5 Common Psychiatric Nurse Interview Questions & Answers

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: April 18, 2022
5 Common Questions For Psychiatric Nurse

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Similar to your nursing journey thus far, getting a job as a psychiatric nurse requires you to do several things to demonstrate why you’re a candidate who deserves a close look from the hiring manager. It’s essential to have an up-to-date, error-free resume, not to mention a competently written cover letter. However, although those documents are important, they don’t overshadow the importance of an insightful interview.

Although you can start by studying general interview questions that might be asked of a person seeking any career path, it’s also useful to carefully look over psychiatric nurse interview questions plus check out some recommended answers. After you’ve done that, you’ll be well prepared to excel during the all-important task of giving the best interview possible. Although it’s impossible to predict the outcome of a job interview, being thoroughly prepared puts the odds in your favor and gives you an advantage over other candidates.

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5 Psychiatric Nurse Interview Questions & Answers

Tell me what motivates you as a psychiatric nurse, even during the toughest shifts.

My motivation as a psychiatric nurse comes from a deep desire to do the very best I can in every situation I’m faced with. That often means calming agitated patients on a daily basis, but I even had my inner drive to succeed before getting my first job. I tirelessly studied psychiatric nurse interview questions so I was well prepared for what I was asked, in a situation that was very stressful for most of my nursing school peers.

Describe how you normally respond to feedback from superiors such as physicians and charge nurses.

I always listen thoroughly to the feedback I receive and incorporate it into my actions moving forward. However, if it seems the superior does not have a complete understanding of a patient’s treatment or status, I respectfully respond in ways that make it clear I don’t let my pride, nor fear of speaking up, interfere with my goal of providing the best possible care.

Talk about a time when you had to put aside personal needs to ensure the psychiatry team continued to function smoothly at your workplace.

About a year ago, on the night of my fifth wedding anniversary, I had to cover a shift for a coworker who suddenly got ill while tending to patients. Pitching in meant I had to tell my spouse we would need to shift our dinner plans to the next night when I was off. Although this initially caused disappointment, there was also a mutual understanding that if I did not cover that shift, the entire department would have struggled. Thanks to my decision, the department was able to continue delivering top-quality patient care, which was ultimately recognized by the nursing supervisor.


Give me an example of a time when you had to interact with a patient who was in great mental distress.

Taking care of people who are experiencing severe mental anguish happens so regularly that it’s difficult to pinpoint specific instances. However, I remember helping treat a homeless man who was causing an uproar in the ward. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was unable to afford the medication. The lack of access to the necessary pills, combined with the fear of being in a strange plac, meant that this individual was a danger to himself and others. After securely restraining him to prevent injuries, I followed a doctor’s order and administered a drug to ease the patient’s panic. However, the soothing words and understanding attitude I displayed while working with the patient were arguably just as potent as the pharmaceutical intervention. After the man’s discharge, he found me and offered thanks for treating him with such compassion.

Our psychiatric nurses get opportunities to serve as peer mentors after they've been at the hospital for at least a year. Would you be a good fit for such a role?

Absolutely. Throughout my career as a psychiatric nurse, I’ve been supportive of nurses who are just entering the field. Even in nursing school, I helped friends study psychiatric nurse interview questions before they met with hiring managers in hopes of getting their first jobs. Peer mentoring helped me get where I am today and I want to reciprocate.

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