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Operating Room Nurse interview questions and answers

This operating room nurse interview profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions.

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operating room nurse interview questions

Operating Room Nurse Interview Questions

Operating room nurses (or perioperative nurses) provide patient care services before, during and after surgery. They have two roles: scrub and circulating. A scrub nurse works within the sterile field while a circulating nurse out of it. This distinction is important since you should address their skills in performing both roles during the interview.

Perioperative nurses are registered nurses who move into the operating room (OR), usually after gaining some experience. Ask yourself whether you’re looking for a registered nurse who wants to make their shift into the OR or an experienced scrub/circulating nurse. Your requirements are likely to be different in each of these cases.

The following questions give you an idea on how to discover whether candidates possess the specialized skills needed for this position (e.g. knowledge of aseptic and patient assessment techniques). With situational and behavioral questions you can discover other important abilities such as critical thinking, people skills and attention to detail.

Operational and Situational questions

  • What would you do if you noticed the sterile field was contaminated?
  • What are three things you should always ask a patient before surgery?
  • How would you prepare a patient for a tracheotomy/other surgical procedure?
  • How would you react if you saw there was something wrong with the patient’s vital signs during surgery?
  • Imagine you had to prepare the operating room for a patient with latex allergy. How would you do it?
  • Imagine you had to prepare for an operation you don’t have experience with. What do you do?

Role-specific questions

  • How has your experience prepared you for this role?
  • In what types of operations do you have experience as a perioperative nurse?
  • Give me an example of a break in the sterile technique
  • What’s a “time out”?
  • What are the legal aspects of a perioperative nurse’s role?
  • Can you explain the use of a surgical safety checklist?
  • Why is surgical skin preparation important and how would you do it?
  • What do you find more satisfying in an OR job?

Behavioral questions

  • Tell me about a time a patient was anxious or panicked before surgery. What steps did you take to calm them?
  • Describe a time you spotted an inefficiency of the operating room. What was it and what did you do to fix it?
  • Recall a time you had a conflict with a surgeon or nurse. How did you resolve it?
  • Tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the past as a nurse
  • Give me an example of a time you experienced high levels of stress at work. How did you handle it?

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