How to Answer the Interview Question: What’s Your Strength and Weakness as a Nurse?

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Written by Ann Real, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A hiring manager asks a question about strength and weakness as a nurse.

What’s your strength and weakness as a nurse? Believe it or not, this is one of the best questions an interviewer can ask. Why? In addition to providing a snapshot of your character traits, this question can expose fundamental qualities every employer dreams to find in candidates — a learning mindset and commitment to personal growth.

If you want to learn how to ace interview questions about your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse, this article is for you. We’ll share expert tips and response examples, so you can leave a lasting impression during your job interviews.

Tips for Discussing Your Strengths as a Nurse

Create a compelling response to questions about your strength and weakness by presenting your strengths in a way that aligns with the job requirements and shows your unique qualifications. Here’s a structured approach to answering this question:

  • Read the job description and identify the key skills and qualities the employer is seeking. While you may have many a range of strengths, prioritize qualities that align with what the employer is looking for in your response.
  • Provide examples. Back up your claims with specific stories from your past that demonstrate your strengths in action, plus positive results this had for your previous employer.
  • Be genuine and authentic. Avoid generic or vague answers, such as “I am an exemplary candidate with lots to offer.” Employers can see through these things.
  • Balance technical skills and soft skills to provide a well-rounded picture of your capabilities.
  • Quantify your strengths with measurable results. For example, if you have extensive experience in Epic charting, specify — how many years? Did you contribute to a reduction in errors on your unit? If so, by what percentage?

Sample response:

“One of my strengths is my ability to make informed decisions in complex clinical scenarios. As a former flight nurse, I know that things don’t always go the way they’re planned. Imagine being thousands of feet above the ground, handling a patient’s bleed, and turbulence hits. This experience sharpened my ability to make split-second decisions in unexpected clinical situations in which others might become overwhelmed.”

List of Strengths for Nurses

When talking about your strengths, avoid mentioning the basic nursing skills, like administering medication or charting findings, as these are expected. They should not be a part of your response about your key strengths and weaknesses. Instead, highlight broader strengths like the examples below:

Responses that you probably should NOT consider:

  • Delegation of tasks to others
  • Great self-care skills
  • Coming to work on time
  • Measuring vital signs and performing other basic nursing tasks
  • “I am great in everything I do”

Tips for Discussing Your Weaknesses as a Nurse

When discussing weaknesses for a healthcare interview, it’s important to approach it in a way that shows self-awareness, a commitment to improvement, and the ability to turn weaknesses into strengths. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a relevant weakness that isn’t a critical skill for the nursing role but is relevant enough to demonstrate self-awareness.
  • Show a growth mindset. Discuss steps you’ve taken or are taking to overcome or improve upon the weakness, showing a proactive approach to personal development.
  • Be honest and tactful about your weakness, framing it in a way that doesn’t raise red flags.
  • Highlight positive outcomes. If applicable, mention situations where your weakness has led to positive results.

Sample response:

“One area I’ve identified for improvement is my tendency to be overly meticulous about certain tasks. While attention to detail is important, I have realized that at times, it might cause me to spend more time than necessary on non-critical aspects of a job. To address this, I set time limits and prioritize tasks. It has made me more efficient without compromising accuracy.”

List of Weaknesses for Nurses

Choose weaknesses that aren’t crucial to a nurse’s core duties — ones that, if addressed appropriately, will make you a well-rounded nursing professional. Here are some possible nursing weaknesses examples:

  • Difficulty delegating tasks
  • Emotionally impacted by patients’ pain
  • Wanting to accomplish everything at once
  • Excessive attention to detail
  • Balancing compassion and objectivity
  • Taking too long to document
  • Not having a lot of clinical experience (for new grads)

Responses that you probably should NOT consider:

  • Poor communication skills
  • Disorganization
  • Irresponsibility
  • Lack of punctuality
  • Overreliance on others
  • “I have no weaknesses”

Strength and Weakness as a Nurse: Examples

When discussing clinical strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to highlight the skills that contribute positively to patient care while addressing areas for improvement. Here are three examples to spark your creativity.

Example #1: Strength and Weakness as a Nurse

Strength:

“One of my key strengths is empathy. I mastered this skill during my work at a long-term care facility, where I had to spend a lot of time emotionally supporting family members and residents. This experience has enabled me to deeply understand and connect with the emotional needs of both patients and their families. I believe empathy is fundamental in nursing because it fosters trust and creates a supportive environment for those in my care.”

Weakness:

“In terms of weaknesses, I’ve recognized that I can be overly self-critical. While self-reflection is important, I’m actively working on striking a balance and not letting perfectionism hinder my performance. I’ve started acknowledging my accomplishments along with areas for improvement, ensuring a healthier approach to self-evaluation. This helps me maintain a positive mindset and focus on continuous growth in my nursing practice.”

Example #2: Strength and Weakness as a Nurse

Strength:

“One of my key strengths is a commitment to personal development. In my current role as a research nurse, I prioritize continuous learning by attending conferences and engaging in ongoing education. This commitment enhances my knowledge and skills, directly translating to improved patient care. I actively seek professional development opportunities to ensure I provide the highest quality of care to my patients.”

Weakness:

“One weakness I’ve identified is occasional hesitation in delegating tasks. I recognize the importance of efficient teamwork in healthcare, but I sometimes feel like I’m burdening others if I delegate. To overcome this, I am actively developing a more collaborative approach, trusting the capabilities of my team members, and ensuring tasks are appropriately distributed for optimal efficiency.”

Example #3: Strength and Weakness as a Nurse

Strength:

“I bring strong organizational skills to my nursing practice. In my previous role as psychiatric nurse, I learned to stay organized amidst chaos. From prioritizing tasks during hectic shifts to maintaining accurate records, my organizational abilities contribute to a smooth workflow. This strength ensures that I can manage multiple responsibilities effectively and promotes a high standard of patient care.”

Weakness:

“I acknowledge that technology proficiency is an area for improvement for me. While I am familiar with essential systems, I am currently enrolled in training programs to enhance my technological skills and stay updated on the latest advancements in medical software.”

Need Help Finding a Great Nursing Job?

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