We all dream of doing our job well. Helping the sick and poor, treating patients with compassion and respect, fostering friendly relationships with fellow nurses and with other healthcare professionals, and seeing a meaningful purpose in what we do for a living. In nursing it is easier to achieve such a wonderful balance, yet it is still a difficult task. Hiring managers wonder whether your weaknesses won’t prevent you from trying. And they also want to hear about your strengths, and that you are confident in your ability to become a great nurse, and thrive in this beautiful yet difficult job. What’s more, down the road you may also have to come with some strengths and weaknesses of others on your nursing peer review… Back to the actual interview though.
As a rule of a thumb you should pick strengths that are central for the job, and weaknesses that either do not play a major role, or, if they do, can be addressed easily with some effort from your side. There are also other, more creative ways of answering this question, and we will look at them on my list of 7 sample answers. Do not forget to continue your reading afterwards, since in the last part of this post I explain why exactly the hiring managers ask you this question, and the most important thing they want to hear from you.
7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse (nurse practitioner)?” interview question
- Speaking from experience, my communication skills stand out. As a nurse I am meeting patients in all sorts of mental and physical condition, but I always find a way to communicate with them, to understand their needs and wishes, to offer the right words. It helps a lot in my nursing work, because unless you know what your patient wants and needs, you cannot provide it. In terms of weaknesses, I still struggle with computer work, especially with these medical software programs. But I know it is an important part of our job nowadays, and am committed to work on my skills with the software, the one you use in your hospital.
- My biggest weakness is definitely lack of experience. This is my first application for a nursing job, and though I had some hands-on practice during my studies, I honestly think you cannot simulate the conditions of a real job. I know I will find certain things challenging, and may need help of my colleagues at the beginning. But I am looking forward to the process, and thrilled to finally apply for my first nursing job, and believe that my attitude will help me overcome the obstacles and eventually become an important member of the team of nurses.
- I would say that attention to detail, responsibility, and vigilance top the list of my strengths. It is one of the reasons why I apply for an ICU nursing job, since I believe my strengths and personality are an excellent match for this particular placement. Just like everyone else, tough, I have my weaknesses. I am impatient at times, and have a tendency to expect too much from my colleagues. As you can see though, I am aware of my weaknesses. Perhaps the job with you is an opportunity to improve on them, and take my nursing to yet another level.
- I would say that my greatest strength is my attitude to nursing. For me, nursing isn’t a mere job, or a means of earning a living. I see the profession of a nurse practitioner as my calling, my personal mission, and something I want to dedicate myself to 100%. This attitude reflect in everything I do in my job, and without a doubt the patients can feel the difference. My biggest weakness is that I am not particularly strong physically, and may find it hard to move patients, or to perform certain physical tasks we have to perform as a nurses. However, I can always ask a colleague for help in such a situation, and do not see this weakness as something that would restrain me from doing an excellent nursing job.
- To be honest, I cannot tell yet my strengths and weaknesses as a nurse. I’ve never had the job before, and I honestly believe you have to do the work–any type of work–for a few weeks at least, to be able to identify areas you excel in, and areas you struggle with. And I am sure I will struggle in some areas, and excel in others, just like every other nurse. Once I identify my weaknesses, I will try my best to learn and improve on them. Because I do not dream of becoming a nurse. I dream of becoming an excellent nurse, someone who makes a difference in the life of their patients.
- My biggest strength is my experience. I’ve been working in mental health nursing for fifteen years already, at two different places. Any situation with a psychiatric patient you can imagine, including some dangerous situations, you can be sure I have experienced it at least a couple of times. This helps me to make right decisions, take precautions and address problems promptly, and I would love to bring this experience to your psychiatric ward. I have one weakness though, and I really would love to get rid of it. At times I get emotionally involved in the case, especially when it goes about a young patient, eighteen or twenty years old, alcoholic, drug addict, and so on. I find these cases incredibly sad, and it sometimes dwells on me. But I hope to learn to keep my distance, because at the end of the day it is always important to maintain our professional distance, and avoid taking problems from work back home.
- I would point out emotional intelligence as my greatest strength, at least when it comes to nursing. Patients find it easy to confide in me, because I am an excellent listener and have great understanding for what they feel, and experience emotionally, when facing a risky operation for example, or when recovering from one. It helps me to choose the right words and take the right action every time. On the flip side, I need to improve on my punctuality. It is a bad habit I have from my school times, always being a bit late. I understand I cannot afford it in the hospital…
Your attitude matters more for the interviewers than the actual strengths and weaknesses
No weakness is a showstopper in the interviews, as long as you show your willingness to improve on it. And the same is true about nursing peer review. Because perfect nurses do not exist, and hiring managers are aware of it. They do not look for someone who claims to have no weaknesses. On the contrary. They want to hire nurses that aren’t afraid to admit having a weakness, but at the same time aren’t complacent with the status quo, and dream of eventually becoming the best nurses they can be.
Keep it on your mind when facing this question. You should not just name your strengths and weaknesses in clinical practice and that’s it. Try to always elaborate on your answer. Explain how the strengths should help you provide an excellent care to the patients, and ensure the interviewers that you want to improve on your weaknesses.
Special Tip: We have a popular eBook online for future pediatric nurses. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your interview answers, and get ready for every question they may possibly throw at you, you can check it out here: Pediatric Nurse Interview Guide eBook. Thank you!
When you do not know what to say, working experience is the answer
Many people struggle to understand and name their strengths and weaknesses. Or they just cannot remember the right words in the heat of the moment, especially if they battle with interview anxiety. It can happen to everyone, including you.
If you do not know what to say, you can always fall back on working experience. Because every single nurse (nurse practitioner, nursing student) either has experience or they do not have it. When you have some nursing experience under your belt, it is always an advantage, and your strength. Because you’ve already faced the challenges of the job, and are readier for them than a newcomer.
On the contrary, when you apply for your first nursing job, you can point out lack of experience as your biggest weakness. Though you have the right attitude to this job, and want to try your best with every patient, certain things cannot be simulated at school, and you will find them challenging at the beginning…
Ready to answer this tricky question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions for nurses:
- Nursing interview – Tell me about yourself.
- What does nursing mean to you?
- Nursing interview – Why do you want to work here?
- Why should we hire you as a nurse?
- Why do you want to become a nurse?