The Most Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions for NPs & PAs

We share a cheat-sheet of interview questions, used by hundreds of hospital and private practice hiring managers.

Graphic drawing of strengths vs. weaknesses
The classic question “what are your strengths and weaknesses” is just the beginning…

If reviewing the following list of job interview questions for NPs and PAs makes you nervous, remember this: A job is created to solve a problem. When you answer interview questions effectively, you prove yourself as a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP) who offers solutions. And, that’s the kind of person the interviewer is looking for! Prepare your answers in advance, and you’ll help employers positively evaluate your skills, capabilities, and level of experience for the job.

Tips for Answering Interview Questions with Poise

  • Listen carefully. If you don’t understand the question, ask politely for clarification.
  • Pause before answering to consider all facts that may substantiate your response. If you need a minute to think, take your time. Don’t feel pressured to rush into a response.
  • Always offer positive information – avoid negativity at all times.
  • Get directly to the point.
  • Before going into too much detail, ask your interviewer if they’d like more background on your response.
  • Discuss only the facts needed to respond to the question.
  • Focus and re-focus attention on your successes. Remember, the goal is not to have the right answers. It’s to convince the interviewer that you are the right PA or NP for the job
  • Be truthful, and try not to offer unsolicited information.
  • Try to avoid opening yourself up to areas of questioning that could pose difficulties for you.
  • Take time to think through your answers to some common interview questions. Formulating your answers and solidifying your thoughts will give you more poise and security during the actual interview.

20 of the Most Common Job Interview Questions for NPs & PAs

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If you could have your choice of any job, what would it be and why?
  • Why do you want to go into this unit/clinic?
  • What are your short-and long-range goals, and how do you expect to achieve them?
  • What does success mean to you? How do you measure it?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you interact with families and patients?
  • What have you done to improve yourself during the past year?
  • If you could relive the last 15 years, what changes would you make?
  • Tell me about your greatest achievement and greatest disappointment.
  • Tell me about the best and worst bosses you’ve ever had.
  • How do you handle your reaction when you don’t get what you want? Give me a couple of examples.
  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you pull a team together when it seems to be going nowhere?
  • Give an example of how you work with the physicians.
  • What qualities do you prize the most in those that report directly to you?
  • What type of people do you have the most trouble getting along with in the workplace and how do you handle it?
  • What constructive criticism have you received from employers?
  • Everybody has pet peeves. What are yours?
  • What else do you think I should know about you?

The interviewer will also want to learn about your experience and your reasons for seeking a new PA or NP position and may ask the following questions. Remember to be positive and do not give too much information.

Interview Questions About Your Past

  • When did you leave your last job and why?
  • How long have you been out of work?
  • At your last job, how much of the work did you perform independently?
  • What did you like most and least about your last job?
  • What are some of the problems you have encountered as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant?
  • How did you solve the problems?
  • Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?
  • At your last job, how much was performed by a team?
  • What have you been doing since you left your last job?

Be prepared for questions about your plans for the future and your motivation for applying for the job.

Interview Questions That Point to Your Future

  • Why do you want to work here? (In your answer, you may reference people on staff, quality of care, excellence, type of research, support of nursing.)
  • What do you expect to experience in this job that you did not experience in your past jobs?
  • How do you feel about evening work? Weekend work? Carrying a pager? Being on call?
  • Assuming we make you an offer, what do you see as your future here?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Are you considering other PA or NP positions at this time?
  • How does this job compare with them? (Remember to be positive.)
  • If you feel you have any weaknesses with regard to this job, what would they be?
  • What is your leadership style? Please give examples of this style in a real situation.
  • How do you feel about relocating?
  • What could you contribute to our facility or organization?

Sometimes the interviewer will ask vague questions that, if unexpected, may be difficult to answer.

Open-Ended Job Interview Questions for NPs & PAs

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What weaknesses in your work habits do you think you need most to work on? (Consider what impact you have had on them and how you continue to improve.)
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Why do you believe that you are the best candidate for this job?
  • Why do you believe that you could handle this position?

After asking questions, the interviewer usually invites you to ask questions. This is a chance for you to gain knowledge about the potential employer, and also to make a good impression. Always prepare questions to ask. If you don’t ask questions of the employer, it sends the message that you have not been thinking about the job. But remember, some questions are better than others. Avoid asking for information that is readily available on the employer’s web site or in literature provided to you in advance. This indicates that you did not prepare and the interviewer may feel that you’re wasting his or her time.

The best interview is a two-way conversation. For you, the interview has two purposes: One, to sell yourself, and two, to evaluate the position.

Great Questions to Ask in an Interview

  • What is the size of the unit, organizational structure of the unit, volume?
  • Does the hospital plan to expand? What are the hospital’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
  • Could you explain your overall organizational structure?
  • Can you discuss your take on the hospital’s culture? What are the hospital’s values?
  • How would you characterize the management philosophy of your organization?
  • What do you think is the greatest opportunity facing the organization in the near future? The biggest threat?
  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? And by whom? How often?
  • Will there be opportunities for advancement, and if so, how long could it be before I would be considered for one?
  • What qualities do you appreciate most in those that report directly to you?
  • How does the organization rank within its field?
  • What is the reputation of the department (or facility) to which I am applying?
  • How is this department perceived within the organization?
  • What have been your department goals in the last year, and, did you meet them?
  • What would be the goals of the department in the coming year?
  • Do you think those are aggressive or conservative goals? Who set them?
  • What problems or difficulties are present in the department now?
  • What are the most important problems to solve first?
  • What will be the greatest challenge in the job?
  • What are the greatest strengths of this department?
  • What would you expect me to accomplish in this job?
  • What is your management style?
  • How often would we meet together?
  • What responsibilities have the highest priority?
  • Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
  • How might these responsibilities and priorities change?
  • How much time should be devoted to each area of responsibility?
  • What qualifications are you looking for in the person who fills this job?
  • What are some examples of the achievements of others who have been in this position?
  • How many people have held this job in the last five years? Where are they now?
  • What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?
  • What do you like about working here?

As a final note, when answering questions, focus more on the needs of the employer than on selling yourself. This will show that you are a solutions-oriented person and ready for the job at hand!

Looking for your next physician assistant or nurse practitioner position? Let Melnic help you make your goal a reality. Contact us today about our amazing job opportunities nationwide.