Interview Questions: How to Deal with a Patient Complaining about Pain

Complaining PatientAccording to Jean Watson, “Caring is the essence of nursing.” Yes, indeed it is. Being a nurse requires great compassion, patience, and care. Nurses provide comfort, sympathy, and gentleness without any hesitation. They make sure that the patient receives the best possible care, whatever their illness is.


This profession is quite challenging as it deals with an array of emotions (especially negative ones). Every day, nurses tend to hear many complaints and stories coming from different people. Therefore, they have to be adept at understanding emotions and promoting a positive outlook.

This is the reason why hiring managers are interested in a nurse’s attitude toward his or her patients. If you are a nurse and are applying for a job, they will ask about how you’re going to deal with patients who consistently complain about the pain they encounter. Why are they interested?

  • Interviewers want to know how compassionate and caring you are;
  • Interviewers want to see how you’re going to answer the patient and what your answer will be;
  • Interviewers want to assess your level of patience and sympathy; and,
  • Interviewers want to know if your values are aligned with their company’s/hospital’s core values.

Knowing the reasons why hiring agents ask about your ability to respond to patients who complain about pain, how are you going to answer? The fact is that you’ll need to prepare for this before the interview. Formulate a brief and simple answer that would increase your interviewer’s interest in you. As a nurse, you should know that this question might come up in your interview. So, here are some ideas that could help.

1. Talk about your values.

Mention how compassionate you are, how caring, how patient, and how your values are similar to theirs. The hospital will, of course, prefer someone who has the same vision as theirs. They want someone whose morals are parallel to the hospital’s core values. The hospital is protecting their image. They wouldn’t want a single employee to ruin this by deviating from their pledged mission and vision. Therefore, the interviewer will assess the parallelism between your values and theirs.

2. Be sympathetic.

Impress your sympathy for other people in the interviewer’s mind. Tell him or her that you would sympathetically listen to the patient’s every word of complaint. You need to understand their emotions as much as you understand their situation. The patient should be your priority. Service to other people means you have a good character. Show how much you’re willing to support and motivate the patient, especially when patients become agitated by their pain.

3. Keep calm.

Some patients tend to overreact about their illnesses. Hence, you need to be calm and patient. Determine when to tolerate the behavior and when not to tolerate it. As a nurse, you need to be aware of your patients’ attitudes and personalities. Tell the interviewer that you will be mindful of each patient’s qualities and preferences and, if he or she becomes hard to handle, you would keep yourself calm and patient. This way, you can convince the interviewer that you are capable of handling highly agitated people.

4. Ask the doctor.

Of course, the doctor will always be the one who has the ability to prescribe the right medication. Tell your interviewer that you will confer with the attending doctor to discuss the patient’s condition. You have to make sure that the patient’s pain is being managed in the most effective way.

5. Reassure your patient.

You have to reassure your patients that their concerns are being heard and that you are doing everything you can to help them. Tell them that you are doing everything possible to alleviate their discomfort. Make them feel that they are being understood and supported. Show how much you are willing to do whatever you can to ease the pain they’re feeling.

These are just some of the few things that might help you to answer your interviewer’s question concerning how you’ll handle patient complaints about their pain. It’s not actually hard to answer this question, since you were already trained on how to deal with patients. Just relax and answer from the heart, and this will increase your chances of getting the job.

Read 21024 times Last modified on Monday, 07 March 2016 16:25
Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.