstances is critical to your work performance. Employers may ask these in-depth questions to ascertain your past experience caring for severely ill and injured patients, your ability to solve issues rapidly, and your degree of experience:

  • How do you adjust the titration of a heparin drip?
  • Give me an example of a time you explained medical terminology to a patient when they were very ill.
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a policy or method. What steps did you take to remedy the situation?
  • Tell me about a moment when you were forced to intervene in a crucial circumstance involving a patient. What was the result?
  • What are the values that are most important to you as a nurse?
  • How do you de-stress following a particularly trying circumstance with a particular patient?
  • Tell me about a moment when you were required to follow the established line of command in order to resolve a conflict.
  • What positive comments have you gotten from a former supervisor or manager? How did you deal with it?
  • How do you educate your patients and their families?
  • How would you evaluate a heart attack victim?
  • What information does a patient's recovery report contain?
  • Inform me of a novel medical system, method, or technology that you have utilized or intend to employ in the future.

ICU interview questions and example responses

Demonstrating commitment, experience, and a personal touch with patients will position you as a standout candidate during an intensive care unit nurse interview. Prepare for your own interview with an ICU nurse manager or another member of a hospital's leadership team by reviewing these example interview questions and answers:

The family of a patient is an integral component of their recovery process. How do you involve family members in the patient's care?

Employers ask this question to have a better understanding of how you care for others other than the patient. For many people, an ICU setting can be unsettling due to the inherent unpredictability. Family members will want to be engaged in their loved one's healing process and may visit the hospital regularly to obtain updates and offer support.


"If you are able to develop a positive connection with the patient's family and friends, they will often have more confidence in your treatment of their loved one. To include families in the healing process, I ensure they are informed on the patient's health status, treatment plan, and prognosis. While many people feel uneasy in an ICU setting due to the machines and cables, I advise family members to touch their loved one's hand or speak with them.

For instance, when working in the NICU, I ensured that parents were aware that they could hold their infants. I assisted the baby's move from the crib to the arms of a parent. I noticed that many new parents and dads either refuse to request this or believe they are not permitted to hold their newborns. However, even with the wires in place, parents may offer beneficial skin-to-skin contact to their infant, which is critical for healing and attachment."

icu interview questions

Describe a period in your career when you assumed an unofficial leadership role.

When you work as an ICU nurse, your employer expects you to have some autonomy in caring for your patients. When you have the appropriate expertise and background, you should be able to analyze situations, respond promptly, and include other team members as necessary to ensure the patient's safety.


"While it is crucial to maintain autonomy in your profession and make critical decisions about the patient's care without hesitation, there are times when involving other team members is critical. In a prior position, I worked with a patient who suffered a cardiac arrest. I was forced to summon my fellow ICU nurses to assist me with the life-saving steps required for the patient to survive the catastrophe.

In this case, I assigned responsibilities to each member of my team. While we were attempting to save the patient, I kept a careful eye on how each of my colleagues' nurses was performing their tasks, and I was able to step in when one nurse was having difficulty with chest compressions. When a patient is in serious condition, you must act as a leader and employ all available resources, including coworkers, to save their life."

icu interview questions

Have you ever been tasked with the responsibility of caring for a difficult patient? How did you deal with it?

Because any critical care unit can be frightening for patients, it is not uncommon for patients to be difficult and apprehensive of their surroundings, including their nursing and medical care staff. An ICU nurse management will want to know that you are capable of providing a high standard of care to patients regardless of how you are treated. Employers must realize that you will remain devoted to the patient in the face of adversity.


"I've had several encounters with aggressive patients. It's a natural component of working in a medical setting, since patients may be fearful of their surroundings and concerned about their health. I recall caring for a patient while working in the intensive care unit at Center Health Hospital. He refused to answer my inquiries, caused havoc for our LPNs when they entered the room to take vitals, and expressed dissatisfaction with my treatment plan.

I made a point of not taking it personally and proceeded to deliver the best treatment possible. I maintained a cheerful disposition and never reacted negatively to his vexing statements. I was able to learn more about this patient's predicament by paying attention to him and keeping calm and professional. As it turns out, he lacked close family members and his anger sprang from a sense of isolation and fear.

To reassure him, I visited his room and sat by his bedside during my breaks. I wanted to ensure that he understood that even if he didn't have any family nearby, he had me and that I am a person who genuinely cares about him and all my patients. I inquired about his personal life, informed him of my day, and even procured him a special treat from the cafeteria on a down day."

icu interview questions

Tell me about a moment when you helped the hospital and its patients get a new benefit.

Employers want to know that you are enthusiastic about your area and stay current on industry trends. They want to ensure you continue to be imaginative and consider ways you may enhance how the department functions or how patients receive care.


We were encouraged to do our own evidence-based research and offer suggestions to department leaders at the hospital where I previously worked. Together with two other nurses, we devised a method for NICU newborns to feel more connected to their parents. All data indicates how critical it is for infants to hear their parents' voices, which aids in healing.

Due to the fact that parents cannot always be present at the hospital, we came up with the notion of embedding a button in a baby's stuffed animal or blanket that, when pressed, would play an audio recording of their parent reading a tale. We then submitted our approach at an evidence-based practice conference and received funding to implement it."

icu interview questions

What method do you believe is the most effective for establishing rapport with your coworkers?

While you will spend most of your time in autonomy in the ICU, employers want to know that you are collaborative, relying on your other nurses to provide care for patients as necessary. A healthcare team is critical to the success of a patient's health in the intensive care unit, and hence good collaborative connections are critical. Employers want to know that you can speak effectively, listen closely, be courteous, and ask for assistance when necessary.


"I believe that the most effective strategy to build rapport with my coworkers and other members of the healthcare team is to promote optimism and communication in the workplace. I enter the hospital thrilled about my day and the opportunity I have to make a difference in people's lives. I openly commend my coworkers for providing exceptional patient care to demonstrate that I am aware of and appreciate their efforts.

Additionally, I make a point of seeking clarification when necessary and repeating what a teammate says to ensure that I understand and that they realize I was listening. It's critical to operate in a courteous and collaborative atmosphere, and requesting assistance and offering assistance in return has aided in the development of my connections with past employees."

How do I prepare for an ICU nurse interview?

Here are a few tips to prepare for your upcoming interview:

  • Discuss a period when you worked in a fast-paced environment.
  • Describe your experience caring for a critically ill patient who took a great deal of your attention.
  • Discuss a period when you felt overburdened by your work or patient load.
  • Provide an example of a significant objective you've set for yourself.

What makes a good candidate for ICU nursing?

Being capable of caring for a very ill patient and maintaining excellent patient care under all circumstances. Demonstrating commitment, experience, and a personal touch with patients will position you as a standout candidate during an intensive care unit nurse interview.

icu interview questions

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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