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7 common interview questions for community nurses

To help you prepare for your next interview for a community nursing job, we've put together a list of common questions and suggested answering strategies.

1. What do you understand by the term 'person-centred care'?

With a drive towards further integration of health and social care, this is a hot topic for the NHS right now. Take a look at this Royal College of Nursing (RCN) link to make sure you understand what it means for you and your role as a community nurse, and make a note of the key words used to describe what is expected of you and use these within your answer.

2. How would you make sure that safeguarding is embedded in your nursing practice?

This is another very important issue for community nurses, who may be working with vulnerable people. There's some useful information from the Nursing and Midwifery Council available via this link or you can download the RCN's safeguarding guide here.

3. Describe two key skills required by a community nurse.

Don't just say 'strong communication skills' or 'professionalism'. Explain why you think these skills are so important. For example, you need good communication and listening skills because a major part of the community nurse role is to provide support to help patients care for themselves or to help relatives carry out routine caring tasks. You might also want to back this up with a recent example of how you use these skills.

4. What's the worst thing about being a community nurse?

Be careful how you answer this one. Be realistic and admit there are downsides to the community nursing job. However, avoid coming across as too negative. Acknowledge that there are challenges, but show how you overcome them. You might say, "It's a very different working environment from a hospital ward, with less formal structure. But, I enjoy the flexibility and I've learned to be adaptable and focus single-mindedly on my patients' needs."

5. How would you deal with a challenging patient or home environment?

Many of your patients will be older people who may be uncooperative, or the patient's family may be struggling to cope and emotions are running high. Show that you have sensitivity, but can also be firm and in control. Think about ways you can make the patient and their family feel reassured and relaxed.

6. Why do you want to work as a community nurse rather than in a hospital?

Avoid showing too strong an opinion on hospital nursing. Perhaps say something like, "I chose a career in nursing because I feel passionate about helping people, so I'd be happy working in either a hospital or community setting. However, it's in the community that I feel most at home. Many of my patients have long-term conditions, so I can really get to know them and make a lasting difference to their lives."

7. What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of being a community nurse?

Don't just say 'helping people' or 'seeing a patient smile'. Use specific examples of how your work has achieved positive outcomes, for example you may have helped a patient manage chronic pain more effectively or become more independent.

On 20-21 April, we will be attending RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair in West London. Come and see us on stand 46 for the chance to win a Fitbit.

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