Interview Questions: How to Deal with Unhappy and Unsatisfied Family Members of a Patient

Nursing Interview QuestionsMore often than not, you will be tested by the members of a patient’s family. They might challenge your knowledge of and compassion regarding the work you do. Sometimes they will be unpleasant with you, especially when they’re not happy with the treatment you’re providing to the patient.


Knowing that this might happen anytime, your interviewer will be curious about how you’re going to handle these kinds of people. He or she wants to assess your ability to deal with stressful situations such as these, and he or she also wants to know if you’re going to handle it properly and courteously. Plus, the interviewer wants to know if your principles are aligned with theirs and if your moral and ethical values will be an asset to the hospital or company.

How are you going to answer the interviewer? How will you convince him or her that you’re capable of managing situations like this properly? Here are some guidelines that can help you with that:

1. Reflect and imagine.

Before answering the question, you can take a minute or two to think and reflect about the situation. Imagine that you’re really in that position in which a family member complains about the way their relative is being treated. How are you going to respond? Will you be defensive, or will you be polite and well-mannered?

The answer, of course, is the latter. Tell the interviewer that you can control yourself even if the family member is being unreasonable. However, don’t forget that you have the right to speak your mind, so you will defend yourself in a way that the other party will not be offended.

2. Be mindful of your ethical values and personal attitudes.

Considering your profession as a nurse, compassion, sympathy, and kindness should be three of your main qualities as a person (or at least, as a professional), so you should be mindful of your obligations to the patient and to the family of the patient. You have to be respectful and humble since you are the service provider.

So, when a family member tries to criticize the service you offer, tell the interviewer that:

  • First, you will try to steer the conversation toward a more private area so you can more effectively discuss the problem (especially when the family member is starting to be rude).
  • Second, you will listen to their concerns and complaints, yet you will remain calm and stable even if you feel like they’re being offensive.
  • Third, explain your side of the matter and acknowledge the problem, speak in a lower tone of voice, and show sympathy – show that you understand what they’re feeling.
  • Fourth, after explaining, reassure them that you and the hospital are doing your very best to provide proper care and services to their loved one.

3. Cite an example.

If it’s not your first time applying for a job as a nurse and you’ve already experienced this kind of scenario, then this question will be easier to answer. Just provide an example of a time when you were involved in this type of situation, and explain how you were able to manage the situation and resolve the problem. 

However, if you do not this kind of experience, look at the first guideline: Reflect and imagine. What would you do if you were in that specific position?

4. Don’t let your inner fears overpower your confidence.

Lastly, when you’re answering, don’t be nervous or overwhelmed. Be confident and don’t let fear get in the way. This is not only to impress your interviewer and show her that you’re well prepared, but also to let her know that you’re ready to face anything and anyone. If the interviewer sees that you’re nervous around her, how could she trust you that you can manage an unhappy family member? So build your strength and gather up the courage to answer this question appropriately.

You have to be skilled at communicating with family members, and you need to be able to demonstrate this skill to the interviewer. By taking note of these guidelines, you will earn not just the interviewer’s trust but also the trust and respect of your future boss and your future patients.

Read 29284 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 23:07
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.