Nurses care for the sick, elderly and vulnerable; helping them through illnesses both physical and mental, and providing them with the care they need to get better or exist as comfortably as possible.
Good nurses will have a combination of technical skills and medical know-how, as well as innate characteristics and abilities that make them suited to the caring nature of the role.
A large part of nursing involves dealing with people, often at the worst time of their life, so it's important to look for candidates who are evidently kind, calm and patient. Nurses tend to be incredibly compassionate, empathetic and caring people, and for many, it is a vocation, not a career.
This article will support you to put together a package of tests and things to look out for when it comes to hiring nurses, so you can streamline your processes and ultimately take on only the best candidate(s).
What should a nurse be able to do?
Nurses are responsible for the safe and compassionate care of their patients. From a medical perspective, this means a host of daily tasks including prescribing medication and keeping charts and notes up to date; sharing information; monitoring, analysing and diagnosing to ensure patients are getting the best bespoke care; performing physical evaluations.
But just as important as the medical side is the human side. Nurses become confidantes, advisers and friends, and they're often required to support a patient's loved ones, as well as the patient themself.
This is a physically demanding role, but it doesn't stop when a nurse has done their rounds. As well as providing care, they also need to be able to clearly and accurately record and catalogue a patient's medication and treatment.
An understanding of the importance of health and hygiene is essential to ensure the safety of everyone, and nurses need to be able to demonstrate how they'll keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations they need to follow as well as the demands of the role itself.
A good nurse will be empathetic and kind, a strong communicator and comfortable having difficult conversations while seeing people through times of extreme stress and sadness.
Skills to look for in a nurse
Nurses need a huge variety of skills to cope with the demands of working in a busy and high-pressure environment. Look out for these skills as part of the screening, interview and testing phases of the nursing recruitment process:
Active listening: listening is a critical skill for a nurse. Not only is it essential to ensure members of a patient's healthcare team and the patient themselves are listened to, but it's also essential in ensuring a patient feels truly heard while they're vulnerable.
Critical thinking: nurses need to be able to make complex decisions, often under pressure, to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients. Being able to drown out the noise and focus on innate critical thinking skills will be essential for this role.
Medical software: recording information accurately and in a timely fashion is essential. Prospective nurses need to be able to demonstrate they're comfortable using the medical software they'll be required to work with daily.
Microsoft Office suite: whether it's sending emails, writing up notes or scheduling calls and meetings, it's really helpful if candidates have extensive experience using the Microsoft Office suite.
Logical thinking: forming conclusions from limited information is all part of the day job for a nurse, so lookout for a candidate's logical thinking skills when interviewing them.
Useful abilities for a nurse
Abilities can be harder to test for, but they're essential to look for as part of the hiring process. Especially for roles like nursing, where a person's character is so essential to their success in the role. These are the abilities we recommend trying to find when hiring a nurse:
Compassion: compassion is essential in nursing. Nurses need to be able to empathetically support patients through difficult times, while still being able to communicate information that may be difficult to understand.
Patience: nursing is really hard. Not only do you need to be there for your patients, but you also need to deal with their medical team and their friends and family. So being patient in challenging or stressful situations are important.
Good communication: nurses often end up as the middleman between doctors, patients and family members. Communicating effectively, and knowing how, when and where to convey key information is a really important ability that can't necessarily be learnt.
Adaptability: working in a medical environment is unpredictable. It means no two days are the same, and an ability to adapt and be flexible is essential.
Problem sensitivity: being able to anticipate problems and mitigate unforeseen issues is a beneficial ability to find in a prospective nurse — it could even make a lifesaving difference.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a nurse?
Testing for core soft skills is a great way to increase the efficacy of your hiring process. For nurses, we'd recommend:
Communication: being able to communicate with a huge variety of different people, from patients to practitioners, is an essential part of the day-to-day for a nurse. Assessing an individual's communication skills will help you hire the right person for the job.
Accountability: everyone working in a medical environment assumes a high level of responsibility and accountability daily. Nurses need to be confident in making decisions, but able to hold their hands up and admit if they got something wrong.
Decision making:making decisions in a medical environment is often as critical as life and death. Nurses need to be confident in their own knowledge and judgement, and able to make the right decisions even under immense pressure and stress.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a nurse?
Supporting your recruitment process with aptitude tests is a great way to make it fairer for applicants while giving you extra data and information. These are just some of the aptitude tests that could help you hire a nurse:
Logical reasoning: logical reasoning examines a candidate's ability to use logic to solve complex challenges. Although most tests use shapes and patterns, the principles can still be applied to the field of nursing.
Error checking: this test examines how efficiently someone can spot errors in text or data sets. It's really useful when hiring a nurse as they need to have a keen eye for detail.
Verbal reasoning: verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess comprehension and communication skills. Candidates will need to read through dense passages of text and show they can extract key pieces of information quickly and accurately.
Microsoft Office: a Microsoft Office test will support you to find candidates who are confident using programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Our recommended test battery for a nurse
All of the tests and ideas listed will help you hire a good nurse, but this would be our recommended combination:
Communication: communication is one of the most essential parts of the job so it's important you assess every candidate's skills in this area.
Accountability: finding someone who isn't afraid to admit when they got things wrong and wants to learn from their mistakes is key.
Error checking: a keen eye for detail is essential and can help nurses avoid serious and potentially even life-threatening issues.
Logical reasoning: logical thinkers tend to be calm, rational and able to solve problems under pressure — all important skills for a good nurse.
For further information on hiring a nurse, visit Picked's nurse test guide.